Saturday, March 20, 2010

How I found my voice

For as long as I can remember, my older and only sister Moriah (that’s not her real name) was the family’s singer and reunion program organizer. She would choreograph song and dance numbers for me and my cousins to perform during our summer and Christmas reunions. She bought minus one tapes whenever she could and would pass the day away , locked up in our room practicing her favorite “performance pieces”. Having no one to play with or talk to, I would imitate her and put in my favorite cassette tapes of Cyndi Lauper, Heart, and Roxette and sing along with them in front of a mirror, holding my mom’s hairbrush as props and test the limits of my lungsand vocal chords as to see how high I could go. I never bothered to get an audience to listen and critique my singing because at the time I didn’t really care what anyone thought of it.

Sometime during my sophomore in UP, my old friend Jon and I saw posters calling out for auditions to a prominent university choir. On a dare, we committed ourselves to it and tried out. I never really tried out for anything in my life, and I was so nervous about how I’d do and how I’d handle the rejection. Jon, on the other hand, had been singing with our HS choir for 4 years straight and knew exactly what to expect.

We had to wait an hour or so for our turn to audition. It was grueling. We knew we were going to be asked to sing 1 song of choice and another required piece. I remember beads of cold sweat running across my forehead as I entered the room. The choirmaster asked me to sing whatever he played on the piano using weird syllables. “Mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi…zee-hee-zee-hee-zee-hee-zee-hee-zeeee!” I tried not to laugh as I was asked to sing these and stretch my voice high and low in a weird way. The choirmaster did not send any messages that I passed or flunked. He simply asked me to wait outside and someone will call out the names of those who passed after everyone was done with their audition.

Waiting for the results was torture. I was already way past dinnertime and since we couldn’t leave the premises for fear that we’d miss the news, Jon and I decided to satisfy our hungry tummies with fishballs and coke from the friendly vendor just outside the building. After another hour of waiting, news arrived. Jon’s name and mine were called by the choir’s membership committee head and we were asked to come back for the next rehearsal. Woo-hoo!

Little did I know this was the beginning of an eventful 17-year career as a chorista. Travelling to my dream destinations, gaining friends from the other side of the planet, and garnering awards for the country were just a few benefits of being part of a choir in the Philippines. Looking back, I certainly do not regret agreeing to a dare that as trivial as it seemed then, changed my life.

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