The past two years have been very kind to acclaimed Prince of Pop Erik Santos, celebrated champion of Star in a Million, a prestigious singing star search in the Philippines. Undoubtedly one of the music industry’s finest voices, the versatile recording and concert artist has won the hearts of audiences all over the globe as soon as he stepped off the stage from where he delivered the most amazing rendition of “This is the Moment” and received the winning nod of the most illustrious panel of judges on the third night of January 2004. Television shows, sold-out performances locally and abroad, endorsements, multiplatinum albums, accolades from musical institutions, collaborations with the best musicians and most of all the loyalty of his fervent fans around the world have been the result of his hard work in this young but very promising showbiz odyssey.
“MY PARENTS say I was singing before I could read or write. When I was 4 years old, they tell me, they would turn on the radio and I would croon along, “Erik tells the Philippine Daily Inquirer.” Wala akong ibang hilig, “he discloses to Yes! Magazine.
Indeed, Erik’s passion for singing appeared when he was barely finished with being a toddler. He already knew how to sing with the multiplex at 6 years old and from there he joined the church choir and competed in small-town singing contests. In school, Erik excelled in his studies, a proud recipient of various academic recognitions and leadership awards. But school had to take a backseat sometime in college when he joined a fledgling musical group that did not become the success that he had hoped for. Thus his return to college albeit shifting from Dentistry to Nursing, the hottest ticket to a well-earning career outside the Philippines in the hopes that this is finally his way of helping out his family.
But in one of the many fateful second chances that Erik Santos had been granted, the Sunday noontime show ASAP’s singing contest segment (Star in a Million) was in full swing and Erik was lucky enough to have entered the monthly finals. By the third week, though, luck was not on his side as he got eliminated from the competition. Again, a second opportunity presented itself by way of the Wildcard competition, a shot at the 10th and final slot for the semi-finals round. Erik gave his all in his rendition of R. Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly. He got in and as 2004 was fast approaching the buzz about Star in a Million kept televiewers in bated breath as to who would stay among the ten finalists after every weekly elimination. Erik was not a favorite of the judges and he had less-than-glowing but decent enough rankings so as not to get eliminated. “Ang aim ko na lang that time ay mapanood ako ng family ko sa TV. Ang sarap din ng feeling na nakapagbibigay ka ng kasiyahan sa family mo (My aim then was for my family to at least see me on TV. It’s such a great feeling when you know that you give happiness to your family),” Erik tells S Magazine. Clearly, he was an underdog when he became one of the three Grand Finalists. By New Year everything changed. Erik Santos was the toast of the town, because as luck would have it, the one who sings from the heart was proclaimed the Star in a Million.
Stardom was obviously in easy grasp but Erik did not expect too much. He tells Teen Star Magazine: ” It didn’t occur to me that there would be bigger things for me after winning Star in a Million. Akala ko, gagawa lang ako ng album, mage-guest sa mga TV shows and do concerts. (I thought I would just be recording an album, do some TV guestings and concerts.) But the bigger things came like big shows here and abroad. Sa US na lang, ilang beses akong nakabalik because of the series of concerts I did with other artists. (In the US alone, I came back several times because of the series of concerts I did with other artists.)” The Rising Star, his moniker in Star in a Million, proved to be prophetic because truly, a star was born on that Grand Finals night, when the wildcard underdog became the ultimate champion and has since become an industry heavyweight.
Now in the third year of his musical career under the tutelage of Boy Abunda’s Backroom Inc., he remains to be the top-selling artist of his mother recording studio, Star Records, the recording arm of ABS-CBN. His albums are all bestsellers, as with the singles from them being hits on the radio and television music channels. From I Believe I Can Fly off the Star in a Million album to I’ll Never Go from his latest outing Loving You Now, it would be “hard to imagine what the landscape of Philippine pop music would be without him.” His songs also have become part of TV shows on the Kapamilya network (ABS-CBN Channel 2 locally and The Filipino Channel globally), as theme songs or part of the musical scoring, most notable of which is I Will Never Leave You, which was the theme of the hit Koreanovela Green Rose. Every album Erik has put out has been a deeply personal experience for him, and they have been representations of his personality and the growth of his musicality.
Erik has performed in the most popular local stages. He has graced the Ultra with divas Pops Fernandez and Regine Velasquez, made beautiful music with teen queen Sarah Geronimo in the Aliw and AFP Theaters, launched an album at the Music Museum, and rocked the Araneta Coliseum with the Comedy Concert Queen, Aiai Delas Alas and the rest of the Champions. He has also crossed the seas to bring his gift of music to the people of America, the Middle East, Australia, Japan and neighboring Asian cities. His manager shares that ” Erik has a very strong following in America. Some fans from the East Coast would fly to the West Coast and vice-versa just to watch him perform,” as what happened when he performed back-to-back with Vina Morales, and continued his tour with Pops, Regine and the Champions. Aside from that, Erik is also an artist with social sensibilities. “We know how hard times are… That’s why some of the concerts today aren’t doing well. Kesa nga naman ibili nila ng ticket na worth P300, P500 or P1,000 ay ibibili na lang nila ng pagkain. (People would rather buy food than buy tickets worth P300, P500 or P1,000.) That’s why I asked Tito Boy that we plan a free concert for the fans. Para mas ma-appreciate nila ang Pasko, nagkaroon kami ng pa-raffle for the fans kaya marami ang naging happy kahit na may crisis tayo. (So they would have a better appreciation of Christmas, we had a raffle for the fans so that many would be happy despite the crisis.)” That concert, aptly billed Paskong Pasasalamat ni Erik Santos, saw more than ten thousand people converge at the Marikina Riverbanks, a great way to celebrate the Season and end 2005. It was a definite high point in Erik’s career since this being his gift to all his fans, it turned out to be a big blessing to him as well with the outpouring of love and support. There would be more stages for Erik to conquer, and his fans will be there wherever they may be.
