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[The Voice PHL] And the winner will be...

MANILA, Philippines - As last Sunday’s episode of “The Voice of the Philippines” drew to a close and the program’s own final four became known, a Facebook poster quipped that the show’s finalists are an all-star bunch that will now feature “Allan K, Mayor Jun-Jun Binay, Melai Cantiveros and Juana Change.”

Yes, these remarks can be naughty, even nasty. But that particular, doppelganger-themed comment was spot-on, if only as an illustration, if exaggerated, of the diversity of “TVOTP’s” four finalists. You got your wispy young lass in Klarisse De Guzman. You got your mellow crooner-strummer in Don Michael “Myk” Perez. You got your elder rock belter in Michael “Mitoy” Yonting. And you got your Pinay queen of soul in Janice Javier.

And to heighten the “TVOTP” finale as all-star extravaganza, a bevy of celebrities will also show up onstage tonight, including Voice, er, Vice Ganda.

Klarisse De Guzman vocally makes 'The Climb' last night:

Remembering the deserted

It may be cliché, but De Guzman, Javier, Perez and Yonting are already winners in their own right. This given the tough competition they have been up against, such as last week’s other quartet of semi-finalists: Morissette Amon, Thor Dulay, Paolo Onesa and, arguably the most lamented among last Sunday’s eliminated, Radha Tinsay.

To be fair, Janice, Klarisse, Mitoy and Myk have, in these past two or three crucial and, presumably, very taxing weekends, have all been at the top of their game. If only the grand bag of prizes—which include 2 million pesos and a 4-year recording contract—could be shared by all four. But this is “The Voice” and not “The Voices,” so only one would prevail, with no room for a tie, much less a quadruple tie.

(As the competition grew fiercer these past weeks—embodied by the wide stage of the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila—it was clear that the work of musical director Bond Samson and his band, the backup singers and even the dancers had been no less crucial. Had any of them slipped up, it could have been costly for any contestant.)

Would more voters oblige Myk Perez as he asks people to 'Give Me Love'?:

Who’s who

As a final recap, who are the top 4 contenders for the title of “The Voice of the Philippines”?

The eldest of them all is Yonting, 43. The Pangasinan-born Mitoy had briefly been in showbiz before, including a fleeting stint as a comedian-singer on “Eat...Bulaga!” After several gigs abroad as a band singer, such as in Japan, he is currently the frontman of Draybers, a house showband at Bar 360 (also a Resorts World venue).

Next up is Mandaluyong-based Javier, 38, a prolific vocalist in Bangkok and elsewhere in Asia. Janice has performed in huge concert venues in Thailand and on Thai TV, and has represented the Philippines in international jazz festivals.

A decade and a half younger is Perez, 22, a Puerto Princesa-hailing student of the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music. Myk briefly had to cut his music studies short and alter his academic course following the illness and eventual demise of his mother due to cancer.

The youngest of them all is De Guzman, also 22. (Perez is older by 10 months.) The Makati-based Klarisse, currently a music production student at the College of St. Benilde, joined, at around age 11, the 2002 singing competition “Star for a Night” and wound up a semi-finalist, the ultimate winner being her “Voice” coach, a then-14-year-old Sarah Geronimo.

Draybers vocalist Mitoy Yonting drives home a rocked-out reading of 'Anak':

Last Sunday, each of these four got to perform their respective chosen pieces and a brand new tune each to their name. (The new songs’ composers were not named.)

Mitoy wailed away stadium-style on “The Power of Love,” enough to have shaken even previous interpreters Laura Branigan or Celine Dion had they heard him. After being declared as the bigger scorer between him and Radha (even if their coach, Lea Salonga, gave Tinsay the edge in her 55/45 score), he got to growl some more via his new tune, “Bulag.”  

Myk evinced a more easygoing vibe via Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” but in the reggae style of remakers Big Mountain. In his matchup with Paolo Onesa, it was Paolo who got more audience votes (Myk had the edge from their coach, Bamboo Mañalac, who also scored them 55/45), yet the public vote was not enough to halt Myk’s trip to finals weekend. Myk then got to introduce his new song, “Fix You” (not the Coldplay song of the same title).

