BY MARIVIR MONTEBON
Maria Kirby Asunto is well-known in the Filipino-American circles in the East Coast. She is a rising star, a promising young voice who needs just a little bit more of promoting and relentless polishing of artistry to reach perfection.
Singing the Philippine national anthem may be her biggest ticket to international status, as the much-awaited fight of international welterweight champ Manny Pacquiao between Timothy Bradley takes place at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas on June 9. After all, she was personally chosen by the champ Pacquiao himself.
On Facebook, 14-year-old Kirby is your typical teenager who writes just about any thing going on with her daily routine – coming home tired from a long trip, asking for well wishes on her singing auditions, and ah, waiting in excitement for her new braces.
But this young girl, who is enrolled at the McManus Middle School in Linden, New Jersey, has big dreams, and is creating her name as a singer and performer in New York and the neighboring states.
She has performed in major Filipino-American events in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and the US capital region with her mother, Shirley Asunto, ever supportive of her budding career.
Kirby had won major awards and recognitions, like First Place at the Regional and National Competition at Access Broadway in Groton, Connecticut, Grand Champion at the Philippine American Idol Competition (Philippines Fiesta, Secaucus, NJ) and New Rising Star at the 2010 Kollaboration DC (Washington, DC).
She was also the featured rising star performer for the 2010 Migrant Heritage Commission’s (MHC) Annual People’s Ball, the biggest Fil-Am Community Gala in Washington DC and Asia Heritage Foundation’s Fiesta Asia, considered the biggest Asian street Festival in the U.S. capital.
Kirby also performed for Philippine President Nonoy Aquino’s 2010 Proclamation Inauguration Ball in Manila and Arnel Pineda’s Atlantic City Concert as the front act.
Kirby performed as Special Guest of the Rising Young Stars Competition at the MHC’s 2010 International Migrant Heritage Festival in Metropolitan Washington D.C.
She trained vocally under Corazon Demaano Samonte in the Philippines. In the US, Kirby goes to Catherine Kuenzel and Bituin D. Escarcha for voice coaching and dance lessons with Miguel Braganza.
In December 2010, she held her first solo Christmas show, dubbed as “Pasko sa Payag” at the Payag Restaurant in Queens, New York.
“I want to be a professional singer and work with some famous people in the Philippines and the US, especially Hollywood. I also want to be like the big stars who are helping people in Haiti and other countries in need,” she quipped.
Kirby started showing her extraordinary singing talent at age two. Upon discovering her singing voice, her parents have since then encouraged her to join in musical plays, special events and competitions.
Mom Shirley (whose roots are from Davao and Leyte) always reminds her to balance her singing with studies. “I tell her she needs to be educated so that she will not be fooled by ways of the world. I am here to protect her, first and foremost and I want her to be a respected singer someday.”
Like in her previous performances, Kirby’s sweet rendering of the Lupang Hinirang may send in the goose bumps for all those who hear it live at the MGM Grand or on the ‘tube.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqMXp1Hq5_0&feature=related]