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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Vina Morales

Vina Morales (born Sharon Garcia Magdayao 17 October 1975, Bogo, Cebu, Philippines) is a Filipina actress of maternal Spanish and paternal Cebuano descent. She played the title role in the film The Sarah Balabagan Story. She is the older sister of teen actress Shaina Magdayao.


Even as a child growing up in Bogo, Cebu, Sharon Garcia Magdayao a.k.a. Vina Morales knew that she wanted to be a singer. It was nine-year-old Sharon's singing with her church choir that would lead to her big break. The local parish priest, Fr. Fritz Malinao, was also a songwriter. He recognized Sharon's talent and asked her to sing one of his compositions as an entry in the Cebu Pop Music Festival. The song, "Paglaum", ("hope" in Visayan), not only won the Grand Prize but also earned the "Best Interpreter" award for its young singer.

Sharon and her family were surprised to learn that representatives from Viva Films had seen her performance. They were so impressed with her talents that they immediately offered her a singing and acting contract. The Magdayao family was very supportive of their gifted daughter. They sold everything they had in Cebu and moved to Manila. The family entrusted ten-year-old Sharon's career to Mina del Rosario of Viva Films, who became like a second mother to Sharon. It was Mina who gave Sharon the name Vina, taken from her daughter's name Vina Vanesa. The only problem standing in the way of Vina's acting career was that she only spoke English and Cebuano. But now that she was living in Manila, her Tagalog improved rapidly and she soon made her first movie, Nakagapos na Puso, in which she played the niece of Tonton Gutierrez. The film also starred Vina's idol and namesake, Sharon Cuneta.

In her late teens Vina began taking on more mature and bold roles. She appeared with Robin Padilla in Utol Kong Hoodlum. She starred with Ariel Rivera in Anghel Na Walang Langit. This was a dual role in which Vina played two lookalike young women with very different personalities. One of Vina's most challenging and controversial roles was that of Sarah Balabagan, the young Muslim domestic helper from Mindanao who killed her employer in United Arab Emirates after he raped her. For a while it seemed like The Sarah Balabagan Story might never be shown publicly, after the UAR government objected to the way Muslim life was depicted in some scenes. It was finally allowed to be shown and earned Vina three Best Actress nominations.

While Vina's acting career flourished, she also kept up with her singing, continuing to record albums and perform in live concerts. Her latest album, released in March 2004, is a collection of love songs entitled Mamahalin Ka Niya. Vina co-wrote the lyrics of one song, "Paano Kaya Magtatagpo?", with good friend Piolo Pascual. Their busy schedules did not allow them to meet in person, so they wrote the lyrics through texting! The music was then composed by Arnel de Pano. Later Vina and Piolo recorded the song as a duet. Other songs on the album include "Yakapin Mo Ako", "Pangako" and "Saan Darating ang Umaga". Vina had first sung "Yakapin Mo Ako" when portraying singer Joey Albert on the biographical TV series Maalaala Mo Kaya. For the past couple of years Vina's career as an international concert artist has really taken off big-time. In 2002 she had a series of shows with Martin Nievera in the US and Canada. She had her own successful mult-city US tour, "Vina Revealed", in the summer of 2003 and is currently in the middle of another one called "Vina's Hot!"

Vina doesn't just sing, she also does several high-energy dance numbers at each show, and makes sure to keep physically fit so she can keep up with the demands of such an exhausting schedule. A special honor for Vina was being the first Filipino chosen to sing at the New York International Music Festival, which was held at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas in 2003. She performed five songs and got a long standing ovation.

In 2007, she starred in ABS-CBN's Maria Flordeluna, where she played her role as Elvira, the mother of Maria Flordeluna, played by Eliza Pineda.

On August 5, 2007, she won the right to represent the Philippines at the 2007 IKON Asean singing contest. She went on and bested contestants from Malaysia and Indonesia during the finals nights on August 12 and took home the solo title, while fellow Filipino band Kjwan took home the group title.