Most of us dream of seeing as much of the world as we possibly can. This girl is now doing just that — while balancing her life as a college student.
Here is her inspiring story.
Airom Camua was born and raised in Bulacan by simple, devoutly Catholic parents. Both have degrees in Civil Engineering, but her mother opted to quit her job to personally care for her three little girls.
Airom’s grandparents were musically inclined (her paternal grandfather was a band member playing the trombone, while her maternal grandparents used to sing in front of their children while playing the guitar and keyboard), so even if the girls were not very exposed to music growing up, their genes alone made sure that music would play a major role in their lives.
During the early part of her grade school years, Airom was already a familiar face in singing competitions and various programs in school. But it was only when she was 9, and her other sisters 8 and 5, that they each received their very first guitars from their supportive parents. From then on, the music of the Camuas’ instant three-girl band had become an entertaining sound that constantly pierced through their once-quiet street. Family occasions and gatherings also became more fun and colorful because of the trio’s performances. On the summer school break after her grade school graduation, her parents hired a piano teacher for Airom. Her mother wanted her to play for their parochial church’s daily mass.
Soon enough, Airom became an active member of the Sta. Isabel Parish Choir. She also became part of the Barasoain Camerata Philippines Chorale.
However, it was not until she became one of the powerful voices of her high school’s Koro del Pilar that she experienced joining—and winning—in serious competitions. Noticing Airom’s inherent musical prowess and immense dedication to her craft, their choral conductor, Sir Radie Santiago, appointed her Choir Master. According to the prophetic mentor, aside from having an ear for music, Airom also had what musicians call a “perfect pitch.” It was also from Sir Radie, whom Airom considered her greatest influence to seriously pursue music, that she first heard about UPCC.
Airom’s vast exposure to musical competitions through the Koro del Pilar served as a pivotal stage in her young life. It was since she started competing that she began to harbor a blazing dream to travel the world using her voice and God-given talent. In fact, whenever her mom would be asked why her daughter should decide to pursue a music career, she would always say, “Gusto n’yang malibot ang mundo nang kumakanta.”
COLLEGE AND THE U.P. CONCERT CHORUS (UPCC)
With God’s grace, Airom was able to conquer the extremely competitive UP College Admission Test (UPCAT). And after passing her chosen college’s talent test with flying colors, Airom started her life as a UP College of Music freshman in 2012. She is now in her final year of taking up Bachelor of Music, Major in Music Education.
There was a wide array of performing art groups in UP Diliman to choose from, but Airom’s eyes were solely focused on one organization. The UPCC.
Music students are not normally advised to join that particular students’ organization because of the versatile singing and exploratory placement it espouses. But Airom, with her intrinsic independence, curiosity and risk-taking personality, couldn’t be swayed. So, along with a handful of her other batch mates, she submitted her membership application form to UPCC and subjected herself to an extremely rigorous and demanding training. (Before they could be inducted into the organization, they had to successfully stage 10 mini performances and 2 major concerts!)
But, indeed, nothing is sweeter that a feat accomplished in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges and adversities.
After four months of long hours of brainstorming sessions, back-breaking and vocal range-stretching rehearsals, and emotionally-draining pressure, coupled with the difficult task of scouting for sponsors and, of course, the inevitable jitters before every performance, Airom was finally inducted on December 11, 2013.
As a prestigious student organization in UP, an icon of stage performance, and an internationally-competitive and renowned performing group, UPCC is regularly invited to perform in various events and venues, for various companies and institutions, to grace various celebrations, to support various causes and, sometimes, to collaborate with various musicians — both here and abroad.
In the same month that she was inducted into the UPCC, Airom was already part of the team that flew to US for a month-long winter concert tour. They performed around Washington and California. That was Airom’s first out-of-the-country trip.
In May 2015, UPCC went on a three-month international concert tour. They traveled around Europe (Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Andorra, France, Spain and Austria) and US (New York, New Jersey, Texas and Hawaii). That was an eventful trip for the team, particularly because it was during that tour that they won the Grand Prix in the 6th International Krakow Choir Festival in Poland, where they were the only Asian choir among 24 competing choirs.
In December of the same year, they staged another month-long concert tour in California, Washington, Oregon and Nevada. It was Airom’s second time to spend Christmas and New Year away from her family.
Just recently, UPCC concluded their two-and-a-half-month summer concert tour in Canada, Ecuador, Colombia and USA (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Texas, Kentucky, Florida and Alabama).
When asked what her most memorable experiences with UPCC are, Airom’s eyes lit up like neon lights as she started to count on her fingers. Of course, winning the Grand Prix in Krakow, Poland topped the list. Others on her list were joining the choral festivals in Poland, Ecuador and Colombia; being in remarkable cities like Rome, Milan, Venice, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto; seeing the Vatican, Al Duomo, the gondolas, Iglesia de Sagrada Familia, the Berlin Wall, Times Square, the Bellagio, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and the Niagara Falls; experiencing winter and snow; the numerous TV guestings here and abroad; the food adventures (she had once tried the asado roasted “Cuy” Guinea Pig, a delicacy in the south of Colombia); immersion in other cultures; and knowing, living with, and learning from the many host families in different countries that generously welcomed them into their homes.
But, of course, being part of UPCC is not just all about the perks. It entails enormous sacrifices and hard work, especially for someone like Airom who had since held many critical positions in the organization. However, she is never one to buckle under pressure or heavy burden. Her dreams are already within her reach. She just needs to work a little harder to prove to everyone and to herself that she deserves every break and blessing that she receives.
LESSONS LEARNED ALONG THE WAY
Since childhood, Airom and her siblings had been taught to faithfully serve the Lord. The three girls, with their parents, hear the Sunday mass religiously. They were also trained to develop and enhance their God-given talents and share those with the world with all the humility and gratitude that they could muster. Giving utmost importance to education is another value that had been deeply ingrained in the Camua girls — so much so that, despite her hectic schedule, Airom still tries to maintain her Cum Laude academic standing.
Growing up, Airom learned to dream big dreams. She realized that, when weaving our dreams, we should not limit ourselves. We should aim for the highest, the biggest and the grandest of dreams. But we should not just follow them. We have to chase them, we have to pursue them relentlessly, and we have to work earnestly to achieve them. We should not be disheartened by the many obstacles that we may meet along the way. Instead, we must consider them as challenges through which we can prove how strong and determined we can really be. Finally, when we fulfill our dreams, we should tightly hold on to them with both hands. We nurture them, we grow with them, we inspire with them, we believe in their beauty. Never, at any point, should we let go of our dreams.
Music is a gift that could unite people of different origins, tongues and cultures. Airom may just be one voice, but hers could be a powerful one that can soar and harmonize. With every note and every tune, with every chord and every melody, with every concert and every performance, she may just inspire the world to change for the better. One spectator at a time.
That is her ultimate dream.