Article by JASER MARASIGAN
Photos by JERICO MONTEMAYOR
(Assisted by CROMWELL TORIO)
Styled by JP DICHE
MakeUp by RHINA MONTEMAYOR
Hair By DAVE GRONA
Clothes and Accessories from
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MANILA, Philippines — When 11-year-old Mar ia Aragon uploaded a video of herself on You- Tube singing Lady Gaga’s hit song
“Born This Way,” she had not a bit of an idea of the possibilities that her posting could lead to.
Besides, Maria says, she is just a girl who likes to sing -- until the Mother Monster herself tweeted her praise for the kid’s cover of her track: “Can't stop crying watching this. This is why I make music. She is the future…”
Within a week of Lady Gaga’s anointment, the YouTube video views shot to 25 million hits. It now has over 40 million views.
“It was all crazy and everything happened really fast. Sometimes when I look back, I question myself, did I really meet her. It was so surreal,” says Maria, who performed the song “Born this Way” on stage with Lady Gaga at her concert in Toronto, Canada.
“I was nervous backstage because I can’t believe that it was happening.
Before the show, I just prayed with my whole family, and when I went onstage, I wasn’t nervous anymore. I just felt I wanted to perform and give my best,” she continues to relive the moment.
Lady Gaga was so nice, Maria gushes. “You’d think that she’s kinda weird sometimes because of the way she dresses and performs but she’s really, really nice. I guess that’s her way of being unique,” she says.
“Music has been a part of my whole life. When I was still a baby, my dad had a karaoke machine, almost every night he would turn it on and sing to me. I guess that’s how I was influenced to sing. He first taught me ‘Maybe’ by King. That was the first song that I ever really learned. I was five years old,” shares the youngest of four children of Veni and Menchie Aragon. They were living in Ormoc City before migrating to Winnipeg, Canada in 1997.
Maria seems to be a piano virtuoso but amazingly, she learned to play the instrument on her own. “I was inspired by my brother JV because he was self-taught. The first video that I uploaded that I played piano by ear on was ‘Price Tag’ by Jessie J,” says Maria, who names Gary Valenciano, Sarah Geronimo, Beyonce and Michael Jackson among her favorite artists.
“I always think that something bigger is going to happen. It is really my dream to be a singer. I want to know how it felt to be a singer but I didn’t expect I’d ever get here. But I know I still have a lot to improve on, and I know that there are a lot of things that I could do better.”
“It’s been crazy but it’s been really fun,” she enthuses. “Most of my fans are Filipinos and they have been amazing! The Filipino fans are very loud and supportive. I can’t really go to a store now without people recognizing me,” adds the YouTube sensation currently in the country with her family for a vacation as well as for some showbiz commitments.
Although born in Canada, Maria knows that being Filipino is a huge part of who she is. “At home in Canada, we are a Filipino family, we eat Filipino food, sinigang na baboy, and manok of any kind of dish are my favorites. We always ‘mano’ to our elders. We always watch Filipino teleserye. My favorite is ‘Mara Clara’,” reveals Maria, who also aspires of becoming an actress given the opportunity.
In spite of her accomplishments at such a young age, Maria keeps a good head on her shoulders. She insists that school is still her priority over everything.
“It’s fun being the youngest, to have older siblings, because when you have a hard time on something, they can give you advice. I also ask help from them for my assignments,” says the incoming Grade 6 student at the Isaac Brock School in Winnipeg.
...Recently, she was named the young ambassador for ANCOP (Answering the Cry of the Poor), where she helps organize fund raising events to provide scholarships to Filipino street kids.
“I want to make a change and hopefully, I influence other people to make a change too,” she says.
Aware that she is considered a role model, she advises kids like her to always have fun. “That’s the first thing that you have to focus on, because you’re still a kid. I’m scared that when I grow up, I won’t have fun anymore. People think this is a job, but singing has been a big dream.
I hope to do this for a long time because everything has been a really big blessing. So never forget to have fun, and always be yourself. Make sure that you love whatever you’re doing because when you don’t love it, you’re not in the right place,” she ends.
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And as a treat!
Here's a video of Maria Aragon playing Born This Way during the photo shoot!