AL AIN, United Arab Emirates – At first, 23-year-old Bonz Saforteza was not keen on joining singing contests, preferring instead to perform in a band.
"Ever since, hindi talaga ako mahilig sumali sa mga singing contests," shared Bonz, a data controller in a Dubai-based electromechancial contracting company, in an email. "Ang hilig ko ay banda."
Coming from a family of music lovers, Bonz said he would just watch and cheer for his sister and brother, who were both veterans of singing contests in the UAE.
"Sumasama lang ako kapag may laban si ate at kuya," he said. "Andun kami ni mama to support them."
All that changed, however, when he moonlighted as a guitar teacher in Master's Touch Music and Performing Arts Center, which is managed by another OFW, Lorie Bacalla.
The gig — plus the stress of having a day job — rekindled in Bonz his passion for music. Before he knew it, the former vocalist and percussionist of the Mix up Acoustic Band has become a solo performer.
Then he began joining in singing contests here.
“Una kong sinalihan na singing contest dito sa Dubai ay ang DSF (Dubai Shopping Festival) Singing Showdown kasi meron siyang prize na 32” TV,” he said. “Sabi ko nun sa sarili ko kahit ang TV lang ang mapanalunan ko, first time ko kasing contest yun sa Dubai at nag-champion ako.”
Since then, Bonz’s singing career has snowballed.
He became the 1st runner-up in “Kanta Mo, Upload Ko” held last February at the Lamcy Plaza and 4th runner-up in “The Last Singer Standing” held last March at the Pegasus Bar-Satwa.
He also became a grand finalist in “Sing with the Star” held last May at the Irish Village in Dubai Tennis Stadium, and in the “Philippine Independence Day Singing Contest” held last June at the Al Nasr LeisureLand in Dubai.
“Naging grand finalist din ako sa 'The Voice Off Karaoke Challenge' held last May at the Ramee Hotel Guestline in Deira and was awarded as 'Voice Versatility Factor'," he shared.
“May mga ibang lahi din na sumali nun—Indians, Pakistanis, and Arabs—at yung mga judges ay Indians and Romanians,” Bonz added.
Coming from a musically inclined family, Bonz has come to appreciate fully his siblings’ talents.
“We do have our own identity and uniqueness as a musician. Kasi ako, I can play drums, guitar and piano. But ‘pag nagpra-praktis kami, trio. Kuya Renzo is our musical director,” Bonz said.
“I've also competed with my sister doon sa "The Last Singer Standing" and naging part din siya ng finalists,” he added.
His remaining insecurity is in how he performs and teaches: “Baka di nila magustuhan yung performance o pagtuturo ko. Pero dahil gustong-gusto ko yung ginagawa ko at dahil sa prayers, nao-overcome ko yun.”
As of now, Bonz would earn up to AED1,500 (P18,000) from his nightly gigs.
“Pag nagpe-perform ako, gusto ko ibigay lahat ng best ko. I don't care kung anong sasabihin ng ibang tao basta sa akin ay gusto ko maibigay yung best ko during performance,” he said.
“Kahit magkalukot-lukot na ang mukha ko, basta mai-express ko lang ng mabuti ang kanta,” Bonz added. —KBK, GMA News