And then there was one
Another season of “The Voice Kids” has come and gone, and another champion has been crowned. Joshua Oliveros from Hamtic, Antique, representing Team Lea has emerged the winner!
To be honest, at the very beginning of the season, I had no idea how everything would play out. As much as this is a singing competition, it’s also a reality TV show, where twists and turns cannot be anticipated.
Joshua was a single-chair turner who sang for us on the second filming day of Blind Auditions. He turned in a soulful rendition of Wency Cornejo’s “Habang May Buhay.” No one had turned for him yet. I noticed this—and waited.
Just as his final high note had ended, I pressed my button hard and fast, and on my team he landed. He then told us of his one wish: that his whole family would live under one roof.
His mother Maribel left the family four years prior, and his four sisters were living with other people, while he and his father Joseph headed to Manila, hoping to audition for “The Voice.”
They had missed the final rounds of preauditions in Davao, so they headed north, and waited, [with] Joseph taking on small construction and handyman jobs to support his kids and himself, the twosome sleeping on plywood and cardboards with other workers. Once the Manila auditions were announced, they took their chances, got lucky, and headed to Blinds.
His Battle Round set to “Ngayon at Kailanman” pitted him against two very strong belters: Natalie Martinez and Maegan Frondoso. In rehearsals, he was quiet and unassuming, opting to answer yes and no questions by raising his eyebrows, which would make us laugh.
He was most impressive when he opened his mouth to sing—a soulful, melancholic sound that lent a different color to whatever song he sang. It seemed almost unnecessary to construct videos of his backstory, because his singing had so much heart in it, we could already fill in the blanks on our own.
At Sing-Offs, he chose Yeng Constantino’s “Ikaw,” which showed a lighter tone to his voice. And all throughout his sessions, his one dream remained: to be with his whole family under one roof.
But since his father was the one constant in his life, I asked him to sing that song focusing on his dad alone. His performance was accessible and consistent. And the best part was, he rose to the occasion, performing well under pressure. His singing would really ring when he was in performance, which was when I needed him to be at his best.
Live Shows was to be a whole different monster, and the music chosen for him would have to be right for both his voice and story. We chose Smokey Mountain’s “Mama” for his Semifinal solo, then a triad of OPM hits for Grand Finals: Basil Valdez’s “Nais Ko,” After Image’s “Mangarap Ka” and Yeng Constantino’s “Salamat.”
“Salamat” would have a story of its own. It turns out that Yeng wrote the song hoping that another singer, during his or her own Grand Final stint, would choose that as his/her big song. Well, Yeng, your song helped this young man to win, and for that we thank you.
There wouldn’t be much sleep to be had before the Sunday announcement. Sure, I’m normally nervous anyway whenever I coach someone (because when something goes wrong—and I have seen this happen—there is nothing I can do to fix it, save for folding my hands in prayer and hoping my ward is able to find his or her way out), but this was the worst.
When I got to Resorts World, I watched all three finalists do their last sound checks, got briefed by writers Waldo Bautista and Jean Dimagan, and checked in with vocal coaches Lindie Achacoso, Ning San Jose and Brenan Espartinez, as well as with musical directors Nikko Rivera and Cezar Aguas. “He’ll be just fine, don’t worry. He’s ready.” That was the feedback I kept getting from them.
His sisters had all come to Manila from the province to watch, which made Joshua very happy. Then, on Saturday evening, his mother came to watch his performance and finally see him afterward.
Their reunion was emotional. It made him happy to see everyone in one space, even for just this night.
He was musically incredibly consistent. He was industrious and serious at every rehearsal and coaching session. Even standing still onstage receiving final instructions from one of our stage managers, he would run his lyrics over and over again.
Never took anything for granted, and he was so much fun to teach. He had a great ear and learned things easily.
When he was announced as “The Voice Kids’” newest grand champion, it was jubilation and relief for us both. His little body wracked in sobs, he fell to his knees at the sound of his name. But once he was told that he had to sing his big ballad one last time, I saw the look of readiness in his eyes.
“Kakanta ka ulit. ‘Salamat.’”
He then wiped his tears and sang his song one last time.
Congratulations, Joshua! At salamat sa tiwalang ipinagkaloob mo sa akin. Sana matupad lahat ng mga pangarap mo.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.