'On Their Way To Stardom'
By NEIL RAMOS
A lot has been said about success being the result of
talent, perseverance and luck. In the case of Star for a Night winner
Sarah Geronimo, however, it was more than that.
Indeed, technology -- mobile-phone technology, in particular -- played a
huge part in her journey toward that P1-million worth ticket to fame,
courtesy of Viva Television’s talent search program that concluded its
first year of broadcast recently.
She bested 10 other outstanding contestants who came from all over the
archipelago for the much-coveted plum through a “three-step judging
system” employed by the show: 30 percent from pre-finals judging;
40-percent finals night judging; and a whopping 30 percent from votes cast
through SMS, popularly known around these parts as texting.
The last in the judging system incurred mixed reactions from both critics
and the TV public as being too high a percentage that seemingly diminished
the actual performance and the singing abilities of the contestants. A
Viva representative assured me, though, that it was part of the show’s
concept from the onset. He said that allowing a huge chunk of the TV
public’s text votes in determining the winner made it possible for the
multimedia behemoth to gauge “who the people wanted.”
The show is being aired regularly on IBC and hosted by singer Regine
Velasquez. In its first year, it consistently gained good ratings,
eventually culminating in the more-than-four-hour spectacle that was the
finals night held on March 1 and broadcast live from the Philippine Sports
Arena (formerly Ultra).
Besides Geronimo, the other finalists included Mark Bautista, Jason
Velasquez, Musica Cristobal, Florie Mae Lucido, Mailyn Yu, Angeli Mae
Flores, Roxanne Castro, Carlo San Jose, Angeline Quinto and Maureen
The colossal spectacle was well attended by the local entertainment
gliterati, with the board of judges including the likes of multiawarded
composer George Canseco and popular TV host Boy Abunda. The judges’
chairman was none other than the megastar herself, Sharon Cuneta.
The show opened with a slew of performances from guest artists that
included Jaya, Freestyle frontliners Jinky Vidal and Top Suzara and Side
A’s Joey Generoso. Together with the contestants, they also did a couple
of grand production numbers, featuring a medley of hit tunes from the
’70s and the ’80s.
Young and inexperienced as they were -- the average age of the contestants
was 18 -- the contestants admirably held their own with the seasoned
professionals. Besides their already excellent singing, they also looked
splendid and very “star-like” in their glamorous evening wear designed
by top Filipino designers like Rhett Eala, Larry Espinosa and Frederick
Peralta, among others.
All of the contestants sang their hearts out for the desired prize. Among
the notable performances were Maureen Marcelo’s incandescent rendition
of “Better Days”; Roxanne Castro’s engaging cover of “Fallin’”;
and Mark Bautista’s Peabo Bryson-like-sounding “Ngayon at Kailanman.”
The contest proper became quite predictably dramatic, especially when the
winner was announced. The reaction was varied.
Some were ecstatic, while others were disappointed. However, most everyone
-- including Jaya and Sharon Cuneta -- weren’t able to contain their
elation as they openly wept for the winsome lass’s triumph. Geronimo
herself burst into tears amid the loving embrace of her relatives as she
sang anew Celine Dion’s “To Love You More,” her winning piece.
The fourteen-year-old high-school student from the University of Santo
Tomas never really expected to win the award as she herself thought that
she was too nervous and excited during her performance. Apparently, the
texters proved her wrong. Indeed, though she was the last to perform, she
was clearly their favorite, boosting her chances over the good-looking
Cagayan de Oro native, Mark Bautista, who before her performance had
garnered the most resounding approval from the crowd. He eventually
finished as second favorite in the final tally of the text votes.
Though not everyone could be picked a winner, most of the other finalists
still went home happy with minor awards. Some, including Mark Bautista,
nabbed a management contract with Viva Records. Also, the other finalists
are included in the Star for a Night album, which was launched recently by
Viva. The album also features two songs from Regine Velasquez.
Now it can be said that, just like it was during EDSA 2, Filipinos can not
only oust presidents but also make winners through texting. Heaven forbid
that SMS should be taxed.