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JUANITA ROMUALDEZ: chill kind of girl

JUANITA ROMUALDEZ

JUANITA ROMUALDEZ

If you happen to be a regular attendee of the Cebu Literary Festival, then you might have chanced upon this long raven-haired chiquita with big eyes and distinct brows. She also hops from one university to another introducing the art of spoken word poetry, though she sports short hair now, a rather rock ‘n roll nonchalant vibe.

A change of look that quite suits her when she strums the ukulele strings, jots down song lyrics, and sings her heart out
to everyone. Well, she admitted sometimes in the shower, too.

Meet Juanita Romualdez, the cool chic project coordinator of Little Boy Productions and Cebu Literary Festival, who is now on releasing
her second single, “Inday,” under Viva Records. With that look and talent, we might as well add a BisRock caption right under.

Her first single, “We’ll Never Know,” is on Spotify and iTunes.

The eloquent and effortlessly beautiful singer, composer, theater enthusiast opened up about theinspiration behind her second
single—or perhaps the absence of it.

The song, “Inday,” is about getting the attention of one’s crush, but Juanita was quick to react that there was no particular person in mind when she wrote the song.

Be that as it may, this talentedlady cannot deny the long list of names of her crushes just like any other girl. The only catch is that she’s sapiosexual which makes you rethink of those names with sheer amusement if some Sherlock-guy made it to her list.

That aside, Juanita enjoys juggling both roles as a talent under Viva and a project coordinator of Little Boy Productions, and playing football somewhere in between.

When did you begin to sing in front of an audience?

My brother is in a band called Purple Kush, and ever since he started playing gigs in Handuraw, in Koa, I would go and watch. So he’d be like, “My sister is here to sing with me.”

I was so little pa, like first year high school.

I’d be shy but I’d go up anyway to sing one or two songs.

I just jam with them. I wasn’t paid to do that.

I just go out there to support my brother and then he’d introduce me because he ran out of songs. (Laughs).

When did it occur to you that you actually have a talent in singing?

My family is very musically inclined. They all sing—my parents, my brother—everyone. I’ve always known that I can and want to sing.

Do you get pushed to sing on family occasions?

Ay sus naku! Yeah! It’s always like that! (Laughs).

Especially on birthdays, “Let’s have Chikay sing!” But it’s OK I’d love to do it for my family. Family is family, but having that confidence to sing publicly in front of an audience came in late high school when I was graduating.

What kind of songs do you sing?

I grew up to listening to my dad’s songs, and my brother’s. My mom naman is so different, likes Abba.

My dad is into blues, Deep Purple, and he super likes The Beatles, of course.

We’d listen to Van Halen, also David Lee Roth, Johnny Winter.

I was influenced by them. I’d hear them every day but I’ve never really chosen to sing their kind of songs.

What’s your type of song then?

I like songs that have a little rock to it.

Like the rock band, Paramore?

I listen to Paramore. When I was in high school, everybody was just crazy about Paramore that I had to color my hair reddish. Actually,
no, naggamit ra ko’g agua oxigenada kay di man ko sugtan magpa-color!

You just apply it with cotton. (Laughs).

I realized that my voice is more suited to rock, and I’m more comfortable performing that.

There was a time I tried singing “Let It Go” and my mom said, “You don’t have a Disney voice.” So I sang it like Aegis would.

She was laughing!

But it’s a good thing I had the opportunity to study voice under Dennis Sugarol.

He’s the maestro for Cebu Chamber Singers, and the Mandaue Children’s Choir, the group that went to Rome during the canonization of Pedro Calungsod. I was very privileged to be a part of Tabor Hill College Choir, and Cebu Chamber Singers. He’s such an amazing conductor and maestro.

We were the grand champion in Manila for the International Choir competition in 2013.

He’s a big influence in my singing. I used be intimated by biriteras, and my voice has a low register.

He made me realize that it’s not about hitting the high notes. He helped bring back my confidence.

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How did it start with Viva Entertainment?