Klarisse gave a big, boomy reading of “To Love Somebody” that belied her petite frame and could have shaken the Bee Gees or remaker Michael Bolton to bits, resulting in her being the highest-scoring semi-finalist last Sunday. This paved the way for the debut of her original tune, “Slowly.”

Janice rounded out the competition last week with an impassioned take on John Lennon’s “Imagine” that is more Aretha Franklin than Beatle, moving both her coach,, and the audience to give her majority of their love. She then got to deliver her own fresh ditty, “Home.”

Janice Javier learns to love herself more via 'The Greatest Love of All':

So who could win?

Predicting the “Voice of the Philippines” winner is a rather foolish endeavor, as it all boils down to amassed viewer votes. Not just through texting this time, but also by downloading, via iTunes, the recordings of the two tunes each finalist sang individually last Sunday. (Each download is equal to 5 votes. The coaches can no longer add to the scores.) In addition, there are hundreds upon hundreds of online comments per contender and it would seem immaterial to add to the din.

Still, it’s a tempting exercise, especially given the undeniable vocal caliber of the final four. So here’s an assessment, based in part on last night’s part one of the show’s two-night finale.

Janice Javier kicked things off with a Mon Faustino-arranged rendition of “The Greatest Love of All” that was a maze of notes beyond perhaps original interpreter George Benson or its best-known remaker, the late Whitney Houston, had imagined.

Mitoy Yonting followed suit with an explosive rock opera-tic reading of Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak.” Salonga credited her brother Gerard for the bombast-laden arrangement, but the tune has actually long been part of the Draybers’ setlist.

Myk Perez, despite being seated and strumming acoustic strings, was a blast in covering Ed Sheeran’s “Give Me Love.” And Klarisse was simply on big-inspiration-in-small-package mode as she took on “The Climb” by a pre-twerking Miley Cyrus.

It’s possible that any of the four would win. That said, here are their potential odds.

The ‘Voice’s’ final four sing their new songs together:

Myk will likely end up as the contender with the lowest score among the four, and it will not be much his fault. To be fair, it is either to his credit or discredit that his latest vocal delivery seemed to be akin to his coach’s—as if Mañalac had coached him into being Bamboo II instead of being himself. Plus, Myk’s being in his 20s will probably make people conclude that he still has a lot ahead of him, anyway, given that a large chunk of the “Voice” audience seems to be folks years older than he is.

Mitoy, for his part, is such a high-wattage yet polarizing contestant: You either dig him, his tenor baritone and his seemingly effortless vocalizations to the hilt or you deem them as shrieks and distance yourself accordingly. There is no denying that the man can sing, and has proven time and again that he can take an already high note even higher. Still, many have also deemed him to be somewhat limited in genre (i.e., mainly arena-worthy rock), and this supposed lack of versatility can undo him.

Klarisse has her youth thing to her advantage and disadvantage, too. Despite being fresh out of her teens, she evinces the singing of an old soul and will likely be a prominent fixture somewhere in the music business no matter tonight’s results. And if she does win, what vindication it would be for Sarah Geronimo who, despite her own relative youth (age 25), has proven to be truly worthy of being a “Voice” coach.

Which brings us to Janice; her rendition last night of “The Greatest Love of All” was, despite being oversung in some parts, a near-perfect encapsulation of what “The Voice” is all about. She is not gifted with Mitoy’s natural ease of singing, nor is she as slender as Klarisse, and she has lived long enough to must have gone through more hell than the fairly mellow Myk can be. But when Janice sings, she is able to power her emotional and vocal mojo like a workhorse—an epitome of the heights that an accomplished vocalist can truly attain.

If only for these factors, then the highly successful “The Voice of the Philippines”—whose finale tonight will air simultaneously with AXN’s season 5 premiere of the show’s US counterpart—has a clear winner. Then again, “Voice” viewers can still vote tonight and, as Lea Salonga used to sing, I am but a small voice.—


‘The Voice on the Philippines’ airs its final episode tonight at 8 p.m. on ABS-CBN.