Erik Santos, 24, was born and bred in Malabon, a town visited by floods every time the typhoon season came around.

Photo: Miguel Nacianceno

At age four, Erik Santos already knew he wanted to be a singer and would grow up to be one. "Walaakong ibang hilig," he says.

Before winning the ABS-CBN singing contest Starin a Million, and way before becoming the country's Prince of Pop, Erik was a member of an obscure boy band "na kumakanta sa tabi-tabi." He was studying dentistry at the Centro Escolar University in Manila, and had just finished his second year, when he quit school and joined the boy band, which went by the name of DNA. The group apparently never got anywhere. Erik soon left it and went back to college.

"Feeling kowala nang nangyayari," Erik recalls, "sobumalik ako sa school. Kaya lang, nag-shift ako sa nursing."

In 2003, Erik, by then a nursing student at the Emilio Aguinaldo College in Ermita, Manila, joined Starin a Million. He got eliminated in his third week, but was called back as a wild-card entry during the finals. Singing R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly," Erik managed to become one of the finalists.

On the show's grand finals night in September 2003, Erik sang "This Is the Moment," from the Broadway musical Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His impressive rendition won him the grand prize—P1 million, plus a house-and-lot in Binangonan, Rizal.

With victory came sure-fire stardom. Erik has since come out with four albums and performed in numerous concerts and U.S. tours. He is also currently a mainstay of ASAP Mania, ABS-CBN's Sunday variety show.

Erik's debut album, ThisIs the Moment (2004), went platinum just three months after its release. After which, the LovingYou Now albumwas releasedwith the hit single "Bakit Ba Iniibig Ka," composed by no less than Ogie Alcasid, and sung as a duet with Asia's Songbird Regine Velasquez.

In December 2005, Erik held what he considers his first major solo concert at the Marikina Riverbanks. It was a free concert attended by thousands of his fans. "'Yon 'yong parang pasasalamat ko sa mga fans," he says, beaming.