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Voice of the Philippines challenges the world

Filipino jurors (from left) Lea Salonga, Bamboo Mañalac, Sarah Geronimo and apl.de.ap

Just when we had figured out having seen the last of the international reality singing franchises, what would come around but still another, unequivocally announcing its presence. Yes sir, The Voice, originally created by Dutch television producer John de Mol a mere three years ago, is stealing the thunder from older, better-known television vocal franchises like Idol, Got Talent and X Factor with whom it shared many similarities.

But The Voice of the Philippines has one element that all others failed to recognize as crucial. It gave importance to the single component for the show’s reason for being —  unique vocal ability. At a media briefing, we got to meet the four juror-coaches, easily among the best of the country’s singers with their individual specialties — Lea Salonga for Broadway; Bamboo Mañalac for rock; Sarah Geronimo for pop; and Allan Pineda Lindo Jr. or apl.de.ap, the Fil-Am member of Black Eyed Peas for hip-hop.   

Selection of contestants go through four stages — Unseen auditions (The Voice Dutch rep and team scouring the countryside for talents with no TV coverage); blind auditions (jurors only get to listen to talents’ voices and make choices on that basis); battle phase (each of four juror-coaches will choose their best to battle each other); and live shows (final phase of performances where winners will be picked).

When asked which stage would be the most challenging, all but Bamboo chose the blind auditions. Bamboo explained his choice of battle phase by saying he always finds it difficult to flunk anyone.

Proceeding to share their thoughts on the job at hand, Lea said this was the first offer she had practically moved mountains to make happen. She told the story of her first voice teacher who told her, “Just figure out what is unique in you and that’s what you show the world.”

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Sarah, who spoke in Filipino most of the time, appeared initially overwhelmed by the company she was in. She said her dad was her first mentor, but “after 10 years in the business, I know now what could work.” She is hopeful The Voice of the Philippines will bring OPM to another level.

 In asserting he was not searching for another rocker, Bamboo said he is looking for the game changer. Unlike the girls who had voice teachers in their youth, he had no coach being in a band, where he “just absorbed things and everything you need to top yourself.” Like Bamboo, apl.de.ap stated he was coached by MTV and his band members, but agreed he needs coaching in Filipino.        

Someone asked if they thought there was the possibility of disputes among them, and Lea immediately raised her hand to take on the role of bitch. It seems, however, that some bloggers have no sense of humor and are tearing her to pieces.

We moved over to Dutchman Philibert Braat, representing The Voice franchise who had been sitting in a corner with the Philippine Team. He revealed they had been working since December on stage one, the unseen auditions and from what he has observed could agree with what many claim that the Filipinos are the world’s best singers. By June, The Voice of the Philippines will be airing and hopes are high on the discoveries to be made. The Voice of the Philippines will be hosted by Toni Gonzaga with Robi Domingo as the show’s media correspondent.

Philibert has been working out of Singapore where he is based, visiting the Netherlands yearly. He tells us that when The Voice was being planned, risks were high, but their producer was certain about his concept and The Voice of Holland started airing its first season 2010-2011. On Dec. 14, 2011, NBC bought the American rights and aired its first season April 26 to June 29, 2011. This, Philibert said, is what started the ball rolling, and to date, there are over 60 international franchise holders with the latest from Afghanistan.

There is word that the winning package is P2M, plus a recording contract but both are still unconfirmed. In the second to final stage, according to Philibert, the coaches and the television audience will have equal share in votes. However, the final vote will depend entirely on the television audience. Hopefully, our audience by then would have learned as much from our coaches on how to judge properly, and to separate quality from mediocrity.

(E-mail me at bibsymcar@yahoo.com.)

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