Monday, August 14, 2006

Philippine Idol in Mindanao: the good, the bad, and the icky

Philippine Idol's Mindanao episode started at 8PM sharp, a nice thrill for Philippine Idol fans who - let's face it - weren't exactly inspired by ABC-5's Teka Mona. I didn't care for the replacement program, either, tuning in only at 7:57PM. Call me an Idol fanatic. Whatever.

Before the program started, my wife and I wondered whether previous remarks from Philippine Idol judge Pilita Corrales would backlash onto the Mindanao episode. We also wondered whether it was the organizers or the contestant who wrote down the numbers on their Idol stickers. Coming from Cebu, where the episode focused on the disgustingly bad singers, would Mindanao prove to be indeed the place that Corrales insinuated had little to no talent?

Philippine Idol's third episode kicks off with a recap of some of the better singers (an additional two seconds of airtime!) for Cebu auditionees (yet Manila-based!) Stephanie Lazaro and Gian Carlo Magdangal, as well as gold-ticket receiving Manila-based singers Jhonalyn Sison and that undeserving trumpet-playing cheeseball whose name I have conveniently opted to forget).

Calling upon the spirits of Mig Ayesa's hair, Philippine Idol host Ryan Agoncillo decides to forego the pleasantries and launches straight into how Davao is "home of the royalties," with it being the base of the Philippine Eagle (king of birds) and the durian (king of Philippine fruits), among other things.

We then get a taste of some of Davao's choicest singers, whose song selection features gems like, "footloose, footloose, pull me out of my knees."

Gladly, kiddo. Gladly.

Strangely enough, we get a prize horse as soon as the gun goes off. Ann Quitoriano of Sto. Tomas croons out a decidedly soulful version of Randi Crawford's One Hello, and pleases the judges.

Francis: Interesting.
Ryan: Problems with low notes, sumasayad, but good singer.
Pilita: Right key but good quality. Pwedeng pwede.

Good to go. Gold ticket right there.

John Peter Paual Carriedo of Lanang, Davao City, then follows Ann Quitoriano with his rather pitchy version of Stevie Wonder's My Cherie Amour.

Ryan: Sometimes, some problems with pitch, but yes.
Pilita: I like the look. Yes.
Francis: You're in.

After two in a row, it was only natural that we get a good singer who just doesn't meet the grade. Unfortunately, it's Maritess “Inday” Vargas, an 18-year-old tree climber from Tacurang, Sultan Kudarat. She sings Crazy by Patsy Cline. Ryan compliments her on her choice of material, then takes back the carrot.

Ryan: Good choice of song, but it’s not PhilIdol material, no.
Pilita: Kulang pa.
Francis: Better luck next time.

After a commercial break, Philippine Idol lets the circus begin, starting with Regine and Jaya impersonator Winston Ko, a 26-year-old queen from Toril, Davao. He belts out an off-key, window-breaking version of Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin.

Francis: Meh. Pass.
Pilita: Might have a hard time in Manila.
Ryan: No.

To further the point that the Philippines loves anything remotely American, we get a gratuitous flashback of gold-ticket winning cowboys Benjamin Cruz (yech) and James Yebes (bro, button up that shirt!). We're then given a cowgirl, in the form of diva-in-the-making Ma. Amor Bacharpa, whose chameleon look - cowgirl today, whatever she feels like tomorrow - doesn't quite match her song choice: Whitney Houston's I Believe in You and Me. Nevertheless, the judges are stunned by the singer-painter.

Ryan: Impressive – welcome to Manila.
Francis: Pronunciation, pwede ka.
Pilita: I like the voice, I like the style.

After much filler, we're then given Archie Regencia, whose version of Lionel Richie's Hello, well, makes me want to hang up the phone for sheer pitch and nasality. Much to my surprise, he's passed by the judges.

We're then given a profile of Jaime Miguel "Jamie" Barcelon, a rich Pasig-based kid who's studied in Juillard. He studied there but didn't make it. Meh. My wife thinks he's cute. Meh times two - because of that, I automatically don't like him. He's traveled from the US, didn't make the auditions in time, so flew to Davao. [Someone's got money.] But look, he's writing his own Philippine Idol number on his ticket. I win! I win! Belat my wife. But anyway, look, Jamie's singing Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Or in his case, enoff.

Francis: Yes, I like what I saw.
Pilita: Me too
Ryan: You’re really good, welcome to Manila. Go back to Pasig.

The judges then elaborate what it takes to be the Philippine Idol, then ABC-5 sends us a picture of exactly what the judges are not looking for.

