MANILA -- "Favoritism" was not a factor in Bamboo Mañalac's decision to have Makati-based singer Lee Grane advance to the live shows of "The Voice of the Philippines."
This was the assertion of the 35-year-old rock icon in response to comments about the result of his first pairing for the talent search's Battle Rounds, which started airing last Sunday, July 28.
Mañalac made his first elimination from the 13-member group dubbed "Kamp Kawayan" in the said episode, when he had Grane and Marikina-born band vocalist Dan Billano perform the U2 hit "One."
Following the pair's "battle," Mañalac's guest adviser, contemporary music artist Joey Ayala, said he preferred Billano's performance.
While he credited Billano's "soulful" take on the song, Mañalac, for his part, ultimately picked Grane to advance in the competition based on "gut feel" and "artistry."
On his official Facebook page, Mañalac early this week addressed what netizens referred to as "favoritism" in his first pick for the live shows.
"[First thing] no favoritism. I don’t play that. I go for who I think I can help, who I can develop, who I think has something to say," he said in a post that so far has over 5,600 "likes" and over 900 "shares" on Facebook.
He continued, "I've spent many hours with my team (off camera). I try my best to know them as best I can -- as singers, songwriters, performers and people. I know the weight of my responsibility. I take what I do very seriously. So to make decisions on one performance, on a 'battle,' I think my guys deserve better than that."
Throughout the seven-week airing of the Blind Auditions of "The Voice of the Philippines," Grane became arguably the most popular auditioning artist among netizens, having topped the worldwide trending topics on the micro-blogging site Twitter after her first performance on the show.
Maintaining that "favoritism" had no bearing in his decision to pick Grane over Billano, Mañalac, in his Facebook post, brought up the fact that he was the only coach to turn during the latter's Blind Auditions performance.
"I believe in Dan. If I remember correctly, I was the only one who turned. I heard something special in Dan, and [with his Battle Rounds performance] he proved me right. He shined. I was so happy for him. And [I] hated, hated to make that decision," he said.
Mañalac went on to defend why he ended up picking Grane, after a performance that prompted the 29-year-old artist to promise doing "better next time."
"But Lee, Lee has a story to tell. I just feel that I have to give her that chance. She has an artist's soul. She was lost and all she needed was to find a bit of light."
"I know Lee, her strengths and weaknesses. I pushed Lee, put her in a situation where I knew was difficult. But I’m always a believer of adversity, to be tested. Growth over prize, and in defeats, we grow stronger," he said.
Admitting "Lee lost that battle," Mañalac nonetheless said "she deserves to move on, be heard."
"I could have easily changed the key for Lee to make it easier on her but I didn't. I wanted to hear Lee," he added.
The rock singer said, ultimately, his intention in pitting artist against artist through the Battle Rounds is to help them improve. He also assured that he will continue helping Billano as a "mentor" despite his elimination from "The Voice of the Philippines."
"This battle wasn’t about Lee vs Dan. It was Lee vs Lee, Dan vs Dan. I will continue to sit on my chair, and continue to make these hard decisions.
"But know this: I am committed to my artists, my team 100%. The lights go off and I’m still there. I’m no longer Dan's 'coach,' but if he'll have me as a friend and mentor to guide him, I will try my best to get Dan's story told. It just wasn't his time. I know Dan, and all he needs is a guide. Let me be that guide. Be positive. Let's support both artists," he said.
As of the last episode of "The Voice of the Philippines" aired on July 28, four artists have already secured a spot in the live shows -- Grane, Team Apl's Tristhan Perfecto, Team Lea's Mitoy Yonting, and Team Sarah's Morisette Amon.