MANILA -- Just a few years ago, Charice, now Jake Zyrus, shared the stage with music icon Celine Dion, stormed Hollywood after being plucked from obscurity by Oprah Winfrey, made appearances in the hit show "Glee" and became the first solo Asian artist to land in the Billboard album charts.
Things unraveled, however, following the murder of his father and his decision to come out as gay, which was met divisively by his fans. His sharp descent from stardom proved to be sad, none more so than for his grandmother, Tess Relucio.
In a small nook in Laguna Thursday afternoon, Relucio takes out her old cellphone. She scrolls for an audio recording of Charice -- she refuses to acknowledge using the singer's new name -- performing a Regine Velasquez song for a local talent showcase.
She closes her eyes, pauses, and, with her voice cracking in anger -- a sharp contrast to the angelic tone of a young Charice -- tells ABS-CBN News' MJ Felipe about her disapproval of the Jake Zyrus name.
Addressing Jake Zyrus, whom she stubbornly refers to as her granddaughter, she says to the camera: "Pinanganak kang Charice Pempengco, mamamatay kang Charice Pempengco! Kapag nilagay sa ataul iyan, hindi Jake Zyrus ang ilalagay, Charice Pempengco pa rin."
For Relucio, the name change signifies more than just Charice introducing himself as a transgender man to the world. For her, it means she and her family have now lost their favorite "apo."
"Masakit," Relucio says as she describes what she felt when she first heard the news. She adds that for the longest time she had refrained from commenting on her granddaughter's "mistake" of admitting to being a lesbian.
"Dahil sa gusto kong huwag masira ang pangalan niya, ang pagkatao niya, sinara ko ang bibig ko, tinakpan ko ang pagkakamaling sinabi niya," she explains. "Pero ito, kahit ikamatay ko, hindi ko kukusintehin na maging Jake Zyrus [siya]."
She then brings out more cassette tapes of Jake Zyrus' early recordings as Charice. She has kept them as a reminder of the promise and dreams her granddaughter's exceptional talent presented to them.
With more regret than frustration this time, she begs Jake Zyrus to "repent" for revealing his new identity."
Kung gusto mong umangat, Charice, pumunta ka dito at magisisi ka sa ngalan ng Diyos. Magsisi ka sa lahat ng kasalanan ninyong ginawa sa akin," she says. "Sumasabog na anak. ...Hindi ka tomboy! Ako ang naghuhugas sa iyo nung unang regla mo, ako ang nagpaligo sa iyo! Babae ka!"
ABS-CBN News has reached out to Jake Zyrus for comment, but according to his talent manager, Carl Cabral, the singer is still currently in the middle of his vacation.