Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Cebuano talents ready to ‘Sparkle’ as newest Kapuso

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Five personalities hailing from Cebu were among the 35 newly signed talents of Sparkle GMA Artist Center during the Signed for Stardom 2024 event held Thursday, May 16.

Looking radiant during the contract signing ceremony were Gazini Ganados (Miss Universe 2019 Top 20 semifinalist), Bea Gomez (Miss Universe 2021 Top 5 finalist), Jin Macapagal (It’s Showtime Bida Man Grand Winner), Nikki Van (Teen Princess of the World 2019), and Olive May (Miss Cebu 2023 finalist).

Ganados and Gomez, who both earned college degrees from the University of San Jose-Recoletos and are under Origin Model & Artist Management, are the latest beauty queens to join the Kapuso talent agency which also manages the careers of Miss Universe 2024 Top 10 finalist Michelle Dee and Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo, among other pageant titlists.

Ganados, 28, appeared in the 2022 Filipino-American short “The Perfect Couple” starring Camille Aragon and Princess Punzalan, where she played a bridesmaid.

The Fil-Palestinian had plenty of offers right after her Miss Universe Philippines (MUP) reign, but has said in previous interviews that she purposefully shunned the limelight for the sake of her mental health.

Back then, she expressed feeling ill-prepared to be constantly under the microscope – an occupational hazard that showbiz personalities have to learn to live with.

This time around, Ganados seems ready for the spotlight once again, as she hopes to get more opportunities after signing with Sparkle.

“I am very grateful and blessed to be here finally. You can expect transformational growth from all of us, breaking barriers as blank canvases continuously changing or perfecting our craft,” she said during the event.

“I would like to thank GMA Sparkle for allowing us to re-invent ourselves on a bigger platform, and this year we will not only shine, but also sparkle as a Kapuso.”

Gomez, 29, echoed similar sentiments, saying the time is ripe to “move forward with my career.”

“I am grateful to GMA for believing in me. I am excited to work and meet more artists from GMA,” said Gomez, who has been honing her event hosting skills after her MUP stint.

Gomez and Ganados cited beauty queens-turned-actresses Bianca Manalo (Binibining Pilipinas Universe 2009) and Maxine Medina (Miss Universe 2016 top six finalist) as inspirations.

“As beauty queens, we are limited to the stereotypes as pageant queens,” said Gomez. “But with the opportunities given to us by Sparkle, we are able to discover some things from ourselves that we didn’t realize we have.”

Added Ganados, “It’s inspiring for us to continue the legacy of beauty queens who were able to transform in every way in this bigger platform.”

Macapagal, meanwhile, first appeared on television as a contestant of ABS-CBN’s “Pinoy Boyband Superstar” in 2016. In 2019, he tried his luck in the “It’s Showtime” segment “Bida Man”, where he became the eventual grand champion.

An alumnus of Cebu Doctors’ University, Macapagal has since appeared in Kapamilya projects such as in 2019’s “M&M: The Mall, The Merrier”, Boys’ Love (BL) movie “Hello Stranger”, and in an episode of “Maalaala Mo Kaya.”

As a Kapuso, Macapagal recently played support in the DongYan sitcom “Jose and Maria’s Bonggang Villa.”

“There came a moment in my life when I was looking for directions, and then this opportunity came up. I prayed if this was my sign that I should keep going,” he shared. “I got emotional when I was recruited by Sparkle and I am now part of GMA Network. This has been a blessing.”

Van, whose real name is Jashley Murro Van Hemelen, is a Teen Princess of the World 2019 and Face of Cebu 2019 title-holder. In January, she placed third runner-up at the Sinulog Festival Queen 2024 tilt.

At the Signed for Stardom event, host Rain Matienzo remarked that the 18-year-old is an “undeniable teen princess.” To date, she has appeared in “Pepito Manaloto” and “Dapat Alam Mo.”

Another fresh face in the Kapuso fold is Olive May (complete name Olive May Sophia Bihag), who last year was among the 12 finalists of Miss Cebu 2023. The 19-year-old is also a former member of P-pop group CALISTA which debuted in 2022. She left the group in 2024 to pursue acting.

“It feels surreal and I am so overwhelmed. I am genuinely happy that we are here in Sparkle officially and I want to thank GMA Network and Sparkle GMA Artist Center for having us,” said Olive, who will soon make her teleserye debut in GMA Afternoon Prime’s “Forever Young”, starring “Firefly” child actor Euwenn Mikaell who also renewed his Sparkle contract.

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