Saturday, June 29, 2013

RIDING A MOONBEAM TO FAME





FOR Television viewers of Tawag Ng Tanghalan or those who legged it over to Channel 3 at 7:30 p.m., Monday, last May 29, the song "Moonlight Becomes You" will always be associated with little Nora Aunor.

It was the song Nora sang that night when she was proclaimed the champion over six finalists in the country's top amateur talent program.

There is nothing really surprising about it; in fact, it may have even been expected because for 14 Mondays since the time the wispy, 4'9", 13-year-old lass went up before the microphone till the contest ended, she was the undeposed Princess of Song.

One finds it a bit of Julie London in petite Nora's voice and style.  A soft contralto she can make the faintest whisper and the tremulous ripple of her vocal chords clearly heard.  Her style is subtle showmanship -- a minimum of gestures, a naturalness of rendition -- something which one would expect to find only among the more accomplished and polished performers.

And to think that she started singing seriously just a year ago.  That was on Children's Hour when she won the championship in the singing contest portion.  She entered Darigold Jamboree in the same month and also won the crooner's crown 14 Sundays later.

"I was very much nervous then," said the soft-spoken lass, remembering her first appearances.

Definitely, Tawag Ng Tanghalan was the next step after winning the Jamboree title.  It was a step she took with confidence this time.  From the very first bar of her number on the night of the finals, her audience and the judges had already been caught in the web of hypnotic "Moonlight..."

What is rather remarkable is the fact that Nora has had no formal voice lessons whatsoever.  Her mother, Mrs. Belen Aunor, gave her initial coaching although what she did more often was to accompany Nora on the guitar during their frequent informal singing sessions at home.  

Mrs. Aunor, who comes from Iriga, Camarines Sur, was a former guitarist with the Bicol Masters Orchestra.  Her husband Saturnino Aunor, a Pangasinense, is a technical sergeant with the Philippine Air Force.  They have seven children, four boys and three girls, of which Nora is the second to the eldest.

"Nora used to be a scholar before," Mrs. Belen said of her talented daughter who will be a third year student when classes start at Centro Escolar High School.  "Because of the time she spends in practice and her frequent appearances in the programs, however, she just gets average grades now," she explained.

Nora plans to take up journalism when she enters college.

Meanwhile, recording, radio-TV and stage offers have started pouring in through the door of their home at Nichols Air Base.  CBN's Tony Velarde and Villar Recording have shown more than passing interest in Nora.  The Clover Theatre too is ready to put her on the spotlights' glare anytime she is willing.

Her mother, however, would like to leave everything to Dominic Salustiano, the pianist on Tawag Ng Tanghalan, a friend of the family.  She feels that the musician knows more about the technicalities involved and she has asked him to be a manager of sorts for her little girl.

"Any plans for the movies?"  Nora was asked.

"That has always been my dream," she answered wistfully and then breaking into an impish grin, she added:  "but I wonder if my complexion will register on the negatives."

That is Nora for you.  She may not know it yet but she is riding a moonbeam to fame.  Her moon has risen full indeed.

- By Alex D. Allan
Manila Chronicle Entertainment Guide
June 17, 1967

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