How 'The Voice' coach Lea will choose recruits

by Miguel Dumaual,

Posted at Feb 20 2013 09:10 PM | Updated as of Feb 21 2013 05:10 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- Lea Salonga promises to be brutally honest with her stable of recruits in the Philippine edition of the reality singing contest "The Voice."

As early as now, the Tony Award-winning performer is setting her own rules in forming "Team Lea" when "The Voice of the Philippines" kicks off its Blind Auditions in the second quarter of the year.

"Gusto ko 'yung apinadong singer, 'yung hindi sila masisintunado. Iyon 'yung isa sa mga pinaka-ayaw ko na singer," said Salonga, who announced her part in the Kapamilya program as a coach on Tuesday.

"If the singer for the most part is on-key and on-pitch, it just makes it easier for everybody, easier for me as a coach. I cannot teach being in tune to anybody. You either are or you're not," she said.

As in the United States version of the show -- which featured as coaches Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine for its first three seasons -- the local edition of "The Voice" will have four teams battling it out.

In order to form their teams, the coaches will hold the Blind Auditions, where their backs are turned to the contestants. Only the voice will be the determining factor in prompting the coaches to push their button, turning their chair around, to signal their intention to recruit the contestant.

The 41-year-old Filipina singer, whose 35-year career has taken her to the international stage, said another simple criterion she will use in forming her team is whether a performance "makes my ears happy."

"You'll allow for a little bit of imperfection here and there as far as their intonation, pero kasi sanay ako na kahit ano pang mangyari, kailangang 'yung tenga ng audience masaya... If my ears are happy, [that will help me in choosing]," she said.

No sugarcoating

Asked whether she intends to gather contestants who identify with a specific genre for Team Lea, Salonga said she prefers to have a variety of singing hopefuls to claim "The Voice" title.

"I'd like to think that it's not just one thing or one type of music that I'll be able to help out with. It's really  more of what that person has. I'll be impressed by whoever, and it will be fun to have a very varied team," she said.

Once with a complete line-up of recruits, Salonga said she does not intend to sugarcoat her comments and critiques to help her team improve.

"What you'll get from me as a coach is honesty. I'm honest, and ayoko na kasi na inaasukal ko lahat ng sasabihin ko sa magiging ka-team ko, kasi ayoko namang sabihing anggaling mo kung hindi naman totoo, ayoko nang ganoon," she said.

"Hindi rin naman gagaling 'yung contestant, 'yung iko-coach ko kung hindi ako magiging totoo sa kanya, so I have to be honest with this person. If there's something na kulang, kailangan mo ring sabihin," she said.

Joining Salonga as coaches in "The Voice of the Philippines" are singer-actress Sarah Geronimo and former Rivermaya and Bamboo frontman Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac. One last coach has yet to be introduced.

Hosted by Toni Gonzaga, "The Voice of the Philippines" is currently holding auditions in time for its premiere telecast later this year on ABS-CBN.

Aspiring contestants can audition online until February 19 by logging on to

On-ground auditions will also be held in Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban, and Cebu on February 23; General Santos, Zamboanga, Cagayan De Oro, and Davao on March 2; and in Palawan, Laoag, Naga, Legazpi, Baguio, Dagupan, and Manila on March 9.