Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Third time’s the charm for Sinulog Idol 10 champ

Karla Rule - The Freeman
Third time�s the charm for Sinulog Idol 10 champ

CEBU, Philippines — When Jessa Abaquita first auditioned for singing competition Sinulog Idol in 2012, it must have been a blessing in disguise that she did not push through with the annual tilt. She tried out again in 2017 and while she made the cut, Jessa decided to give her slot to someone else.


This year however, her life took a detour as she finally took on the Sinulog Idol challenge, facing unfinished business with her singing career. It seems her timing was perfect as she emerged victorious at her third attempt.

“Sobra ko kalipay kay wala ko nag-expect. Siguro mas na-feel ko nila [judges]. Gihatag nako akong heart sa akong song,” the tilt’s 10th edition champion said when she was immediately whisked off the stage following her encore performance. Jessa admitted to being worried since she did not usually get positive comments from the judges in previous elimination rounds.

The 20-year-old began singing at six years old. She looks up to belters like Lani Misalucha, Regine Velasquez and Jessie J. Coming from a family of singers whose talent can be traced from their grandparents, Jessa said huge expectations were riding on her shoulders. Apart from the external pressure, she also expected a lot from herself.

Jessa, who plans to use her P50,000 prize money to improve their home, has performed on It’s Showtime’s “Tawag Ng Tanghalan” and at the Cebu Popular Music Festival.

Her future singing plans? “Wala pa gyud ko kahibaw,” she sheepishly chuckled.

After competing nightly from Jan. 11 until Jan. 17, the second year Hotel and Restaurant Management student from the University of Visayas bested five other finalists – James Alfafara, Vanessa Parame, Rache Parco, Zane Dugaduga and Shim Dagatan –during the grand finals held Thursday night at Plaza Independencia.

For the finals, the judges chose a song for the Final Six to perform after perusing a list of songs the finalists submitted themselves. Afterwards, only three will be chosen for the final round where they will sing their personal pick.

Jessa’s renditions of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin” eventually won for her the 10th Sinulog Idol title in a unanimous decision by resident judges “Pinoy Dream Academy” scholar Apple Abarquez, entertainment editor Ryan Mark Borinaga and vocal coach Jay Unchuan.

The Sinulog Idol Season 10 grand finals exhibited girl power with an all-female Top Three. Notably, the trio all hail from Talisay City.

Placing first runner-up was band vocalist and two-time Sinulog Idol Season 10 Idol Star of the Night awardee Zane Dugaduga who sang “Never Enough” and “I Am Changing. She took home P30,000.

Chosen second runner-up was Vanessa Parame, a BA Communication freshman from the University of San Jose-Recoletos who won Star of the Night once. For her take on “Have You Ever Been In Love” and “This Is My Life,” she received a P20,000 cash prize.

Senior high school HUMMS student Rache Parco is third runner-up, Danao City bet Shim Dagatan landed fourth and a People’s Choice award with 93 percent of public votes, while Carcar City bet James Alfafara was fifth runner-up.

Unchuan, who considered Jessa an “unsung singer,” said he’s always anticipated her performance ever since she first tried to get into the competition. Jessa explained that she didn’t push through twice because she was not prepared to let go of other gigs and contests since the prize money helped a lot.

This time around, Jessa finally decided to commit to Sinulog Idol, confident that the organization would take good care of her.

“Before, nangutana sila kung ready na ba daw ko mu-let go sa akong mga singing contest kay gunitan na ko sa Sinulog Idol. Karon, I’m very ready. I know nga dili ko nila pabayaan and ila gyud kong agakon,” she quipped.

Among her inhibitions in joining the competition was that she grew uncertain since she used to sing a lot in a band and that took a toll on her voice. But she persevered through her mother’s encouragement.

After a hundred auditionees, the week-long elimination saw only 12 finalists singing all sorts of songs depending on the nightly themes which included Idol’s Choice, Jam Night, Cebuano Night, Showtunes Night, Tribute Night and Rock Night – testing the idols’ skill and stamina. Each round, a Star of the Night was chosen and someone will have to say goodbye as well. Jessa won Star of the Night once, on the very first elimination round with her rendition of “Narda.”

“Way lalis,” Borinaga said of the results. “Naay mga nights nga dili ko convinced sa iyang pagka storyteller but tonight is really her night. Destiny gyud siguro niya. Iya jud gihunhuna na last hurrah na ni niya, todo na gyud siya because wala nay performances tomorrow.”

Produced by Soundtraxx Production Studio in partnership with the Cebu City Government and the Sinulog Foundation Inc., Sinulog Idol has evolved from its humble beginnings ten years ago. The trio of judges thanked the crowd for the annual turnout, saying that time has flown by so quickly for them.

Event manager Gloria Villarojo looked back on Sinulog Idol and why they do their best to stage it every single year. Since then, the competition has churned out talents like singing sensation Jacky Chang, “The Clash” semi-finalist Danielle Ozaraga and “Pilipinas Got Talent” semi-finalist Maka Girls, to name a few.

It’s been a decade of discovery, as Villarojo put it. She shared how proud she feels seeing the talent they have nurtured over ten years. When they conceptualized the contest inspired by “American Idol,” she explained that Sinulog Idol was designed to bring out the best in Cebuano singers through the excruciating nightly performances.

“We love nurturing talent, mao na ang return which is sakto na kaayo nga nakatabang mi, nga nakapa-nurture ug develop mi sa talent sa mga bata,” Villarojo said. “I have so much faith not only in the competition but also in the talents. Look at them now. Kana ang dili kabayran.”

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