'The Voice PHL': And then there were 8
MANILA, Philippines—First there were 50 who passed the blind auditions. Then 24 made it through the battle round. As of late Sunday night, September 15, the 4th of the live-round shows, the number of contenders was down to 8.
The 8 remaining contestants, that is, of “The Voice of the Philippines” (“TVOTP”), a weekend habit for music-loving thousands which aired its 30th episode that Sunday.
In the run-up to the first two of 4 remaining “TVOTP” episodes, all to be held live by ABS-CBN at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila, these 8 talent-show survivors met with the press at ABS-CBN’s Dolphy Theater on September 18.
The gathering found the hopefuls—a pair each representing the show’s 4 teams and coaches—engaging in heavy singing, light banter, and pondering on sundry voice and “Voice” matters.
Thor Dulay and Janice Javier of Team Apl kicked off the early-evening press conference with a joint rendition of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You,” followed by a femme faceoff starring Team Sarah’s Morissette Amon and Klarisse De Guzman for a shared rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”
Then came the good-timey turn of Team Lea’s Radha Tinsay and Mitoy Yonting, via Sampaguita’s “Bonggahan.” This was followed by the hushed, acoustic guitar-wielding cover of One Direction’s “Little Things” by Team Bamboo mates Paolo Onesa and Myk Perez.
As if to add showbiz quotient to the proceedings, these 8 were joined onstage by the show’s (usually) offstage “V reporters” Robi Domingo and Alex Gonzaga.
So how have the big 8 been prepping for this weekend’s live shows (i.e., Saturday’s by-pair performances and Sunday’s “solo showdowns”)?
Thor, a part-time vocal coach on “ASAP” who, on “The Voice,” is coached by Apl.de.ap, says he’s getting ready by “not talking much... taking vitamin C... practicing... repeatedly listening to my pieces,” especially since “Janice is a powerhouse.”
Janice, for her part, says she is praying for Thor. In fact, on Sunday mornings, she says she goes to church and lights a candle for all of the contestants, “for all of us to be able to face the crowd.”
Javier, a longtime band singer in Bangkok, also has had to contend with an extra challenge: “I have polyps in my vocal cords, so I mustn’t sing every night. That’s hard to do; we record and rehearse and have several activities every day, but I get to see my doctor often.”
Paolo says he tries to catch up on sleep if there’s time and constantly practices at home and at their hotel. (A native of Zamboanga City, Onesa says his mother and sibling are still in Manila, but his father is in their war-torn home city, staying away from outdoors throughout the ongoing siege by Nur MIsuari's band.)
Like his remaining teammate under Coach Bamboo Mañalac, Myk also practices his material, “to have a feel of the song, [of] its soul,” while resting and sleeping when schedules permit.
Klarisse says she has been practicing to the hilt, even in the restroom, and explores ways of doing a song better such as by watching videos of her material as done elsewhere. Morissette, Klarisse’s lone team mate now under Coach Sarah Geronimo, has similarly been busy rehearsing, as she finds her nemesis of the week a threat not just to her but to the entire group, since, Amon claims, De Guzman doesn’t need to do the “birit” style of singing to impress.
Mitoy says he has been preparing not just by resting and rehearsing but also psyching himself up for the show’s every outcome. He may always seem ready to perform, yet he asserts that “I don’t let my guard down,” before turning to her remaining competitor and teammate under coach Lea Salonga and saying, “Are you Radha [to fight]?”
Radha acknowledges that Mitoy is “formidable” and readies herself for vocal battle by praying, along with “meditation, visualization...puro ‘-sion’ kasi ma-sion-da na ako... I aim to give 110%. I don’t really know how to prepare other than to give my all, [including] emotionally.”
The young and the restless
It was interesting to note that a perfect half of the contestants were comparatively younger (Team Sarah’s Klarisse, 21, and Morissette, 16, and Team Bamboo’s Myk, 22, and Paolo, 19) than the other half (Team Lea’s Mitoy, 43, and Radha, 36, and Team Apl’s Janice, 38, and Thor, 32).
“Our experience is an advantage,” Javier says on behalf of her fellow singing-biz long-timers, “and this has toughened us up.” Still, she admits that the younger ones have freshness in their favor.
Dulay, who has had two albums to his name, notes that their younger competitors have large fan bases. Yonting adds that, “We [older ones] can’t relax because we don’t know if [the younger contestants] have a secret power they have yet to unleash.”
While all 8 are on friendly terms, and the coaches make it a point to dispel the slightest hint of negativity in the air, “TVOTP” is a bona fide competition with huge plums for the ultimate winner: a P2 million cash prize, a brand new Ford Focus, an Asian tour-vacation and a 4-year recording contract with Metro Manila-based record label MCA Universal.
(Why not ABS-CBN’s Star Records? Because the global “Voice” franchise, under Global Music & Talent Agency BV or GMTA, has a worldwide recording deal with the Universal Music Group.)
Asked to describe their coaches, Myk shared that “Coach Bambs” can be “deep, focused” during rehearsals. Paolo added that Bamboo is fond of talking about not just music but also life experiences.
Mitoy cites that Lea likes to keep things in order, assessing what needs to be added or subtracted from their singing. Radha adds that “she coaxes us to go where she thinks we might excel,” this also through texts and messages on Facebook even “at 2 am.”
Klarisse says that Coach Sarah (jokingly shortened to “Coachara” at one point) is “approachable” since they're close in age. (Geronimo is a few years older at 25.) “She knows a lot about music and artists contrary to what we might expect.” Morissette acknowledges that Sarah is “very busy but makes it a point to coach us, even on our looks. She’s hands-on.”
Apl.de.ap, per Thor, is more easygoing, “cool, down-to-earth.” Janice adds that, thanks to the man also known as Allan Pineda, “our team is tight” and that he taught them to be more giving to others, such as through his charity events which double as their “bonding moments.”
Friends and foes
That said, the fact remains that 4 of these 8 will be out of “TVOTP” around 10 pm on Sunday night, September 22. On a related note, who do they see as their biggest competition, team memberships notwithstanding?
Mitoy deems the 3 other males - Myk, Paolo, and Thor - as his top foes.
For Janice and Klarisse, it’s Paolo (who has a lot of “Paolowers,” De Guzman quipped); and for Paolo and Thor, it’s Mitoy (“He’s a natural on stage,” Dulay said).
For Radha, it’s Janice; for Myk, it’s Radha; and for Morissette, it’s Myk.
The varying strengths of the remaining aspirants aside, there now seems to be no clear-cut winner for when the show makes its curtain call on September 29.
Here’s hoping that, in the end, Yonting’s declared fear to us - that the show’s text-voting scheme might defeat the show’s end goal of crowning the most deserving singer - would be just a voice in the wilderness. - Rappler.com
‘The Voice on the Philippines’ airs on ABS-CBN and The Filipino Channel. Its published PHL schedule is 9 pm on Saturdays and 8 pm on Sundays.