MANILA - Music veteran Jaya had to excuse and compose herself during the live episode of "It's Showtime" Wednesday, after she led the panel of judges to a third consecutive decision, within the day, to prematurely end the performance of a "Tawag ng Tanghalan" contestant.
The long-running competition fields one singing hopeful each from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and Metro Manila -- three of which are potential challengers to the defending champion, who returns daily until he or she is unseated.
Five judges, usually headed by composer Rey Valera, determine the winner of both the preliminary and challenge rounds. This time, in Valera's absence, it was Jaya's task to signal the striking of the gong, in case a contestant falls short of the judges' standards. Being interrupted by the gong means being kicked from the competition.
That happened thrice on Wednesday, leaving no preliminary winner to challenge defending champion Douglas Dagal, who, by default, clung on the "golden microphone" for a third day. Two more wins for the Luzon representative will secure him a spot in the semifinals.
The three singers who were hoping to unseat him on Wednesday were: Vemie Viray of Metro Manila, who performed "Starting Over Again"; Rosmond Pasar of Visayas, who took the stage with "Love of My Life"; and Jam Bucol of Mindanao, who sang "Love on Top."
Visibly distracted by the contestants being off-key, Jaya increasingly appeared "stressed," as described by host Vice Ganda, with each performance she had to stop prematurely.
After stopping Bucol, who was last to perform, Jaya initially said, in jest, "Puwede na po umuwi? Hindi ko sinasadya na ang ating Valentine ngayon ay maging malungkot."
The "Kung Wala Na" hitmaker then attempted to explain the judges' concensus, but trailed off and excused herself, saying, "Ang puso ko, teka, hindi ako makahinga, Vice, wait. My blood pressure! I'm really cold right now."
This prompted Vice Ganda to request drinking water for Jaya. Composing herself, the veteran singer said, "Naku, hindi ako papasok next week. Painom, ha. Hindi ako nag-jo-joke."
Continuing her explanation, Jaya addressed the contestant: "Ayoko sana talaga mang-gong ngayong araw na 'to, pero talagang na-tyempo lang po. Hindi ko alam what it is today. Ito lang 'yung araw na 'yun, it's not working for you guys, sa inyong tatlo.
"Today is not a good day for you, kayong tatlo. I'm so sorry, but keep on singing. That's life. Nothing in this world is given to us na, pag binigay, perfect today. There are good days and there are bad days, and today happens to be a bad day."
After giving encouarging words to Bucol, as he did with the earlier two contestants, Vice Ganda had the audience laughing with his pretend-defensive explanation as to why "It's Showtime" would never intend to "gong" all three "Tawag" contestants in one episode.
"Lilinawin lang namin: Hindi po namin sinasadya na mang-gong ng tatlo. In fact, ayaw namin, dahil ma-a-undertime po kami. So stay lang kayo diyan, huwag kayo aalis, mag-iisip kami ng gagawin namin sa next gap. Nakakatawa 'to, magbabaliwan na lang po kami," he said.
The resumption of "It's Showtime" -- its final gap -- saw the performance of defending champion Dagal instead, before the live show's earlier than usual conclusion.