Sunday, November 4, 2012

Eva Santos: World-Class Boholana Diva

DID YOU KNOW THAT a Boholana warbler has represented the Philippines in an international songwriting competition?

Eva Gulle- de los Santos better known in the live entertainment circuit as Eva Santos and who hails from Jagna, Bohol did more than just represent our country in the annual Midnight Sun Song Festival in Lahti, Finland on June 6, 1992 

She enthralled everyone inside the cavernous competition venue the moment her mellifluous voice started to soar through. 

It was a spellbinding performance especially when she belted it out and hit the right notes.

I could just imagine and from the hit romantic comedy "My Best Friend's Wedding", I would like to quote Julia Roberts in that karaoke scene where she introduced Cameron Diaz, "Ladies and gentlemen, be prepared to be dazzled by the vocal stylings of Eva!" 

Eva's awesome interpretation really brought out the story behind her composition, every emotion, every nuance and every pause made her song come to life and so when the announcement of winners came, Eva was already jittery and tense but there was relief also for she knew that she had given it her all. 

It was a moment of pride and pure delight not only for Eva but also for her jubilant countrymen especially those who were there in Finland when she won 2nd Runner Up honors.

To this day, Eva still holds the distinction of being the only composer in the Philippines to have sung her own composition in an international song festival and place in the winners' circle

I first met Eva Santos through her sister Baby back in 2002. 

Although it was our first meeting, it felt like we had known each other for years. Eva has this warmth that radiates from within and surprisingly, for an accomplished newsmaker, she was very humble whose feet were both firmly planted on the ground. 

There was no trace of the supercilious and haughty ways usually associated with divas 


Her journey towards that award- winning performance in Finland started with Vehnee Saturno, well- known Filipino songwriter/ composer advising her former manager Raul Laurente to let Eva send an entry for the annual Midnight Sun Song Festival, a songwriting competition. 

She had to beat 50 other entries coming from songwriters and composers from all over the Philippines to earn the right to represent the country in the Finland- based competition

Eva recalled her amazing experience during the contest. 

“The Finland competition was so memorable and I performed two songs. I sang first my own composition “Just Like You & Me” and then performed the second song that was written by a Finnish. I was so inspired during rehearsals because I realized that all contestants get to perform with a 50 piece orchestra”

Eva was born and raised in Tejero, Jagna, Bohol. 

Her grade school years were spent at Jagna Central Elementary School. 

She graduated as High School Class Salutatorian at the Colegio de la Medalla Milagrosa. 

At around this time, Eva had acquired a local celebrity tag in her hometown after winning the nationwide Girl Scout of the Philippines Singing Contest

Looking back, Eva remembers her childhood days with fondness. 

“Those were fun- filled years full joy and love from family and friends. I grew up in a musically talented clan on both my mother’s and father’s side. 
Every single day, well, besides house chores, there were singing, playing guitar, and dancing lessons.
It was a simple life but my siblings and I were always doing something that revolved around the performing arts. It has always been a part of our lives”

Right after high school graduation, Eva received a talent scholarship grant from the then Cebu State College now Cebu Normal University.

It gave her not only a better appreciation for music but also opened doors for opportunities to showcase her singing and to pit talents in inter- school chorale competitions and singing contests.

She squeezed in all of these in her tight class schedules and graduated right on schedule with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree with cum laude honors tucked under her belt.


She applied for teaching positions in private schools and with impressive academic credentials, Eva easily got accepted. 

Her first teaching job was in Sacred Heart School for Boys before she eventually transferred to Cebu International School. 

During those years that she was in the teaching profession, her heart was torn between the academe and her music

After teaching for four years, she decided to shift gears and take her passion for music more seriously


She started as an acoustic singer with Ricky Pineda and Friends. 

Later on, she joined other bands and performed in a few hotels in Manila for a year before joining Zee Band which would later on dominate the live entertainment circuit of Cebu in the 80’s for its musical virtuosity and showmanship. 

