Goodbye, Jonalyn Viray: Jona reinvents herself
Meet Jona, the Kapamilya reinvention of former Kapuso singer Jonalyn Viray.
Philstar.com/Maridol Ranoa-Bismark
Goodbye, Jonalyn Viray: Jona reinvents herself
(Philstar.com) - February 28, 2017 - 11:09am

MANILA, Philippines — What’s in a name?  A lot.

If not, ABS-CBN would have stuck with the name Jonalyn Viray instead of Jona when the singer became a Kapamilya a year ago.

“Jona is modernized,” the Star Music artist beamed when she faced the press in  a recent album launch.

One look at her new album and you see why.  Jona traded that school girl image years back, the one where she wore her hair straight, for a sophisticated Mariah Carey  look with wavy, flowing tresses.

In keeping with the times, Jona’s album tracks speak of millennial angst and desires. She asks where a relationship sans labels is headed for in "Ano Nga  Ba Tayo?" She sings about surviving hard times in "Matibay" (a duet with Regine Velasquez).  She pines for lost love in "Pusong Ligaw," also the theme of an upcoming ABS-CBN teleserye.

She has yet to know what a label-less relationship and what longing for lost love are, but Jona can feel the lyrics because she wills herself to do so.

“She’s tough on herself,” said songwriter-producer and Star Music executive Jonathan Manalo. The award-winning tunesmith, himself a stickler for excellence,  admitted he does not hold a candle to the perfectionist singer.

“I’m already an OC (obsessive-compulsive) producer,” he revealed. ”But what’s okay with me isn’t fine with her. She asks me to take another look at the work.”

ABS-CBN has rewarded Jona’s hard work with projects like her participation in "Handog P-pop Love Songs 2016" and the 25th anniversary album of "Maalaala Mo Kaya," along with her role as one of  ASAP’s "Birit Queens."     

Her home studio also mounted "Queen of the Night," Jona’s first concert as solo performer.

At last, Jona is not just one-third of a singing group (the defunct La Diva  with Aicelle Santos and Maricris Garcia). She is on her own.  Jona has a say on what songs to include and what to exclude in her first Star Music album. She can accept or reject a stylist’s choice of clothes for her.

Jona knows that being petite and morena means choosing a certain style and color palette over the others.  So, she is discriminating about what she wears.

Meanwhile, Madrid beckoned (for MMK's episode, "Kuwentong Kapamilya"). The glam and gliitz of the annual Star Magic Ball became a reality. Jona sang the theme ("You") of the Star Cinema hit, "My Ex and Whys."

Thanks to her brave new world, Jona dreams even bigger.  She wants to try acting, “if the project is good.” She counts Piolo Pascual, John Lloyd Cruz, and Jericho Rosales as dream co-stars.

Songwriting is another possibility. But first, Jona must get over her fear of critics tearing her existing compositions to pieces. Perhaps, Jona can take her cue from "Matibay," the track which says is her current theme song.  Part of it says, “Di magigiba ang matibay/ Di payayanig sa paligid ko. “

Jona puts her trust in Divine Guidance and the goodness in others. As she says, “I can face challenges with the help of God and other people.”

After all, she has transitioned from Jonalyn to Jona. She has reinvented herself.  She has kissed her pop band days goodbye to become a confident solo artist.

Yes, Jona has reason to hope for the best.

JONALYN VIRAY
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