MANILA, Philippines - A budding Filipino singer and a Fil-Canadian filmmaker are creating buzz in Canada for their respective endeavors.
At 11 years old, singer Darren Espanto is the youngest contestant to make it on the Top 6 finals list of the fifth season of the Canadian talent search "The Next Star."
For his audition piece, Espanto performed "Grenade," a song by another half-Filipino, Grammy winner Bruno Mars, much to the marvel of the judges namely record label executive Mark Spicoluk, country-reality TV star Tara Oram, and award-winning R&B icon Keshia Chanté.
According to ABS-CBN Canada, Espanto began singing at age 2.
"When I was little, I would listen to some songs and I'd try to copy the tune to it," said he.
His parents, Marinel and Don, are supportive of Espanto's dreams. His mother was quoted to have said, "Siyempre very proud. Sabi nila pinakabata tapos Pinoy na hindi mo akalain na mapapansin."
"The Next Star," which began its run in 2008, caters to contestants 15 years old and below. Unlike other talent searches, the finalists on the show don't undergo grueling eliminations. They face weekly challenges until the grand winner is hailed in the finals through viewers' votes.
The contestants are supervised by their mentors aka "specialists:" Jasmine Denham-Baird (voice), Peter Papapetrou (fashion), Dee Daly (hair and makeup), and Michael Riccio (choreography).
In his profile page on "The Next Star" website, Espanto enthused that "all of my supporters and all of my family are big motivators in my life and in this competition." He also shared his music inspirations: Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and the late greats Whitney Huston and Michael Jackson.
Meanwhile, "Powerful Out Women: On The Campaign Trail," a short documentary by award-winning director Angelina Cantada, was screened at the 24th Vancouver Queer Film Festival, held from Aug. 16 to 26. The film spotlights on three women in three levels of government in Canada. These are Libby Davies (Member of Parliament), Cantada's partner Mable Elmore (Member of Legislative Assembly), and Ellen Woodsworth (former Vancouver City Councilor).
In a separate report on ABS-CBN Canada, Cantada, who's also a photographer and writer, related, "I couldn't have asked for a better opening night for 'Powerful Out Women.' It's a short film that I worked on for three years and then... I was finally able to share it with people."
Through the film, Cantada hopes that "young queer women can know that they can be out and proud and be successful in the same time in whatever field they choose."
Prior to moving in Vancouver, she had a fruitful career in the Philippines as a producer, director, writer, and editor of various programs. According to her website, Cantada also "co-owned and operated a video production company in Manila for eight years producing corporate, educational and training videos."