Olan Estrella represents Canada in world ‘Talent Olympics’

Community News & Features Jul 14, 2017 at 4:22 pm

Olan - Singing 2By Kermin Fortes-Soriano

REGINA–Olan Estrella is a restaurant supervisor, an insurance broker, event organizer, a son, a brother, a former teacher, a former Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) official, a former Naga city youth official. On July 1st, the Regina, SK, resident was one of Canada’s seven representatives to the 21st Annual World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA), which was held in Long Beach, California.

WCOPA, dubbed as the “Talent Olympics”, is an international, invitation-only competition wherein performers from approximately 50 countries (Canada, U.S., countries in Asia, Europe, Central and South America, South Africa, among others) compete in one or more of the six categories (Vocal, Dance, Acting, Modeling, Instrumental, Variety Acts) by age division: Junior (agents 5 to 15) and Senior (16 and over).

Olan - Rest Supervisor 2Contestants vie for the gold, silver or bronze medals in each event and age group. Ultimately, two will be awarded “Junior” and “Senior” Grand Champion Performers of the World. Winners in various categories stand to receive US$200,000 scholarships to the New York Conservatory, US$150,000 scholarships to the New York Film Academy, US$30,000 scholarships to the Millennium Dance Complex, among others. The overall champions each received the gold medal and prize package that includes cash, publicity and promotion, and an appearance in the next year’s event.

One of the competition’s known winners is Jed Madela, who became the first Filipino to be awarded Grand Champion Performer in 2005. Eight other singers from the Philippines went on to win the overall title over the years. Last year’s Senior Grand Champion Performers of the World is the Philippines’s Junior New System Dance Crew.

Olan’s journey to world competition started when he was seven years old. He stood on a school stage and recited the poem, “Rain, Rain Go Away”. He then realized he loves to perform. He would dance on stage and joined the school choir. In his second year in high school, he sang his first solo.

Olan went on to join local and city singing contests and host events as an SK and city youth official in his hometown. He also sang during intermissions in school and city programs. He enrolled as a scholar of the Ateneo De Naga University and worked part-time as a McDonald’s crewmember to support his studies. After graduating in 2003 with a degree in computer engineering, Olan had a short-lived career as a teacher at AMA before McDonald’s offered him a managerial job.

Still a singer at heart, Olan auditioned with The X Factor Philippines in 2012 but he had to put on hold his dream to stand on national stage when his papers for Canada came a week later.

Olan - Rest Supervisor 4Olan arrived in Canada in July 2012 and worked as a McDonald’s restaurant supervisor in North Battleford and Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. Three years later, he became an insurance broker for WFG and received a number of awards and citations. In April this year, he became a supervisor for S&A Favorito Foods, one of the newest Filipino restaurants in Regina, a city with a population of over 200,000 and where the Filipino language is the second most common non-official mother tongue next to German and ahead of Chinese. (2011 Census, Government Canada)

For the past four years, Olan, who supports his mother and two sisters back home, kept coming back to the stage. He was front act for a number of Filipino artists who came to the province to perform – Erik Santos, Angeline Quinto, Allan K, Sponge Cola, Jireh Lim, and Parokya ni Edgar. He was a Top 10 finalist in the Filipino singing contest Singing Star Search Saskatchewan and a Top 5 finalist and the only Asian (out of 60 semifinalists) in the local Irish pub Durty Nelly’s karaoke contest. He also organized a number of singing contests in the province.

It was his performance in the Sing Pilipinas contest in Saskatoon in October 2016 that earned him an invitation to compete in WCOPA.

Olan was joined in Long Beach, CA, by two other Filipinos: Patricia Gabriella Abdon, 9 years old, who is also from Regina and will compete in Junior Dance, and Thea Cruz from Brossard, QC, who will compete in Senior Vocal. The four other Canada representatives are Ayda Khan from Ottawa, ON (Senior Vocal), Jordyn Fraser from Whitby, ON (Junior Dance), Veronica Sabah from Woodbridge, ON (Senior Vocal/Modelling/Acting), and Madison Nyenhuis from St Albert, AB (Senior Acting and Modelling).

The 37-year-old Olan sang in three genres: R&B, Pop, and Variety. “I know I am up against many talented performers but I will do my very best to represent the Filipino community in Canada,” he said. A victory at WCOPA will mean an opportunity for Olan to focus on his singing career. Olan is thankful for this upcoming international experience. “I know I will learn a lot,” he said with a big smile. “Whatever happens, I will keep joining competitions because it helps me become a better person.” He has come a long way from “Rain, Rain Go Away.”

WCOPA Olan Estrella

WCOPA Patricia Gabriella Abdon

WCOPA Thea Cruz