MANILA - "Oh my god!"
This was Lea Salonga's reaction after coming face-to-face with the second three-chair turner on the Kids edition of the ABS-CBN's "The Voice," which made its highly anticipated television return on Saturday.
Ten-year-old Darlene Vibares, who hails from Antipolo City, impressed all the coaches in the first Blinds Auditions episode of "The Voice Kids" with her rendition of Alicia Keys' "Girl On Fire."
Salonga, who was the last to press her button, appeared delighted with Vibares as the girl jumped repeatedly over the successful audition.
Vibares, whose father is a tricycle driver, charmed the audience with her candid responses to the questions of the coaches.
"Maliit po?" she quipped, when asked by Bamboo Manalac if she is 10 years old.
The girl's parents, as shown backstage, laughed as Vibares went on to explain her family's situation -- her father's job also helps send her mom, an aspiring teacher, to college.
"Ang cute mong bata ka, grabe," Salonga told Vibares, getting laughs from the audience. "Hindi lang cute! Matalino! Parang napakadali mong turuan. Pangatlo, 'yung personality mo, parang punung-puno na itong studio. Naaabot mo lahat ng mga tao!"
Coach Sarah Geronimo called Vibares a "fighter," and promised to fight for her in the competition should she join her team. Manalac, meanwhile, praised Vibares for her energy and how this showed in her performance.
Picking 'Coach L'
Vibares did not appear to hesitate with her decision to pick a coach "whose name starts with the letter L." The small "clue" got an elated response from Salonga, who approached Vibares on stage to hug her.
In a moment that triggered laughter in the studio, Salonga noticed a mole just under Vibares' nose. The girl quipped, "Pinagkakamalan pong kulangot!"
"Huwag na huwag mong itago," Salonga told Vibares. "Kasi ang kasabihan, kung saan 'yung nunal, biniyayaan ka ng Diyos diyan. May nunal ka diyan sa bibig, so kumakanta ka. Biniyayaan ko ng Diyos ng boses na maganda."
By the end of the pilot episode of "The Voice Kids," Salonga was able to recruit three young artists -- Vibares, 12-year-old Jimboy Garcia, and 11-year-old Koko Luy.
Geronimo and Manalac, meanwhile, each scored one recruit. Thirteen-year-old Grazz Enriquez joined Team Bamboo, while 11-year-old twins JM and JC Urquico got into Team Sarah.
"The Voice Kids," which is hosted by Luis Manzano and Alex Gonzaga, airs Saturdays at 6:45 p.m. and on Sundays at 7:30 p.m.