August 17th, 2008
Manila Standard Today
Tomorrow, the Philippines will have its first-ever Pinoy Idol, as the top three contenders try to outperform each other in the show’s finals on GMA-7.
Witness as they vie for the incredible grand prize, which includes a management contract with GMA Artist Center, a recording contract with Sony BMG, a condominium unit at Avida Tower in New Manila, P1 million cash from SM Supermalls, and a brand-new car.
All three are pumped up and ready to showcase the best performances of their lives as they battle it out tonight at the final performance at the SMX of the SM Mall of Asia, which will be aired after Pinoy Records, while the ultimate finale will be shown on Aug. 17 right after Kap’s Amazing Stories.
Performing with the idols today are Regine Velasquez, Basil Valdez, Cueshé, Freestyle, Itchyworms, Southborder, Hajji Alejandro, Vernie Varga, Luke Mijares, Duncan Ramos, Jett Pangan, Pupil, Callalily, and the UP Concert Chorus.
Likewise, Pinoy Idol fans may get their tickets on Aug. 13, 1 to 5 p.m. at the GMA Network Center. Take part of this momentous event and watch the finals of the biggest reality talent search on Philippine television, Pinoy Idol only on GMA-7.
Gretchen Espina: Shining on her own
Although born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, Gretchen is well loved for her unassuming and effortless ways. In fact, she began her Idol journey having absolutely no expectations and without the approval of her parents.
With only one year away from earning her degree in European Languages at the University of the Philippines Diliman, her parents initially disapproved of her joining Pinoy Idol for fear of neglecting her studies. “They didn’t really want me to join because they’re afraid that my studies might suffer”, Gretchen admits. For this reason, she had to keep it a secret when she first auditioned but decided to let them know when she landed a place in the top 170.
Since then, her family has unfailingly shown their support and is very happy about Gretchen’s accomplishments. “My family, they really want things for me. Saying that I need to be this, or that I can be like this. They really recognize my passion.” She even vividly describes the reaction of their family whenever she steps on stage. “I can see how nervous they are. I can really feel their support that I can’t help but cry whenever I see them while I’m on stage.”
While she’s been used to singing in a choir, being a member of the UP Singing Ambassadors, she claims that singing alone is the more challenging between the two. “It’s great to be in a choir”, she says. “You learn to be a part of a group but it’s also another thing to try singing by yourself.”
With a choir, she shares, “You learn how to unify your voice with a group. No matter how unique your voice is, you still have to sing as one. But with singing solo, it’s a whole different story,” she says. “You really have to push your limit.” She also pointed out that as opposed to having a conductor to guide her in her singing, she has no one to rely on but herself when performing in Idol. “I become my own conductor and my mistakes are more magnified. I have to carry everyone—the audience, the band. It’s like saying, ‘listen to me, I’m singing.’”
Gretchen has given up a lot of things just so she can pursue her Pinoy Idol dreams like postponing her studies and missing out in an international singing competition in Europe with her choir. “They’re probably out there winning by now.”
Despite all these, Gretchen sees no reason to doubt her decision. “It’s tiring but at the same time it’s a nurturing experience for me. It made me know more things about myself and about my passion.” In fact, she is thankful, even for the negative comments. “At least I get to share my talents. I get to share a part of me.”
Gretchen, who began singing at the early age of two, looks up to singers such as Regine Velasquez, Jaya, Aretha Franklin, and Diana Ross. “I love to sing songs na makabagbag-damdamin”, referring to her style as soulful ballad. She considers her rendition of “Try It On My Own” and “Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan” as two of the most memorable performances she’s given so far.
She draws strength from the people around her, especially her family. She also recognizes how each and every person lives his life differently from others, which to her is pretty amazing. “I get inspired by the people around me”, she adds. If ever she wins, she’ll dedicate her victory to everyone who has given her support throughout the entire duration of the competition. And most of all to GMA who, according to her, is responsible for turning her dream into reality.
Gretchen, being the daughter of the governor of Biliran, is most thankful for the unending support given by her hometown, especially by her clan. This, however, is only fitting for someone like Gretchen—talented, smart, and beautiful from the inside out.
Jayann Bautista: More than just a pretty face
Pinoy Idol resident hot girl, Jayann, is out to prove that she is more than just a pretty face. True enough, her performances keep getting better, earning herself praises coming not only from the judges but from Pinoy Idol fans as well.
“During the audition, I was worried when Ogie Alcasid told me that my strongest point is that I’m pretty.” This, according to Jayann, didn’t raise her spirits but left her feeling otherwise. “I asked myself, why of all things did he say that?” Admittedly, this made her feel less secure of herself and her abilities as a singer.
