I noticed his huge billboard on the stage the night before. I couldn't read what the big letters said because the Victorias City plaza in Negros Occidental, Philippines, was dimly lit.
The next morning, under the bright Saturday sun, I had to ask what 'NOVEN' meant as it was the word written in caps on the billboard, the word I couldn't make out the night before. I later learned 'NOVEN' was Noven Belleza, a native of Victorias City in the Negros Island Region, who made it to finals of Tawag ng Tanghalan, a singing competition held by a noontime show in Manila, Philippines.
(Thousands waiting for Noven at the plaza)
He was going to arrive at the city plaza for a homecoming, where he would be welcomed by his neighbors, fans, supporters, and the students of the Victorias National High School, his alma mater.
Among the thousands who welcomed him, Miss Divina Farinas, his former teacher at Victorias National High School, told me that Noven actually finished his high school four years ago, but couldn't go on to college because of financial difficulties. Noven, she said, had to work on the farm to help his family.
(Current and former teachers from
the Victorias National High School)
From the videotaping of the dancers and drummers on an almost empty plaza using a drone two hours before Noven actually arrived, to the nicely decorated vehicles that would fetch him from the Bacolod-Silay Airport, and his calculated entrance into the plaza while riding a vehicle that was preceded by drummers and dancers, Noven's homecoming was obviously scripted by the people behind the TV show, much like a homecoming of the finalists of American Idol.
But scripted or not, the loud cheers and screams from his young supporters, especially those from the Victorias National High School, proved that they were indeed proud that he and his vocal talent made it big in Manila.
(They're just happy to cheer and welcome Noven)(Even tricycle drivers wanted to see Noven)
I learned from his teacher that Noven used to compete during area meets while he was still in school and even borrowed long sleeve shirts to wear during singing competitions. Now, he probably has his own glam squad behind him.
(Noven is welcomed by his kasimanwa)
I heard that before he got famous, he would seek help from some government officials for financial assistance but didn't get much. But during his homecoming, I could see a lot of local officials riding on his popularity. Hmm.
(The boy who used to work on a farm
stopped city traffic)
I don't exactly know about the details on how to vote for Noven during the finals in Tawag ng Tanghalan. But if you're a follower, I'm sure you know how to vote and make him win the competition, which will surely change his life forever.
I looked up his performances on Youtube and I think he sounds like Arnel Pineda, the Filipino vocalist of Journey who replaced Steve Perry. He also sounds like Air Supply. So, in the future, if Arnel retires, Journey's type of 'sound' can still live on with Noven providing the band's vocals. Who knows?
Good luck, Noven!
(Note: Less than two months after this homecoming, Noven returns to Victorias City as the champion)