Thursday, November 15, 2012


by Dennis Sun

13. So many people are afraid of the number 13. They even remove the 13th floor in hotels because customers don’t like to sleep in that floor. People don’t do business on the 13th day because they consider it bad luck.

However, it’s the opposite for UTAWIT. It has been the second time for a number 13 contestant to garner the grand prize. First, it was Dave Aguilar representing Kyoto who won two years ago. This year, Kevin took the highest award. It seems the number 13 prove to be a lucky number for the singing competition.

Perhaps because in a singing competition, it’s better to sing at the latter part.  It is considered unlucky to sing during the first half of the competition as judges are still waiting for the last contestants of a competition. Judges are saving the highest marks until everyone has proven their mark.

Kevin was, indeed, lucky. But his triumphant glory in UTAWIT 2012 may not have been a stroke of luck. It had been a long series of trials and errors, of failing to win the number one spot at the regionals year after year. Kevin couldn’t win the top slot in order to qualify in the grand finals round. For some, it would have been giving up. For Kevin, it was more of a challenge. Where did he fail? What did he lack? He believed that when it’s not your time, one has to wait for the right moment. Thus, he waited as he prepared himself round after round, year after year of joining the qualifying rounds.

Kevin, although born in Manila, grew up going back and forth living in Manila and Aurora, Quezon. He studied Customs Administration in college because that was what his dad, who worked in a bank, wanted him to take. He also took another course in Export Management. After graduating with two degrees, he also took an MBA. While taking his MBA, he taught Customs and Tariff Law.

In 2008, he was given an opportunity to host a party for the caregivers in Japan. This 10 day trip was extended to 3 months and later on became a year contract. He currently is handling sales and marketing of a company.

Looking back, it was actually Kevin’s brother who is the singer in the family. Kevin idolized his brother for his voice and singing skills. He has always wanted to be like him.

His first experience in a singing competition was when he was still in college. It was in Baguio City and an inter-college competition and won. He also joined  Channel 5’s Sing-galing, and won.

Kevin confesses that he didn’t have any musical education at all. However, when he came to Japan, he was lucky to have 2 good mentors. One of them is Jazz Ramirez, whom he met in a Filipino restaurant. Jazz was the house singer in the resto-pub. During the karaoke portion, Kevin took the microphone and belted a song. Jazz was mesme-rized by Kevin’s voice and from then on took him under his wing. It was Jazz who chose his winning song piece, “Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin.” His other mentor is Regs Evangelista who later became his voice coach. He learned many things from Regs. He taught him proper timing, diction, how to express emotions, and how to approach an audience. Kevin is forever grateful to these two people for without them, he could have not gotten the grand prize in Utawit.

Kevin joined the several Utawit qualifying rounds in Tokyo garnering 3rd place, 2nd place and then again, 3rd place before getting the 1st place this year. Was he disappointed for not getting the 1st place before? Not at all. Kevin treats every competition with good sportsmanship. If he did not win the grand prize this year, Kevin would still vie again next year. Kevin thinks that a competition should offer him challenges to perfect his craft. If the judges don’t get satisfied with his rendition, he tries to look for ways to learn more. There is no stopping him to upgrade his skills while he is still alive.

Joining Utawit made him more mature in terms of a live singer. He learned how to mingle with other singers with more experience than him. Most of all, he learned how to handle nervousness and how to use that energy to one’s advantage.

Winning Utawit is a big factor in Kevin’s life. Kevin realized that most of the previous champions of Utawit have carved a better life in Japan. They have been invited in many big activities. Kevin is preparing for new doors that will open for being the new champion. Being an Utawit champion will definitely give him more breaks and hopefully, his name will soar all over Japan.

Although still a newcomer in the business, he said that it is important for singers to continue working out on their dreams and keep on practicing no matter how far one has gone through. As for joining the competition, he believes it’s not about winning but being a part of the competition and working for its cause that is the most important.

Asked about tips to future Utawit contestants, he said it’s all about practice and listening to the advice of other people. He mentioned that “sleep” is very important so as not to ruin one’s voice. He prescribes salabat (ginger) tea with honey for its therapeutic value.

As for his future plans, Kevin simply wants to continue singing whether it be in a huge stage or just a karaoke box.  Champion or not, Kevin will forever remain your humble singing guy next door.

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