MANILA - A 12-year-old from Tarlac was the first "The Voice Kids" hopeful to turn all three chairs in the reality show's highly anticipated television return on Saturday.
Jimlord "Jimboy" Garcia, who hails from Paniqui, sang Journey's "Faithfully" in the first Blind Auditions episode of the ABS-CBN program, which reunited coaches Sarah Geronimo, Bamboo Manalac, and Lea Salonga.
Garcia's soaring voice immediately impressed Salonga, who was first to turn her chair. Manalac and Geronimo pressed their buttons as Garcia approached the higher notes of the popular tune.
First to attempt recruiting Garcia was Geronimo, who said that she can relate to the boy being mentored by his father, as this was the case when she was young.
Garcia's father is a farmer, while his mother is a housewife.
"'Yung boses mo, nandodoon 'yung innocence, nandoon 'yung maturity sa mga vibrato mo, so nakakatuwa! Espesyal ka, Jimboy!" Geronimo said.
Manalac, meanwhile, advised Garcia to pick a coach who he can connect with. Drawing laughs from the audience, the rock icon mentioned that he is the only male coach this season. Turning serious, Manalac said the boy still has "room to grow," and noted that picking the right coach is important to help him improve.
Coach Lea Salonga listens as 12-year-old Jimlord Garcia performs Journey's 'Faithfully' in the first Blind Auditions episode of 'The Voice Kids.' Video grab
Salonga, whose feisty personality was a highlight in last year's "The Voice of the Philippines," praised Garcia for the quality of his voice and consistently singing in tune.
Not unexpected of Salonga was a quip that left Geronimo and Manalac speechless. Addressing Garcia, the Broadway diva said, "Ito ang mai-o-offer ko sa'yo -- 36 years of experience!"
Before giving the floor to Garcia, a determined Salonga made a last effort to convince the boy to join Team Lea. Salonga pointed at her fellow coaches and called them "Ate Sarah" and "Kuya Bamboo," and then referred to herself with emphasis, "Mommy Lea."
"Lahat naman po kayo, magagaling na judges," Garcia said, "Kaya nga lang po isa lang po [ang puwedeng piliin]. Ang pipiliin ko po ay si Coach Lea."
Approaching the boy on stage to give him a medal, Salonga said, "This is my day!"
Recruiting the first three-chair turner appeared to be a good omen for Salonga, whose team famously won the first season of "The Voice of the Philippines" with belter Mitoy Yonting.
By the end of the pilot episode of "The Voice Kids," Salonga was able to recruit three young artists -- Garcia, 11-year-old Koko Luy, and 9-year-old Darlene Vibares.
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.