Golden Cañedo has always been a singer at heart.
The Cebu lass can trace her love for singing from when she was in preschool. Coming from a humble background in Minglanilla, Cebu, she never expected her voice to carry her to far-off places.
But she knew in her heart that she was destined for great things.
Before she became The Golden Cañedo, this painfully shy probinsyana was simply known to family and friends as Roma Mae Apa-ap Cañedo.
Her nickname, Golden, has an interesting backstory.
Her mother, Maricel, was in Manila, looking for job opportunities abroad when she realized she was pregnant with her first child.
Stunned with the unexpected pregnancy, Maricel became apprehensive about her future. An elderly woman advised her to take good care of her child, and to name the unborn baby “Golden.”
Golden recounts her mother’s story, “Sinabihan nung matanda ’yung nanay ko na suwerte raw ’yung magiging anak niya, at pangalanan niyang Golden.”
That “suwerte” girl grew up to be an obedient child with a penchant for singing.
Her parents did not fail to notice their daughter's potential.
Golden’s first time to join a singing contest happened when she was just 12. At the time, she and her father were out buying bread at a store when they got wind that a singing contest was being held nearby.
“Bumili lang kami ni Papa ng tinapay sa eskinita, tapos nakita namin may singing contest sa may sa 'min, at kulang ng contestant.”
Her father urged her to join. Hesitant at first, but enticed by the beautiful trophy prize, Golden eventually gave it a try.
Call it beginner’s luck or raw talent. Little Golden won the big prize.
This surprise win paved the way for her singing journey. Her first trophy inspired her to keep joining singing competitions to see how far she could go.
Student by day, singer by night—this was Golden’s life ever since she turned 12.
The Cebuana did it for the love of singing, her willingness to help her family, and for that one tiny hope that someday, she could become known for her talent.
She traveled all over Cebu, sometimes all the way to Bohol and Leyte just to join singing contests big and small.
“Mula nung 12 hanggang 16 po ako, halos araw-araw may contest. Estudyante po ako sa umaga tapos singer sa gabi. Si Mama kasi mahilig din gumala. Gustong gusto niyang pumupunta ng iba’t ibang lugar.”
Golden recalled how she and her mother traveled together to far off barrios, sometimes on foot and across rice paddy fields, just to get the chance to sing onstage. “Nag-cocommute po kami, naglalakad na lang minsan.
“May mga bukid na rin kaming nilakad.
This grueling lifestyle took up a lot of Golden’s free time, leaving her with barely any time for enjoying her youth like a normal kid.
“May times na po naiisip kong ganun, sana kasama ko sila [classmates],” she laments.
Nonetheless, Golden was grateful for the experience, “Iniisip ko na lang masuwerte ako kasi sa dinami-dami ng singers, ako 'yung nananalo. Masaya naman kasi may nakakasalamuha kaming bagong mga tao, nakakanta ako, nakakalabas ako ng talent ko, at dagdag exposure.”
After years of being on the road, Golden also tried her luck in a few TV singing competitions. She didn’t get the top prize, but she never stopped trying.
Interestingly, her audition for Kapuso reality talent competition The Clash actually almost didn’t happen.
It was raining hard on the day of her auditions, the traffic was hopeless, and by the time Golden arrived at the mall auditions, the final cutoff for auditionees was already called.
Golden nearly lost all hope, but her mother pleaded the audition staff to let her daughter sing. “Negative na ako noon,” she recalls.
“Nagmakaawa lang 'yung Mama ko. Buti, naawa ‘yung staff.”
She dazzled the judges with her voice as she belted out “Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin,” her favorite audition song.
“Nakakanta naman ako, sa awa po ng Diyos kahit mag-close na 'yung mall. Mahaba 'yung linya at second to the last na kumanta, natapos ko po ’yung kanta tapos diretso agad sa VTR.”
Being among the last to get called to sing, Golden just proved that sometimes the best is indeed saved for last.
Out of almost 2,000 hopefuls, fewer than 10 of them got in from the Cebu leg of The Clash auditions. Golden was among them.
Her life forever changed as soon as her name was called as The Clash’s Grand Champion. Not only did she take home P4 million worth of prizes including a house and lot, and P1 million in cash, she also scored a contract with GMA, and a stint in the network’s musical variety show Studio 7.
“Nagbago 'yung buhay ko, 'yung pamilya ko nandito na nakatira sa Manila, may prize at may binigay sa akin na opportunity ang GMA, so dito na po kami nakatira.”
Her victory in The Clash was only the beginning of her transition.
