An unexpected odyssey

Gifted Vida Reya is off to see a world teeming with talent

By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor

 

LIVING HER DREAMS. Vida Reya says her WCOPA odyssey is making her relive childhood dreams. Yet the 5’8” charmer hardly expected she’d find herself in a competition, much more at the international stage.
LIVING HER DREAMS. Vida Reya says her WCOPA odyssey is making her relive childhood dreams. Yet the 5’8” charmer hardly expected she’d find herself in a competition, much more at the international stage.

TO say that Vida Reya was surprised is an understatement — when she auditioned for a contest’s singing category, but was invited to compete in modeling instead. Definitely not new to it, having helped out in a couple of promotional stunts here and there, the former Sinulog Idol finalist was nevertheless overwhelmed, especially since it isn’t just any other contest, but the 19th World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) that will be held this July in Long Beach, California. It is otherwise dubbed as the world’s talent Olympics, with over 40 countries competing, and the Philippines, in fact, as the defending champs. In 2014, the country had a grand slam when Xtreme Dancers from South Cotabato was hailed the Senior Grand Champion Performer and Lloyd Montebon from Davao as the Junior Grand Champion Performer.

A JOURNEY, A STORY. Vida Reya will proudly wear the country’s colors as she competes in what is considered as “the world’s talent Olympics” in the spokes-model category. But her journey to the world stage is quite a story in itself.
A JOURNEY, A STORY. Vida Reya will proudly wear the country’s colors as she competes in what is considered as “the world’s talent Olympics” in the spokes-model category. But her journey to the world stage is quite a story in itself.

“I’m happy and excited,” shared Vida, “And I know it’s going to be very hard. Imagine the big responsibility to represent not just Cebu, but the country. I have to be good, and be the best. It’s scary.” Alongside her are nine other Cebuano performance artists of various mediums, and they make up Cebu’s first ever delegation to the WCOPA.

Vida will be going for the spokes-model category specifically, that is, instead of what she has been used to of rendering a song on stage, she’ll be up there discussing and promoting a topic of her choice. It helps that the 5’8” Cebuana was once a radio jock, known on local airwaves by the moniker Lady Jazzper, and is already quite the maven in speaking before an audience.

Enjoying the backstage

But it wasn’t always like that, Vida admitted, having seen herself more of the backstage kind of girl growing up. “I performed a couple of songs in school for grades, but really I have always been a closet musician, a bathroom singer and a silent props-maker. I enjoyed being backstage, usually doing the props and directing the lights,” she said.

It was in 2014 that Vida found herself on the other side, when she joined Sinulog Idol Season 5. Initially she just wanted to try it out, having just finished her business degree from the University of San Carlos at that time, and wondering to herself how she would fare in one of the things she has always loved, singing. True enough, she made her mark there and opportunities started pouring in for the young thespian. Vida landed as one of the contests’ 12 finalists, where she also won for herself a scholarship to the Center for Pop Music Philippines. It was also around this time she became a DJ at a local FM station.

Modeling, on the other hand, is something she has dabbled in only briefly, once when she helped out a friend for a promotional stunt, and during her younger years when she used to dress up and take photos of herself, simply just for fun. Vida never thought of it seriously, much less join an international competition for it. Yet organizers deemed it otherwise and saw the charmer’s potential, and knew she has what it takes to be a representative.

Vida said things have come full circle, and that her joining WCOPA is making her relive childhood dreams. “I secretly imagined myself as a Victoria’s Secret Angel — well, that’s not a so much of a secret anymore now. Then I realized this WCOPA odyssey is making my childhood fantasies into realities,” she said.

PINOYS IN WCOPA. The first Filipino to win the WCOPA World Grand Champion title is Jed Madela back in 2005. In 2014, the Philippines had the second most number of delegates participating in the competition, next to Australia and followed by South Africa. Xtreme Dancers from South Cotabato were hailed the 2014 Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World and Lloyd Edisonne Montebon from Davao the 2014 Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World. This year, Vida Reya alongside nine other Cebuanos will be flying to Long Beach, California to join.
PINOYS IN WCOPA. The first Filipino to win the WCOPA World Grand Champion title is Jed Madela back in 2005. In 2014, the Philippines had the second most number of delegates participating in the competition, next to Australia and followed by South Africa. Xtreme Dancers from South Cotabato were hailed the 2014 Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World and Lloyd Edisonne Montebon from Davao the 2014 Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World. This year, Vida Reya alongside nine other Cebuanos will be flying to Long Beach, California to join.

Fun with five-inch heels

Together with Vida in this “odyssey” are Jay Unchuan, coach and regional director of WCOPA Team Philippines-Cebu, and Jonas Borces, who has been one of her mentors in modeling. She and her co-candidates have also been raising funds for their trip to the competition, and have been setting up several activities to introduce their cause to the Cebuanos, including staging of some shows and a mall booth. “We had this fund-raising activity in Ayala Center Cebu called the P10 for 10 (delegates). The amazing part of it was when people dropped more than that. Thank you, Cebu!” she beamed.

Raising awareness for the team in the morning, and training for her modeling debut in the evening — Vida said it has been tough, but what keeps her going is how enjoyable the entire journey has been so far, even with five-inch heels and all. “There will be times that I’m physically tired of doing everything. But what makes me feel better is that it’s fun. I enjoy it,” she said, “And my friends and family who have believed that I can do greater things, also inspire me.”

And winning, for Vida, isn’t about bringing home the medal but about making the most out of the experience. “What defines my success in this new journey is when I did whatever it takes, gained more friends, cherished the people who have been with me, and make my friends and family proud.”

“With or without medals, we will give back,” Vida vowed, and that’s one of her priorities upon coming home, on top of finishing her internship in culinary school and resuming her radio career. She added, “We will never forget that together with us is a strong and loving city that has supported the first Cebuano delegates for the competition.”

Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas

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