Villanueva’s home-grown talents has brought honor and prestige not only to the municipality and Misamis Oriental, but held high Pinoy Pride as well during the recently concluded 18th Busan Chorale Festival and Competition.
Composed entirely of residents from the fast-rising municipality, the Villanueva Chorale brought home two gold medals in two categories besides finishing runner up in the Grand Prix event held at the Sohyang Theater, Busan Cinema Center in Busan, South Korea on October 19-22, 2022.
Although they were only organized only two years ago and were participating in their first ever foreign competition, the chorale under the baton of Maestro Ralph Ramos bagged First Prize and a Gold Diploma in the Pop & Acappella Category, another Gold Diploma in the Folk/Ethnic Category, and finished runner up in the Grand Prix.
The group performed When You Believe (arr. Robert Delgado), I Believe (arr. Robert Delgado) and It’s Raining Men (arr. Arnel de Pano) for their winning repertoire in the Pop & Acappella Category, and Ahibakle (Ifugao Folk Song arr. Bienvenido Constantino Jr), Sa Kadagatan (arr. Jandel Cabasura) and Tephaeyg (arr. Bienvenido Constantino Jr) for their second Gold Diploma in the Folk/Ethnic Category.
Aside from the Villanueva Chorale, other Finalists to the 2022 BCFC were the Diponegoro Engineering Student Choir (Indonesia) who won the Gold Diploma for Classical Mixed & Equal Category; and the Vocalista Harmonic Choir ISI Yogyakarta (Indonesia) which topped the Folk/Ethnic Category.
For the Grand Prix Final, each winners were asked to perform only one piece from their winning category. Villanueva Chorale reprised their earlier winning rendition of I Believe (arr. Robert Delgado).
Diponegoro Engineering Student Choir edged Villanueva Chorale for the Grand Prix, with the Vocalista Harmonic Choir ISI Yogyakarta finished as second runner-up.
“We would like to extend our gratitude to all the people whose assistance was a milestone from the start to the end— with physical and financial support,” said Maestro Ralph Ramos on behalf of the Villanueva Chorale. “To the Local Government Unit of Villanueva, headed by Hon. Mayor Jennie Uy-Mendez, Former Congresswoman Juliette T. Uy, Team Unity Chairman Atty. Julio Uy, proud parents and families, we extend our warmest appreciation to all of you. Truly, the Villanuevanon can shine to the World!”
Villanueva Chorale performed at the Busan Station for an outreach concert together with all the participating choirs of the Busan Choral Festival and Competition on the eve of the finals.
According to Joane Jude Tabique, Villanueva LGU Media Relations Officer, the Villanueva Chorale was created through the initiative of Mayor Jennie Uy- to perform during the town’s various activities, rather than hire performers from outside.
“With the help of the Villanueva Tourism Office, auditions were conducted for students, municipal employees, workers from private companies, and anyone from the town who wished to share their vocal talents,” Tabique disclosed. “After a series of interviews led by Mayor Jennie, we also selected Ralph Ramos, who had previous experience conducting choirs in Cagayan de Oro, as the choir conductor.”
The choir practiced every night and became the pride of Villanueva performing in the town’s various events. When they were afforded the chance to audition (via online video) for the Busan Chorale Festival, they were selected to represent the Philippines from among the 20 chorale groups from the country who auditioned (the other four were the Balanga Choral Artists, Bataan Peninsula State University Chorale, Imusicapella, and Sing Philippines Youth Choir).
However, the audition was only the first of many trials the group faced on the road to Busan.
“They had to provide for their own round trip air fares to Busan, in-country accommodations, expenses in securing their Korean visas, meals and other expenses,” Tabique relates.
“Besides their daily practices for the two categories they were competing in, they still had to perform in other towns around Misamis Oriental to raise funds for their trip, as well as lobby with senators and congressmen for financial and logistics assistance. They had to raise at least a million pesos for their trip to Busan. They faced a ton of challenges along the way, some fell sick, many were discouraged, almost all kinds of trials arose but with the support of Mayor Jennie, all were made possible.”
Luckily, through sheer grit and determination, the group managed to raise the necessary funds for their trip to Busan, have their visas to South Korea approved, and the rest is history.