Sanily Gianan popularly known as Prinsesani in social media, is a prolific songwriter/singer from Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines. Her original compositions had been featured in Radio Tagumpay. Her recent postings drew the attention of The Australian Filipina. She shared her struggle when she contracted COVID 19 which landed her in the hospital. The good news is that she has recovered and back to her usual activities.
The Australian Filipina connected with Prinsesani. We are glad to share her responses to a few questions firstly to highlight her music journey and to know about her surviving the virus.
But first, a bit of information about Prinsesani. Now thirty-nine years old, she was born in Quezon City. She is the eldest and the only daughter in a brood of four of her father Sonny Garchitorena from Camarines Sur and her mother Linda is from Baler, Aurora. She has two degrees under her belt. One from the University of the Philippines Baguio, BA Mass Communication- Journalism/Broadcast Com and Bachelor of Laws from the Lyceum of the Philippines University.
Currently, Prinsesani is employed at the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Quezon, Palawan as its Clerk of Court. She gladly shares that "I am pretty much a bachelorette. :) "
*When did you first realise your passion for singing and songwriting? When was your first public performance?
My first public performance was when I was in my nursery school, I started dancing at the age of 3. At 5 years old, I listened to tapes which songs include in some Musical Classics like Sound of Music, The King and I, Mary Poppins and the likes. (of which my mother has no idea what’s all about, she just bought these tapes for me to practice my English. It has a great impact on me as I discovered that I can carry a tune when I was 7 years old and started singing in front of my grade 1 classmates.
At the same age, I had this passion for reading poetry (thanks to my mother who introduced Rizal’s Sa Aking Kabata to me). This has a big impact on my writing skills and my love for poetry and literature. By 9 years old, I was a member of a Church Choir and by 10, I joined a local TV show in the City.
By then, I also discovered that I can create a melody. Since I was already a writer then who loves poetry and was a member of the school paper, I easily penned lyrics and the melody just flowed in my mind. However, I was not a musician yet. My parents can’t afford to buy me musical instruments nor to pay for piano lessons. But, this did not stop me from learning.
At 12 years old, I borrowed my ninong’s old guitar, bought a jingle songbook and learned the chords all by myself. This started my self-awareness of the talents God has given me and the passion to share them to the world.
What do you consider the highlights or achievements in your music journey?
Every highlight in songwriter’s life is when he or she produces a song. It’s already an achievement for an Independent songwriter like me to have released at least one palpable and radio-friendly song.
Having said that, I considered one of my achievements is to create the songs Pampang, Irog and Selos. Pampang is the song that made me a recognised local songwriter in the City.
Selos paved the way for me to be discovered by respected OPM songwriter and singer Rannie Raymundo when it topped the Madhouse Top Songs and Irog which opened my door to many online radio stations both here in the Philippines and abroad, particularly Australia (in radio show of Mitchell Badelles and in Radio Tagumpay), Japan, Singapore and USA.
What challenges have you faced and overcome?
When it comes to my passion, it’s very challenging to pursue it full time. I was then a working student. I worked in the day and attended classes at night. Plus I have many singing engagements on the side. Until it came to a point that I was burnt out because of strenuous schedule I had. So I need to make sacrifices.
I was brought to Manila to finish my law degree where I was forbidden to sing and perform for a year. It was heartbreaking for what keep me sane in law school was my music. But I have to give it up for a while just to honour my parents' sacrifices for my education.
After I graduated, I gradually came back to music, this time with mature and sensible mind in music production. I’m glad I heeded the orders of my parents. They really know what’s right for their child.
During this pandemic naman, the live performances were put to a halt. However, I took advantage of this quarantine to improve on my skills and enrolled in voice lessons, songwriting and writing webinars, which led me to my mentors, Jim Paredes and Bianca Lopez (soprano).
If you can change something you experienced and did in the past, what would they be?
Whatever happened in the past is a part of who I am now. Hence, whether this be an onerous or jubilant experience, I won’t change a thing.
I am grateful for every pain and tribulations I have encountered for it made me value my life more.
What else do you wish to achieve in life?
I have envisioned Puerto Princesa City as a haven for cultural development. I intend to help institutionalise cultural development as a part of the political threshold of the City. It includes research and study on the Palawan Culture, Music and arts and its Southeast Asian linkages.
Also I dream of a cultural performing library theatre where all artists can consume their thirst for venue for their creative arts. I look forward that I may be able to contribute to this legacy.
What advice can you give those who maybe hesitating to follow their passion?
Believe in your talent. Don’t make it rotten to the ground. Develop it, invest on it. Share it to the world. You may have one audience but don’t let it discourage you; continue to perform, practice, practice, perform. Repeat.
It was given to you for a purpose. Just like the parable of the talents, be like the wise servant who gave the master more than what he received.
Now, let us talk about your health scare. When and how did you find out that you contracted the virus COVID 19? Anyone else in the family got it?
Last May 24, 2021, I went to the hospital to do my weekly antigen test (work requirement). Three days prior to that I had coughs and colds and fatigue. I thought, since I have already rested well, I will be negative.
Unfortunately, I was tested positive. I have been exposed to COVID in the workplace without me knowing. Luckily, however, my mama and my niece were negative.
What treatment did you receive and how long you stayed in the hospital?
Upon arriving at the Quarantine Facility (which is a hotel), they briefed us of the things we should do and the length we will stay. We were carried then to another station for our xrays and blood tests. We were given Vitamin C, Omeprazole, a colds tablet, a mucolytic syrup, butamirate tablets and antibiotics. These medicines were prescribed by the head doctor in the CITY IMT.
The regular period supposed to be in the quarantine facility is only for 10 days and afterwards, 7 days more for home quarantine. They said that on the tenth day COVID virus is already dead in the body. The remaining days are for the body to recuperate. However, in my situation then, from mild it became severe. So my stay was extended to 12 days and in the home quarantine another 10 days.
What was the scariest part of your experience?
The part where I had this first attack. I vomited my medicines, I was sweating unceasingly, I gasped for air as if I was drowning. That was the time panic sink in that this was a dangerous matter. I was terrified that I shouted help immediately for the nurse. When they came, I was lying helplessly na. They immediately nebulize me and checked my O2 saturation.
When my oxygen suddenly dropped, an Oxygen tank and dextrose were my companion afterwards. I was supposed to be brought to a hospital; however, there were no more vacancies. They opted to transfer me to the main quarantine operation. It has 24 /7 nurse on duty.
What advice would you give on how to avoid contracting the virus?
Contracting the virus could have been avoided. Have I been healthy and my immune system was strong, then it would not have been that severe nor would have I contacted the virus.
Be healthy, eat right, sleep right, exercise daily. Keep your immune system strong and most importantly, follow health protocols. Wear your masks, face shield and wash your hands. Better yet, stay at home!
What advice would you give people on how to care or interact with someone who had the virus after they were discharged from the hospital?
Please do extend compassion and kindness. You don’t know how hard we had gotten through. Show of support and welcome means a lot to us.
Love and care are very essential in our recovery.
Lastly, how do you define success?
When my time on earth is already up, and I will face the Great Master, I can peacefully say, "Mission Accomplished, Father….."