As soon as his hands picked up his first guitar, 17-year-old Neil Legaspi knew what he wanted to do.
"I knew that music was going to be a part of my life at that moment," said the McRoberts graduate, remembering that time five years ago.
"I just didn't know it was going to be this big."
Since then, Legaspi has strummed his way through performances and competitions in Richmond such as RichCity Idol and the Diversity Talent Show.
Now, the songwriter is gearing up to take the stage as a PNE Star Showdown semi-finalist in the youth division, after making it past the auditions.
This year's showdown follows a "more intensified format" than previous years and is conducted over four days, between Aug. 17 and 21 with daily prizes for first, second and third place.
Hosted by The Beat 94.5, there will be $10,000 in prizes, plus more than $22,000 in New Image College Scholarships.
"My friend did it a few years ago and said it was tough, so that made me really nervous," said Legaspi, eyes widening. "But I always get nervous before I perform. Once I'm on stage though, it's just really fun."
Legaspi comes by his trade honestly, as he grew up with a musician for a father, constantly heading out for nighttime gigs at clubs.
Both father and son perform in the same band at church, while the younger Legaspi is also part of another band.
"I like music because it gives me a way of showing people who I am and what I'm like," he said. "It's my passion. I practise every day."
Legaspi finds inspiration through the people around him and his own life, as well as, from popular musicians such as John Mayer, Ed Sheeran and Marianna's Trench.
Although becoming a successful musician is his primary goal, he'll also be attending Douglas College this fall for music technology and production.
"That's another one of the reasons why I'm doing this," he said.
"If I win, the money will pay for college since money is tough for my family. It'll also allow me to buy some recording equipment."
Legaspi's division will perform at the PNE on Sunday, Aug. 18 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Chevrolet Performance Stage in Central Park at the Fair. He will do a cover of Eric Johnson's Cliffs of Dover.
To see a video of Legaspi performing, visit http://youtu. be/f4iRJ11ZKh4.