OPPA: Letting Filipino talent take flight

Nine young, aspiring artists have been named as the fifth batch of scholars of the Original Pilipino Performing Arts (OPPA) Foundation.

The nine students receiving full scholarships for their respective arts courses, mostly in music performance, in four OPPA partner schools: St. Scholastica’s College, St. Paul University Manila, University of Sto. Tomas, and Ateneo de Manila University.

All three of the St. Scholastica’s College scholars are on track to get their Bachelor’s degrees in music. Jose Marie Eserjose and Marloe Kyril Maruyama are Performance Majors for Violin and the Double Bass, respectively. Francine Allyros Tapaoan’s major is in Music Education with Violin Principal.

For Francine, being able to study music and to practice professionally is to continue the legacy of her late grandfather who was an accomplished violinist and composer.

“I used to play the guitar, until my grandfather died and I was moved to take up his instrument – the violin,” says Francine. “I just fell in love with it, because it truly feels like an extension of me – almost like I’m singing through my instrument.”

Charmers Bersaba, a violinist since childhood, is taking on his Bachelor of Music degree at St. Paul University along with Chaguz Antonio Oca, who is studying Music Education with a major in Technical Theater.

Originally a pharmacy student, Charmers has since found his true calling in music.

“I come from a simple family, so the plan was for me to take up a ‘practical’ course like pharmacy,” Charmers explains. “But I found no joy in it. Music, on the other hand, makes me feel like I can be something great.”

Like Charmers, Chaguz was originally set to take a different path from music. Having gone to a science high school, the expectation was always for him to take a science major for college.

“I thought I was going to take up Chemical Engineering,” he recalls. “But I couldn’t ignore how my heart would soar whenever I was doing my ‘extracurriculars’ like singing in the choir or playing instruments for our church band or even just for fun.”

The most experienced in the group, Michael Jacinto has been conducting professionally for both marching bands and full orchestras. With the OPPA scholarship grant, he is now able to further hone his craft with a Master of Arts in Conducting degree at the University of Sto. Tomas, together with Jan Romina Montenegro and April Jasmine Rosales who are both working towards their Bachelor of Music in Music Theater degrees.

“I was originally a trombone player in a marching band, until I was asked to fill in for the conductor once and I just never turned back,” Michael says. “When you conduct, it’s like being able to create your own music because you add your personal touch to the works of masters.”

The only non-musical artist to be granted an OPPA scholarship this year is Elissa Joy Ofilada, a young poet and writer who is now enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts, Major in Creative Writing program of Ateneo de Manila.

“I hope to create work that tells the story and struggle of ordinary Filipinos,” Elissa says. “I believe it’s the duty of the artist to face the social issues of their country and to shine a light on them.”

Most of the scholars learned about OPPA through the recommendation of their professors, while some heard about the foundation through social media and news about former scholars.

The selection committee for the fifth batch of OPPA scholars was composed of leading luminaries in the local performing arts industry, such as Philippine Opera Company Artistic and Managing Director Karla Gutierrez, musical director Ejay Yatco, and writer and actor Rody Vera. Public Relations Assistant Director Archie Nicasio and CSR Officer Elaine Edlyn Castillo of Resorts World Manila (RWM) were also part of the selection panel. The aspiring scholars gave their best during auditions at the award-winning performance venue, the Newport Performing Arts Theater at RWM.

With the support of RWM through funding from the Resorts World Philippines Cultural Heritage Foundation, Inc. (RWPCHF), OPPA has been cultivating Filipino talent by supporting the local industry through a holistic scholarship program for talented individuals. The resources will be channeled to grants and scholarships providing artists with avenues and opportunities for development, and elevating standards and capabilities by providing global expertise and resources.

“OPPA is taking huge strides to nurture young homegrown talents since our inception in 2015,” shares OPPA president and First Lady of Philippine Musical Theater Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo. “The immense support from the RWPCHF, our partner schools, and practicing professionals in providing these young artists with proper education is a huge boost in our pursuit to institutionalize OPPA’s efforts to advance Philippine performing arts,” she added.

Assured by OPPA’s support, the scholars can focus on reaching their full potential and use their talents and passion to contribute to Philippine arts and culture. The OPPA Foundation is now accepting new applications for scholarship for the next academic semester.

Visit www.rwmanila.com/csr to learn more about RWM’s CSR inititatives. To learn more about OPPA, visit www.oppafoundation.org.

About Original Pilipino Performing Arts (OPPA) Foundation:

The Original Pilipino Performing Arts (OPPA) Foundation was established in 2015 after the guidance of its Founding Chairman, Dr. Andrew L. Tan, in the pursuit to recognize and uplift the Filipino’s illustrious talent in various aspects of performance.

With partnerships from the academe, industry practitioners, and private stakeholders, the OPPA Foundation aims to institutionalize efforts in the advancement of Philippine performing arts by providing academic assistance, skills enhancement, and career opportunities to budding young artists.

With young scholars under its care, The OPPA Foundation remains committed in its objectives to support the local industry, nurture potential talent, and elevate the quality of performing arts in the country.



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