Filipina Darlin Joy Baje won the first Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) pop singing contest held in commemoration of the association’s 50th anniversary celebration.
The overseas Filipino worker in Vietnam became the winner of the ASEAN+3 Song Contest after competing against 9 other contestants who made it to the finals.
Baje was one of the 10 finalists from among 17 other candidates from 10 ASEAN countries who joined the inaugural pop singing contest.
The 29-year old won for her performance of “One Night Only” from the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls” which was popularized by Jennifer Hudson in the movie of the same title.
In an interview over Radio the Voice of Vietnam, the host of the ASEAN contest, Baje revealed how it wasn’t her idea to join the contest and that in fact it was her first time to perform in a singing competition.
She shared how surprised she was when her name was announced the winner. “I can’t believe it, are you sure,” Baje remembers saying at the contest.
On the VOV5 Lunch Show, Baje admitted she came to Vietnam to work as a singer at the prodding of a Vietnam-based aunt of an aunt who trained her in the Philippines. However it has been two years since she last sang professionally when her contract ended, and is actually too busy with her fulltime work in the hotel industry.
Baje agreed with the VOV5 host’s hopes that winning the ASEAN song contest can help her go back to her singing. But she also revealed how she has always wanted to work in the hotel industry, and maybe eventually combine both.
The ASEAN+3 Song Contest is envisioned to strengthen cultural exchange between the member nations and other countries.
“Regardless of nationality, music bears noble humanism, warmness, sincerity, the beauty of the soul, kindness, and aspiration for a world of peace, happiness, and prosperity. The ASEAN+3 Song Contest, which took place from Thursday to Sunday, provided an opportunity for artists to introduce music of their country, show off their talents, and work in a professional art environment,” VOV President Nguyen The Ky said in a report.
Baje isn’t the only Filipino to shine in the ASEAN contest. Alvir Anthony Subrado placed third in a tie with a Vietnamese singer.