By Norman Ong as told to Excel V. Dyquiangco
I knew I always wanted to become a singer. From the time I was 12 years old, I was already awe-inspired by such musical legends as Martin Nievera and Gary Valenciano. Their songs “No Way to Treat a Heart” and “Sana Maulit Muli” not only have left an indelible ink in my heart but stirred a passion in me to dream. Yes, I wanted to be come like them someday. Not just to sell albums but to touch people’s lives.
Performance after performance, I sang in corporate shows and any type of events that I can sink my teeth into. By the time I was 16 years old, I was already doing shows in clubs and bars. But then a couple of years later I wanted to further my dream. I auditioned for one of the best musical variety shows at that time. “That’s Entertainment” with Kuya German Moreno exposed me to the world of showbiz – singing, dancing and acting. Being part of the Monday Group, I learned a lot of things from my co-actors and from my mentors. Until such a time when I was offered a music deal in Taiwan, I had to leave the show for greener pastures. After only three to four months, I ventured into what I thought was the biggest leap of my career.
It was already late 1990s when the production people in Taiwan started talking to me about making a record deal. At that time, I felt very ecstatic because finally, my dream was finally getting through to the masses – international, at that. So I sang and recorded my album. But then the people under the production outfit Happy People’s Productions and Polygram Records who were both working hand in hand suddenly had differences. In short, the album didn’t push through.
My joy turned to grief. Depression immediately took its toll on me.
Almost giving up
I went back home to the Philippines. I was very depressed at that time but I didn’t even know it. I was in a state of denial. I was thinking that maybe I should not chase after this dream – that it was just something in my life that wasn’t meant to be. I love what I was doing but it was just too difficult for me to face this music again. So after having decided to go back to the country, I immediately went back to my roots at Iriga City in Camarines Sur and started to help my dad with our family business, a property management company and a photo developing center.
I tried to ignore what I felt. I was sad but I just shooed it away. Although I was hurting, I continued to do what I had to do – that is, to work with my family. My parents were there to help me and comfort me all throughout my stay. I wanted to deny a lot of things. I thought to myself that since I didn’t click in Taiwan maybe I shouldn’t do any of these. I took this phase. This was supposed to be my first album in Taiwan, but then it didn’t happen.
From the year 2000 to 2010, I worked and almost abandoned my career but then something wonderful happened to me. This was the healing period. It was a journey but upon walking with God, He starts to heal me. He starts to heal my mind, my spirit and emotions until I had the courage to dream again. Not just a vision but the ability to take risks again. God started to do the repair and He started to send people to aid me.
I began to write songs of love and of inspiration and I put melodies into it. My songs, after all, are a crossover between songs of the heart and songs of the soul. Love is just overflowing within me that I just can’t contain it. I can’t hide the fact that these songs talk about a different kind of love – something beyond this world. Love, after all, isn’t just restricted to the heart but to everything else. My single in my first album, “Love Gives In” is about a different kind of relationship I have. If you would read between the lines, it’s about how love is starting to grow on me and how this is beginning to change my personality. Another song in my album entitled “Emotional Connection” speaks how two people connect with each other – not just the physical aspect but with the heart as well. In this song I have written how these people bond and converse through love which is definitely a God-given thing. This is a beautiful mix of exciting sounds and a playful conversation.
Getting back on my feet
It was a couple of months later when I suddenly had the opportunity to bring my songs to the market online. I shot a music video with Sitti for my album. I was very tense during the shoot and Sitti kept on encouraging me. She said to just look her in the eye and pretend that she was my girlfriend. How was I going to do that? I thought to myself. She knows how to calm me down. And now we’re releasing this album online. Honestly I’m trying to get over this. It’s really unbelievable. I came from a failure and now, I have to shake my head to know that it’s coming true.
The fulfillment I get from singing is similar to an outlet that will touch people’s lives. Emotions magnify emotions so when you emote songs, especially those close to your heart, it will touch other people. All I want to be is to be significant to the lives of other people.
As people hear my songs, I want them to fall in love – not just with people but falling in love with God. It’s really indescribable.
MY MONEY LESSONS
How to Make a Comeback
Norman Ong’s dream almost got killed. He has these advices for those who can’t get up from their failures.
- Seek God first. Before anything else, you have to pray to God first. Lift all of your dreams and your plans to Him and He will carry you through.
- Dream. You have to have a vision in life – not just what you want but how you can help other people as well. Dream big and make your plans big. The sky is indeed the limits.
- Take risks. Once you have that dream, be courageous and take risks. You can’t be anything else unless you take the first step to go for the gold.