By Sheila Mariano

Her role in ‘Celebrating the Musical’ takes Jayvee Lagunda out of her comfort zone to greater heights of excellence.

AUCKLAND, Takapuna – It’s one of those balmy Saturday afternoons in November and we are at the Pumphouse Theatre by the shores of Takapuna’s Lake Pupuke.

This is a picturesque hideaways in Auckland where you can kick back, enjoy the scenery and even capture fleeting moments on a camera or cell phone to share with one and all. Mmmm lovely, but I digress …

We’re here for a specific purpose; to interview and photograph Jayvee Lagunda, Filipino-Kiwi Hero Awards ( ‘Best Filipino-Kiwi Female Artist 2014′.

She’s just moved out of her comfort zone; from singing solo and in duets with her sister Louise to the next level – starring in her first musical. ‘Celebrating the Musical’ was presented by North Shore Music Theatre at the Pumphouse from 8-22 November 2014.

You might say that Jayvee has made a slight diversion in her music career. Well, not really. I believe that this is part of a grand plan, a progression lets say, to reach greater heights in her stellar singing career.

For a start, this is not her first brush with a musical. Jayvee and Louise were backing vocalists for ‘Hairspray The Broadway Musical’ in September this year at Auckland’s Skycity Theatre.

Her role in ‘Celebrating the Musical’ is perhaps more full on. Here she sings and dances in a 90-minute presentation of a cascade of songs taken from memorable musicals that were staged over the last six decades.

The producers describe the show as: “a rich program of musical numbers selected and drawn together to represent the wonderful world of musical theatre. Indeed, musical theatre through some of its most poignant, comic, romantic, exciting, loving, threatening and truly human moments.”

I must say that Jayvee came across brilliantly in the different segments she appeared in. What’s more, she looked relaxed, taking this challenge in her stride. Almost as if she relished every moment of this fast paced and super charged musical.

Need I say more? Bravo!

By the way, Jayvee was not the only Filipino starring in this musical. It was good to catch up with Oneal Mendoza. This is Oneal’s second show with the North Shore Music Theatre. He first played ‘Thuy’ in the Auckland production of ‘Miss Saigon’ in 2011.

Ditto for Oneal’s performance in ‘Celebrating the Musical’. His solo renditions of ‘Being Alive’ from ‘Company’ and ‘Miracle of Miracles’ from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ were brilliant.

We’d really like to feature him in Chika Muna one of these days. But he says that interviews take him outside his comfort zone. Oh well …


Jayvee Lagunda – an IT employee from Auckland – grabs the coveted title of Global Pinoy Singing Idol 2012

By Sheila Mariano

MANILA – Ever since Jayvee Lagunda, an IT employee at Electrix Limited in Albany (Auckland), won the New Zealand TFC Kat Contest in September 15th last year, Filipino News (FN) has been keenly following her progress as she strove to reach for the stars.

In October 2012 she moved one step closer to achieving her show-biz goals when she was selected as one of three winners at the TFC Kat Grand Finals in Melbourne, Australia. Host of the night, Mr Randy Santiago, praised Jayvee’s performance: “You sing so well. I’m very sure you will make it big time.”

The winners at this stage of the international contest received attractive prizes, including a return trip to Manila to enter the Global Pinoy Singing Idol (GPSI) – a mega contest that leads to even bigger things.

It was in Manila, on January 25th this year, that Jayvee’s dream of becoming a recording star came true when she won the coveted title of Global Pinoy Singing Idol 2012, besting six regional finalists from San Francisco and Virginia, USA, Australia and Korea. She won the US$2,500 grand prize, a recording album under Star Records and a place in the Philippine edition of The Voice – a reality television singing competition.

A Jayvee fan from Auckland named Maria was so excited about her idol’s good fortune that she called FN to say: “we can proudly say that we have a world-beating Pinoy singer in our midst, someone who was chosen by an eminent panel of Philippines’ showbiz greats – how cool is that?”

According to Jayvee the judging panel of the contest was comprised of: Maestro Gerard Salonga (a conductor, musical arranger, orchestrator and musical director and conductor of FILharmoniKA), Peter Musngi (DZMM), Alou Almaden (producer of X Factor Philippines and head of The Voice – Philippines), Monet Silvestre (the host of Pinoy Dream Academy) and Ahwel Paz (a comedian and DZMM World Caravan GPSI host and over-all coordinator).

Industry insiders told FN that winning GPSI is a stepping-stone, a golden opportunity even, for an overseas Filipino to make inroads into the very competitive recording industry in the Philippines. Normally one has to stand out from the crowd to break into the industry. This is because the mother country, with a comparatively larger Filipino population, has a huge home grown talent pool. What’s more, local wannabes have more opportunities to hone their skills at numerous talent contests and in the process to get recognised.

When FN contacted Jayvee in Manila soon after the results were announced, she declared excitedly: “it’s a big ‘Wow’ for me!” And added graciously: “The other competitors were completely awesome. They were all amazingly memorable.”

Pinoys in Auckland are toasting the win as well. Jet, another Jayvee fan, told FN: “the win proves without a doubt that the Pinoy talent pool in New Zealand is truly world class. But then we already knew that. Go girl!”

The World Caravan GPSI is a talent search started in 2009 that has attracted contestants from all corners of the globe – USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong. And last year, for the very first time, New Zealand was invited to participate in this mega contest.

The talent show is organised by media giants ABS-CBN and DZMM – the radio arm of the network. The battle for the 2012 GPSI crown took place at the Atrium Activity Centre, Market Market Mall in Taguig.

The Bestest Interview with Jayvee Lagunda.

FILIPINO NEWS: Were you excited when you won the GPSI 2012 title?
JAYVEE: Of course. I would have been happy whether I won or not. We were all surprised by the overall score of 95.33% awarded by the ABS-CBN judges. A big wow for me and my whole family, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.

FN: How tough was the competition?
JAYVEE: They were completely awesome and amazingly memorable. I’m very thankful that I got to represent Australia and New Zealand, knowing I’d be heard globally. I feel very blessed that DZMM, TFC and ABS-CBN believed in my gift and talent.

FN: What was your winning song choice?
JAYVEE: It was my rendition of ‘Natutulog Ba ang Diyos’, popularized by Lani Misalucha.

FN: What were the prizes?
JAYVEE: The event itself and the whole week of GPSI commitment prior to the event were all considered our prizes. Then there was the accommodation at the brand new 5-star Luxent Hotel (where the movie ‘Sisterakas’ was shot), ABS-CNN gifts and souvenirs, guestings and the whole itinerary were all, I consider, our prizes.

Aside from the title you get – DZMM World Caravan Global Pinoy Singing Idol – I received US $2,500, the Big Grand Champ Trophy and a WOW Premium karaoke package.

FN: Were you hosted for any post-show celebrations?
JAYVEE: The Finalists of the DZMM GPSI were invited to appear in an episode of Umagang Kay Ganda where we sang Angeline Quinto’s song – ‘Piliin Mo Ang Pilipinas’ (Choose the Philippines).

As well as guestings at Tambayan 101.9 FM and DZMM Todo Todo Walang Preno with Winnie Cordero & Ariel Ureta.

There was a whole week of star treatment – the promotions, recordings, pictorials and video shoots, the food and bonding, the whole package of being the GPSI finalist was absolutely extraordinary.