14 July 2013

Penelope Matanguihan Gives the Voice a Batangueňo Lasallian Flavour

Somebody at ABS-CBN must have read my previous article on Janice Javier, when I hypothesized that the Voice of the Philippines reserves the best singer of the night for last each episode. Because last night, if just to be contrary, arguably the best singer was the penultimate one.

That would be 21-year old Penelope Ann Matanguihan, who despite not using the signature ‘ga’ of the Republic of the Ala Eh, could not have fooled me if I was blindfolded that she was not Batangas born and raised. The punto was refreshing to hear on national television, not least because the tongues of many from the republic morph into cosmopolitan mode once touched by the warm air of the metropolis.

And because I belatedly learned from a former student only after I had written the article on Lee Grane that she studied at St. Bridget’s College in Batangas City just half an hour from where I live, I took a chance on Facebook and asked for trivia about young Penelope.

Sometimes, all one ever needs to do is ask; but the deluge of responses still surprised me.


Salonga summed it up with, “There’s very little that I can teach you kasi nasa ‘yo na ang lahat. ‘Yung musicality, ‘yung feel mo sa kanta.” It did not do her any favours because young Penelope went for apl.de.ap; a curious choice but, perhaps, one that will expand her horizons.
Young Penelope, it turned out, graduated just last April with a degree in AB Communications from De La Salle Lipa. Not surprising, then; and about time that somebody from the school made it to The Voice.

Over the years, I was privileged to have seen and heard a seemingly endless line of outstanding singers, mostly members of the college choir. The choir, fans of The Voice of the Philippines will be interested to know, is called the ‘De La Salle Voices.’

When I come to think about it, the surname Matanguihan was always a dead giveaway that young Penelope was from these parts. Indeed, my Facebook friends told me, she is from the small municipality of Mataas-na-Kahoy just five minutes from where I live.

That market where Robi Domingo delivered the invitation for young Penelope to audition for The Voice was the talipapâ, somebody told me on Facebook, right along the main avenue of the municipality.

But back to her performance of the song ‘Love on Top’ last night, which made first apl.de.ap and then Lea Salonga and Sarah G turn around simultaneously.

Young Penelope will probably need a few more years to be able to sing with the oomph of a Janice Javier, but she sang with the exuberance and gay abandon of youth, was precise and controlled with her notes and had a pleasant, happy voice to listen to.

In fact, I thought her voice was like cotton in the ears – light and titillating. I did not know the song that she was singing but she made me like it from the sheer smooth quality of her delivery. The young lady is special.

Sarah G praised her by saying, “Malinis ‘yung pagkanta mo, na-hit mo ‘yung mga high notes, gusto kita makatrabaho.”

apl.de.ap said, “I just can’t get enough. I wanted more. Great energy. Great musicality.”

Salonga summed it up with, “There’s very little that I can teach you kasi nasa ‘yo na ang lahat. ‘Yung musicality, ‘yung feel mo sa kanta.” It did not do her any favours because young Penelope went for apl.de.ap; a curious choice but, perhaps, one that will expand her horizons.

But even trying to make her mind up, young Penelope was unabashedly and refreshingly Batangueňo. “Hindî ko pô akalain darating ako sa ganitong punto, pipilî ako, D’yos ko!”

Over all, it was a good night for the artists who auditioned.

29-year old Rainer Acosta from Bulacan made Salonga turn in about half-a-minute with his rendition of “Mulî.” Nobody else did. His voice was distinct if somewhat lacking in character. Good control with the lower notes; but can’t say the same when he had to reach up.

Talia Reyes of Quezon City, a student of the University of the Philippines at Diliman, made Bamboo turn around almost at the death with her song “Sunday Morning.” A good thing that Bamboo did because Reyes had almost the same happy and pleasing voice as Penelope Matanguihan.

And because Reyes fell under the category ‘pretty young ladies,’ Sarah G could not resist taking a swipe at him, “Iba ka talaga Bamboo!” Another looker in Team Kawayan.

Albeit, Reyes herself admitted in the post-audition interview that she was, in fact, singing almost exclusively for Bamboo and mentally willing him to turn around.

Lecelle Trinidad, a 17-year old from Nueva Ecija, made Salonga and Sarah G turn with “Bust Your Window.” I did not think her song choice was good, but Bamboo heard something that he thought Salonga could do something about.

“You can coach that!” he urged Salonga to turn. She did. Unfortunately – for Lea Salonga, that is – Trinidad chose Sarah G. She’s a fan, apparently.

The night’s youngest singer, 16-year old Japs Mendoza from Bulacan, made Salonga turn with “Truth,” a Bamboo song. I think the youngster had the night’s most distinct voice; although Salonga will probably have her work cut out for her teaching the lad more control.

Mendoza’s voice had unmistakable quality. Perhaps it was a youngster’s nerves, but the siroks were not unlike a kite flying on a windless summer day. Maybe that’s a bit mean; but if Salonga can do something with the boy’s unique voice, who knows?

Of the night’s featured singers – not counting the two unsuccessful ones that are inserted as part and parcel of each show – the only one who failed to make any of the judges turn was Jordan Castillo from Fairview.

I actually thought he had a good voice but chose the wrong song. I thought he started well but seemed to lose his confidence the longer the song went and all the coaches still had to turn. There were some real pitch issues towards the end.

Acknowledgment: Photos captured from video on http://www.iwantv.com.ph/.

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