As a relatively new artist, being nominated in the following five categories at the prestigious Awit Awards is an impressive feat for singer-songwriter Zion Aquino:

– Best Performance by a New Male Artist (for “Defenseless”)
– Best Performance by a Male Artist (for “Brave For You”)
– Best Ballad Recording (for “Ever My Only Love”)
– Best R&B Recording (for “Really Over You”)
– Best Inspirational Recording (for “So Grateful”)

However, these pale in comparison with the many other accomplishments and ordeals that he conquered throughout his life. A two-time cancer survivor, Aquino did not allow his health struggles to keep him from pursuing his passion in music, once even competing (and winning) in a singing contest all the while carrying a colostomy bag as part of his treatment for Stage 3B colon cancer back in 2012. To date, he is in remission for a recurrence from 2016, this time with metastasis to the abdominal wall signaling a Stage 4 progression.

A warrior both physically and at heart, on September 2016, Aquino went on to produce an album aptly called Grateful Soul with award-winning songwriter and 25-year-seasoned record producer Trina Belamide:

Among the love and gratitude-themed songs in the album is “Ever My Only Love”, included in his Awit Award nominations for Best Ballad Recording and rightly so as doting couples across different countries have turned to the song for their wedding videos or professions of love. Listeners have been noting Aquino’s world class voice quality, with one commenting that it is reminiscent of Grammy awardee John Legend.

Earlier this year, he also collaborated with pop-rock singer-songwriter Yeng Constantino for a duet called “Liwanag”. Constantino is also among a group of friends, along with Julianne Tarroja and Meryl David, who organised a fundraising event for Aquino during his first battle with cancer.

“The song is a collection of encouraging words I received when I was battling cancer,” Aquino reveals, “[I] wrote it with the objective of sending a message of hope and encouragement to everyone struggling in life and their families.”

Aquino wrote and produced “Liwanag” to help raise funds for two kids with bone marrow diseases.

During his own childhood years, Aquino learned to sing at an early age but was told by some that his voice was “weird”, which later turned out be his strong identifying quality as an artist. Listen as he provides his own unique colour to other artists’ popular songs in the following covers:

Zion Aquino aims to continue to inspire and touch people not only with his story, but also his music. Now five Awit Awards nominations-strong, he sends the message out that with passion and determination, we are not “Defenseless” to life’s challenges.

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