Her small stature was all the more apparent during her winning moment, when the victorious Lyca was scooped up in a big hug by fellow contestant Juan Karlos Labajo – she was barely half his size.
Almost instantly, her crying stopped as she prepared herself to sing her victory song: “Narito Ako,” (I’m Here), popularized by Regine Velasquez.
Minutes before, she had closed the evening’s performances with a rousing rendition of “Basang-Basa sa Ulan” (“Drenched in the Rain”), accompanied by the original artists – the powerful singers of Aegis.
Decked out in tiny black boots and a sharp leather jacket, she owned the stage, letting loose that trademark growl that did not at all sound like it came from a little girl.
Cool as ice and unflappable, she sang these words, and they were filled with meaning:
“Lagi na lang akong nadarapa/
Ngunit heto, bumabangon pa rin”
(I’m always falling down / but here I am, rising again.)
At just 9 years old, Lyca, who hails from Cavite, has had a more challenging start in life – her father is a fisherman, and Lyca’s mom, Maria Nessel, helps by scavenging what she can from trash cans, sometimes with Lyca’s assistance.
“Hindi po talaga akalaing makakasali ba kami sa ganito…kumbaga, walang chance ang ganitong kagaya kay Lyca,” explained her mom in the video of Lyca’s blind audition.
(I didn’t think we could join something like this…I thought that someone of Lyca’s background wouldn’t have a chance.) This is one of few moments that brings the normally cheery Lyca to tears.
But although the circumstances are tough, the rest of her journey on The Voice is far from a sad story.
It all started with 6 words. “Ayoko sana na ikaw ay mawawala,” (I don’t want you to be gone), she sang in her blind audition. A single line into the song “Halik” by Aegis had judge and mentor Sarah Geronimo pressing the button indicating that she wanted Lyca on her team.
The one line also earned a dramatic reaction from Lea Salonga, who later praised Lyca’s ability to hit the right notes throughout the song.
Lyca didn’t know yet that just a few months later, she would be rocking out with Aegis onstage, or that they would praise her skills and her vocal chops. She could not have known how close she was to coming full circle, in so short a time. (READ: ‘The Voice Kids’: Meet the final 4)
Audiences loved her, loved her story – and at pop superstar Sarah Geronimo’s urging, they supported her in droves.
More performances throughout the show gave audiences a rare look into the deep well of emotion that this young singer could channel through music – all with vocal control and a resolute, determined expression that at times felt almost deadpan in contrast to the chaos around her.
Among her many performances throughout the show, several stood out. Aside from the first and last, a compelling cover of Luther Vandross’ “Dance with my Father” sung in Filipino left no dry eye in the house. And of course, her own father, sitting in the audience, looked on with pride.
“Lyca, nabigyan mo ng kwento ‘yung kanta… pag umangat ka, as we say, to take it home, to bring home the prize, you did it,” remarked Bamboo, praising her voice’s flexibility and texture.
(Lyca, you gave the song a story…when you go up [to the high notes], as we say, to take it home, to bring home the prize, you did it.)
Sino ang bida?
In a group performance from young girls with high-impact voices, could a rendtion of Frozen’s “Let It Go” go wrong?
Despite admitting to feeling jittery because the song was in English, which she wasn’t used to, Lyca held her own against Edray Teodoro and Darlene Vibares, who also gave it their all. For all her vocal power, the moments when Lyca holds back, as when she softly croons, “Let it go, / Let it go,” pack their own punch.
It helps that the judges often stand by their proteges, introducing them with pride, and making the extra effort to comfort and reassure them if they are eliminated. Under Sarah Geronimo’s mentorship, Lyca improved her diction, tempered her voice’s ability to rise and fall, and honed her distinctly full, bold voice.
“[Si] Lyca, magkaiba kayo e, parang Nora [Aunor], Vilma [Santos],” Lea told her student, Darlene, a 10-year-old who would later go head to head with Lyca in the final 4. (About Lyca, you two are different, like Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos.)
“Sino po ‘yung bida?” asked Darlene. (Who is the star?)
“Pareho silang bida ng mga pelikula nila,” answered Lea. (They’re both the stars of their own movies.)
That wasn’t the only time the comparison to Nora Aunor, who has her own devoted set of fans, as does the esteemed Vilma Santos, would crop up in the show.
“Magaling ka…sinabi ko na para kang si Nora Aunor, parang ‘yun ang aura mo. Siguro kung nanonood si Ate Guy ngayon, magiging proud siya sa ‘yo,” Lea told Lyca, after a rousing rendition of “Pangarap na Bituin.”
(You’re great…I’ve said that you are like Nora Aunor – you give off that aura. If Ate Guy were to see you now, I think she would be proud of you.)
Still a kid
Prior to that same performance, Lyca viewed a taped message from singer Angeline Quinto, to which she answered back with a thrilled thank you and goodbye before the message had even played out in full.
For all the superlatives thrown her way, this is just one of many beautiful reminders that she’s still just a small child.
In moments of delight, as right before her first audition, she wriggles from side to side, as if unable to contain her excitement and joy.
After this, she skipped backstage, calling a delighted “Ayun!” (“There!”) at the sight of her parents, as if something extraordinary had not just happened. She could have been skipping home from school.
Following her win, the dream of a better life is within reach. Lyca’s prize package includes a recording contract, a P1,000,000 cash prize, a trust fund, a musical instrument showcase, and a new house and lot.
But what’s more interesting is how Lyca will develop her young voice and shape her own singing career, which seems destined to reach new heights. She even counts Bianca Gonzalez and singer Sitti Navarro as fans, among many, many others.
That husky growl could develop into power and strength heard in the vocals of an Etta James or Lyca’s own idol, Nora Aunor. For Lyca, the way forward is clear, the next milestones in her career, already anticipated by millions.
But this victory, for now, is hers to savor, treasure, hold dear, before her next big move. There’s plenty of time. She is, after all, only 9 years old. – Rappler.com
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