Pilita - a singer who can be entered into the international market. Can talk, can dance a little.
Some nameless "I Need You" singer. Meh.
Ryan - Patient, persevering, tolerant, should accept everything they tell you, take all criticism because it'll make you grow.
We get Louraine Marie Jipos, whose style of singing Celine Dion's It’s All Coming Back to Me, is, in the words of the judges, "very immature."

I miss what Francis said, but Billy Jay Galang's Superstition butchers the Stevie Wonder original, so we can assume it had something to do with impact, style, looks... but then again, we don't really get much feedback from Francis, now, do we?

We're then given a taste of Barbie Almalbis look-alike Amy Lyn Joy Notarte. She's peppy, she's cheery, she makes everyone sign her "slambok." She sings You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.

Ryan: Voice isn’t strong enough.
Pilita: Voice isn’t there to be able to go to Manila and compete.
Francis: Better luck next time

We then get single mother Myla Gracia Abales of Cagayan de Oro. She opens her mouth to sing a flawless, controlled, utterly beautiful version of Dito Ba, and my wife and I are floored. WOW. The judges are, too. Calling Fantasia, take a look-see at the local Baby Mama.

Ryan: I like your voice.
Pilita: I like her.
Francis: I don't care if you're fat or thin, magaling ka. Pwede ka sa 2nd round.

16-year-old Neil Simpson Antiquesa launches into Swing Low Sweet Chariot, obviously pulled from Beyonce's The Fighting Temptations version, and Francis says he sounds like a goat. Tsk, tsk, Francis.

ABC-5 then does an about-face and gives us a consuelo de bobo about how they don't care about sexual orientation, giving us Paula Chavez's take on her being lesbian and Yobab Alonzo's "way of expressing" himself.

Francis then says "sexual preference is never an issue. Kung magaling, walang problema." *roll eyes* Doesn't matter if you're gay. Doesn't matter if you're fat. We'll hold you to your word, Francis.

We're given a few minutes of Marianie Caban's changing into a bright blue gown. She vamps out
Love Takes Time.

Ryan: I like your energy, it's very professional, but you've a problem with swallowing your words. Voice is okay, but it takes a lot more to be Philippine Idol.
Francis: Sorry, 2-0 better luck next time.
P: No for me, she can join again.

Caban's demeanor is refreshing. She accepts it.

We then get two sob stories.

Julieto Alquizar needs money. He sings Perfect by Simple Plan.
Francis: Saksakan ng pangit.
Ryan: No.
Pilita: No.

He started to beg. We start to feel uncomfortable. He's led out by security. The distaste in our mouth is icky.

Joseph John Temporal needs money. He sings I'll Never Say Goodbye.
Ryan: Voice is nice, but it takes more to be part of Philippine Idol. No.
Pilita: I like him.
Francis: I do, too.

And Ryan is once again outvoted by the other two. hwek hwek hwek

We then get "never say die" singer Jiegfred Pakino. He tried in Manila, meh. Tried in Cebu, meh. Now he's in Davao. Perseverance, thy name is Jiegfred. He sings a decent version of Fire, and is booted out yet again. 0 for 3.

Ritchie Asibal also tried out in Manila and didn't make it. He flies to Davao and oozes out a saccharine version of Go the Distance, that Michael Bolton shmaltzfest that Disney used to own before American Idol laid claim to all syrupy ballads. The judges give him a go, and send him to Manila.

Myla Manalang, meanwhile, also sings Go the Distance, supported by her oh-so-loving husband. My wife hopes she'll make it; she doesn't. We're both furious she can't make it but off-key singer Ricardo Sanabal can.

We get an unusual story out of Cjarah Perpetua, who married gay Davao comic "Mocha." She'll "fight for their love." She belts out River Deep Mountain High, and makes it, sharing the creepiest kiss on television since Lisa Marie and Michael recorded it for all posterity on You Are Not Alone. Chalk one up for unconventional love.

The battle of the families begins:
Henri Harvey Go vs. Hazel Mari Go.
Gaano Kita Kamahal vs. Anything For You
Both don't pass.

Mark Neil Macabenta vs. Marjorie Macabenta
Angels Must’ve Brought You Here vs. a song I didn't write down.
Both don't pass.

Armarie Lourdes Cruz vs. Armando Cruz
Hiram vs. a song I didn't recognize.
Their father was a rebel; their mother prays the rosary. How those two got together, we'll never know. But the Cruzes looks like a good, solid family, and Armarie, in particular, looks like Zsa Zsa Padilla, or Champagne Morales, or Sunshine Cruz, depending on your angle. Either way you look at it, she's a star. Her brother, well, cute but no cigar.
They pass. Chalk two up for unconvential love.

We get a view of next week's theater auditions, and I shut off the television, my computer, and rush off to sleep, because this review has to make it in time for tomorrow (that's today), and I still have to complain about age limits.