02 September 2013

Penelope Matanguihan Through to Next Stage as Mitoy Yonting Brings Audience to Its Feet

Off-stage, when she does these little interviews that the producers insert as introduction to performances in the Voice of the Philippines, young Penelope Matanguihan still projects this rustic innocence that is so unaffected and which one hopes she will never shed.

Onstage last night in the second weekend of live performances, doing John Legend’s ‘Ordinary People,’ she momentarily set aside the refreshing candor of her youth and put on the mask of a sophisticated woman with a big song.

The result, as Lea Salong herself put it, was perfection. Not a note out of place, singing with the precision of a diamond artisan and possessing the calm confidence of a seasoned professional. The song choice, it has to be said, was also a perfect match for her voice, which has this almost ethereal not-of-this-world quality.

When she sings as well as she did last night, it is as though the melodies waft through the air from another dimension. Therein, however, lies her biggest problem.


Perfecto, to be fair, was weighed down by a throat infection. That said, up against young Penelope and the Bangkok-based Janice Javier, there was always going to be just one singer going home. Perfecto did well to get to this stage of the competition but was always lightweight against the two ladies.
She will win plaudits from discriminate listeners, record producers and late night DJ’s; but she may struggle to win over a voting public easily impressed by power singers and high notes. In this light, it was no surprise that apl.de.ap had to slip her through at the expense of Tristhan Perfecto.

Perfecto, to be fair, was weighed down by a throat infection. That said, up against young Penelope and the Bangkok-based Janice Javier, there was always going to be just one singer going home. Perfecto did well to get to this stage of the competition but was always lightweight against the two ladies.

That Javier won the nationwide voting perhaps adds credence to the hypothesis about power singers. On the night, young Penelope arguably delivered the better technical performance; and, indeed, there were moments especially early on when Javier seemed to have been oversinging ‘I Believe I Can Fly.’

Not to take anything away from Javier’s performance, though. She sang with the elan and charm of a seasoned professional; and there were moments with the higher notes when I was being blown away by the raw emotions that she conveyed.

The hypothesis gets further credence from the overwhelming 82% verdict that the voting public bestowed upon Mitoy Yonting. Perhaps, of the current crop of contestants, only Cora dela Cruz can match up to Yonting in terms of range.

However, both singers often border on the shrill; and, in fact, Yonting pales in comparison to young Penelope and Janice Javier in terms of technique and musicality. Onstage, however, Yonting is quite the complete package and has this ability to draw in the crowd.

His rendition of Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ was not quite technically perfect. However, it can be argued that Yonting is a better performer than singer; and has this ability to patch up the cracks with the charm of his personality alone. That this charm is powerful is no laughing matter; especially when one considers that he is not even blessed with matinee-idol looks.

So overwhelming was Yonting’s advantage that Diday Garcellano and Kim Mainit were left with nothing but crumbs. In the end, Salonga put Mainit through.

The surprise of the night as far as I am concerned was Paolo Onesa. Many of us will remember him as uninspired singer who Bamboo put through to this level at the expense of the Cordovaleses.

Whatever Lea Salonga says – because the Battles was a competition in itself and the winner in my opinion should have been chosen on the basis of the night’s performance – I still believe Onesa was lucky to have been singing at all last night.

But one man’s misfortune, they do say, can be another man’s opportunity. They also do say that life is all about seizing the moment. Last night, Onesa seized his with both hands, and sang James Morrison’s ‘You Give Me Something’ in a way I never would have guessed he had in him.

He sang with great technique and control and overall his performance, I daresay, was nothing short of sensational. The song choice was right and he was in his element. That was simply the best we have all heard him sing; and like Morisette Amon, he has grown into the competition.

It was no surprise that the voting public saved him at the expense of Angelique Alcantara and Isabelle Fabregas. Alcantara was a mere shadow of herself so that while Fabregas did not really shine, it was still an easy decision for Bamboo to put the latter through to the next stage.

Arguably the most difficult trio to call last night were Maki Ricafort, Yuki Ito and Klarisse de Guzman of Team Sarah.

The voting public was probably correct to save Ricafort, who I swear has something of a Michael Bolton in him. He opened well with ‘Heaven Knows’ and got even better as he climbed the higher notes. He is one of a handful of singers in the competition who handles both low and high notes with equal ease and ought to be one of the favourites to win the competition.

Ito was innovative with ‘Song for You’ but sounded flat with the high notes. Under the weather, they said; but overall was still quite good in spite of this. De Guzman was marginally better, however, and chose a more suitable song. In the end, I thought Sarah G was correct to put her through.

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

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