Meet the 7 finalists of Pen's lounge singer search


Posted at Oct 22 2012 06:49 PM | Updated as of Oct 23 2012 02:50 AM

MANILA, Philippines – In between studying for exams and meeting term paper deadlines, these seven college students are busy preparing for the third elimination round of The Peninsula Manila’s search for its new lounge singer on Tuesday, October 23.

From having nearly 300 applicants, the “[email protected]” contest is now down to seven finalists. Three of them will be chosen to compete in the grand finals on November 6.

Only one finalist will be named the “Ultimate Voice” or the grand winner, who will get a three-month contract to perform at The Pen’s posh Salon de Ning lounge, and perhaps launch a singing career.

Read on to know more about [email protected]’s Top 7 (arranged alphabetically):

This poster shows the seven finalists of the [email protected] contest. Photo from The Peninsula Manila's Facebook page

Garrett Bolden Jr.

  • Age: 20
  • School: Lyceum of Subic Bay
  • Story: A love child of a Filipina and an American-Puerto Rican serviceman who was temporarily assigned in Subic, Bolden grew up being discriminated against for looking different from everyone else. “I felt like trash. I didn’t want to go to school anymore until I discovered this talent that I have,” he said, adding, “I did work really hard to improve my craft. I learned to love myself for who I am – my color, my race, my style.”

April de los Santos

  • Age: 23
  • School: UP Open University
  • Story: When her father moved out of their home more than a decade ago, de los Santos had to stop school to help her family. After her brother finished college, she managed to return to school while working as a news reporter for a TV station in Pampanga. “Because I come from a poor family, nothing to brag about. No title to show off. But I have my singing talent and life’s lows have only made me a better artist,” she said.

Joselle Feliciano

  • Age: 21
  • School: Ateneo de Manila University
  • Story: Despite her passion for film and music, Feliciano chose the more practical option of getting a course in Management Economics, a subject that she had no interest in. “As I went through the rigors of my course, the backbreaking horrors of accounting, banking, finance and statistics, singing took a backseat,” Feliciano said. “I never realized until now, as I talk about how heartbreaking it is to grow cold from a passion because of lost opportunities.” Trying to make up for lost time, Feliciano won a scholarship to study voice with the theater group Trumpets Play Shop, where she developed a love for jazz and the blues.

Rafael Gutierrez

  • Age: 19
  • School: UP Diliman
  • Story: An illegitimate child, Gutierrez’ father provides for three families. When his father suddenly fell ill, their savings were wiped out by the medical expenses to the point that Gutierrez could no longer pay for the tuition for next semester. To cope, he resorted to tutoring high school students, repairing computers and joining singing contests. “Napakasarap kumanta. I feel at peace – my soul is replenished,” he said.

Lynly Lacdang

  • Age: 24
  • School: St. Scholastica’s College
  • Story: One Christmas, Lacdang decided to join a caroling group where the organizing priest liked her voice so much that he facilitated a college scholarship in Music for her at St. Scholastica’s College. In exchange, she volunteers as a choir teacher for underprivileged teens.

Paula Mariz Portillo

  • Age: 24
  • School: Mapua Institute of Technology
  • Story: Portillo was abandoned by her father who had another family, and was eventually left in the care of her grandfather after her mother had to work abroad. “We are still trying to glue together the broken glass of a relationship that we have,” she said, adding that the stage was the one place where she always felt at home.

Renz Ruther Robosa

  • Age: 20
  • School: University of Luzon, Dagupan City
  • Story: Robosa, who hails from Pangasinan, is the youngest sibling in their family of four children. His singing engagements has not only helped send an older brother to college; these have also supported his parents and nieces. “I became the suki of Western Union. Padala dito, padala doon,” he said. “The agent asked me, si Santa Claus ka ba?”