Delightful discovery: Wilbert Rossas a sensitive singer-songwriter

If you need (or want) to balance off JK Labajo’s roaring, moaning, shrieking, cussing singing in his latest blockbuster single “Ere”, go for Wilbert Ross’ EP album Lampara, recently released by Viva Music on major music platforms. 

An actor just like Labajo, Ross emotes pain, loss and acceptance of one’s dire straits with restrained anger and without cursing. Ross wrote four of the six songs in the album — none of which, by the way, is titled Lampara. The album’s title is really an announcement of Ross’ intention for his music and lyrics to be a guiding light for the multitude, so to speak. 

The album’s lead song is “Handa Ako,” which he performs serenely with indie singer Mika Salamanca.

“Byahe Ng Buhay”, meanwhile, takes listeners on a lyrical journey through life’s ups and downs. “Dramatic Actor” combines melodious vocals with a touch of drama. “Benteng Ukit” could have been rendered in a frenetic, howling style, but, sorry, that’s not Ross’ style of singing. The song is about self-inflicted wounds, and Ross wrote it during a bout with clinical depression at the height of the pandemic. 

The two other cuts in the album are “Nakangiti” and “Andito Lang Ako.” 

It was as a contestant at ABS-CBN’s singing contests Tawag ng Tanghalan of It’s Showtime and Pinoy Boyband Superstar that Ross took his first steps into showbiz. He was in his teens, fresh from Davao, and still using the surname “Rosalyn,” which seems to be the surname of his stepfather. 

Ups and downs

At the recent media launch for Lampara, Ross shared that his Chinese biological dad left the family during Ross’ childhood. His mom is Indonesian. His biological dad passed on two years ago, but Ross got to meet him as a grown-up once or twice. 

The tall, soft-spoken, very articulate (in Tagalog) Wilbert began to use “Ross” as a showbiz surname when he was recruited to join the second batch of the singing and dancing boy group Hashtags for It’s Showtime.

Ross said he has been writing songs for years now and recording them as a soundtrack for some of his acting assignments, such as the Puregold supermarket chain’s web series Ang Lalake sa Likod ng Profile which ended last July. 

He has no love life at this point, he said, which seems to be a requirement in Pinoy showbiz to sustain interest in an actor’s career. And the stars have to write about the ups and downs of their romances on their social media accounts. Labajo’s shrieking songs of pain would have sounded senseless if he and ex-girlfriend beauty queen Maureen Wroblewitz did not publicly hint about the agonies wrought by their soured relationship on their social media accounts. 

Ross the actor also wants to be known as a singer-songwriter. He has a marked supporting role in Viva Films’ Nokturno, topbilled by Nadine Lustre. Viva submitted the movie for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival but it failed to make the cut.

There’s another singer-songwriter who roars and howls about her angst: Cool Cat Ash, whose real name is Ashley Aunor. She’s the daughter of Lala Aunor, a member of the “Apat na Sikat” group of teen idols in the ‘70s.

Perfect timing

It’s perfect timing that the QCinema International Film Festival is being held in November. 

The festival screens a good number of foreign films that were released to critical acclaim sometime this year or last year. The next big showbiz event that comes after it is the Metro Manila Film Festival, during which only Filipino movies are shown all over the country. The MMFF usually presents only eight films, but this year there are 10 official entries.

Those who love foreign films can have their fill of world cinema (60 films this year!) before the MMFF fills the theaters with all-Filipino fare for 10 days during the holiday season.

The QCinema International Film Festival, now on its 11th year, runs 17-29 November. The opening film is the Golden Lion winner in this year’s Venice Film Festival, Poor Things.