Painting the Night Sky the MandoPop Way

 Written by Patrick Bryan Ang             and           Edited by Dave Ong & Joel Lim

Photo Header by Jerry Feng

Last March 2, 2017, Bellarmine Field erupted in a flurry of lights and music as eight aspiring bands battle it out to claim the grand prize in the first season of Ateneo Celadon’s newest project – the MandoPop Band Festival. The festival had gathered countless students, teachers, and guests from all the band’s respective schools as well as distinguished guests. The judge’s table also held respectable people from the musical field namely: Danny Chin, the orchestra master of Grace Christian College; Fred Lim-Uy, the Piano Department Head of the University of Santo Tomas; and Reginald Tan, the CEO of Sounds Kradle, Inc.

The first band to perform was Acoustic Tempest. The band consisted of Robin Oo, Jamielyn Villanueva, and Janelle Sy. All of which are from Ateneo de Manila University. They chose to sing a medley of “听海” and “给我一个理由忘记” (“Listen to the Sea” and “Give Me a Reason to Forget”) as a tribute to the people who had failed relationships in the past.

Next up is another band that’s comprised of Ateneans. A4 sang “你要的愛 (The Love You Want)”  by戴佩妮 (Penny Tai). The members Joshe Tiu, Joshua Tan, Sean Gonida, and Patricia Co explained that their band name was a parody of the famous, well-loved Taiwanese boy band F4.

Saint Jude Catholic School’s representative Stage Fright followed the two performances from the blue and white by singing “我的歌声里 (You Exist in My Song)” by”曲婉婷 (Qu Wanting)”. The band consisted of Gian King from the University of Santo Tomas as well as Sharlene Yap, Lance Chua, Axl Lee, and Jasmin Tiu from Saint Jude Catholic School.

Sweaty Try went up next with a rendition of “我已經敢想你 (Courage to Remember You)” by 林宥嘉 (Yoga Lin). The band consisted of Augustine Kim, Salvador Pontejos, Jane Gabro, and Andy Park from St. Paul College of Makati.

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An intermission followed before Sixth Element went on stage. The band from the University of the Philippines consisted of Jessy So, Darren Foroñas, Hendrick Tan, Jayke Fajardo, Bryce Temew, and Zachary Villacruz, who sang “小情歌 (Xiao Qing Ge)” by Sodagreen. The members recounted that they met through one of UP Chinese Student Association’s events in which they showcased their skills in a talent portion. They also explained that they came up with the name Sixth Element as an idea to be one step higher than the five elements of Chinese music.

Next was BPM (Beats Per Minute) from Jubilee Christian Academy.  They sang a medley of “这是我 (This Is Me)” and “最棒的秀 (The Greatest Show)”, which were Chinese translations of songs from the movie The Greatest Showman. The members Allison Tan, Therese Varquez, Jeremy Co, Wren Ching, Andrei Yu, Aaron Tanlimco, and Amos Tiu explained that they chose the songs because of their great lyrics and that it captures their emotions perfectly.

The MYM Music Ministry from Jose Abad Santos High School followed BPM with their rendition of “太阳 (Flashlight)” by 柯梦婷 (Mandy Ke) which was originally in English by Jessie J. The band – consisting of Clarke Fernandez, Nelson Uy, Camille Bustillo, Doldres Gutierrez, Justine Arenas, and Daryl Tiongson – explained that they formed the band since they were tasked to play for their school’s events.

Last but not the least, Quantum went on stage and performed “入阵曲” by 五月天 (Mayday). The band from Makati Hope Christian School consisted of Jasher Capicena, Neil Lapira, Steven Pe, Gabby Laudencia, Mulan Hong Sales, Chailinn Yoon, and Kyla Pingol.

After an astounding performance from all eight bands, the judges turned in their votes as well as those of the audience. The People’s Choice Award was given to Sixth Element with the cash prize of P5,000, while A4 won First Runner Up with a P10,000 prize. BPM became the festival’s first-ever Grand Champion, and they won P25,000.

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Hanssen Ongchan, one of the project managers, attributed his decision to head MandoPop to his love of music. “The goal of wanting to share music through Celadon’s culture-sharing advocacy is one challenge I wanted to pursue. When I was just applying to be a Cultural Affairs Manager, one suggestion I made for the department is to execute a project that promotes the talent of Ateneans and even non-Ateneans,” said Ongchan, which led to the diverse set of bands who competed in the festival.

Co-project manager Angela Chua initially missed the first wave of applications to head Celadon projects, but jumped at the opportunity when an opening for a third project head for Chinese New Year was released. “I knew that it was my second chance, and I wasn’t going to let that pass,” she explained. “Friends were telling me how big of a project it was, but that didn’t stop me from applying. Instead, it motivated me to be more responsible, to be able to adapt and handle more things at the same time…It was a long and tiring eight months of planning, but looking back, it was all worth it. I was given the opportunity to learn, to lead, and to grow, and to this day, that motivates me to be a leader for Celadon.”

Co-project head Shaira Santiago recounted the uncertainty of planning the festival, which was Celadon’s newest project. Ultimately, the festival’s success alleviated these worries. “We didn’t know if people would join or even attend the project, but I’m really happy with the outcome. At some time during the night I just sat down and looked at the stage and felt really proud of the team and everyone involved and it was overwhelming to just think that we managed to pull that one off,” she recalled.

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“It made me proud to see the people I worked with bloom from being really shy people during the General Assemblies to the organizers who stepped up when the org needed them to, and that for me really marked the success of the project,” said Chua.

MandoPop was able to share how talented Filipinos are to students, parents and even grandparents. I will never forget how schoolmates and families of the bands were trying to give as much support as they can from the Elimination Round online voting up until the on the day cheering,” added Ongchan. “The smiles on the faces of those who graced this Chinese-themed inter-school band competition have made every blood, tear and sweat in preparing for the event super fulfilling.”

“MandoPop really embodies Celadon’s advocacy of sharing culture to the wider Philippine society by raising awareness of Chinese-Filipino culture through language and music. The project has so much potential to grow, and I look forward to next year’s MandoPop Band Festival,” remarked Cultural Affairs AVP Sean Gonida, who performed as a guitarist of A4.

The MandoPop Band Festival was truly a night to remember with all the music that filled the air. For those of you that missed it, don’t worry because this won’t be the last time that the mic drops.

For more information, as well as videos of the performances and future announcements on Season 2, follow MandoPop Band Festival’s official Facebook page!

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