Philippine team scores big at WCOPA talent Olympics

By Oliver Carnay

11-year old Aria Clemente, a former finalist of ABS CBN’s “Little Big Superstar,” won the Over-All Grand Champion of the World Junior Division title at the recent 11th annual World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) competition among more than 40 countries, besting around 5,000 entries from different categories (including dance, singing, acting, modeling, and other acts).. The competition, participated by more than 40 countries, also known as the WCOPA, is said to be the only Talent Olympic of its kind.

Photo: 2005 WCOPA Grand Champion of the World - Jed Madela with Raymond Sajor, WCOPA Grand Champion Senior Vocalist of the World and Aria Clemente, 2007 WCOPA Over-All Grand Champion (Junior Division) and Grand Champion Junior Vocalist of the World.

Aria won top medals in 5 vocal categories such as Broadway, Pop, Latin, Rock and Gospel before getting into the Grand Finals, which was held at the Bonaventure Hotel on Saturday, August 3. The young singer sang her own version of “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from the musical “Funny Girl” winning over South Africa, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Russia.

“Munitk pa nga na hindi mapasama si Aria because it’s hard to get sponsors for this trip. She won’t be here if not for the help of a good Samaritan from Department of Tourism and to GMA,” Carlo Orosa, Philippine’s national director said.

Another big winner from the Philippines is Reymond Sajor, former finalist from Season 1 of “Philippine Idol. Sajor clinched the Grand Champion Senior Vocalist of the World with his rendition of “Anthem” from the musical “Chess,” competing with Raki Vega, another singer who competed in the Vocal Solo category with Sajor during the Grand Finals. “Backstage, I was praying that sana, at least mag-tie kami ni Raki. During the elimination process throughout the week, there were always two entries from the Philippines – kami ni Raki. I hated that I had to compete for the same title with Raki,” Sajor commented to this writer after the competition. Sajor, who got the financial help from his relatives in Nueva Ecija, Lucena City, and friends from Manila, hopes to be in a stable of a bigger network when he returns to Manila. “I am hoping to be in a stable network and finish my album, my dream, which will be a pop/ballad. I did an inspirational album, but it was not released.” I asked, “If a big company would offer you a singing career in the U.S., would you take it?” “Of course, I’d pursue a career here if there is an opportunity!” he replied.

Aria and Reymond are both being managed by STAGES and are trained by Trumpets Playshop, endorsing Trumpets Music Academy in the Philippines. Aria will soon star in the Manila debut of the off-Broadway hit musical “Children’s Letters to God.

Among judges at this year’s 2007 WCOPA competition include: Gordon Harrel (music arranger and supervisor for the Tony award-winning Broadway musical Fosse who just composed, produced and arranged WCOPA theme song “Building Bridges.”; Bruce Newberg (casting director of TNT’s The Closer, CBS’ The Class, and many feature films; Victoria Morris (Senior Talent Executive of Kazarian/Spencer & Associates with clients from Jersey Boys, Wicked, Legally Blonde, Phantom of the Opera, and A Chorus Line); Scott Sedita (acting coach on the E! series Fight for Fame and USA Network’s Character Fantasy and MTV’s Adventures in Hollywood, among others);

Kimberly Lawrence (Editor-in-Chief of famed SUPERMODELS International magazine); Patrick Cunningham (Paramount Pictures worked over 30 movies including with Whoopi Goldberg, Will Smith, Salma Hayek, among others); Crista Klayman (Director of Runway at L.A. Models who discovered Supermodel Tyra Banks); Ken Weinstock (Producer of Standup Comedy Programming for television on HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central); Daniel Solis (Director of talent casting for Disneyland and international theme parks);

Barbara Epstein (Consultant, producer and director of three new shows for Celebrity Cruises; Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club and Nickolodeon); Paul Nelson (Director of Men’s Division of Wilhelmina Models in L.A. handling the careers of approximately 100 of the best Male Models in the west coast); Adrienne Childers (Costume designer for the Oscar-winning “Ray” and other motion pictures and television projects);

Terry Kollman (President & CEO of Charter Entertainment Group cable); Lemoyne Alexander (CEO of 8 Wonder Entertainment, distributed by Universal; will work in an upcoming album of Christina Aguilera, Lionel Richie, Pink, and Cheryl Crow); Ted Maier (owns Maier Management representing over 100 actors and models, tv shows, commercials, music videos, and print modeling jobs); and Scott Satin (tv writer, executive producer, and director of more than 15 years, known mostly of his highly successful TV franchise, Outrageous Moments, on NBC).

Judging was based on entertainment value, and marketability of talent in the mainstream entertainment industry in the U.S. For more information about this event, please log on to