the future is not written in stone

Unexpected things happen in The Voice of the Philippines, a singing competition in search for the next superstar!   The reality show actually originated from Netherlands called The Voice of Holland and ABS-CBN was able to grab hold of its franchise.  And the mechanics of the competition are very interesting, and exciting!

“The 4 coaches don’t judge the artists by their characteristics such as looks, personalities, stage presence or even dance moves — only of what they can give with their vocal ability.

“It’s with this concept that diversifies and differentiated The Voice from other known reality talent searches which airs in any known television station such as The X Factor franchise, the Got Talent franchise or even the veteran Idol franchise. The lucky auditionees who have advanced would be split into four teams, which are coached/mentored by the 4 multi-talented coaches who in turn would collaborate with them and choose songs for their artists to perform. There is a minimum of 16 years old of age preference yet beyond that limit there’s no specific age range and anyone can audition; The coaches will turn their backs from the stage to facilitate an unbiased perception of the talent. If by any chance one of the coach likes what they hear, they would do a button-press which would allow their chair to turn around and face the performer for the first time, signifying that they would like to mentor them. If it happens that more than one does so, then the artist selects a coach. However, if no coach turns around then the artist is sent home.

“There are four known different stages: Producers’ auditions, Blind auditions, the Battles, and the Live shows.”  (

My number one reason why I am watching The Voice of the Philippines is because Sarah Geronimo is there, as one of the coaches/judges in the competition.  Or to put it more accurately, the youngest coach/judge in the competition.  Dubbed as The voice that captured our hearts, she is sitting in line with other top caliber performers:  Bamboo Mañalac (dubbed as The voice that rocked our world), Lea Salonga (dubbed as The voice that conquered the world), and (dubbed as The voice that ruled the worldwide music chart).  The show is hosted by Toni Gonzaga, with Robi Domingo and Alex Gonzaga as V-reporters.

I didn’t get to see the Producer’s auditions because I read in Wikipedia that it really is the intention of the Producers not to show it on TV.  However, the first televised stage is the Blind Auditions which I consider to be the most exciting stage.

Like what was said earlier, in Blind Auditions, the coaches/judges don’t see the faces of every contender vying for their attention.  They will just rely on the voice of that mystery singer, the only data they can have as basis if they want that person in their team or not.  So here in the competition the saying “Life is fair” is so true.

For I’ve seen gorgeous, mestizo male singers being turned down because their voice didn’t hit any spot in the coaches’ hearts.  I’ve also seen a teenaged singer with a lightweight, ordinary voice getting into the next round because she sang the perfect song suitable to her voice and consequently endearing her to coach Sarah.  I also won’t forget this small but terrible lady who has this high-powered voice singing a Filipino folk song that made teary-eyed after turning his chair for her.  There was also an obese woman who turned all the chairs of the coaches and in a kind twist of fate were the ones now vying for her attention, for her to choose from to be her coach.  And of course, a homosexual winning over the macho men and making Sarah and Lea fall in love with his voice while singing “It’s a Man’s World.” Professionals and amateurs competed to get a slot in The Voice of the Philippines.

But to me, the most unforgettable contestant that went on stage was Aia de Leon.  I know her.  I was an avid supporter of OPM or Original Pilipino Music and I bought their albums.  Because Aia de Leon was the lead vocalist of a popular rock band, Imago.  Unfortunately, no coach turned his/her chair for her.  She sang Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” in a slow, jazzy arrangement.  So when the coaches turned to face her after her performance, Lea Salonga was so shocked.  Lea confessed that she was a fan of Aia’s voice the first time she saw her and her band performed.  She described Aia as one of the most talented vocalists she has ever heard.  When asked why she joined the competition, Aia said she just wanted to experience how it feels to move out of her comfort zone.  Because for 15 years she was with her band, which was the most comfortable thing for her.  And the mere experience that she was standing alone on stage terrified her but she was happy she did it.  She just wanted to push her limits.  Then backstage, when asked by Toni what she had learned after going through that experience, Aia said, “It’s important that you keep challenging yourself.  Never ever think that you can do all.  Because once I say that to myself that I can do all things, that I have done all, then I will stop learning.”

Thank you Aia for gracing the show.  I will remember that, moving out of my comfort zone and pushing my limits.  She didn’t say this outright but I feel she also said that the possibilities are endless.  That we should always be humble to be better in what we do.  Thanks Aia.

The next level is The Battles.  Here the stage was designed like a boxing ring and two or three singers who were part of one team would compete with each other. (I thought initially that the members of one team would compete with the members of another team, I was wrong!) The coaches would pick the song that they would sing for The Battles.  And here, the turn of events was so full of surprises!

For example, Coach Bamboo paired a father and son duo with a young male singer.  So it was two against one.  The young male singer was so nervous being paired with the father and son and it became visible during their rehearsal. He felt inadequate, intimidated.  Despite Coach Bamboo’s encouragement and good advice, he felt he wouldn’t win it.  So on stage, the young male singer was just singing with quiet confidence, enjoying the moment that he had left.  The father and son, meanwhile, were energetic, in perfect harmony.  They were there to win it!  But it was the lone male singer who surprisingly got in with whom Coach Bamboo described as the “dark horse” in the competition.

With Team Lea, she picked this small but terrible lady singer to compete with two gentlemen.  So three people were to compete with each other.  The song that Coach Lea picked for them was Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”  Since the lady has impressed me during the Blind Audition I was vying for her to win.  And here was my comparative analysis about the other contenders:  the first guy got a very nice voice fit for singing competitions.  He deserved to be there.  Didn’t know he can dance until he was on stage singing Marvin Gaye’s song.  The second guy, meanwhile, got a pleasant voice but I wonder if that’s all he got, because he has this very simple singing ability.  I predicted that the second guy would be sent home and it was just a fight between the first guy and the small but terrible lady singer who got these powerful, flexible voices.

When asked by host Toni who was her pick, Coach Lea chose the second guy, the one with a simple singing ability.  Based on Coach Lea’s remarks, it seemed she would have picked the first guy but because her training is musical theatre, she thought that his singing was all about himself, he overlooked the essence of the song material, the lyrics or what the song is about (which is a protest song).  With regards to the small but terrible lady singer, Coach Lea thought she went overboard with her singing.  “You don’t unwrap a piece of candy with a sledge hammer,” she said.  So I guess left with no choice, Coach Lea chose the second guy who just sang very simply but rendered the song with respect and sensitivity.

Jeez, it must be hard competing with other people who are more talented than you are.  And it must be harder to be subjected to humiliation and embarrassment if you lose, for people will judge you for it (everyone wants to be with a winner).  But it must be the hardest competing with oneself, battling with your own insecurities and inadequacies, while trying your best to do good out there, win or lose.  Indeed, the ultimate rival is yourself, not the other contestant next to you.

The moral lesson here:  Just because one contestant is least talented than the rest doesn’t mean he/she will not gonna make it.  Just because another contestant is blessed with this superior singing ability doesn’t mean he/she will win.  There are no guarantees in this life.  Things are not always what they seem.  And more importantly, we must remember to never lose hope—as exemplified by the “weak” contestants who will move to the next round—because the future is not written in stone.

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