Anji Salvacion: stardom, here she comes!

"Hindi pa rin ako susuko. Kukulitin ko kayo nang kukulitin."

Anji Salvacion makes sure to bring the sunshine in wherever she goes.

During her shoot for PEP Main Attraction, she was bubbly and full of positive vibes from the get-go.

She took instructions from photographer Andrea Beldua cheerfully, cracked jokes in between takes, and at one point pulled a prank that unhinged her handlers.

Anji’s hairstylist Valerie Corpuz thought of adding some bangs to Anji's look for one layout.

They were in the dressing room, and when her road manager and the shoot producer entered, Anji mournfully showed them her “freshly cut bangs.”

On seeing the shocked faces of the team, Anji then laughed out loud and revealed that the bangs were fake.

“Galing ko ‘no?” she teased.

If there was a camera then, that moment would have raked in thousands of views on YouTube.

Anji Salvacion

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ANJI'S PBB VICTORY

During the interview, she told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), “This is my first na parang naging cover shoot ko, it’s an honor.”

The shoot was scheduled a few weeks after Anji was hailed the Big Winner of Pinoy Big Brother: Kumunity Season 10, on the night of May 29, 2022.

She garnered 40.42% of the total Kumu votes against her four other housemates: Isabel Laohoo, Samantha Bernardo, Rob Blackburn, and Brenda Mage.

She said about her housemates, “I never underestimated, neither one of them kasi alam kong ipaglalaban talaga sila ng supporters nila.

“Alam ko, these people have potential and really deserving. Everyone deserves to win.”

Not only did she beat her four other housemates in the finals, Anji bested a total of 45 housemates from the adult, teen, and celebrity batches.

It was all beyond Anji's expectations. At the back of her head, she was thinking: “Totoo ba?”

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The fact was fandoms united to vote for her, counting among these the fans of SB19, the followers of Donny Pangilinan and Belle Mariano love team, and even the rooters of the other evicted housemates.

Anji Salvacion

It was a landmark victory for Anji and, of course, she was grateful. However, she saw from that not the glory of it all but something more akin to her nature.

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Not one to gloat, Anji said, “You know what made me feel I’m a Big Winner? It’s not the title.

"Ït was the camaraderie na parang yun talaga yung nangyari na gusto ko rin i-implement, yung love and kindness.

“Kasi if there is love and kindness, there is unity and there is harmony, and the harmony is so beautiful kapag nakita niyong lahat nagtutulung-tulungan.

"At na-amaze ako, their trust. Yung trust na ibinigay nila sa akin, paglu-look up nila sa akin. Because of that, I felt like a winner.”

Anji Salvacion

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ANJI’S BEGINNINGS

Every winner has to start from somewhere.

Dubbed by PBB as the “Singing Sweetheart of Siargao,” Anji had long dreamed of becoming a performer since she was three years old.

It was because of her father’s influence.

Anji recalled, “He always complimented me. Sasabihin niya, ‘Sing more, sing more.”

It was also Anji’s father who taught her the song “You Are My Sunshine” by Jimmie Davis, which he would sing to her as lullaby.

But the sudden turn of events got in the way. When Anji was eight years old, her father went missing.

Along with losing the person who encouraged her to sing, Anji’s dream also perished.

But years later, Anji’s mother convinced her to pursue her dream again.

She narrated, “Pinilit ako ni mommy kasi she remembered, ‘This is your dream, di ba?’ Naku, grade 8 ako noon. Sabi niya sa akin, ‘Sige, hindi ka mag-au-audition? Mag-aaway talaga tayo, sasabunutan kita.’”

What ultimately convinced Anji to give it a try was her family's financial situation at that time, with her mother telling her, “Sige, wala tayong pambayad ng kuryente.”

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Anji’s singing career started when she sang for an anti-drugs campaign in Siargao.

Apart from showcasing the talents in Siargao, the show was also organized to divert the people’s attention to entertainment.

Anji Salvacion

The success of the campaign gave the then 13-year-old Anji the courage to audition for ABS-CBN’s Star Hunt.

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Back then, Star Hunt was a huge caravan where hopefuls could audition for as many reality shows and contests as they wanted.

During her first try in General Santos City, Anji tried Star Circle Quest, The Voice, and It’s Showtime’s “Tawag ng Tanghalan.”

In Star Circle Quest, she was told, “Hintay na lang kayo tawag namin.”

She also ended up backing out from The Voice and “Tawag ng Tanghalan.”

