Noven Belleza, who’s facing a sexual assault case in Cebu City, first made news last March when he emerged as the winner of “Tawag ng Tanghalan,” a segment in the ABS-CBN noontime show It’s Showtime that featured amateur singers.
He was heavily favored to win the competition not only because of his singing prowess but also his rags-to-riches back story.
The 21-year-old native of Victorias City in Negros Occidental province tilled rice fields to earn a living for his family and saw the singing contest in Manila as his ticket out of poverty.
Here’s a rundown of five of his most viewed performances in “Tawag ng Tanghalan”:
1. Air Supply Medley: “The One That You Love,” “Now and Forever” & Without You”
March 11, 2017
Amid loud cheers, Noven launched into a trio of Air Supply lung-busting hits, such as “The One That You Love,” “Now and Forever,” and “Without You” for the grand finals show held at the Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.
He looked and moved like a winner throughout his performance, and left no doubt in the minds and hearts of the judges and viewers that he already ended the competition.
He eventually got a whopping score of 99.6 percent, which came from the jury in the studio and text votes from viewers all over, to be crowned the first ever champion of “Tawag ng Tanghalan” in It’s Showtime.
His triumph came with P2 million in cash prize, a recording contract, a brand new house and lot, as well as pride, honor, and fame.
2. “May Bukas Pa”
March 11, 2007
Noven’s performance matched the high emotions of “May Bukas Pa,” the inspirational ballad popularized by Rico J. Puno in the first phase of the grand-finals round.
Not surprisingly, he easily booked a spot in the final showdown with fellow contestants Sam Mangubat and Froilan Canlas.
3. “To Love Somebody”
July 23, 2016
For his first trip to the “Tawag ng Tanghalan” stage, Noven chose the Bee Gees classic tune “To Love Somebody” to showcase his full baritone voice.
He was up against then defending daily-round champion, Babylyn Mauhay, who sang Shirley Bassey’s signature hit, “I Who Have Nothing.”
Noven garnered a score of 96 percent to prevail over Babylyn, whose score was 92.2 percent, to be proclaimed the new daily-round winner.
Noven’s story touched those watching him, including It’s Showtime host Vice Ganda.
He related that he discontinued his studies and opted to work, so that he could help send his four younger siblings to school.
Vice then pledged to pay for the tuition of Noven’s siblings for the next school year.
4. “Having You Near Me”
July 28, 2016
Noven marked his five straight wins with the Air Supply’s “Having You Near Me” to earn a spot in the semifinals round.
The visibly more confident defending daily-round champion scored 95.6 percent to beat his challenger, Fernando Dumayao, whose rendition of Gary Valenciano’s “Sana Maulit Muli” got him a score of only 90.6 percent.
5. “Kahit Ako’y Lupa”
October 8, 2016
Noven advanced to the grand finals round with his heartfelt rendition of Basil Valdez’s “Kahit Ako’y Lupa.”
In the intro video, the 21-year-old rice farmer from Negros Occidental said that his chosen song tells the story of his “simpleng buhay.”
He talked more about his life’s struggles in the video: “Sa araw-araw, putik ang nakikipag-kamay sa akin.
“Masakit man minsan dahil madumi at mababa ang tingin sa trabaho ko, hindi ko na lang iniinda dahil malinis ang puso ko.
“Wala akong hinahamak na iba. Minsan, naiinggit din ako sa mga ka-edad ko dahil sila, libro ang hawak; ako, kalabaw at pang-araro.
“Pero kailanman, hindi ko ikakahiya ang pinanggalingan ko kasi dito ako naging matibay.
“Napagtanto ko na hindi ako dapat mainggit sa kanila kasi maraming naituro sa akin ang sitwasyon ko na hindi pa siguro natutunan ng iba.
“Dito ako natuto na maging matapang at matatag sa pagharap ng hamon ng buhay. Dito ka natuto ng maraming bagay na nakatulong sa akin na tumahak sa mga pangarap ko, katulong ang mga mahal ko sa buhay.”