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End of the road

By: - Columnist
/ 12:40 AM August 13, 2020

“The Voice”- coaches (from left): Apl.de.ap, Sarah Geronimo, the author and Bamboo

And just like that, we’re done.

Due to Metro Manila being under MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine), we had no choice but to finish our second season of “The Voice Teens” (our eighth season of “The Voice” overall) from home. Hosts Luis Manzano and Alex Gonzaga, coaches Apl.de.ap, Sarah Geronimo, Bamboo and yours truly, and the Top 12 young artists, all had to figure this out: how on earth do we actually accomplish this?

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Doing our grand finale weekend in this way is, for our version of the franchise anyway, totally unprecedented. For the previous seven seasons of the show (which include “The Voice of the Philippines” and “The Voice Kids”), we’ve had the grandest of live finales at the Newport Performing Arts Theater (NPAT) at Resorts World Manila, after which we’d head to one of the party places on the property to celebrate with food, drinks and dancing (the first season of “The Voice Teens” was the only exception; the finale took place in one of the larger studios of ABS-CBN, and the party was held in a venue a few minutes away). In the beginning of the eighth season, we were expecting another big celebration at NPAT in the middle of May.

And then, COVID-19 happened.

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The virus began spreading all over the world. The exploding number of infections was nothing short of terrifying. Live shows everywhere were shut down, canceled or postponed indefinitely. Everyone with plans for concerts, plays, musicals or other events had to grind to a screeching halt.

Our show was not immune to any of the public health drama playing out in everyone’s daily lives.

“The Voice Teens’” final taping day in the studio was on Feb. 28, when the kids from Kamp Kawayan and FamiLea respectively would duke it out in the Knockout Round.

By the end of the day, most of the Top 12 were selected (except for my team … because I had taken ill the night before and was confined in the hospital, the announcement of Team Lea’s top 3 would have to wait until well into our ECQ) and everyone would be looking forward to April and May, when preparations for our Semifinals and Grand Finals would be underway in earnest, with song selections, rehearsals and mentoring going on.

Well, once the quarantine was announced, we had to say goodbye to all of that. Truth be told, at the time, I wasn’t sure if we would even be able to have a finale of any kind. To be able to end the season in some way, shape or form was a blessing, in and of itself.

We were a determined bunch, and we needed to do right by our Top 12, an incredibly talented group of young people whose big hearts, outsized talent and sky-high ambitions were sources of motivation for many of us. So, off to the races we went, and we had our finale, which will be aired on the Kapamilya Channel this Saturday and Sunday.

To record our videos, we used whatever resources we had available to us: smartphones, microphones and ring lights. The tech guys gave us the specs required to make our videos look as professional as possible. Itchi Flores was at the reins, telling us all what we needed to do, and our head writer Aol Rivera was ever-present sending instructions along with the show’s writing team.

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Our executive producer Rose Casala kept her calm and composure throughout the taping days. We all dressed to the nines, without exception. And everyone really came together with love, humor and friendship. This is one family that persevered.

After all was said and done and our recording process over, we got together in a Zoom chat with a drink in hand to toast our show and one another. I have no idea if we’re going to have another season of “The Voice,” but I feel very lucky that it happened at all.

To all our teens from this season, thank you for the trust you’ve placed in our hands to help steer you as you begin to carve your artistic paths. You have truly blessed us with your talent and heart, two things you’ll need as you continue your journey.

You’ve all been so impressive with not just your musical gifts, but your immense grace throughout these difficult times in our history. If nothing else, I shall take your joy with me, holding on to hope for better days to come. Thank you all very much. To the families of our teen artists, thank you for being behind your kids through thick and thin.

To everyone involved with “The Voice of the Philippines,” thank you for having me for these eight seasons. I have been trained by a few of the best teachers on this planet, and to have the opportunity to pay it forward has been such a gift, one I’ll never take for granted or be tired of giving.

To my fellow coaches Apl, Sarah and Bamboo, we are an unlikely bunch of folks brought together for this show. Know that I have only the highest respect and love for each of you. It is truly an honor to work with you on this show.

To our audiences that have stood by us since our inaugural season in 2013, thank you! It’s thanks to you all that we’ve lasted for as long as we have.

And to our grand champion, your life is about to change. Prepare yourself for one heck of a ride.

“The Voice Teens” airs on the Kapamilya Channel every Saturday and Sunday.

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