by Maia Fortich-Poblete
Arthur Madrigalejos Nery, Chinggo to family and friends, first realized that he wanted to be a singer when he was six years old. His first public performance happened at a cousin’s debut. He was eight years old. He hasn’t stopped singing and performing ever since.
In school, especially in college at Xavier University, Chinggo would always be tapped to perform in programs and social events. This eventually opened doors for him to perform in more public venues. Aside from weddings and birthdays, he also sang in special shows in some of Cagayan de Oro’s most popular entertainment spots. This year, however, things leveled up for Chinggo because he finally fulfilled something he has long wanted to do: release an original song.
But it wasn’t an easy climb for Chinggo. He had to go through a lot of challenges before getting to where he is now. I am a witness to this because he is one of the actors in our theater group Oro Teatro Bulawanon. I saw his frustrations and difficulties. I remember the times when he had nothing in his pockets. And there were a lot of moments when all he could talk about was what to do to fulfill his dream of becoming a singer. I also saw how devastated he was when he couldn’t represent CDO and the Philippines at the World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in the USA because of fund shortage.
Despite all the hurdles thrown his way, Chinggo remained determined and worked hard to reach his goal. Although he had to limit his singing engagements for some time when he started working for a BPO company, the fire inside him didn’t stop burning. Eventually, he quit his job and decided to pay focus on his singing career. That was when the good things came in.
A couple of months ago, Chinggo came up with a surprise for his family, friends, and followers. Together with 9K Records, he released a song called Life Puzzle, a cool and relaxing tune that he created with DJ Yuuki. The minute the video was posted on Facebook, it became a hit. Soon, people were sharing it on their pages and hundreds have downloaded the song. Two weeks ago, 9K Records organized a special by invitation show that Chinggo headlined. It was a success.
Finally, Chinggo’s time has come. And many other surprises await him.
I asked Chinggo several questions so people will get to know him more. Here’s what he shared:
M: Has it always been your dream to become a singer/performer?
M: Aside from singing, what else are you passionate about? What else do you do?
C: I’m a theater actor, a cheerleader, and sometimes, I dabble in filmmaking. But I always ask for suggestions from my kuya Orpheus when it comes to filmmaking.
(Note: Chinggo has been performing for The Vagina Monologues since 2015. The Vday 2018 production last February was the 3rd time he performed the piece “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” along with four other actors. His brother Orpheus is a respected and multi-awarded filmmaker/actor/writer for short films.)
M: Can you tell us about what experiences you had to go through to get to where you are now? What sacrifices did you have to make?
C: I honestly had a hard time before. I was always practicing and trying to find my genre. I tried a lot of genres that I thought would fit my voice and my style, but I got disappointed a lot because even if I love singing, I felt that I had no future doing it. Every single day, I practiced alone. My mom actually told me to take voice lessons but I didn’t go because I was afraid that I’d find out I wasn’t really meant for singing.
Because I practiced a lot, it was like I was in my own world all the time. So I had a difficult time blending with my friends. I didn’t have enough time for my family, too, even if I was just at home. I stayed in my room most of the time and just sang. Loudly. My room was always noisy!
Someone also once told me that I was trying too hard and that my singing voice was bad. But it didn’t pull me down. Instead, I made it my motivation and worked even harder at my craft.
I credit my mom because she’s always been my number one supporter. She’s one of the reasons why I never gave up.
M: Who are your music favorites or musical influences?
C: Aside from my mom and dad, my music favorites are Jason Mraz, Michael Bublé, Frank Sintra, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, and Daniel Ceasar. I could listen to them all day!
M: Please tell us the story of how you came up with the lyrics for Life Puzzle.
C: Well, it’s actually dedicated to my friend, a girl whose boyfriend finds it fun to keep hurting her. He would leave if he’s had enough of her and then go back to her if he’s had enough with other girls. It’s a cycle. I felt bad for her because she’s kind hearted and is a very fragile person. She’s also very pretty.
When she told me about all the things her boyfriend does to her, I kind of asked myself (wild thinking!), “What if I were your boyfriend instead? Am I worthy for you? Because I like you and I’ll treat you right, I swear to God!”
While she was telling her story (through text), I was writing a song. Her story became my inspiration. After three days, I finished writing and arranging the song.
M: I’m sure your friends and followers would like to know if you have any shows, events, or projects coming up, so what should we expect after Life Puzzle?
C: We at 9K Records have this event for local artists in CDO called The SESH, which is our way of showcasing Kagay-anon artists and their talents. The first installment happened about two weeks ago, when I headlined a special show at Somewhere Else.
We also have several songs that are almost done. All they need is a bit of polishing before they can be released. In addition, I have an upcoming song with Stan Anderson, Jose Allado, and Iligan DJ TJ Llacuna called Rip It Off. It will be released sometime this month.
And then I have a project with DJ Mark Glenn (Neuvmber) called Cotton Candy.
There are several other projects and partnerships, including one that I am excited about but cannot yet tell. I’ll let you all know when it is final. For now, I’ll keep writing and singing.
M: What’s your message for Kagay-anons who want to pursue their dream of becoming a singer/performer like you?
C: Do whatever it takes to reach your dreams. Work hard, be good to people, be good to yourself. Your health is important, so take care of your body. Also, always write, write, and write! Don’t be scared that other people might judge your choice of words or your voice. People will always judge and criticize you no matter where you are. Use this as an inspiration.
I’d also like to encourage everyone to make good music. Be original. Never imitate. Surround yourself with good people. Love your family and friends, and keep loving. It may sound cheesy, but I swear, love is the strongest feeling ever! It is love that guides me and helps me create good music, good songs.
Always practice, because it’s what will help build your self-confidence. Ask a family member or friend to listen to you sing, practice days before an event or show. If you’re not satisfied with your practice performance, practice more to make it better or perfect even. And after an event, always find time to rest.
Finally, accept the fact that there are other singers like you. There may even be others who people think are better than you. Let them be because that is their opinion. Just focus on yourself and on your dream. Focus on the people who believe in you. Be true to yourself because eventually, the ones who truly care for and believe in you are the ones who will stay with you.
That’s Chinggo for you. Passionate, dedicated, talented, and full of love. Definitely a Kagay-anon worthy of emulation.
Check out Life Puzzle on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWNgfWaYeQE). It’s also available for download in Spotify and iTunes. Just search for Life Puzzle by Yuuki and Arthur.