MANILA - Securing a spot in the grand finals of "The Voice Kids" may be a case of déjà vu for 12-year-old Darren Espanto, who reached the last leg of a singing competition in Canada last year.
Espanto, whose parents are both Filipino, was among the six finalists of the Canadian reality show "The Next Star." At the time he auditioned, Darren was only 10; he was already 11 when the show concluded in December 2012.
After losing to 14-year-old Brooklyn Roebuck, Espanto set his sights on "The Voice Kids" and flew in to the Philippines early this year specifically to join the ABS-CBN talent search.
Aside from his six-month stint in "The Next Star," he had already made waves in singing competitions in Calgary, where his family is based. In 2011, he became the city champion of a contest for young Filipinos in the city, dubbed "Pinoy Singing Sensation."
When he faced "The Voice Kids" coaches for the first time in the Blind Auditions, where he performed Jessie J's "Domino," Espanto told Bamboo Manalac that he was his front act at one of his concerts in Canada.
Espanto eventually picked Sarah Geronimo over Manalac as his coach; in his profile interview, he identified the pop star as one of his idols in the local music scene.
Both in The Sing-Offs and the semifinals, Espanto performed hits from his other idols -- respectively, "Listen" by Beyonce and "One Moment In Time" by Whitney Houston.
On Saturday, Espanto will compete against fellow Team Sarah bet Lyca Gairanod, Team Bamboo's Juan Karlos Labajo, and Team Lea's Darlene Vibares to become the first winner of "The Voice Kids."
The champion will be named on Sunday at 6:15 p.m.