Asked why, Anji answered, “They’re really trained and I wasn’t trained talaga and my voice, I was really having a hard time reaching some of the notes!

“’Tapos alam ko rin talaga na di ako makukuha, wala na ako pag-asa.”

It was in Pinoy Big Brother where she auditioned last.

She recalled, “Pinatayo kami, haggard lola mo, 7 p.m. na ako naka-audition sa PBB.

“’Tapos tinignan kami, ‘tapos [sabi], ‘You, you, you.”

But the next thing she heard was: “You may go, thank you.”

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Anji said it was the “pinakamasakit” moment for her, but it did not stop her.

She remembered telling herself, “Oh, well. Hindi pa rin ako susuko. Kukulitin ko kayo nang kukulitin, mag-o-audition pa rin ako sa susunod.”

Anji Salvacion

trying out for IDOL PHILIPPINES

Another opportunity opened for Anji: an audition for ABS-CBN’s Idol Philippines.

She was 16 years old at that time.

Idol Philippines held auditions in Siargao, but she failed to make it because she had to take a school exam.

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The next day, Anji rushed to Surigao with her mom, where the next leg of Idol Philippines auditions was happening.

She recounted, “Nag-roro kami agad sa Surigao so hilong-hilo ako, maalon, binabagyo yata kami nun papuntang Surigao!

“Hilong-hilo ako pero nasa isip ko, 'Audition, audition.' I was praying na makukuha ko. Pagdating ko doon, akala ko wala nang chance kasi nag-close na sila.”

Anji Salvacion

Good thing that one of the staff from Idol PH, Chiqui Castillo, was kind enough to let Anji in.

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From there, Anji went through several stages of auditions before they could even show their talent in front of the judges.

Looking back, she now said, “Sobrang hirap, may five auditions pa bago ka makapag-audition mismo sa judges, so ang daming stages.

“May screening audition, may audition pa na papakantahin pa kayo ulit ng tatlong songs ‘tapos unang song pag kuha ka, okay. ‘Tapos pangalawang song, kuha ka, okay.

“’Tapos last song is the screening na song na kakantahin mo sa audition ‘tapos screening audition na ia-approve ka ng producers.

“Yun yung pinaka-last na audition na sobrang kabado ako kasi ang daming natanggal sa batch namin.”

Anji Salvacion

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Anji took pride in her tenacity to go after her dream of becoming a singer.

Indeed, her hard work paid off she made it to the Idol judges’ auditions and two other rounds.

Unfortunately, Anji did not make it to Top 20. But she was not disheartened.

First, she was aware of her capacity and how far she could go as a newbie.

Second, Idol Philippines opened more doors for her.

Anji explained, “I did not have regrets din kasi kung makikita niyo yung training talaga ng Idol Philippines, may time, morning pa lang, pinapakanta na kami doon.

"Tine-train ka talaga. So I’m really grateful sa Idol Philippines kasi talagang pinapa-realize sa amin na you should really train harder kasi once you improve, mag-gain ka ng confidence and once you gain confidence, mas hindi siya mahirap mag-perform.”

Anji Salvacion

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FROM KADENANG GINTO TO SQUAD PLUS

Anji’s elimination from Idol Philippines was, apparently, just the beginning of more opportunities.

One was a chance to join ABS-CBN’s hit afternoon series Kadenang Ginto, with Anji getting the initial approval of the director Lauren Dyogi and CEO Cory Vidanes.

She recalled, “Dapat may role na ako sa Kadenang Ginto, na-approve na ako nila Direk Lauren, nila Tita Cory, na-approve na kami during that time.

“Tatlo kami dun na new characters dapat sa Kadenang Ginto ‘tapos ako dapat yung aaway kay Marga. Kung may kontrabida, may kontrabida ng kontrabida.”

Anji Salvacion

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Marga, played by Andrea Brillantes, was one of the teleserye's villainesses.

Anji admitted she was deeply disappointed when it did not happen.

She said, “Naputol lahat, nawala lahat. For me, nandoon na, e, ‘tapos biglang nawala. Feel ko, sumakit yung dibdib ko doon. Yung feeling ko, na-depress ako. Hindi na ako nakikipag-usap kasi I felt na tinakluban ako ng langit and I felt like I was a failure that time.”

As far as Anji could remember, her participation in the show did not push through because of COVID-19 and the shutdown of ABS-CBN, although Kadenang Ginto had ended in February 2020 before the surge of the virus in the country,

Anji Salvacion

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But then, in the middle of the pandemic, Anji was invited to become a part of The Squad Plus.