Actually, it started with the decision to self-produce a song and music video. My cousin, Nicole Ring, is very supportive and suggested that I record my song.

We were shooting that time in Bohol—a film about the Bohol earthquake—in
the summer of 2015.

The cinematographer was Don Frasco, and he happenedto be listening to us while
we were talking about the song.

He said, “Hey, that’s actually good”.

Then my cousin said, “Why don’t you make her a music video?”

And he was kind enough to help us with that. He has a good eye for cinematography. Waverly Pictures produced my first music video, along with my cousin Nicole. I think that was the jumping-off point because people saw it and loved it.

He showed it to Ms. Chiqui Cartagena, Lastierre who is my handler here in Cebu.

During Lit Fest (Cebu Literary Festival) in June, Ms. Chiqui was there and we were
formally introduced. She said that she had seen my video and asked me to go meet Boss Vic (Vic del Rosario). So it started there.

Are you open to Manila-based projects?

Boss Vic did bring that up on our first meeting but I was still a graduating student then.

Also, it wasn’t my intention to be known. I just want my music to be heard by other people.

But then I thought about it. It is a means of getting my music somewhere, so I agreed to be a part of Viva but I never really thought of going to Manila.

Do you see yourself working under Viva for a long time?

I love my Viva family. If things turn out well after my five-year contract, then I’ll decide if I’d renew or not.

I will weigh the pros and cons of being a Viva artist within this five years, but so far I’menjoying it.

If I do decide to go to Manila, it would be for theater. I heard people talking about these big auditions which I don’t get to hear about in Cebu.

I watched “Wicked” alone and I cried because I want this to be in Cebu, so if I go to Manila, it’s going to be because of theater.

I never really liked being on film.

I want immediate performance. I don’t want my momentum to be stopped with “Cut!” Hilak pa gani ta. (Laughs).

How is it being the project coordinator of Little Boy
Productions?

We go to universities and I teach introduction to spoken word poetry to make this form of art known.

I have no plansof heading to the corporate world just yet.

Besides, I don’t think I’m cut out for that.

I know that I’m meant to do something else. One where I get to do what I love.

I’m so stoked by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye.

I’ve been organizing open mics in Park Mall and in IT Park, and then being in the organizing team of Cebu Lit Fest, which I volunteered for.

There’s a different thrill to it.

I just love what I’m doing.

The initial plan after I graduate was to fly out to New York.

I really want to pursue theater and I doubted myself with the auditions there.

It’s a long shot but I am working on it slowly. I’ve been looking for scholarships. I’ll get there.

Have you always liked poetry and the performing arts?

I’ve written since I was very young. I’ve seen my pieces, “The Tree”, or “The Bird”. (Laughs). Words are magical
to me.

Do you know I’m sofascinated with the word blue?

Not the color but the word itself.

Say blue and you know how your lips and your tongue and the way it just rolls in your mouth It’s just nice.

It’s the same with purple.

That’s how I came to love poetry that I took up Linguistics and Literature.

I’ve always volunteered for Cebu Lit Fest since my first year in college.

I actually joined the summer workshop by Reb (Atadero).

Do you have plans to join national singing competitions?

I don’t like competitions.

I was influenced by mom in this.

When I was younger, I asked my mom if I could join a competition and she said, “Don’t. Why do you have to?To prove that you’re good? You have nothing to prove. You’re already good as you are”.

She just reminds me to keep doing what I’m doing and that I don’t have to compete with others, and that’s how I’ve always seen it anything that requires performance

I don’t see it at all as a competition with anyone. It’s just me doing my craft. I don’t see it as work either.

My mom, she’s been performing all her life.

She even performed Evita in CCT (Caribbean Community Theatre).

She’d be very honest with me.

You know mamas, they never lie to you. I’d always hate it, I’d say, “Mama man ta ka, dapat maganahan ka sa akong tingog. Nganong mo-
ingon man ka nga sayop.

Ang uban ganahan lagi.” Then she’d answer me, “Mama ko nimo, day. Dili ko mamakak nimo.”

