Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Almost everyone loves the performing arts. Aside from having your children participate in drama clubs or dance recitals, it is also gratifying to take them along to musical performances. The children’s awe at the spectacle, and the look of wonder on their faces, is worth much more than the price of admission.

I brought along my daughter with me to the live concert of Songspell Foundation, which also served as recital for students who joined their summer program. The show entitled Fill up the Night with Music showcased excerpts from Broadway hit musicals Annie, Miss Saigon, and Les Miserables.
About 37 youngsters took part in the concert together with lead members Keith Gonzales, Koi Sevilla, Bodick Madrazo, Nonong Inigo, Shiela Mendoza, Nikko Moreno, Francis Orias, Valene Laguilla, Nelson Edralin, and, last but not the least, my cousin Missy Ansaldo.

Dance and music are in our genes, and I went to the show to extend my support and to see my cousin perform. While Missy has been performing with Songspell for more than decade, it is unfortunate that I never got to see any of her previous shows. Hoping to make up for all those years I missed her plays, I took this opportunity to see her and show off her acting skills to my own little trouper.

Seeing my own cousin act and sing onstage sent shivers down my spine. She has always been known as the “artista” in our family, having joined the local version of Ang TV in her elementary years and, later on, the prestigious Repertory Philippines. Her years of training and performing with Songspell has definitely honed her powerful voice and developed her into a character actress. I proudly give credit to her mom for her dedication in making a good performer out of Missy. I remember how religious they were when it came to practice and training, starting when Missy turned 8 or 9 years old. Those were the years when Songspell has just opened its doors to new members, and now the institution has grown into a big family just as my cousin has grown into a multi-hyphenate and talented young lady.

The Songspell Foundation Inc. was formed in Davao City in 1996. Pioneered by their Musical Director, Ms. Nelly Castro, and their President, Mr. Fernando Pareja, SongSpell has been bringing music here and abroad for almost 17 years. It is an institution of committed families dedicated to the artistic, moral and spiritual formation of children and youth. It first started with two kids who performed in private functions. Soon, it grew into a small group who developed a new repertoire with musical numbers from Broadway and off-Broadway musicals, and a couple of Tagalog and Cebuano songs. Because of this exposure, a lot of parents wanted the same training and musicality instilled their children. Thus, Songspell Foundation Inc. grew into a huge group of performers of different age groups from schools all over Davao. Their growing popularity earned them accolades and paved way for opportunities and projects around country.

The big break came when the group became the opening act for Filipino singer Dulce, and received an invitation for a concert tour in the USA. Songspell was also asked to sing for the US Ambassador during his visit in 1999. 

In 2000, the group flew to the United States of America and had successful shows in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington D.C. This was followed by consecutive concert tours abroad every two years.

To date, Songspell has gone on 7 concert tours and have performed in states and cities like Maryland, Atlanta, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Virginia, Boston, North and South Carolina, and even across the borders all the way to Toronto, Canada.  The foundation is planning its 8th trip in 2014.

Story published on my newspaper column, Metro Mom.
A1, INdulge section. Edge Davao, Vol. 6 Issue 58, 05 June 2013.


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