Martin Nievera: Filipinos not ready for harsh critiqueBy Allan Policarpio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
“You’re not feisty enough.”
This is one of the comments that Martin Nievera usually gets about his judging style on “The X Factor Philippines” on ABS-CBN.
For some reason, Martin said, people expected him to emulate the brutally honest Simon Cowell, former “American Idol” judge and creator of the “The X Factor” franchise.
However, Martin feels that Filipino audiences and contestants are not ready for acerbic, straight-for-the-jugular critiques.
“I’m not a naturally mean person, so I resort to comedy. You can be honest and remain respectful,” Martin told the Philippine Daily Inquirer during a recent press conference. “This is my style. If you don’t like it, just watch Simon. I can’t please everyone.”
However, Martin confessed, there was a time when he went overboard to draw a few laughs. “I’ve been honest to the point of seeming rude, and I feel awful to this day.”
He said the key to giving good criticism was to strike a balance between being entertaining and being helpful to the contestant. “We make sure to do our job, but in a very Filipino way.”
Martin, 50, said he didn’t expect that judging a singing contest could be very stressful. In spite of his achievements in the music biz, he said, he still didn’t think he had enough credentials for the job. “Who am I to judge? They call me the Concert King, but am I really? This job is tough. When you make a decision that the audience doesn’t agree with, suddenly you’re no longer the big star that people say you are.”
Martin said this was why he preferred mentoring his student-performers Jeric Medina, Gabriel Maturan and Kedebon Colim (recently voted off). He said his relationship with the three extended beyond the small screen.
He elaborated: “I’m always with these kids. They stay in my home. We have meals together. We have parties. I talk to them and prepare them for the worst.”
Asked what piece of advice he always gave his students, Martin said: “I tell them to do what I never did, which is to embrace and honor every moment onstage.”
He added:“(In his case) all the fame, fortune and failure happened so quickly that I found myself bouncing back all the time.”
He said he routinely reminded them to attack every performance with equal vigor and passion. “There’s no such thing as small gigs,” Martin explained. “They need to build character because they’ll bring that with them wherever they go. Money can be gone in a heartbeat.”
No sex life
Meanwhile, Martin claimed that because of his dedication to his job as judge-mentor “my love life, sex life, everything is gone!”
In all seriousness though, Martin added that he knew he would meet the right one at the right time. “I’m always searching; that’s the best part,” he said. “I’m looking for someone who can put up with me; someone who wouldn’t mind not being visible in public.”
Although he’s hopeful of finding new love, marriage is a whole different issue. “I don’t know if I could get married again. I screwed up once. If I’m not good at something, I should stop doing it,” he said.
Be that as it may, Martin has found other things to celebrate and cherish. For one, his 25-year-old son with ex-wife Pops Fernandez, Robin, was declared best new male recording artist at the Philippine Movie Press Club’s Star Awards last Sept. 9 for the album “Overwait.”
“Robin wants to be in the business badly, but not by using his parents’ name as an easy pass,” Martin said. “He did everything without my help and so I’m doubly proud of his efforts.”
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