the story of ofactr beta
season’s first-ever chosen
artist is one to admire.
from flying to dubai by
herself at the age of 6 to
rising above trials with
flying colors. get to know
her upclose and personal.
Sharina “Ina” Manaoag was born in the Philippines. Early on, family dynamics was a challenge growing up. Flew to Dubai in her lonesome when at six years old to join her Dubai-based mother Jet (yes, as in the aircraft). The father on the other hand [other side of the world to be precise] lived in the US at that time, serving in the military. Sharina’s Hawaii-born sister was left in the Philippines with relatives. One can only imagine the hardship this situation presented to a child whose only plea in life was to have a complete family under one roof.
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Educated primarily in British schools, Sharina only had to transfer to a Filipino school in her third year of High School.
Relatives were concerned that she would not even get Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao (the three major islands of the Philippines) right. Keeping her heritage was integral for the Manaoags.
“Don’t get me wrong, studying abroad with [almost] 90% of your classmates completely alien to the culture I knew, was not easy.” she airs. “Sometimes I think I’m more Emirati than Filipino. I guess.” she added with a whim.
Sometimes I think I’m more Emirati than Filipino. I guess.
With all the curve balls life had to throw her, bullying made it to the list. Sharina’s sheer will though turned this adversity into an opportunity to hone her creative skills. “The first song I wrote was when I was in a Filipino school for the very first (and last)
In her juvenile mind, the browbeat was something one would only see in movies. “I would lock myself up in a toilet or run to the school’s backyard.” she said. Her allies? A pen and one-fourth sheet of pad paper. The songs and poems that came out of this storm were cliché but, they were her companions for solace in solitude. “I could vouch that those years were catalysts for me to pursue my passion for music.”
Sometimes I think I’m more Emirati than Filipino. I guess.
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Sharina looked at the bright side. Reminisced on moments of glee that surrounded the family even at her young age. Music was innate.
The Manaoags’ past time and after-dinner routine of gathering around the now 50 year-old baby grand piano and singing songs from the 40’s and 50’s sparked a glimmer of joy in the corners of her budding heart. Something she looked forward to every day
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the prospect of music school was far-fetched.
As much as she wanted to. The closest she got to a formal training was Thursday Nights in Filipino homes around Dubai.
Armed with a MediaCom and a mic, she belts out songs in front of audiences. “Boom! My training ground!” she exclaims.
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Not long after, three teachers took notice of her potential. Molded her and pulled her out of her shell. “The next thing I know I was performing for school events in and out.”
Performing at national events began even if she was never convinced with the idea of joining contests. “It ripped my gut out.” she claims. “Which is why this [ofactr] is another leap of faith.” She added. Winning is something she can never get used to.
Teaching music to youngsters, performing at festivals and of course singing at church developed Ina into a well-rounded singer/performer.
“I now enjoy using my talent for a greater purpose. I used to carry my keyboard by from university, drop of at Sahara Mall, cross the lengthy bridge by foot, teach a student, cross back and meet another youngster to teach.” she recalled.
In her spare time [in the evenings and/or weekends], Ina would host as a wedding singer when an opportuniy arose.Along with other part time jobs, the funds she gathered slightly eased the heavy university fees.
From 2-day stints at Trump International at DAMAC, at Al Seef Creek, to Ajman, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and hopefully the rest of the other emirates in the future.
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upclose and personal
With everything said and done, Sharina would not hesitate to say that Dubai is definitely more home than Philippines. “Philippines is now my vacation spot.” she said.
With all the amazing singers in Dubai Sharina, feels very privileged and blessed to be chosen as the first OFACTR artist. This opportunity, along with her family, serve as motivating factors to brave the future that push to go beyond the mundane.
If there’s a line in a
song that would best
describe what Ina’s
been through it would
be “I won’t be silenced,
you can’t keep me
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quiet, won’t tremble when you try it, all I know is I won’t go speechless” from the song Speechless, from the movie Aladdin.
In all the perils she went through [and] had to feel oppressed about, she has always believed that God has given her a voice (not just in singing) that is bigger than any situation and hindrances that came her way from fulfilling the purpose she has in the world - rather the universe (Wurtzbach, 2018).
cats or dogs?
I just had to say I am an animal lover. I equally love cats and dogs but, I have a cat who has been with me for the past say, 11 years? 8 years ago I had 16 cats at home. Imagine! But I loved it, even if it meant I had to spend half of the day scrubbing our house floors.
coffee or tea?
Easiest question I was asked. My blood is composed of 80% coffee (haha). Kidding aside, I equally love both and I know I should be fonder of tea with all its health and slimming benefits but, (Sorry to my friends reading this) coffee was my best friend during my university days when I had evening classes and I had to write 7 research projects excluding my thesis and a defense to prepare for.
beach or pool?
I love swimming in general. Put me anywhere I can swim across and soak my tiny human body in - I would love it. But, I have to say I am biased with beaches because of pretty good reasons: the relaxing sounds of waves, the free scrub I could get from the sand and, the large space to play in.
favourite song at the moment
Geronimo by The Sheppard. Fave singer, KZ Tandingan. Fave genre, I can consider myself Eclectic.
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any special someone?
My family and friends are my special someone(s) #SafeAnswer. They suffice the laughter, the happiness, the comfort and, moreover, the love. But, I wouldn’t deny that I have someone who is my extended support system — just a bonus and an addition to the happiness, comfort and love I am already generously filled with. But that someone remains anon until further notice. hahah!
advice to aspiring artists for season 2
Be yourself and do not be afraid to create and go beyond what you are comfortable doing.
special thanks to
I could go on and on with expressing my gratitude. But, first and foremost thank you to The One, the Giver of all talents for blessing me with what He has given me.
Thank you to my family who has embraced my quest for search in my identity in music. And! To the few but amazing people who never got tired of supporting me and pushing me especially during the times when I felt like I was at a plateau in my music.