By Sunantha Mendoza-Quibilan/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES – Filipino musical talent has once again wowed Western audiences and continues to capture the attention of online audiences on YouTube. Madonna Decena, a 32-year-old UK-based club singer, and Charlie Green, a 10-year old schoolboy of Filipino and British descent, who both received standing ovations during their live auditions on Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) a popular television talent search in the UK, are the newest YouTube Filipino singing sensations.
Currently one of the favorites in the show’s second season, Madonna Decena moved both audience and panel of judges (composed of American Idol’s Simon Cowell, actress Amanda Holdren and journalist Piers Morgan) with her rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You.
It was a tear-jerking performance by Decena, a single parent who had to leave her two young daughters in the care of their grandparents when she left the Philippines 18 months ago to find work in the UK. She said she joined the contest for her girls, that it was “a chance for me to get more work, more opportunity for me to sing, for my kids.”
Decena said, “If I do well in this competition it would be life-changing not only for me but for my kids. It’s a chance for us to be together.”
Her performance received the approval of all three judges, including that of Cowell’s, who is known for his brutal frankness. He said he at first “didn’t expect anything like that” from the Filipina but that “if you’ve got talent, you’ve got talent [and] I absolutely loved it.”
Charlie Green, another front-runner in BGT, who is half-Filipino, was enthusiastically cheered by the audience and praised by the judges for his version of Frank Sinatra’s Summer Wind. Morgan called the boy’s singing “brilliant,” Holdren predicted that he would win the competition, and even Cowell was impressed, saying, “Charlie, you are fantastic…. I think you are a little star.”
The boy is from Droitwich, Worcestershire, his father, Roger, is British and his mother, Cecilia Surmargo, is a Filipina who hails from Cebu. Green said he has been honing his talent since he was three years old and that he joined the competition in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a great singer.
“I always dream of singing in front of big audiences and massive band behind me…this means the world to me if I could get on, touch the stage I would love it.” Green said before his live performance.
The videos of Decena’s and Green’s performances on YouTube have each registered more than 300,000 views. The hundreds of visitor comments on their pages, most of which are from fellow Filipinos, include compliments and messages of encouragement, as well as a few disparaging remarks, to which admirers have responded with words of indignation.
The newfound fame of BGThopefuls Madonna Decena and Charlie Green is testament to the huge popularity of the video-sharing site and its celebrity-making power. Only recently, it has placed in the international limelight Filipino singing sensation Charice Pempengco.