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Cultural Potpourri | We Three Queens

Davao’s singing sensations (l-r): Shaira Opsimar, Danielle Fanlo, and Nica Tupas

Just three days after the busy Christmas celebration, Davao’s music lovers received a special musical treat from its very own homegrown talents. I was lucky this time to be informed by the music lover, Mae Canete Tupas (oh yes, she sang ever so bravely once with no less than Kuh Ledesma on stage at the Abreeza Mall of Davao) about this musical concert she was helping promote with such eagerness.

This story appeared on the front page of the January 6, 2020 issue of Mindanao Times. Click on the image to download or subscribe.

The special concert was presented to raise funds for the Archdiocese Nourishment Center represented by Monsignor Paul Cuison and Father Randy Vergara of the Archdiocese of Davao, and the ever-supportive Civil Service Commissioner, Atty. Aileen A. Lizada.

The stars who shone so brightly that evening at the rather cramped second story of Blah, Blah, Blah by the Good Food Company restaurant were no other than Nica Tupas, Danielle Fanlo, and Shaira Opsimar. They were joined by Christine Evangelista as a guest performer.

Monsignor Paul Cuisine of the Archdiocese of Davao with his message of thanks

Yes, these three “Queens” plus one were former scholars of Davao’s premier music school, Musikademy, under the tutelage of the exacting music maestro Bong Aviola. Maestro Bong Aviola is the Director of Musikademy and the choirmaster of the internationally renowned “The Himig Singers” of Davao City.

The four Davaoena singers are steadily making names in the music scene of Manila. Nica Canete Tupas is, of course, the daughter of the ever-supportive stage mother, Mae Canete Tupas. Nica is presently studying Music, major in Voice, at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Nica Tupas, Danielle Fanlo, Christine Evangelista and Shaira Opsimar sing for a worthy cause

She is one of the sensational seven members of the Ryan Cayabyab Singers, and a singer of the a capella group called “Conchords.” Nica prides herself on being the first-ever music scholar of the strict music maestro Bong Aviola’s Musikademy. Yes, the music maestro is hard to please and chooses only the best.

Danielle Fanlo, who graduated with honors from the Ateneo de Davao University, is presently training as a soprano with the Philippine Madrigal Singers of the University of the Philippines’ Conservatory of Music. Mind you, but the Philippine Madrigal Singers is one of the most awarded choirs in the world. Danielle was a former member of The Himig Singers of Davao City and the Sing Philippines Youth Choir.

Shaira Opsimar, on the other hand, played the lead of the recent Rak of Aegis of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), which is the Philippines’ longest-running jukebox musicale. Shaira has also appeared in other PETA productions and some television shows. This Davaoena singer is truly remarkable and shows maturity and depth when compared to the younger Nica and Danielle who seem to have come from a conservative and well-protected upbringing.

Nica, Danielle, Christine and Shaira with music maestro Bong Aviola (center)

The guest performer, Christine Evangelista, is also studying Music in UP Diliman. She is a soprano and proudly serves as President of the UP Singing Ambassadors no less. And that is truly a well-deserved feat coming from a provinciana studying and struggling in Imelda’s City of Man.

Despite the singers’ hectic schedules, their passion to sing for a worthy cause in their own hometown under the direction of their most beloved music maestro Bong Aviola gave them the very reason and incentive to rehearse seriously to enable them to come up with a show. Yes, a fantastic show to end the year that was glorious 2019 despite the earthquakes.

Stage mom Mae Canete Tupas shoots her daughter, Nica

Truly, the girls presented a dynamic repertoire which included Broadway hit songs exemplified by the heart-tugging “I Still Believe” from Miss Saigon which made Leah Salonga an international performer to reckon with; OPM classics such as the well-applauded “Sana’y Maghintay Ang Walang Hanggan” which was originally sang by the then love-struck and pa-cute Sharon Cuneta; and Pop songs like “Brokenhearted” by the American Pop Duo, Karmin, which was not at all a familiar song to the more mature audience, including myself, that evening to fully appreciate.

The restaurant Blah, Blah, Blah by the Good Food Company has made a name for itself not just as a casual restaurant serving good food but also as a venue for intimate concerts such as the recently held “Putting It Together” featuring the Hong Kong-based Davaoeno pianist, Michael Lopez, and the talented and well-admired soprano, Marianne Tuazon. But chismis has it that this restaurant is moving to another location soon. Abangan!

Lights and Sounds for the special concert was ably provided by Dennis Arabilla. Until now, I am still wondering who did the truly “eye-catching” stage design.

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