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Filipinos Making Waves Festival (FMWF) at Yonge-Dundas Square

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Filipinos Making Waves Festival (FMWF) at Yonge-Dundas Square
« on: August 27, 2009, 10:07:31 AM »
By Butch Galicia

The Filipinos Making Waves Festival (FMWF) at Yonge-Dundas Square on August 15 and 16 might have etched itself in the pages of Toronto’s cultural and entertainment history by being the first of its kind in the community to have been staged at the square.

It might have made history for having temporarily closed to traffic a segment of Yonge St. for a short community parade, made culturally significant and educational by three groups in tribal wear and gear representing indigenous peoples in the Philippines’ major islands of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

But beyond first-ever citations, the two-day ticketless FMWF had proven itself effective in connecting a big number of people of non-Filipino descent to an introductory, if not deeper, appreciation of Philippine arts and culture through music.

To a degree, the two-day festival helped shatter ethno-cultural barriers and invoked recognition and acceptance of what Filipinos are and what they could do and could be in the field of raw and uninhibited public entertainment, especially at Toronto’s premier open-air public stage at the square.

But all who fully understood the festival’s underlying concept would forever remember it as having built and realized dreams as it opened doors of opportunity for young and aspiring talents who showed they had the heart and soul to melodiously and harmoniously sing, dance and play instruments with confidence and passion on a stage set before an audience of various cultural representations.

Take the case of nine-year-old You Tube regular Jheo Navarro, the youngest in the group of carefully selected and well-rehearsed cast, who took to heart “MacArthur’s Park”; Edessa Andrada, 10, who effortlessly belted Whitney and Celine selections like no other; Teresa Panaligan, 12, whose vocal prowess showed why she was Toronto champion of Kuya Germs’ singer-star search; and Hamilton youngster RJ Lingao-Lingao who crooned “Mack The Knife” with gusto reminiscent of five decades ago.

Jiva Andola, who had her first solo concert under Mentor Productions Inc. at the same stage where R&B diva Beyonce performed on in September 2006, sweated it out with the Sunday mid-afternoon crowd, adding heat to what king Sun and the plus 30 mercury rise could muster.

Andola’s version of “Pers Lab” and “Can’t Get Enough” gave justice to both original compositions of FMWF musical director Mon Torralba, a member of Philippine '70s band, The Hotdogs.

Jeanette Ricasio’s set that mixed “Isang Mundo, Isang Awit” and “Bonggahan” with a couple of English melodies provided a fitting opening act to Germany-based vocalist Maloy Lozanes, who showed the range of her disco-oriented pipes.

Like Jiva, local Talakantahan winners Ivy Joy, Jessica Joy and Ian Nillas -- in either solo or joint outings -- raised the roof and the mid-aft heat with Original Pilipino Music, pop and reggae sounds. Their FMWF debut was co-produced with Talakayan Radio.

Not to be understated were the performances of R&B singer Kristine Subido, hip-hopper The Real AJM, balladeer Rommel Billanes who held the Filipino Centre Toronto (FCT) 2009 Filipino Idol crown, Mike Miranda who introduced the modern “balagtasan” through music in spoken words, and FMWF back-up vocalist cum soloist Genevieve Alejandro with guitarist Brandon Torralba.

Zena ‘Lady Elvis’ Zagala, perhaps the most mature among the mike holders, showed her glowing golden spirit as she sang, danced and impersonated The King to the delight of the crowd.

Most of the homegrown talents were ably supported by back-up vocalists Tristan Torralba, Genevieve Alejandro, Gena Baldivia and Chyrelle Samson and live band members Mon Torralba on lead guitar; Natu Buzon, bass; Mike Ombao, keyboard; Jun Vidal, Don Lunaria and Terry Martell, alternating on drums.

But respected among the powerhouse array of FMWF performers was Mikey Bustos, who had evolved into an ultimate Canadian mainstream performer, shortly after copping 8th spot in the inaugural Canadian Idol Reality TV series in 2001.

Bustos showed he could fill the stage as he moved with his back-up dance crew in an opening number, then sang his latest CD selections depicting his love for music and life and standard tunes that time turned into classics.

Inspired to be the best in what they loved to do, youth groups representing various musical genres went onstage at performance level.

To the rhythm of the Mindanao’s indigenous kulintang, gong and drums, Santa Guerrilla aired their music that had contemporary undertones and messages.

So did R&B and hip hop groups Barkadaz and Crewzing. (PNA Feature)
scs/RCG

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