Why 'X Factor UK' contestant Maria Laroco was denied a US Visa
MANILA, Philippines – Maria Laroco’s X Factor UK journey has come to an end. Early this week, the 17-year-old Filipina singer missed her chance to perform live at the Judges’ House after failing to secure a US Visa.
While she was still able to perform via a video recording shot from a studio in London—a first in the season’s history—Maria still failed to make the cut. (WATCH: Pinay teen stuns 'X Factor UK' judges with 'Purple Rain' cover)
“We got a problem fixing the visa because we applied for a wrong visa. [We applied] for visitor’s visa, not performer’s visa,” Maria explained during the press conference. Individuals holding a Philippine passport must secure a US visa prior to flying into the country.
“To be honest they [X-Factor UK] made me apply for a visitor’s visa. Before the interview at the Embassy, we had a meeting. They taught me what to say and what not to say to avoid issues and be denied a visa but when I got there po sa embassy, they told me that I applied for the wrong visa.”
“They told me that I was supposed to apply for performer’s visa [and] not visitor’s visa... even if I told them na I’m not getting paid or it’s not work, it’s a competition, you still need a performer’s visa.”
Pressed for time, the X Factor UK team decided against re-applying for a performer’s visa. Instead, they made Maria record her piece in a studio which was eventually played in the judges’ house.
Looking back, Maria admitted that not being able to perform live might have hurt her chances. She, however, remained thankful for the opportunity to sing on the X Factor UK stage, which she has been dreaming of since sending her first audition video back in 2016.
“It was heartbreaking for me, not going to LA. What’s funny is my song was ‘California Dreaming.’ It was heartbreaking for me at first but I later realized that I’m still lucky because I’m still here, part of the competition and all the judges, 50 pa po, watching me. It was a bit weird because I didn’t know how the judges are going to react so it was nerve-wracking without all the other girls.”
Maria said this won’t be her last performance on X Factor UK. During the live call with Simon at the judges’ house, he made her promise to return, which she has every intention of keeping.
“During the call – it was live – he told me that I had a good song choice. That was all positive but then he said no. At first, I felt like crying... ‘It’s over.’ After that, I started thinking of so many things. Then he told me on phone: ‘Promise me you’ll come back next year. And they cut it from the final episode but he also said, 'If not, I will be the one to fly to the Philippines to get you here in the competition. So I'm going back because I have no intention of breaking that promise."
For now, Maria is happy to be back in the Philippines. Given the chance, the The Voice Kids alum said that she also wanted to make a name for herself locally, hopefully performing alongside Sarah Geronimo or Morisette Amon in the future.
“I’ve always wanted to be part of the showbiz industry here in the Philippines. It’s not the end of it. This is just the beginning of everything.” – Rappler.com