Innate talent is a myth. That’s the answer you’ll get when you do a quick Google research on whether or not one can learn creativity, musical prowess, or any kind of elite-level inclination. It would take you a lot of time and practice to match those considered talented and gifted, they say. While that doesn’t sound easy, the point is, natural talent is nothing but an out-dated misconception.
That’s what the internet and some pieces of literature might tell you. However, that’s not entirely the case with a UK-based Filipina nurse and singer who was has been impressing audiences and winning accolades almost all her life. Case in point, she made it through World Championship of Performing Arts 2018 with flying colors.
A FILIPINO AMONG WORLD’S BEST PERFORMERS Mervic Monocillo, formerly Mervic Legaspi Fabilo, is a classical/kundiman singer hailing from Miagao, Iloilo. Recently, she represented the United Kingdom in WCOPA, a prestigious contest where the world’s best performers compete and are judged by a panel of the entertainment industry’s most accomplished personalities.
“I am proud to have been chosen as one of the delegates of the UK.” A truly talented performer, Mervic bagged 9 medals all in all, along with 4 plaques with a gold medal for being a World Champion Vocals Division. BORN TO SING AND WIN Mervic Monocillo was born a singer.
Even when she was still an itty bitty one, she had already let everyone know how powerful her voice is by crying so loud that the other crying babies in the nursery room would be silenced. They would listen to her belt, so to speak, and all of them would soon fall asleep. At 1 year old, she started singing a few verses. Her mom, fascinated with the kid’s adorable warble, would put Mervic on top of tables.
There, the soon-to-be award-winning performer would dance and sing before her mother’s eyes. Soon, at the age of 2, Mervic started singing in public, and people loved it so much that they would throw coins on the stage or even hand her some money.
The young Ilongga joined her first singing contest during her town’s Christmas program by the time she was 5. Not only did she win her debut competition, but she was also awarded the ‘Most Talented Child of the Year’.
Little did everyone know that the award was just the first of many. Even more so, perhaps, no one could have ever predicted that in singing contests, Mervic will also meet her other half, Russell Monocillo. BROKE A SWEAT AND LEARNED FROM THE BEST It is safe to say that the Filipina possesses inborn talent.
It doesn’t mean, however, that she didn’t need people to guide her and didn’t have to put in time and effort for the craft just like everyone else. It’s quite the opposite as she has been training and practicing for all her life, starting early at her own home.
A singer, host, speaker, and Municipal Planning Officer, Mervic’s dad was popular in their town in Iloilo. As talented as he was, the family’s pillar didn’t really have the chance to perform professionally. Despite that, he somehow influenced his little angel to become the performer that she is now.
Mervic’s mother, on the other hand, was a teacher known for performing in school-organized programs and writing winning pieces for declamation contestants. Once when she was 8, Mervic joined a school-level Literary Musical contest.
Up to this day, Mervic still remembers her Mom’s words. “My mother told me to sing these songs feeling it through the heart”. Years later, Mervic would make both her parents and the entire Filipino Community proud. THE WCOPA JOURNEY: How the Would-Be Grand Finalist Was Chosen and Convinced to Join “I cannot tell you everything because space will be filled up with all the stories I’ll tell.” These are Mervic’s first words when asked about her WCOPA experience.
Going into her story, we realize that she has indeed a lot to tell. Tracing back her WCOPA journey, one can say that Mervic is a reluctant champion, at least in the beginning. Way before WCOPA, Athena Alcantara, the National Director of the United Kingdom’s WCOPA Team, has been convincing the singer to perform in the London Barrio Fiesta. Although undoubtedly talented, Mervic declined to these invitations, fearing her genre might not suit the audience.
Athena was persistent, but Mervic never said yes. That was until last year. In the comeback concert of WCOPA multi-medalist/semifinalist Joel Miranda, Athena and Mervic met again. Although Mervic wasn’t singing at that time, as she was assisting her husband as a sound crew or ”taga bigay ng microphone”, Athena did not let the chance pass to convince the singer once again.
This time, however, it’s for WCOPA. With nudges from Mr. Jun Degamon and Mr. Joel Miranda, Mervic finally said yes. As it turned out, it wasn’t a bad decision after all.
“My experience of performing live in a world-class show and entertainment and have the experience of how it feels to be in a big, big stage and perform in front of hundreds of people gave me more boost to master my craft and go out there confident to say I am a world-class Performer… a world-class Champion and Grand Finalist’, Mervic said while sharing how overwhelmed and happy she was to represent the UK in WCOPA. ILL AND ALL, SHE STILL BROUGHT HOME THE BACON, Of course, the singer faced some challenges during the competition.
The hardest one among them is becoming ill during the semi-finals up to the Grand finals. She had colds and later on a chest infection that led to an asthma attack. By the time the grand finalists were chosen, Mervic’s voice was hoarse. “I was fighting my battle, but my voice which is my number one weapon is giving up. I nearly didn’t make it to the final night”, Mervic recalling her greatest WCOPA hurdle.
AFTER WCOPA: A Nurse With Newly Discovered Purpose As a nurse, Mervic would like to use her talent to give joy to patients by putting up concerts and shows, a venue where patients can enjoy all kinds of music that bring back happy memories and lift their minds and spirits. Soon, she hopes to get involved more with developing programs that will help patients enjoy their life. BRINGING THE FILIPINO MUSIC IN THE UK No matter where Filipinos go, we never forget where we came from.
Along with us, we bring a piece of our culture and heritage. That’s what Mervic did in her London Barrio Fiesta appearance after WCOPA. On stage, Mervic reminded the audience of the beauty of the Filipino music through a beautifully sang Kundiman. Before her performance ended, she said something every Pinoy in the crowd would want to hear:
“I was representing the UK pero Filipino po ang aking puso”. Although Mervic will forever be thankful for the opportunity that the United Kingdom has given her and her family, she has always been involved with the Filipino Community. In fact, she has been a member of the UK/Filipino Chaplaincy Choir as well as a former member of the British Filipino Master Chorale now called HARAYA. Mervic also participated in one of the shows of the English National Opera.