Born to a farming family, local singer Arjay Espartero is still in disbelief he will soon be performing on the world stage.
After passing the auditions, Espartero was informed last September 2017 that he will represent the Philippines in the 22nd Annual World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) this coming July 2018 in Long Beach, California in the United States.
“I’m not really the best kind of performer like the others. But believing in myself, that I have the voice that could compete internationally and that I could inspire other people in showing their talents, have made me qualified,” the 32-year old singer from Narra town told Palawan News.
The annual WCOPA is said to be the only “World Talent Olympics,” open to homegrown Filipino talents to participate in through singing, dancing, modeling, instrumentals, acting and variety arts.
Since the Philippines participated in 2005, the country has been able to produce several world champions, including ABS-CBN’s vocalists Jed Madela (2005) and Laarni Lozada (2013), and GMA’s vocalist Jonalyn Viray (2006).
Growing up, Espartero imagined himself as a performer . In high school, he had always been joining barangay singing contests in his hometown.
“My past experiences in performing in front of many people helped and gave me confidence in representing our country in this international competition,” he said.
But this feat did not come without countless of days full of tears and sweat.
After graduating elementary and entering high school, carrying the grief of the loss of his late father, he had gone out working to sustain his education.
“On weekdays, a student. On weeknights and weekends, a charcoal maker. It’s too tiring that I really, really wanted to quit. But I consoled myself: If I quit my studies, I will be forever in that situation. It’s the most challenging days of my life, but I encouraged myself to fight for my education and my future,” he said.
In college, Espartero’s narrative as a working student coming from a poor family is quite familiar. Before the crack of dawn, he woke up and went to school seven days a week. He studied in the morning and worked at a fast food chain in the afternoon until 12 in the evening.
“There was a time when I woke up, I was extremely tired, not wanting to get out of the bed. I told again myself, ‘I’ll quit.’ But I realized it’s only for four years. So I summoned all my strength and stood up and started doing my usual routine all over again,” he recounted.
After the four-year run in college, he finished his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Management degree at Palawan State University. Now, he’s a bank assurance sales officer at Sun Life Grepa Financial, Inc.
Despite being on the job, Espartero still never gave up his first love.
“The most challenging part? It’s believing yourself that you can’t do it, that you’re not good enough. I experienced that but I realized nothing will happen if I keep that thought. So I learned to get out of the box. If you show to people you can do it, good things will come,” he said.
One of his sources of motivation in achieving his goal of becoming a world-class artist is his family — they’re his inspiration. All the hardships they went through have kept him going in order to give his mother and siblings a good life.
“We are seven in the family and I have two sisters and four brothers. My mother is working on a farm where life is hard, that’s why I really feel the need of helping her and giving her the bests of life,“ he said.
At the world championship, Espartero will be joining four categories, singing the following songs: Broadway – Forever; Pop/Ballad – Broken Vow; Contemporary – Bridge Over Troubled Water, and Gospel – People Need the Lord. “I chose these songs because they represent me – a person who loves, a person who is friendly and a person who’ll get out of the box and will stand up for his dreams.”
“In me, there’s a strong urge to give honor to my country and my province. I want you all to become proud that a Filipino, a Palaweño can compete internationally,” he added.
Espartero is seeking financial assistance for his registrations, airfare, US Visa processing and board and lodging to be able to participate in the 22nd Annual WCOPA from July 6 to 15.
He can be reached at mobile no. +63998-960-6132/+63905-456-7125 or through firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsorship can be deposited through his bank accounts: Banco De Oro – 0039-8020181-8 and Metro Bank – 514-3-514-51823-9