Golden’s persona further developed. She became more confident in front of the camera. She even discovered her own personal style. “Nagbago rin ’yung pananamit at style ko.” she gladly says.
Golden has come a long way. In the span of less than a year, she’s moved out of her hometown and settled into a new life in the city with her family. Surprisingly, she’s adjusting quite well to life in Manila.
“Nami-miss ko rin po ang Cebu, pero naninibago ako kapag umuuwi ako sa Cebu… mas naging comfortable na ako sa Manila.”
Though her mother tongue is Bisaya, and she stays true to her roots, Golden speaks Tagalog fluently now. She even cracks jokes effortlessly.
To this day, she can’t believe that she has her own fans now, “Nagka-fans na ako at may mga nakakakilala na sa ’kin.”
Her inspiring life story was featured in drama anthology Magpakailanman last year in its “Ang Tunay na Buhay ni Golden Cañedo” episode, where she tried her hand in acting and appeared as herself.
She’s also officially signed a recording contract with GMA Music and released two singles, “Ngayon” and “Tayo Pa Rin.”
Her powerful voice is featured in the soundtrack for Kapuso drama Kara Mia titled “Nakikita Ba Ng Langit” and for GMA’s Tagalized Korean drama My Golden Life where she sang her single “Ngayon.”
Throughout her career, Golden never forgot the value of education. Amid her busy schedule, she continues to strive to finish her studies.
Her efforts to have a normal high school life while working on establishing her singing career is paying off as she graduated from Grade 10 from La Vlaize Integrated Science School in April 2019.
She recalls with fondness some of the high school milestones that she has experienced right in the midst of her blossoming career.
“Naka-pag JS prom po ako, kasi naka-pagaral po ako kasabay ng The Clash. Pagkatapos ng show, diretso aral ako.
“So, tuluy-tuloy pa rin po. Naka-regular class po ako, binibigyan lang ako ng opportunity makahabol kaya naka-graduate ako. Kasi proud din naman po ’yung school ko sa akin,” she narrates.
Currently, she’s a mainstay of musical variety show Studio 7 where she gets to perform and share the stage with her former The Clash judges as well as other Kapuso artists.
“Nakakasama ko na ’yung mga idols ko noon na nakikita ko lang sa TV,” she says in amazement.
Speaking of opportunities, Golden has been exploring her other passions and talents.
Naturally musically-inclined, she spends her free time writing songs and making music with her guitar.
Her mother used to be against her playing the guitar,
“Noon po, hindi po ako pinapayagan ni Mama mag-gitara kahit gusto ko kasi bababa raw boses ko.”
Eventually, her mother let go of that misconception.
“Lahat ng dreams ko nagkatotoo,
“Dream ko magka-guitar nabigyan ako,” Golden says.
And how did she learn to play the guitar? By watching tutorial videos on YouTube.
“Natutunan ko lang po sa YouTube,” she shares.
“Mga isang araw lang po ako natuto."
Golden has also started writing her own songs.
“Nagpaligsahan lang kami ni Papa kung sino mauna makabuo ng music. Nauna po ako,” she proudly shares.
Definitely, Golden sees songwriting and more music in her future.
“Hindi ko pa po nabubuo nang maayos ’yung lyrics, pero may balak po ako magsulat ng kanta.”
She says she takes inspiration from TV shows and her friends’ experiences in falling in love and getting their hearts broken.
At the tender age of 17, Golden has never been in a relationship or experienced dating yet. Though she’s in no rush, she admits to having crushes.
Whenever she’s asked which local actor she fancies the most, she never changes her answer—it's always been Miguel Tanfelix.
“Mabait po kasi talaga siya, gentleman,” she says, blushing.
If given the chance to venture more into acting, Golden is open to any opportunity. But she says she isn’t in a hurry. She’s determined to learn more about music and improve her performances.
“Gusto ko po na mas matuto sa pagkanta at pagsayaw sana, sa acting din.
“Iniiba ko ‘yung mga mali ko, ini-improve,” she says with conviction.
In almost a year of being a Kapuso, Golden has grown a lot stronger and wiser.
She admits that she used to be pessimistic. Taking on responsibilities and competing at a young age conditioned her to be tough when facing problems, and to always expect the worst.
Being around people from showbiz who have had different journeys and struggles taught Golden to persevere amid setbacks and adversities.
“Ngayon po, ’yun natutunan ko, lumaban ka, kahit mahirap, but to always think positive.
“Hindi lahat nabibigyan ng opportunity, ’yun po lagi kong sinasabi ko sa sarili ko,” she says.
That's Golden Cañedo for you: dreamer, singer, fighter.