Hosting ASAP is one of his prizes when he won, along with a million pesos and a house and lot. Being on the television airwaves since his competing days on Star in a Million, his TV exposure has not relented. He continues to be an important part of the Champions Showdown, the top-rating segment of ASAP, and has hosted the two seasons of Search for the Star in a Million along with numerous guestings on Homeboy, The Buzz, Game Ka Na Ba, and other Kapamilya shows. Clamor for an acting career has been resounding since other Champions have been acting on soaps and movies, and although there have been offers for Erik to do teleseryes, his reluctance proved to be based on reasonable grounds. He declares that he is not yet ready for an acting career, since he has no formal training on acting and may not have the natural knack for it. He would not do something he is not prepared for and would not do it just so that he could say he has done it. Erik would rather concentrate on his singing career. Don’t lose hope though since he says that if he’s going to do some acting, he’d opt for light comedy or feel-good movies. After all, a little acting had been involved in making his music videos so we may content ourselves with those for the meantime.
Perhaps more than the glory, the fame and the adulation, the opportunity to realize his dreams is the most important thing that entering showbiz has brought upon Erik Santos. He has fulfilled a lifelong dream of providing a better life for his family as signified by the completion of the house he so longed to share with his parents and siblings (He traded the house and lot he won for a condo unit so the new house is completely from his own earnings.)” Ang sarap ng feeling. Halos mapatid na ang litid ko sa kakakanta ng This is The Moment, pero kapag nakikita ko yung bahay, lahat ng pagod ko sa trabaho, nawawala (It feels so great. I almost lost my voice singing This is the Moment so many times but when I see the house, all of the hardships from work disappear),” he says in a Boy Abunda article. More than that, he’s been able to bring his family together. Because he can now provide, his father who had been an overseas Filipino worker in Jeddah for more than two decades (thus the two being a Bank of the Philippine Islands Express Remit endorser) came back to complete the family after a long absence. Nothing can be sweeter than reaping the fruits of your success with your loved ones by your side.
“I am so blessed I have the support of the country’s best composers and music superstars,” Erik says in a Journal news item. Being in this industry has proved to be the fulfillment of his other dream of working with OPM (Original Pilipino Music) royalty. He tells journalist Shirley Pizzaro: “There are moments still when I even have to pinch myself as if to convince me that this life is real. Ang hirap kasi paniwalaan na halos naabot ko na ang mga pinapangarap ko lang noon. (It’s still hard to believe that I’m within arm’s reach of what I only used to dream of before.) I remain to be star struck even to this day. It is still so hard to digest the fact that I get to work with the superstars of our local entertainment industry, sing with them and be given the same treatment. Imagine, I already had the chance to sing with the likes of Lea Salonga (Lea, Home for Christmas), Kuh Ledesma (on ABS-CBN shows), Sharon Cuneta (The Megastar in Dubai), Regine Velasquez (Queens on Fire and The Songbird and The Songwriter, etc.), Pops Fernandez (Queens on Fire), Zsa Zsa Padilla (on ABS-CBN shows), Martin Nievera (on ABS-CBN shows), Gary Valenciano (Symphony of the Heart), Ogie Alcasid (The Songbird and The Songwriter), etc.” Not only does he work with the best that the local music industry has to offer, he gets to sing compositions made for him by the most prolific and successful songwriters like Vehnee Saturno (Dahil Ikaw Lang ang Mahal), Ogie Alcasid (I Believe and Bakit Ba Iniibig Ka) and Martin Nievera (Mystery). Erik’s most recent triumph is a music video with Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez for the hit song Bakit Ba Iniibig Ka, wherein the Songbird showed full support to the Prince of Pop (and he proudly gets to kiss her on the lips in the process!).
At this point in Erik Santos’ career, he says he could not ask for anything more and could only thank the Lord for all the blessings. “Basta ako, ang iniisip ko lang, kung hanggang saan ang success na ibigay sa akin ng Diyos, okay na. (For me, whatever success the Lord lets me have, I’m okay with it.) He’s already given me so much. Because of that, I’ve been able to meet most of my goals in life… ” With this attitude, one can only hope for the longevity of his musical career. One writer has this to say, “From the looks of it, the aptly dubbed Prince of Pop is displaying some sure signs of staying power in the entertainment industry.” A good thing for Erik Santos, who mentions that,” Since I love singing, I want to last long in my chosen career. “With his feet firmly on the ground, Erik has been reaching heights that he only once dreamed of. And we are all witness to how this Star in a Million truly shines the brightest.
BIO comes from Erik Santos Fan Site.