The legendary group had some of Cebu’s best singers like Bernie Uy, Chad Borja, Archie Marcial and of course, Eva Santos. 

They performed for a few months in Singapore then came home to perform in Cebu and Manila. 

At the peak of their fame, the group disbanded to pursue individual careers and move to different directions


Eva got married in 1988 and decided to settle in Cebu where she has been a resident since her college years

Right now, she has put her vocal chords to rest but once in a while, she comes out from her hiatus when couldn't say no to projects that she believes in. 

She performs mostly for corporate events, guests in live shows, and occasionally performs for specially produced solo shows, mostly in Cebu and other cities in the Visayas.

Guesting in the 2006 Miss Bohol International Pageant Talent Show & Gala Dinner at one of the posh resorts in Bohol. 

Shown enjoying her performance are Rich Asuncion and Cathy Remperas (both in red shirts) before they entered the glitzy and glamorous world of showbiz


Carlos, her eldest, is already married and has four kids. He works in Microsoft, Seattle, USA as a computer engineer.

That's me with Monique!
Monique is really her mother's daughter. Of her children, it is Monique who is following her footsteps as a singer/ songwriter/ performer. 

Early 2011, she flew all the way to the U.S. to join American Idol Season 10. 

She auditioned and passed the series of tough elimination rounds and made it as a Hollywood Week finalist. 

One of her group mates for the group audition included eventual AI Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery

Monique is the first homegrown Filipino meaning born and raised in the Philippines who joined and got noticed in the very popular American singing contest. 

A big achievement already. Monique is on her last two trimesters before she graduates with a BS Psychology degree from De La Salle University, Taft, Manila. 

OJ, the younger of two sons and taking up business major in advertising also in De La Salle University is a member of the Philippine Karatedo Team aka Philippine Typhoons. 

He bagged bronze and silver medals at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) held in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

Incidentally, OJ is competing in the 2nd International Shotokan Karatedo Federation (ISKF) World Shoto Cup 2012 which will be held in Cebu on Nov. 6 to 11 at the Pacific Grand Ballroom of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino. 

Fifteen countries, including the Philippines, will be participating in this prestigious tournament

Eva is asking fellow Boholanos especially those based in Cebu City to watch and support her son OJ and the rest of the Philippine team

Ana, the youngest in the brood is a first year high school at the Paref Southcrest School in Cebu. 

She is also into the performing arts. She's a versatile musician who sings, plays the piano, guitar, ukulele, and the violin. 

She does all of these while juggling her time between academics and co- curricular activities. What a busy girl !


Eva’s biggest dream is to gain global fame as singer- songwriter. 

Her journey towards that dream started with the singing of her first single “I Believe,” before a live audience.

Next was gaining the nod from fellow songwriters when her composition “Just like You and Me,” won 2nd RU in the Midnight Sun International Song Festival

Eva hasn’t realized it but she is already halfway through in the pursuit of her dreams. 


On March 13, 1998, the City of Cebu presented her the Perlas Award as “Valuable Filipino in the Field of Singing.” in recognition of her prodigious talent and contribution to local music. 

She was also hailed as one of the Top 7 Women of Cebu in the Field of Performing Arts in 2004 and finally, during Jagna’s 375th Foundation Anniversary back in September 2006, she was awarded one of the Most Outstanding Jagna-anons 

But more than the accolades, the recogniton & the awards that she has received, what she cherishes the most is the thought that she has entertained people and has touched their lives through her music

Presently, Eva is mainly preoccupied with her multi-tasking roles as wife, mom and as entrepreneur. One of these days, Eva Santos just might retire from the glitzy entertainment world and pursue her other passions and interests and when that time comes, she can be assured that her place in the list of outstanding Boholanos is already secured

But for the meantime, step on centerstage Eva and keep the music playing


Check out the video clips of her performance during the 1992 Midnight Sun International Song Festival. All contestants were required to sing two songs. Their entry and a Finnish- composed song.

Video  of her interpretation of her very own award- winning composition  

Her Award- Winning Performance in the Midnight Sun Int'l Song Festival

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