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08:12 PM February 27th, 2013

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By: Lea Salonga, February 27th, 2013 08:12 PM

FRANCISCO “Bamboo” Mañalac (left) and Sarah Geronimo are two of the coach-judges.

By now you’ve all heard the news, but allow me to confirm it one more time: I am officially one of the four coaches of “The Voice of the Philippines,” along with Sarah Geronimo, Bamboo Mañalac, and a fourth judge, who has yet to be announced by ABS-CBN.

You may consider it another televised singing contest, but watching episodes of the American version of the show (starring Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Ceelo Green and Blake Shelton), I noticed something that sets it apart from the rest: All four coaches are singers. Not producers, not record executives, but singers. They are performers who have, via their respective genres, made a significant mark on the music industry.

The other fun aspect of “The Voice” is that the competition isn’t only among the contestants, but also among the coach-judges. If anything, this adds a little bit of spice to the weekly proceedings.

ABS-CBN approached me with this exciting proposition quite a while ago, knowing full well the havoc that my work and travel schedule can wreak on the more rigid and predictable routine of doing a weekly television show.

I was hesitant at first, not wanting to make any commitments that I may have to rescind later. I didn’t want to place the network in any sort of bind. But, once all that was ironed out with my team and “The Voice’s,” it was all systems go, and now I am very excited.

The red chair

One step in the audition process that I’m looking forward to is the Blind Audition. Fans of “The Voice” will recognize this: All four coaches have their backs turned as they sit in those iconic red chairs. One singer steps out onto the stage, and performs a number. If that singer makes enough of an impression, a coach’s chair will turn. An even bigger impression, and more chairs turn. If that singer knocks it out of the park (and our socks off as well), all four chairs could turn, and that singer would then have to choose whose team he or she would like to be part of.

Head writer Garlic Garcia explained to me that each and every hopeful contestant that gets to that stage of the auditions will be someone worthy of the coaches’ time and trouble. It may be a task therefore for us to whittle that magic number down to something manageable.

Coaching style

Once we each have our teams in place, then the coaching sessions will begin. Truth be told, I don’t know exactly how much time we’ll be given with each contestant. I’m also not privy to the unique coaching styles each of us will have (who’ll be nice, or who’ll be strict).

As someone who has coached a couple of people in my lifetime, I’ve found myself ranging from “earth mother” to “voice police.” I can be nurturing and very encouraging, but also quite exacting when it comes to pitch.

I will not write about my specific methodology (if I even actually have one), but I will promise my team honesty about everything—pitch, technique, emotion, taste.

I will ask a lot of questions to get to know my team better, and I will share as much as I can about my own processes. That contestant might think that I actually have something valuable to say, or that my methods are worth nothing more than raw sewage. Who knows?! It’s wholly possible.

Great talent

My belief in the Filipino talent is great … there is so much untapped potential still left to find, as evidenced in the singing contests still on the air, and the throngs that head to auditions for any sort of production that is mounted on our shores and beyond.

As everyone knows, we are a country of excellent singers. I’ve sat in the audience of theatrical productions starring Filipinos, as well as in seedy bars in another country where a Filipino cover band happened to be playing. In most, if not all, of those situations, I always found myself in awe, and brimming with pride.

To ABS-CBN, thank you for the invitation to join the panel of coach-judges for “The Voice of the Philippines.” I hope to be able to make a positive contribution in the search for out-of-this-world singing talent. This is a wonderful opportunity, and for that I am grateful.

To the would-be contestants hoping to get a shot at the spotlight, audition for us. Prepare a song that best represents you and your talents. If you want our chairs to turn for you, bring your A game. Be unique, be amazing. We are waiting for you to blow us away. We are not looking for the next Whitney Houston, or the next Bruno Mars; we are looking for the first you.

Together, we will make your voice heard.

(“The Voice of the Philippines” begins airing episodes in the middle of this year.)

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