The 11-year-old son of a vinegar vendor in Talisay City had German investment advisers shouting for more when he sang at a dinner hosted for them at the provincial Capitol in Bacolod City by Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. Monday night.
The Germans were so impressed by Rhonsben Jonota’s singing that Dr. Franz Siedenschwarz, Germany’s honorary consul to the Philippines, offered to sponsor the boy, Marañon said yesterday.
Marañon said he does not know yet what the sponsorship will entail, but it will be a great help to the boy, who, with further training, could further polish his impressive singing ability.
Robenisto Jonota, 35, who, along with Rhonsben and his two other sons, live in Sitio Catamnan Dos, Barangay Concepcion, Talisay City, said he sells vinegar for a living.
Robenisto, who is separated from his wife, said that in his younger days he used to sing over the radio and all his three sons sing well, too.
His youngest son, Kayl Jerson, 6, won the elementary level singing contest in their school district, while Arjie, 14, who is in high school, also has had his share of winnings.
But it is Rhonsben, a grade six, section one pupil at the Concepcion Elementary School in Talisay City, who has shown the most promise.
He was a finalist in the Pilipinas Got Talent Season 3 show on ABS-CBN.
Rhonsben was a favorite of the program’s judges Kris Aquino and Ai-Ai de las Alas but was eliminated because of lack of text votes, Robenisto said.
“We are hard up and did not have the capacity to campaign for text votes, but my son definitely has talent,” he said.
Because Robenisto believes in his son, he has been scrimping on their meager resources so Rhonsben can have some voice training once a week.
Rhonsben’s singing has been helping our family get by because I do not earn very much from selling vinegar, but I do not want him to lose his childhood by spending all of his time doing that, Robenisto said.
As it is, Rhonsben is booked for singing gigs until July, the wedding month.
Rhonsben is brought to his singing gigs by his father on his motorcycle.
“When we get to where Rhosben is to perform, oftentimes the guards are hesitant about letting us into a venue and we are barely noticed, but when my son sings, instantly he becomes a celebrity among those present,” Robenisto said.
Rhonsben got standing ovations from Pilipinas Got Talent judges and his performances in Negros Occidental are met by rousing applause from impressed audiences.
At an international gathering of the Organization for Industrial Spiritual and Cultural Advancement in Bacolod City in August the boy also got thunderous applause from a 7,000 crowd, including Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe, and calls for more songs.
“I know my son, with proper guidance, can be a success so I make sure he practices his singing, hopefully with help from the German consul he will be able to achieve more,” Robenisto said.
After Rhonsben sang for the Germans Monday night, and with the money he earned, his father brought him to the carnival at the reclamation area in Bacolod where he got to experience most of the rides.
“Rhonsben enjoyed the rides so much, it was a rare opportunity for him to have so much fun, by the time we were on our way home, he was so tired he almost fell asleep on my motorcycle,” Robenisto said.*CPG