I met Romeo “Tats” Rosalita at a friend’s party one weekend when I was asked by two of my closest friends to be the emcee at their sons’ birthday party. I was tasked to introduce him as the guest singer. When he started to sing the first few lines of the song, I was absolutely floored! It was like watching the auditions for American Idol. My mouth literally dropped. Filipinos are known to have a love affair with karaoke machines, but not everyone is gifted with a good singing voice. As we all listened to a combination of a tenor and baritone voice coming from this simple yet astonishing young man, we fell silent as we were all flabbergasted. Later on, I learned that he was a semi-finalist in one of the most prestigious singing contests held in the Philippines. He was a contestant on the “Pilipinas Got Talent” show which is based on the “Got Talent” franchise by Simon Cowell. “Pilipinas” is the Filipino word for Philippines. Tats joined the show during the second season of 2010. He auditioned in his hometown Davao City, which is in the southern part of the archipelago. Unfortunately, he did not make it to the grand finals but he said that he was quite satisfied that he got into the semi-finals after getting three “yes's” from all of the judges. The 37 year old singer was born in Zamboanga but grew up in Davao. He has been singing since he was five years old. Tats narrated that he began his interest in singing when their family’s former neighbour, who was a guitar-maker, asked him to “tune” the instruments by using his own voice. When he was in the Grade 3, Tats joined his first ever amateur singing contest at an interschool program. He became the champion in one of the contests he joined when he was in Grade 6. Tats’ family lived a very modest life. He has nine other siblings which meant he had to tend for himself for most of his young life. As a boy, Tats was a labourer in a farm where they harvested corn. Later on, he also worked in construction. But he always dreamed of becoming a professional singer one day. He continued to join many singing contests and performed in a band at weddings and funerals. When he settled down with his wife Loureen in 2006, he was employed at a processing plant/slaughter house. But in 2007, the plant stopped production and closed down. He was devastated. It was very difficult for him to find another job, so he used his talent in singing by joining competitions which turned out to be lucrative because he won cash prizes. He was even awarded with three motorcycles as his winnings from three separate contests. In one of the singing competitions, he won a free trip to Manila (the capital city of the Philipppines). He saw this as an opportunity to find a job. A former co-worker and friend told him about a training program with an offer to work in Canada upon completion. In the early months of 2012, he was interviewed by HyLife representatives who went to the Philippines to recruit meat cutters. Tats and his group were told that they would be leaving by June but was eventually delayed due to some setbacks. Tats recounted his experience with tears in his eyes. The delay bothered him because he had been without a steady job for five years. He was very worried about the future of his wife and three children, Brad Laurens, 5, Margaux Maxim, 4, and Mel Dion, 2. When their group of newcomers arrived Nov. 5, he was ecstatic. Finally, the “Canadian Dream” was a reality. After he lost his job in 2007, Tats made a promise to his wife that in five years, they will have a better life. Now, five years after, he was so happy to say that he is looking forward to the next five years where he envisions being reunited with his family, in Canada, a place that allowed him to be optimistic about life again.