MANILA - Alisah Bonaobra and her mother had just packed up their stall along a Paco sidewalk when they decided to enter a nearby mall as a respite from the humid afternoon.
Bonaobra's mother caught sight of a karaoke on display -- the type used for public demos by employees, or willing customers -- and urged her to sing along to a few tracks.
By the time she was belting out her fourth song, Bonaobra was surrounded by a crowd that applauded every time she hit a high note. Her effortless rendition of "Let It Go," in particular, thrilled spectators at the mall -- and, as she found out months later, hundreds of thousands of netizens who came by a video of the performance.
The video was uploaded by a certain Henrik Jensen on YouTube in July this year, and went viral in September after another channel re-uploaded it with credits to Jensen. To date, combined views of the clip numbered past 1.2 million.
In the weeks that followed, several other videos of Bonaobra performing surfaced online. One showed her singing, yet again, with a karaoke mic in hand, this time to the tune of "Patuloy Ang Pangarap" -- a champion's anthem popularized by Angeline Quinto in 2011.
The song choice, on hindsight, appeared to be an indication of big things to come for Bonaobra, who lost her scholarship at a music conservatory when she auditioned for a televised karaoke contest wearing her school uniform.
The 19-year-old singer, whose family has been street vendors since 1987, was hoping to bring home a P10,000 consolation prize. Without realizing it, however, Bonaobra overlooked a school regulation about unauthorized representation by wearing its uniform.
No rules broken this time, Bonaobra successfully auditioned for another singing competition -- ABS-CBN's version of the global hit "The Voice." In the show's Sunday episode, Bonaobra managed to turn three out of four chairs and ended up joining the team of apl.de.ap.
Bonaobra is one of six artists coached by The Black Eyed Peas rapper, as of the November 16 episode of "The Voice of the Philippines." Bamboo and Sarah Geronimo now have eight each, while Lea Salonga has seven.
Co-hosted by Toni Gonzaga and Luis Manzano with Alex Gonzaga and Robi Domingo as V-Reporters, "The Voice of the Philippines" airs 8:45 p.m. on Saturdays and 8:30 p.m. on Sundays.