His name may not be as familiar as his contemporaries who have all gotten their big break by winning prestigious talent competitions, but Jimmy Marquez clearly has what it takes to hit the big time.
This true blue Cebuano graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications, Major in Broadcast Journalism, at the University of San Jose Recoletos in Cebu.
Since he was young, his fondness for music was evident, and this started to gain momentum when he became a theater scholar in his university.
Not surprisingly, his talent wasn't meant to be confined to the theater stage. While in college, a talent manager offered him a singing career in Manila.
"Well, even before when I was in college, parang may manager nang kumukuha sa akin to be in a band," he recalls.
"I didn't entertain the offer, kasi baka hindi ko talaga ma-finish 'yung [studies ko].
"With the help of my dean before, na director din namin sa theater, she told me not to join the band because she believed it will hinder me from graduating on time.
"So, 'yun, after that nag-banda na ako after graduating."
The band he joined was the all-male, Cebu-based hiphop and RnB outfit, Stages, which hired him as its sole male vocalist.
STRUGGLES AS AN ARTIST. After a year of gigging with Stages, Jimmy grabbed the opportunity to finally start his career in Manila.
However, what he imagined to be his big break in his career turned out to be not quite what he had expected.
He relates, "There was a manager who was interested in me performing, so I left Cebu for Manila.
"Well, meron lang kaming... parang hindi nagkasundo ng manager.
"Kasi, she wanted me to become a comedian around sa comedy bars."
But Jimmy immediately cleared, "I have nothing against that because I have high regard, high respect to those who can do it because it's hard to make people laugh.
"It's just that, I can do that but I felt that I wanted to prove to people first that I'm more than a comedian."
This misunderstanding between him and his former manager paved the way for his entry into his next band— the George band.
"Funny story is, kasi wala pa akong ginagawa dito kasi bago pa lang ako, I still didn't know anyone.
"Then, parang 'yung group ng brother ni Anna Fegi, the brother of Anna Fegi sings with this group, band, parang they were in need of a girl singer kasi parang tumiwalag 'yong isa.
"So, they found a girl!
"So, parang sa isang gig lang nila, I went and then parang pinag-jam nila ako, so, kumanta ako.
"Then the manager parang asked if I could join na nga. Nag-banda ako for I think six months.
"Then, I joined Star In A Million [Season 2]na nga."
His stint in the talent show only earned him second place. But, this didn't stop him from finding another window of opportunity— the 9th Shanghai Asian Music Festival in 2006.
Among the twenty-nine finalists from all over Asia, Jimmy won the Silver Prize for the Asia New Singer Competition.
After his hard-earned victory, he made the rounds of TV shows and concerts back here in Manila. Among his memorable stints was a U.S. concert tour with Rachelle Ann Go and Nikki Bacolod.
Slowly, he started getting bigger and better breaks. He started feeling lucky when he replaced Billy Crawford in one of Sarah Geronimo's provincial tours.
"When I came back sa Cagayan, it's parang on tour with Sarah, it was a blessing in disguise, I wasn't really a part of the show.
"It was Billy Crawford, tapos nilagnat 'ata si Billy, they have to replace Billy.
"Tapos, e, Bisaya, okey lang din kasi nakaka-express ako ng sarili ko better in Visayan. Sobrang kaba na nga ako kasi nilagay ako sa spot ni Billy.
"Parang ang feeling ko no'n, I haven't seen in the TV for a while, I don't expect people to like know me, or recognize me.
"So, parang I was really very anxious before the [performance]. I was asking the prod group, can you put me on the first guest list? Sobrang, nilagay ako sa spot ni Billy bilang last guest.
"So, sabi ko baka people might expect that he gonna be ano, nandiyan talaga siya.
"So, true enough, si Sarah pa nag-introduce sa akin, sabi niya, 'Tuwang- tuwa po ako kasi parang gustong- gusto ko siya na mag-guest sa akin. Nagte-text na lang po kami na sana mag-guest siya, and finally ngayon nag-guest siya sa akin. Ladies and gentlemen, a very good friend of mine— Jimmy Marquez!'
"Wala, parang prayer meeting! But I expected that.
"When they saw me, when I came out, meron kasing screen, when I sang a fast song, 'a, si Jimmy 'yan, yung sa Star In A Million.'"
At present, Jimmy enjoys his stature as a freelance singer, under Viva Talent Agency. And he seems visibly excited and tense since he's about to embark on his first-ever solo concert dubbed It's About Time... Jimmy Marquez. (CLICK HERE for related article)
THEATER PERFORMANCES. Aside from his appearances in different concert tours, Jimmy is still busy with his theatric stints.
He was part of the stage plays Aida and In The Heights.
Aida was his first-ever theater performance. It starred Ima Castro, Myke Salomon, Rachel Alejandro, and Hajji Alejandro, and premiered last June 2011.
In The Heights, which starred Nyoy Volante and K-La Rivera, had its first run just last month.
These experiences have renewed his love for the stage, and reaffirmed his self-confidence. He even said that In The Heights will not be his last theater performance.
"I've been wanted to do plays also kasi it's a different kind of experience," he says.
"Parang you get energy from the audience, parang mabilis 'yong [response], spontaneous, tsaka 'yong response ng tao nandoon agad.
"I think it's not gonna be my last [theater stint] hopefully, nag-enjoy ako."