But later on, Jayann’s confidence started to creep back as the supposedly stronger competitors were booted out of the competition one by one. “At first, I was with my former colleagues from another singing competition but soon they were eliminated. And that’s when I realized that I might have a shot here.” Turns out that Ogie’s remarks propelled her to prove that not only is she beautiful, but she’s also got talent. “I told myself, I’m going to prove him wrong.”
But it hasn’t always been easy for Jayann, “For four weeks, I got nothing but bad comments. I tried everything. I was devastated when I sang my favorite song but they still didn’t like it.” It was only after the first gala night when she started getting good reviews, and it’s been that way ever since. In fact, she’s never been part of the bottom three.
Unknown to some, Jayann is best friends with singer Rachel Ann Go. Although her best friend hasn’t been able to see her perform live, Rachel has been generous in giving her tips and comments on how to improve her weekly performances. Jayann was quoted saying, “She helps me pick out the songs, especially which songs are more suited for the competition.” Same is true for all her other friends who’ve made it big in the industry. “They tell me to do well and to give my best.”
Aside from her best friend Rachel, Jayann’s mother has also played a crucial role in her being in Pinoy Idol. “My mom really inspires me. I really want to be successful like her because she’s very hard working, and I want to be like her some day.” Undoubtedly, Jayann is teeming with pride as she shares such good words about her mom.
When it comes to her personal choice in music, she prefers the “Blues.” Actually, the first song she ever sang in Pinoy Idol is from this genre. “I was only asked to sing five lines,” she recalls.
Jayann says that she is more pressured than she is happy now that she’s made it this far, all the more reason for her to impress the judges and ultimately, the audience who will vote for her. According to her, she is most threatened by Kid and predicts that Kid, Ram, and herself will end up as the final three. With her confidence in high gear, Jayann is sure to give her competitors a tough time.
Ram Chaves: Not your typical rock star
He has the looks and the makings of a rock star, yet beyond his confident smile and his laid-back attitude, Ram Chaves is a true musician passionate about his craft, and a proud father inspired by his family.
Ram’s Pinoy Idol journey started much like everybody else’s, but what made him different from most was that he carried with him the inspiration of his son, who had just been born shortly before he braved the long audition lines leading to the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia.
“My son is really my lucky charm,” he says with a smile.
Unlike most singers, this young father from Cagayan de Oro did not grow up belting notes; in fact he held a basketball more often than he did a microphone. It was only after college and many videoke sessions later that he realized his passion for music. Before he knew it, he was already looking for bandmates and gigs.
It was his performances before Idol that developed his voice and his confidence—but later on, he realized that performing with his band is very different from performing on the Idol stage.
“I interact with my bandmates when we play. Now, you’re alone on stage, although napaka-galing talaga ng mga musikero who play with us,” Ram recounts. “Kumbaga, nagle-level up ka. You’re with the best musicians, so you also want to be at the same level as they are… Iba talaga ang Idol stage. And, one thing more, it’s a competition.”
He admits that his initial reason for joining was to have exposure so that even if he will not win, he would still be able to penetrate the commercial music scene. Now, it has become more than that. The support of his family and people from his home province is what now drives him to not only settle for being a finalist, but to become the very first Pinoy Idol.
His father has also come home from Dubai to be able to cheer him on during the finals—something that the Idol hopeful is very thankful for. “The best thing about it is, I think our clan is more bonded now,” he explains. “So I think that’s probably one of the best things that Pinoy Idol has given me.”
Ram is still getting used to the outpour of support from fans, but he has been having fun winging it. He recalls a time when a gay fan came up to him saying, “Hi Ram, pwedeng pa-kiss?”
He gestures while laughing. “Parang napa-atras ako. That was the funniest na naalala ko.”
Yet amidst all the fun and excitement, the pressure continues to build on as he reaches the final stages of the show.
When asked about who he thinks would be in the top three, he answers with conviction, “Dapat nandoon ako. Nandoon ako sa finals.”
He also says that Jayann and Kid would probably be the ones to get the last two slots because he thinks that their great vocals give them their edge.
On the other hand, he has a different advantage. “Binabawi ko sa puso.”
Ram believes that he deserves to be the first Pinoy Idol since he has been one of the most consistent contestants. The time he sang “Banal Na Aso” is more than enough proof of his prowess, as he had judge Ogie Alcasid hypnotized by his performance. If he wins the competition, he knows very well to whom he will dedicate it.
“Sa wife ko, saka sa buong family ko.” After all, it was the inspiration of his wife that pushed him to create more than 20 songs. “At saka kay God, siyempre, kasi hiram lang lahat ‘to.”
As for the prize money, he plans to put part of it to a more noble use by giving it to charity. “Sa GMA Kapuso Foundation na lang di ba?” Ram says with a rare, open smile. It is the same smile that has kept thousands of fans casting their votes on him after every heart-felt performance.
Yes, this man is definitely more than just your typical rock star.