TNT Boys’ Mackie Empuerto goes solo for now

Leah Salterio - The Philippine Star
TNT Boysâ Mackie Empuerto goes solo for now

Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids finalist Mackie Empuerto didn’t experience winning big when he joined the reality singing competition in 2017. He was not fortunate enough to bag the grand prize and merely landed on third place. John Clyd Talili was the grand winner.

However, that heralded something unprecedented for Mackie. With his fellow TNT Kids finalists Kiefer Sanchez (second place) and Francis Concepcion (fifth place), they formed TNT Boys following a guesting stint in Vice Ganda’s Sunday late-night program, Gandang Gabi Vice.

In April 2018, the TNT Boys started their worldwide tour and debuted in Little Big Shots in the US to sing Beyonce’s Listen. That was followed by appearances in Little Big Shots in the UK and Australia. They also toured different cities around the Philippines.

Mackie (second from left) with (from left) Kiefer Sanchez and Francis Concepcion during a guest appearance in the latenight talk show, The Late, Late Show With James Corden, where they got to meet Ariana Grande.

“Masaya at na-experience ko going to different places at such a young age,” Mackie asserts. “I can do things that I want, but always, with the guidance of my parents.”

He will never forget the day he met singer-actress Ariana Grande in the flesh while they were in the US in 2019. The TNT Boys had a guest appearance in the late-night talk show, The Late, Late Show With James Corden. They were singing And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going), when Ariana sauntered onstage in the middle of the song and surprised the three of them. They were all ecstatic.

The TNT Boys did get to experience winning when they later emerged the grand champion in Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids in 2018. Throughout the competition, they brilliantly impersonated the Bee Gees, the Apo Hiking Society trio, Destiny’s Child, Aegis, The Supremes, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, Spice Girls, the Three Tenors, DoReMi (Donna Cruz, Regine Velasquez and Mikee Cojuangco), Wonder Girls and Abba.

For their final, winning performance, the TNT Boys aped Nicki Minaj, Jessie J and Ariana Grande’s Bang Bang to bag the grand prize.

Although they have known each other for five years now, the TNT Boys also had their share of misunderstandings. “Madalas kaming mag-away, pero nare-resolve agad,” Mackie says. “Normal na mga bata na madalas magtampuhan. May time na hindi kami nag-uusap.”

In one of their previous recording sessions before the pandemic, the TNT Boys were hamming it up with each other, but they accidentally broke something inside and got hurt. So, they ended up not talking to each other for days.

“Umabot na sa ipinatawag ang parents namin because of what happened,” Mackie recalls. “But nagka-ayos din kaming tatlo later on.”

All’s well that ends well for the three. “Ang gusto ko kay Kiefer, mataas ang patience niya,” Mackie grants. “Si Francis, siya palagi ang nagpapatawa sa group. Madalas siya mag-joke.”

This pandemic sidelined the TNT Boys, who were forced to stay indoors and performed individually online. They have not disbanded, though. In fact, this November, they are performing in the US, after more than a year of not being seen together. They saw each other recently for their pictorial to promote the tour.

For more than a year now, Mackie has been doing things mostly by his lonesome, minus Kiefer and Francis. Mackie does not deny that he misses performing live. He will turn 16 on Sept. 8. He has been busy with his shows on Kumu on Wednesdays and Fridays, at 7 p.m.

School remains Mackie’s top priority, even if he has regular performance schedules virtually. He is now in Grade 10 and online classes started for him early this month. Every day, he starts online classes at 9 a.m. Even at the height of his busy schedules, Mackie never skipped school.

He has been in the entertainment business for only five years, yet Mackie has done many things other boys his age will probably take a lifetime to accomplish. In 2018, Mackie made his big-screen debut in Jason Paul Laxamana’s Bakwit Boys. He won Best Child Actor at the Urduja Film Festival in 2019 for his role. He also earned a Star Awards for the Movies nomination as Best New Young Male Actor for the same role.

Mackie recorded cover songs like Your Love, Born for You and Dance With My Father, for his YouTube channel. Meanwhile, Love Is All We Need, is the new, original single that Mackie recently released with the TNT Boys, recorded with budding young singer Kaela Francheska.

Mackie is also planning to do dance covers of his favorite K-pop groups like Enhyphen and Treasure for his YouTube channel. “I look forward na pwede kong maging inspiration sa singing, dancing or even with fashion, those two groups,” Mackie says. “I’ve been a fan of K-pop. I even watch K-dramas.

“Even with TNT Boys, we did K-pop songs and dances when we did our first major concert in 2019. Ang dami ko talagang plans. Sana lang matuloy lahat.”

Mackie experienced getting bashed even when he was performing. He made mistakes even onstage. “The bashers became an encouragement for me to always do better next time,” he says.

He looks forward to the TNT Boys getting visible on stage again. “Hopefully after this pandemic, they will see the new TNT Boys together and performing again,” Mackie says. “I also want to see that.”


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