In just a few years, 18-year-old singer LA Santos, has had a break a lot of talented musicians could only dream of. He’s signed a deal with one of the top music labels in the country, Star Music, released his first album, had a successful solo concert and even fronted for famous international performers such as the Stylistics and Air Supply.
But before the cover videos on YouTube, the hit songs and the fame, LA first had to overcome a autism and ADHD. His inspiring story and journey was featured in Rated K just as he was starting in the industry, and it was a truly heartwarming story of how a mother’s love and music can change and help cure such a condition.
LA (short for Leonard Antonio) was diagnosed with first stage autism when he was only four years old. Flor Santos, his mother, said she was bothered when her son was unable to speak as three years old kids would. She sought medical help and that was how she found out her third child was autistic.
“Autism and ADHD is a life-long condition. You can’t treat it. You just have to do something na makalimutan ng bata na may ganoon siya,” she said. “I made a lot of sacrifices to make sure LA could go past the challenges of being autistic,” Flor shared.
She had to quit her employment to focus on taking care of LA. “Kids with this condition need more than just lip service of love and understanding. You have to let them feel you love and understand them.”
That is why LA is not shy about expressing his love for his mother. “I love my mom! Her unconditional love inspired me to dream big for myself, to conquer my fears, and to be the best version of myself. She is my biggest fan. Whenever I look in front of the stage, my mom is there, busy taking pictures and videos. I want to tell her that I love her and I’m thankful for all the sacrifices she has done for me.” “Thankful din ako kay Lord for my mom at sa lahat ng tumutulong na mangyari ito. Hindi ko kakayanin na gawin mag-isa ito.”
LA says it was music that changed his life and that he has become a living testament of how powerful music can be. The singer behind the hit song Tinamaan, admits music has done a lot of good things to his young life. “I am able to express myself through music. It is said that music is a universal language. There is a song for every emotion, whether you are happy, depressed, in love, heartbroken, angry. It also helps you compose a song because may hugot ka. I get lost when I sing. I let people know who I am and how I feel through the songs I sing. In fact, I am a living example of the healing power of music,” LA shares.
The Star Music recording artist has a self-titled debut album which contains six originals (Tinamaan, Ikaw Kasi, One Greatest Love, Bakit Pag-Ibig, Miss Terror, and Mine) and three covers (Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man, Sarah Geronimo’s Forever Is Not Enough and Angeline Quinto’s Hanggang Kailan).
LA just recently finished a two-night mini concert at The Music Hall @ Metrowalk with the SRATS (the young stars of Asian Artist Agency). Soon, they will be trooping to SM Malls for a series of shows: June 9 (SM Valenzuela), June 10 (SM Pulilan), and June 30 (SM Sangandaan). “It’s fun to work with SRATS. I’m looking forward to our next collaborations.”
LA has found his niche in music and is carving a name for himself. Aside from performing on Ian Veneracion’s first major foray into concerts, LA staged a sold-out major solo concert titled #Petmalu at the Music Museum.
While he is happy to share his passion for music, LA admits there are challenges that he has to face. “Actually, it’s difficult na pagsabayin ang studies and singing career. I am in my senior high at UST. Minsan nagkakasabay ang pag-aaral for an exam and rehearsal for shows. I don’t want to sacrifice iyong isa over the other. I have to balance my priorities and follow a strict schedule if I want to succeed in both my studies and career. At first, it was really hard especially when you have to wake up early for class after coming home late at night because of a commitment. I’m used to this routine now. I don’t regret any single thing. Who am I to complain? I’m grateful to be given these opportunities.”