Southland summer sizzling with activity From champion performing artists to magicians

WCOPA Senior Grand Champions at SF PHLConsulate
Champs Maxwell Soller and Miguel Luis Ibaseta
Photo by Sthanlee B. Mirador
Fil-Polish Billy Kidd

Willy Wonka of the Chocolate Factory fame once said: “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.” That’s exactly how this OV columnist feels: So much to do, and so little time. I can even relate to a quote from the 32nd U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Never before have we had so little time in which to do so much.”

Here’s just a glimpse of some activities of Filipinos in SoCal.


LONG BEACH, CA – Cebuanos are again basking in the limelight after their kababayan guitarists Maxwell Soller and Miguel Luis Ibaseta, known as MSquared, reigned as Senior Grand Champion Instrumentalists of the World at the recently concluded 22nd Annual WCOPA World Championships of Performing Arts, presented by Worldstars Intl., Inc. Dubbed a true international Olympic-style event participated in by 55 countries, competing for both Junior and Senior Grand Champions, WCOPA opened here on July 8 and ended on July 13.

“They (Maxwell and Miguel) both made us all so proud,”Marilou Manas Ibaseta, from San Francisco, told PNews, “especially for Miguel Luis Ibaseta who is my late husband’s grand nephew. And I’d like their visit to our beautiful City by the Bay to be more meaningful, so we paid a courtesy call at the office of the Philippine Consul General. We were received by Dep. Consul Gen. Ms. Raquel Solano and Consuls Carlyn Monastrial, Jedd Llona, and Vanessa Llona, led by ConGen’s secretary, Ms. Joy Calunsag, who graciously gave us a tour of the consulate.  We thank them all for giving recognition to these two young men, who with the other talented Filipino performers, who garnered medals in the competition, placed our country again on the mapin the world of performing arts!”

Others in their party were: Estrelle Chan, president of SF’s Filipino Association of the Star of the Sea parish; Lou Soller, Max’s mother; and Marilou’s granddaughter Olivia Ibaseta.

Team Philippines had 87 delegates,won first place in National Costume; and bagged 286 other awards: 55 gold medals, 83 silver medals, 81 bronze medals, 34 division champion plaques, and 33 semi-finalist badges.

Jed Madela, singer, recording artist, songwriter, TV host, among other talents, joined WCOPA in 2005, and became the first Filipino to win the title. He has since chaperoned Team Philippines during annual competitions. He’s also the first Filipino artist inducted in 2008, in the Hall of Fame of WCOPA, ranking him alongside renowned actress-singer Liza Minnelli, according to Wikipedia.



She was born Gia Anne-Marie Felicitas. Her mom is from Poland and her dad, from Manila, says Billy Kidd, from London, UK, one of the 36 ‘greatest magicians’ who performed on premier night June 30, during the fifth anniversary season of the hit television show and Emmy awardee Masters of Illusion, produced by Associated Television International, and hosted by actor Dean Cain on The CW network.

Billy’s Magically Synching Cards trick never fails to amaze her audience (although she’s mostly known for her straightjacket escape). There were also fast-paced, 30-minute performances like Grand Illusionists, Escape, Quick Change, Mentalism, Sleight of Hand and Comedy from other magicians.

Billy has been performing professionally since the age of 11.

“My career started as an actor in Canada, performing in theatre, film and television,” she narrated. “I was accepted into the top theatre schools in Canada and the UK, and after 15 years of working as an actor, magic suddenly became a secret passion. So one day, I left everything behind, and my career vanished,in order for me to turn into a magician.”Fil-Polish Billy Kidd holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts (Acting) from the University of Alberta, Canada.

She has performed in the Philippines before and had a show on TV that used to air on Discovery Channel called The Magic of Science. When she’s not touring the world, she runs a weekly magic theatre in Bath, England, called Krowd Keepers Magic Theatre.

She continues to sharpen her skills as a street performer with the guidance of renowned magician Gazzo (Gary Osbourne, a British street magician)and has performed at numerous events worldwide including on cruise ships, corporate events, festivals, numerous television appearances and Hollywood’s Magic Castle.

“In 2009,” Billy shared, “I helped create and perform the magic for O2 Load & Go card advertisement. In 2011, I performed in BBC’s Xmas lecture; in 2012/2013, I hosted Discovery Channel’s series on Breaking Magic, the Magic of Science, viewed by over 100 million people worldwide. And in 2014/2015, I competed in Syfy channel’s Wizard Wars in the USA. After earning the only standing ovation from Penn & Teller (American magicians), I was then cast as a full-time Wizard for Season 2.”

In 2016, Billy was featured on ITV’s new show, The Next Great Magician and BBC’s Now You See It. The following year she joined the cast of Masters of Illusion on The CW network in the U.S. In 2018, she was featured on the CBC Documentary, The Science of Magic, and joined Masters of Illusion for the second time.

In addition to her acting and magic careers, Billy Kidd is also well known for creating ‘The Slappyfeatherwhistle Nose-Flute Ensemble’ in Edmonton, Alberta. She was only 20 then and an acting student at the Univ. of Alberta. She recruited her sisters Olivia and Natanielle Felicitas to join her.

“I utilized my previous classical training in multiple styles of dance and music,” she explained, “to conduct and choreograph up to 40 members in this ambitious musical project.”

Whether it’s close-up magic, on stage, screen, or in the streets, Billy has captivated audiences in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, Sweden, Japan, Dubai, Oman, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Australia, Turkey, Kuwait, Switzerland, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, China, and the Philippines.