Turlocker puts his magic skills to the test

Harry Potter has been a constant companion for Turlock resident Vincent Sotaso since he was a 9 year old boy living in the Philippines. The series of books and later the films captured his imagination and spoke to his heart. He has reread the books and watched the movies hundreds of times. Now all of his knowledge of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World will be put to the test as he takes part in Sunday’s “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Houses Tournament”, which airs at 8 p.m. local time on TBS.

The bracket style competition will feature fans competing for their Hogwarts home in teams of three. Houses face off in four epic battles answering hundreds of questions about the Wizarding World with the help of the live audience to unveil which House knows the finely detailed universe like the back of their hand. The winning teams from each round will advance to the Grand Final to determine who wins the Tournament of Houses Championship trophy.

In addition to the spectacular trophy and the ultimate bragging rights, the winning house will be honored with: a $ 1,000 shopping spree at the Harry Potter store in New York; tickets to the award-winning Broadway production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”; a journey to the all-new touring experience, Harry Potter: The Exhibition; a three-day, three-night trip to discover The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort; and an advanced screening of “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”.

Sotaso graduated magna cum laude in 2019 with a degree in accounting from Stanislaus State. He is currently working as a financial analyst for Modesto Irrigation District. The Journal had the opportunity to speak with Sotaso ahead of the Sunday show and learn all about his connection to the Boy Who Lived.

Q. What house are you playing for?

A. I am part of the Ravenclaw team, the House of Spirit and Learning. We are the ones wearing the blue sweater!

Q. What do you like about this house or that matches your personality?
A. Growing up, I always wanted to attend the best schools in my province in the Philippines, which are usually private. The only way I could afford to enroll was to earn scholarships and tuition reductions by excelling academically. And every time I get a degree, medal, or certificate, I think that’s what a Ravenclaw would do to be successful – use the value of intelligence, education, and hard work to get closer to your goal !

Q. What was your introduction to the Harry Potter series?
A. When I was about 7 years old, my mother announced that she was going to have to leave the Philippines to work in the United States. It was also around this time that I watched the first commercial for the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. We couldn’t afford to see it in theaters at the time, but I was 9, my mom and step-dad who were already in California remembered my fascination with Harry Potter and sent me the first five Harry Potter books. And boy, I remembered being buried in them because of magic.

Q. What did the series mean to you? Has that feeling changed over the years?
A. The series has always been an escape for me into a more whimsical world. My childhood in the Philippines was a lot of fun and I’m grateful for every second, but we lived in a remote area where crazy weather always took its toll on electricity. This is why I am so grateful that my parents sent me the books because they have become my daily source of entertainment. Whenever I felt a little defeated or had a bad day, Hogwarts was literally waiting for me, from that moment on and even now.

Q. How many times have you read and / or listened to the books?
A. Funny question because I don’t think a die-hard Harry Potter fan like me can have a legitimate estimate of this when I literally read and re-read them all the time! In fact, at the moment, my tablet is on the Aunt Marge chapter of the Prisoner of Azkaban! But as a true Ravenclaw, let’s do some logical reasoning here. I probably read the whole series three times a year. We’re in 2021 right now and I got them around 2003, so it’s been 18 years. So multiply that by 3 – that’s 54 times. And then there are 7 books so yes in total I have probably read each book 378 times. Let’s round that down to 380 because I did a lot of extra reading when I was invited to participate in the Hogwarts Tournament of Houses!

Q. How many times have you watched the series?

A. Doing the math would be a bit exhausting but I can tell you that I watch them grow endlessly!

Q. What did you think when you were called to play for your house?
A. You know that feeling in the classroom when there is a graded participation and the teacher calls you and you know exactly the correct answer when asked because you have studied it seriously all night? Well, this is it! I just remember feeling so proud and ready. I have literally been waiting for this opportunity all my life and this quiz gave me the greatest satisfaction to finally share and talk about Harry Potter! 

Q. If you could be any character in the book series, who would it be and why?
A. I know I’m a Ravenclaw through and through, but my answer to that would be Tom Riddle himself aka Lord Voldemort. Don’t get me wrong, he was such a nasty villain. However, he is also a very powerful wizard and he and I share a very humble childhood. When I came here to the United States to start an entirely new life, it’s akin to how Lord Voldemort was suddenly swept into the wizarding world. In doing so, I wanted to prove to myself that I can succeed here, just like him, hence his thirst for more information. With that in mind, if I were Voldemort, I hope I would have used this thirst to introduce positive productivity and change Magical Society for the better. If I were him, I would have had both the talent and the right motivation that would have cemented my place in history as a respected wizard instead of a destructive threat.

Q. What was the experience of playing a trivia game on television like?
A. Honestly — and I don’t mean to sound boastful — I wasn’t nervous at all. I was just ready. In addition to rereading the books and seeing the films again, I didn’t do any particular cramming. It was a very fun and heartwarming experience because I got to meet and spend time with all the other applicants and together celebrate our love and knowledge of Harry Potter.

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