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Find­ing Her Own Voice

YES! (Philippines) - - Contents - moira dela Torre

On In­sta­gram, Moira Dela Torre goes by the han­dle Moira Rachelle. She tells YES! the story be­hind her two given names: “Well, my mom is a Maria, and her sis­ter is a Maria also. So they wanted some­thing in line with Maria for me. They got Moira, which is the Ir­ish equiv­a­lent of Maria. And then Rachelle, kasi my mom is Maria Raquel. Rachelle means ‘to shep­herd, to lead,’ and then Moira means ‘the miss­ing piece to a puzzle’ or ‘des­tiny.’”

Her nick­name at home, Oia, is an­other story. “I think I couldn’t pro­nounce my name when I was younger,” she ex­plains. “In­stead of say­ing Moira, I said Oia. And so ev­ery­one just started call­ing me Oia.”

Among her friends, she’s known by an­other nick­name: Moi.

G arbed in an over­sized pur­ple sweater and a pair of loose blue jeans, Moira Dela Torre sits In­dian style in the makeup chair as her hair and makeup artist, Theresa Padin, preps her up for her YES! photo shoot one balmy af­ter­noon in early March. The 24-year-old singer-song­writer-gui­tarist is nurs­ing a mild cold from the pre­vi­ous day’s gig, which had her per­form­ing from 10 p.m. to 12 mid­night. She tries to be in high spir­its de­spite the sniff­ing and the yawn­ing, and de­spite sound­ing a bit hoarse—or, as she puts it, “mej paos.” She suc­ceeds in most parts, es­pe­cially in re­call­ing the high­lights of her sold-out two-night con­cert, Tag­puan: Moira Dela Torre Live, held last Fe­bru­ary at the Kia The­ater in Cubao, Que­zon City, and the con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion of her re­cently launched de­but al­bum, Malaya.

Moira speaks in a soft, soul­ful voice that turns into a lit­tle girl voice when she gets ex­cited and gig­gles. It’s the same cap­ti­vat­ing voice in sev­eral com­mer­cial jin­gles, in­clud­ing McDon­ald’s “Hooray for To­day” ad cam­paign, for the fast-food chain’s break­fast line (2013), and Coca- Cola’s “Happy To­gether” com­mer­cial, star­ring the soda brand’s en­dorsers, Alden Richards and Maine Men­doza (2015).

Moira’s voice is like­wise en­thralling in the theme songs for the movies Re­laks, It’s Just Pag-ibig (2014), Camp Sawi (2016), and Love You to the Stars and Back (2017), as well as in the drama se­ries The Bet­ter Half (2017) and The Good Son (2018). She did a cover ver­sion of the band tunes “Torete,” by Moon­star88, and “Sundo,” by Imago, re­spec­tively, for Love You to the Stars and Back and The Good Son. But she sang her own songs “Re­laks, It’s Just Pag-ibig” for the movie of the same ti­tle; “Malaya” for Camp Sawi; and “Saglit” for The Bet­ter Half.

The Philip­pine mu­sic in­dus­try’s new­est star is also the in­ter­preter of Titibo-tibo, a de­light­ful tune about a tomboy­ish girl who turns la­dy­like be­cause of a boy she likes. The song won for its song­writer, Lib­er­tine Amis­toso, the grand prize at the Himig Han­dog 2017 song­writ­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

“I think I de­vel­oped it over the years,” Moira says of her dis­tinct singing style. “But it wasn’t some­thing that I tried to copy [from some­body else]. It just came out. It’s re­ally just how I sing. It’s how I talk also… Some peo­ple think na I make my voice sound that way, parang ini­ipit ko daw. But then I don’t.”

She con­fesses that at one point, while wait­ing for her big break to come, she doubted if she could make it in a mu­sic in­dus­try that seem­ingly fa­vors singers who can belt it out, or make birit.

“If I could belt, I would, but I can’t,” Moira says. “There was a time, to be hon­est, I felt bad I wasn’t a bel­ter. I felt bad I couldn’t birit in a na­tion that loves birit­eras. And so, I felt, like, ‘How is this gonna hap­pen, God? Like You tell me to stay in the Philip­pines, and to per­se­vere and to keep fight­ing for my call­ing. But then ev­ery­one loves birit­eras, and I’m not.’ But I stuck to my voice, to my own tune. I didn’t try to be who­ever.”

At 24, Moira is hav­ing the time of her life—a far cry from when she was younger.

“It’s eas­ier for me to en­joy life now be­cause grow­ing up, siyem­pre, when my par­ents sep­a­rated, I lost the sta­bil­ity that a kid should get from her par­ents,” she says. “So most of my child­hood was spent try­ing to fig­ure out what was wrong with me, or what I could do to make things for the peo­ple around me bet­ter. And so it re­sulted in, you know, peo­ple pleas­ing, like if some­one is up­set with me, I feel like they’re leav­ing me also. There’s a lot of un­for­give­ness that God had to change in my life, and a lot of, you know, soul-search­ing.

“And then in the past few years, I re­ally got to grow, and I found out who my con­stants were. I have a lot of friends, but only a few con­stants. Their words are the ones that mat­ter to me… I’m start­ing to know how to value the peo­ple in my life, es­pe­cially in this in­dus­try, when so many peo­ple pre­tend that they know you so well.”

For Moira, there’s no sure­fire for­mula in writ­ing songs. Some­times the melody comes first; other times, the lyrics. Thank­fully, she has her phone where she can store her ideas and songs-in-the-mak­ing.

The “Malaya” singer-song­writer also keeps in mind that her goal is to write mean­ing­ful songs and be able to em­pathize with peo­ple.

“Be­cause there’s too much hugot songs nowa­days,” she says, re­fer­ring to songs that come from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences. “But it leaves you there, in pain. So I wanted to write hugot songs— even if I don’t call mine hugot songs—that would, yes, ad­dress the pain, but also get you out of it or lead you back to hope.”

NAME

Moira Rachelle Bus­ta­mante Cruzado Dela Torre

NICK­NAMES

Oia and Moi BIRTH­DAY Novem­ber 4, 1993

FA­VORITE KARAOKE SONG

“‘Love on Top’ [by Bey­once]. But I can’t fin­ish it be­cause I’m not Moris­sette [Amon, a birit­era singer].”

FA­VORITE SONGS OF OTHER ARTISTS

“‘King­dom Come’ and ‘Wine’ by Clara Benin, and ‘Gram­mar Nazi’ by Reese Lansan­gan. I also like the songs of BP Valen­zuela, Keiko Nece­sario. Ben&Ben is my cur­rent fa­vorite, and also Mu­nimuni.”

RIT­UAL BE­FORE PER­FORM­ING

“Be­fore per­form­ing, I just go to the banyo to poop. Other­wise, I’ll just fart [while per­form­ing], which I’ve done a num­ber of times.”

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