The ‘Voice’s’ (and PHL’s) Saturday night fever

Bert B. Sulat Jr.
The singing competition’s battle round delivers face-offs and another arguable victory

DON’T TELL ME ’CAUSE IT HURTS. That line off No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” is virtually being sung by Angelica Prado (right) fans, who feel she deserved Coach Bamboo’s save more than Isabella Fabregas. Photos from the show’s Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines—While the basketball stalwarts of Gilas Pilipinas duked it out with their South Korean counterparts for what a schoolmate, Boyette San Diego, dubbed “Saturday Night FIBA,” fever-pitch face-offs were being aired as well over at Day 4 of “The Voice of the Philippines’” Battle Round.

As Gilas went on to deliver a curse-killing victory over Psy’s countrymen on August 10 and earn a well-deserved FIBA championship slot and a World Cup shot, a quartet of “Voice” hopefuls also got a taste of triumph and prevailed to see another competition day.

As to whether all 4 vocalists deserved their victory, however, is open to question — once again.

READ: An open letter to Coach Bamboo

Episode 17 of “TVOTP” opened on a hushed, sit-up-and-listen note: singer Lea Salonga and brother Gerard on the keyboard hurled a riveting “Grenade.”

The cutting Bruno Mars ballad further showcased Lea’s capacity for pop interpretation and became a proverbial bar for the contestants to match, if not surpass.

Team Bamboo’s latest duelists, redheads Isabella Fabregas and Angelica Prado, were pitted in the battle ring first, as they rendered the No Doubt weepie “Don’t Speak.”

Isa Fabregas and Angelica Prado sing ‘Don’t Speak’:

Pastor’s daughter Fabregas had power and presence, but it was clearly Prado, a Bacoleña who’s paid her dues with a bar band, who owned this moment.

When cleavage-flaunting host Toni Gonzaga sought their verdict, both Sarah Geronimo and Team Bamboo’s guest adviser, Joey Ayala, went for Prado, with the metaphor-oriented Ayala comparing the girl’s pluck to a catfight.

Coach Bamboo Mañalac himself heard in Prado’s singing a “cherub’s voice [that] cuts through,” yet he picked Fabregas as this battle’s winner.

This has prompted another online buzz deeming Bamboo’s latest pick as practically Strike Two, following his much-discussed booting of Dan Billano two weekends earlier.

Some have even called for the coach-judge’s non-renewal for “TVOTP’s” Season 2. (A hunch-query: Might Bamboo pull off a make-up stunt by featuring Billano and now Prado in his upcoming double-bill gig with Yeng Constantino on August 17?)

Next up was Team’s Lance “Chasing Cars” Fabros and Janice “Natural Woman” Javier for one of the night’s better moments: a rousing take on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’”

(Kudos to the show’s musical director, Bond Samson, for sneaking in a houseband rendition of The Cult’s “Wild Flower,” as Javier made her entrance. Please keep them aural Easter eggs coming.)

Here are Janice Javier and Lance Fabros with ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’: 

The Bangkok-employed Javier ultimately prevailed even as Fabros did a swell job delivering a song dear to the heart of Team apl’s guest adviser, Journey’s Pinoy frontman Arnel Pineda.

This has prompted some netizens to quip that the chin-bearded Valenzuela City resident was a casualty in what they deemed to be a mismatch — that a less-lopsided fight would have been between him and his teammate, the suave-voiced Thor Dulay (who had won his own battle versus Sir Lord Lomibao last week).

Team Lea’s guitar-wielding gents, Darryl Shy and Mel John Podolig, were next in line for perhaps the night’s classiest battle song: the Basil Valdez signature, “Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka” (also rendered by the Eraserheads, Noel Cabangon, and Regine Velasquez). 

The song as performed here was somewhat subdued, Podolig’s end-song vocal acrobatics aside. A smart-aleck comment on Facebook likened Shy to another bearded, mellow singer-guitarist, Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens).

Here’s Darryl’s and MJ’s rainshower-mellow take on ‘Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka‘:

Shy was the deserving winner of this bout as picked by Salonga, but his and Podolig’s underwhelming take elicited Gerard’s honest assessment that the two could have done better but missed a lot of marks.

Gerard Salonga’s remark was a welcome antidote to the show’s overrunning feel-good vibe, and I wonder if any other cast member, regular or guest, would ever serve up such refreshing candor again.

Closing the episode was the Team Sarah contest between Michaellen Temporada and the show’s eldest aspirant, 51-year-old Eva Delos Santos, performing the Michael Jackson/Siedah Garrett hit, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.”

Here’s their renditon: 

It was plain to see Coach Sarah torn in deciding between the two contenders, even as guest adviser Gary V correctly noted that Delos Santos surpassed the challenge presented to her by her younger competitor’s performance.

An online comment described Delos Santos as a Pinay Steven Tyler.)

Sarah ultimately went for “Mommy Eva.”

There’ll be more singing rivalries on Sunday night, August 11, as “The Voice” battles continue — around the same time Gilas Pilipinas plays against Iran for the FIBA championship.

Who will emerge victorious in these simultaneous affairs? One hopes it would be the thoroughly engaged and satisfied Pinoy viewer.–


‘The Voice of the Philippines’ airs Saturdays, 9:00 p.m., and Sundays, 8:25 p.m. on ABS-CBN.

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