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The Apple of our eyes

She may hav e left the Academy too early, but that didn’t stop this little dreamer from still pursuing her dreams. Clint Holton P. Potestas finds out how.
Apple Abarquez knew that something was odd in the beginning. First, growing up, she was recognized for her heart-shaped face that blushed for no definite reason at all: happiness, remorse, excitement. Her first singing competition was worthy of television exposure. And above all, she was raised by nine “mothers” in one household.
So you can’t blame her for believing that every strange sign she encounters means good things will shower upon. For example, take her reluctant entry into the Pinoy Dream Academy (PDA-2) in 2008, or her indefinite love affair with fellow PDA scholar Miguel Mendoza.
apple2PDA-2 was the second season ABS-CBN’s syndicated talent search on television. It housed 17 amateur singers, referred to as scholars. Every week, a contender would be eliminated from the academy based on his or her performance.
And when the next season opens soon, Apple, 20 years old now, has nothing to regret about, just a handful of flashbacks. “I would always keep the memorable experiences inside the academy: the tears I cried before going to bed, the lessons I needed to learn, and the good times with my colleagues. I was even reluctant to attend its audition because I wanted to finish my course first (then BS Accountancy).
“But aside from improving my stage performance, I also learned humility – that I may not be always at the top of my game,” she narrates, a graduating student of BS Management Accounting at the University of San Carlos.
She may have exited the show after just eight weeks, but she has earned more than fame. Ironically, it was the start of her boom.
You can spot her in corporate or entertainment functions as the events host, one of her most notable, her stint during the Cebu Pop Music Festival last January.
apple4But her sporadic appearances in both national and regional variety shows on ABS-CBN keep her connected with her first love – singing.
ahead, measure her voice power. Either belting out a Barbara Streisand number or pulling a Lady Gaga piece, Abarquez can easily shift her vocal range.
But when the camera lights are down, she’s simply Ronelia Gegawin – her real name. “I am very outgoing. I play air soft. I dance capoeira. And sometimes, I hop on the jetski.”
“Put me in a crowd of strangers, and I can easily blend with them. There was not a moment when I was out of place. I think every person has a story to tell,” she explains, who credits her social skills to her nine “mothers.”
“I grew up with nine foster mothers – seven are my ‘fairy gay mothers’. So it is most unlikely that I’d be out of place,” laughs Abarquez, an adopted daughter of Litang Abarquez, owner of a barbeque chain in Pardo.
credits her social skills to her seven “gay mothers” (composed of fashion designers and make-up artists) who have exposed her, as young as age 3, to the art of stage performance. And most of all, they instilled in her the desire to pursue her dreams.
“Education has always been my priority because it opens opportunities. But on the other hand, it never hurts to follow one’s dream.”
Make-up and hair: Ramil Solis
Photos by Joseph P. Ong
Locale: Cebu City Marriott Hotel, Cardinal Rosales Ave.