She must be very supportive.

Hyper, super, mega supportive! (Laughs).

If pwede pa lang bisan kapila na niya nadungog ang set list sa akong gigs, mobalik-balik gihapon siya.

She’d still listen every time. Ako na lang papa kapuyan.

Di nata mokuyog kay kapila na ta na nadunggan.

So yeah, she’s very supportive.

She’s the ultimate stage mom which is really cute.

So you’re releasing your second single?

Yeah, we are releasing my second single soon.

It’s Bisaya, finally. My first single was in English.

It’s called, “We’ll Never Know.” It’s on Spotify and iTunes. The music video is under Viva in YouTube. It was shown in MTV and MYX before.

Why is it Bisaya now?

It’s a Bisaya single because of pride of Cebu.

We have to have a Cebuano sound so we were pushed to release something that’s Binisaya. I wrote the song.

I’m a singer/songwriter under Viva. I prefer thatI sing my songs.

I’m open to the idea of other people composing for me pero mas nindot man gud na nga ikaw nagsuwat, mas ma-feel nimo.

What would the music video be like?

We were planning the music video while we were recording it.

It’s going to be done herein Cebu this year.

I was thinking of putting in animations like those in “That Thing Called Tadhana.” That would be really cute.

What inspired the song?

This song is more on comedy.

Makabantay ka tanang Bisaya kay may pagka-comedy bisan gasakit na siya.

It’s interjected with humor.

This is so different from my first release, which was in English and so serious and mature.

This one is called “Inday”.

There’s a line that goes, “Tanawa ko palihug. Sige na, usa ka siplat. Tanawa ko palihug, usa ra bitaw ka kawat.

Tanawa ko palihug kay tanan na lang kaboang para tanawn lang.”

So nagpatagad ko og laki na ganahan nako. It’s addressed to a crush. (Laughs).

Was there a particular person in mind when you wrote the song?

Wala. It was just the idea of me having a crush.

I really want to say that my songs are deep personalized but that would be a lie. (Laughs).

I take my songs from my experience, and from the experiences of my close friends.

So you don’t have a crush?

Ang dami kong crush! My list goes more than 10. (Laughs). That’s normal naman. We all do get attracted to some people.

So what’s your ideal guy?

Nakakuha gyud ko ana sa Ask FM. (Laughs).

What is your ideal guy? Lisoda.

I was asked that and it’s hard because the guys I dated were all different.

I just realized that I don’t really have a type. I just need to be able to talk to him about anything.

I love a guy who can hold a conversation.

I’m a sapiosexual. I’m attracted to intelligence.

Also, I have a thing for… facial hair? (Laughs).

Do you wait for inspiration to come?

Definitely. I’ve tried working because it’s demanded of me, especially when it’s spoken word poetry.

I experienced six months of not being able to write anything.

My brain was so dry. I have to be extremely happy or extremely sad.

So when I wrote the song, I was extremely happy because I took it lightly.

Di man gud ko kikay or babae og pamati! (Laughs).

I was all football and stuff, but when I start liking somebody, I’d be all prim and proper. I start wearing blush-on and put something on the lips.

What instrument do you play?

I’m playing the ukulele.

Do you sing in the shower?

All the time! What do I sing? I love singing “What’s Up” in the shower. (Laughs).

Do you have an ultimate goal—looking from where you’ve positioned yourself now?

I let the experiences accumulate and eventually, when I get to hone my talents, I’ll come back to Cebu. The
ultimate dream is to have my theater school here in Cebu.

I know it’s a huge dream but dreams are meant to be huge anyway. (Laughs).

This is also my mom’s dream, to have a school. It doesn’t have to be theater.

It could be a pre-school. She teaches SPED.

I want my mom’s background in SPED and my performing arts put together.

You know that the speech-impaired students, you can actually teach them speech by teaching songs? Sounds.

The differently abled can work on expressing themselves through performance.

TAGS: chill, girl, JUANITA, kind, romualdez
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