The Squad Plus is the extended group of The Gold Squad, a group that originated from Kadenang Ginto with Andrea Brillantes, Francine Diaz, Seth Fedelin, and Kyle Echarri as members.

Anji told PEP.ph, “Sobrang na-surprise ako noong tinawagan ako, it was after my 18th birthday, which is September 24.

"'Tapos September 28, ‘Anji, okay lang ba sa iyo na i-present ka namin sa Squad Plus? Pero kailangan ng approval ng producers din galing sa Dreamscape.’

“Sabi ko, ‘Kahit ano pa iyan, tatanggapin ko.’”

Anji Salvacion

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Anji formally joined the group in March 2021. Some of her batchmates were Jimuel Pacquiao, Keann Johnson, Alyanna Angeles, Nio Tria, Lance Carr, and Anji’s friends KD Estrada and Sam Cruz.

Aside from being part of The Squad Plus, Anji also became part of ASAP for its new breed of singers with Sam, KD, and Diego Gutierrez.

Anji Salvacion

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ANJI’S PBB JOURNEY

Eight months after she joined The Squad Plus, Anji earned more exposure when she became a part of the celebrity batch of PBB Season 10.

But, again, it was not an easy journey for Anji. Even though she belonged to the celebrity batch, she still had to go through a process.

Anji expounded, “Nag-audition pa rin ako, daming process, yung audition nga nila umabot ng almost half a year.

“Umabot din ng ilang months na ito, next stage of audition, dami din, dami stages bago kami na-kick off at bago kami naging official housemates."

At this point, self-doubt began to gnaw away at Anji.

She remembered thinking, “So, grabe rin talaga yung work na progress na ibinigay sa akin ni God.

“Nalungkot pa ako kasi feeling ko, ‘What am I doing here?’ Hindi masyadong malaki yung kita ko, baguhan pa ako.'"

Anji Salvacion

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But her faith enabled her to overcome her doubts and insecurities.

She said, "So, parang naging blessing in disguise din na umabot ako na hanggang dito.

“I feel such gratitude in my heart, sobrang thankful din kay Lord kasi if it wasn’t for Him, it wasn’t really His plan for me, wala ako kung nasaan ako ngayon.

“I’m just so grateful din ako sa mga tao na bliness Niya sa buhay ko na yun yung ginamit Niyang instrumento para mapunta ako kung nasaan ako ngayon—my parents, my family, the people who helped me sa school, the people who helped me sa Siargao..."

Anji Salvacion

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Anji continued, “The people who helped me sa Idol, the people who helped me sa Squad Plus, and the people who helped me sa PBB, sa ASAP, sa ABS-CBN.

“Grabe, if it wasn’t for them, if it wasn’t for Him, wala ako kung nasaan ako.”

For now, Anji's mindset was to focus on honing her full potential and maximizing every opportunity that may come her way.

She said, “I wanna go international. Mag-au-audition din ako ng pang-international.

“Kapag may ipapa-audition sa amin, I’ll go for it no matter how hard it is.

“Actually, there is no hard thing for me! Kukulitin ko mga taga-international, bahala sila makulitan sa akin, maririndi, kukulitin ko!”

Anji Salvacion

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Through it, Anji has not forgotten to be a good influence to her fans, whom she calls her “sunshines,” from her dad’s lullaby for her.

She resolved, “I’m the kind of person who’s full of positivity, full of love, and this is really what I want to implement to each and everyone, to become their own sunshines.”

Anji Salvacion

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PRODUCTION CREDITS:

SHOOT PRODUCER: James Patrick Anarcon

PHOTOGRAPHER: Andrea Beldua

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Igi Talao

STYLIST: Drew Lacia

HAIRSTYLIST: Valerie Corpuz

MAKE-UP ARTIST: Japeth Mike Purog

VIDEO PRODUCERS: Rommel Llanes, Tad Payomo

TIKTOK PRODUCER: Nikko Tuazon

Special thanks to Paul John Calingo of Pinoy Big Brother and Nichole Pena of Star Magic

Antigen testing courtesy of Accu-Chek Medical & Laboratory Services of Anna Michayla Sumpio

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Anji Salvacion admits being discouraged after a few failed opportunities and thinking twice about pursuing a showbiz career: “Nalungkot pa ako kasi feeling ko, ‘What am I doing here?’ Hindi masyadong malaki yung kita ko, baguhan pa ako.'"
PHOTO/S: Andrea Beldua
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