Zendee Tenerefe: 'Random girl' no more

By Caroline Howard, ANC

Posted at Nov 02 2012 05:35 PM | Updated as of Nov 03 2012 06:33 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Zendee Tenerefe is still trying to get used to all the attention she’s getting as she returned here this week following her appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

In an interview on ANC’s “Headstart” on Friday, Tenerefe recounted how incredulous she was to get a call from the show’s producer and how surprised she was to meet Hollywood actress Halle Berry.

“Kinausap ko po ‘yung Warner, sabi ko po alamin niyo kung totoo ito kasi kung totoo bongga diba,” she said. “So sila po nakipagcommunicate sa ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ po tapos nagulat na lang po ako nung sinabi nila na ‘Zendee, pupunta ka doon, magge-guest ka na.’ So mga ilang buwan din po kaming naghintay.”

“Doon ko na lang po nalaman na si Halle Berry, sikat yun eh. Hindi po ako nanonood ng Hollywood movies,” she added. “Tapos po nung nagpra-practice po ako sa backstage, kasi siya yung nauna na in-interview, papasok na ako siya palabas. Sabi niya ‘Zendee Rose!’ Sabi ko ‘Ay, Halle Berry!’ Kasi po bago nag-start ‘yung show nag-research na po ako about sa kanya.”

“Sabi niya, ‘Wow I'm so glad to meet you, I saw your video on YouTube. Niyakap niya ako -- six seconds, binilang ko po ‘yun. Tapos sabi niya, ‘you'll make it big.’

“Gusto kong mag-picture kaso bawal ang camera, sayang. Bawal po kasi ang camera at cellphone sa loob ng studio.”

No ‘do re mi’

Tenerefe rose to fame after a video of her singing “And I Am Telling You” at a mall went viral on YouTube and earned millions of views.

Singing since she was four years old, Tenerefe has no formal training in singing, but now gets some help from a voice coach.

She admitted that her road to success was anything but easy. “Napapanood ko lang po ‘yung mga idol ko sa YouTube tapos tinitignan ko po kung paano sila mag-perform, paano sila kumanta, paano nila ikontrol yung boses nila. ‘Yun na po agad-agad, ‘di ko na po dinadaan ‘yung mga do re mi.

“Pero ngayon, meron na po akong voice coach. Nalaman ko po kung ano ‘yung importansya ng mga do re mi, ‘yung vocalization, kasi ‘yun po ‘yung nagtra-train ng boses ko.

“Mas alam ko na po ‘yung ano, yung hangin tapos kung kailan ko dapat gamitin yung boses na ganun. Hindi po all the time birit lagi, ganun po.”

Pacquiao’s scholar

The lass from General Santos City also expressed her gratitude to boxer Manny Pacquiao who sponsored her college education.

“Kasi bata pa lang po ako, kumakanta na po ako sa kanya, kinukuha niya ako ‘pag may mga parties,” she explained.

“At saka close po kami, parang kung saan kami magkikita, hina-hi niya po ako. Tapos sabi ko, ‘Sir manny kasi mag-college na ako wala pa akong pera, gusto ko pong mag-aral.’ Sabi niya siya raw po sasagot sa pag-aaral ko.

“Sabi ko rin sa kanya, ‘Sir Manny, tulungan naman niyo po ako, gusto kong mag-artista.’ Sabi niya, ‘Tapusin mo muna yung pag-aaral mo tapos punta ka sa akin.’

“Tapos noong nag-viral na po ‘yung video ko, sabi niya, ‘Hindi ka pa nga nakalapit sa akin sikat ka na. Huwag mo ako hawakan, hindi ka na nakaantay,’” she recalled, laughing.

Beyond her dreams

During her guesting on “Headstart,” Tenerefe performed her version of some of today’s hits like “Hurt” by Christina Aguilera and Beyonce’s “Halo,” as well as "And I Am Telling You" by Jennifer Holiday.

She said thinking of her family provides her songs with every emotion she needs.

“Sa GenSan kasi hindi po talaga kagandahan ‘yung buhay namin,” Tenerefe said, crying. “Thankful po ako kay God kasi nabigyan po ako ng ganitong opportunity.”

“Binigyan po Niya ako ng ganitong talent kasi po ito ‘yung paraan ko na makatulong sa kanila,” she added.

With a recording contract underway, Tenerefe is grateful for her luck. She admitted that the exposure she is getting these days is more than anything she’s ever dreamed of.

“Actually sobra na po ito eh, hindi naman po talaga ito ‘yung inasahan kong buhay kasi ‘yung akin lang po is ‘yun po, mag-YouTube lang tapos ‘di ko po inasahan na darating sa ganito.

“Siguro po ‘yung [gusto ko na lang po ay ang] kasama ko ‘yung pamilya ko rito, ‘yung parang ‘di na po sila maghihirap dun. Pero mag-iipon muna ako,” she ended.