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Idol immersion 

In my early years as broadsheet journalist, I went to Cebu to see parts of the audition process for a singing competition which later aired on Philippine Idol, the first version of the Idol series helmed by and for Filipinos. I followed the competition up to its finale.

Memories of my immersion in that singing contest flashed back after learning about the online JAM Sessions organized by Smart Araneta Coliseum (with Ivory Music and Video) to support Araneta City’s donation drive #TogetherWeHeal. Select guest performers serenade the online community through Big Dome’s social media pages.

Last May 8 it featured Reymond Sajor who, before becoming Grand Champion Senior Vocalist in the 2007 World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA), was one of the 12 finalists in Philippine Idol the year before. Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, primarily chosen to sit as judge, expressed frustration when he was eliminated quite early, using the word “dreadful” to describe such result. 

Reymond Sajor was one of the singing prides that bannered Smart Araneta Coliseum 2nd online ‘JAM Sessions.’
While it had its criticisms, Philippine Idol was a class on its own. Perhaps because of familiar look and sound and it came out when the franchise was still a hot global phenomenon, it was like watching a Miss Universe competition being held in the Philippines, or a FIBA-sanctioned basketball game played at a Philippine hardcourt. It tried its best to present the brand as it had to be, without injecting too much Pinoy flavor that would have spoiled the broth. 

Of course, the touching stories behind Filipino hopefuls won’t be denied and that added to its glitter. Guest judge Hajji Alejandro was a thumbs-up presence especially with his professional observation of someone’s vibrato.  

It’s quite a pity Philippine Idol was discontinued and none among the finalists became a major star right after. At least a number of them were star material. I did hope one of them would score a hit song big enough to keep a name stuck. Never too late to try though. 

The finalists of ‘Philippine Idol,’ which is the first version of the ‘Idol’ series in the country.
I’m glad to see some of them still making a mark in their own right. Gian Magdangal has become an admired thespian for his work, and was recently cast in Ang Huling El Bimbo the musical. Pow Chavez, years back, was featured in the Ron Henley hit “Biglang Liko.”

I watched Apple Chiu hosting a morning show, discovered that Jeli Mateo is CEO at FlipMusic, and from a distance, saw Mau Marcelo in an event one Saturday evening in Crossroads, Quezon City.  

Of course, I would bump into Reymond from time to time. He validated Mr. C’s feeling over his early exit in 2006. 

During that provincial trip I met one of the judges, Francis Magalona, and he recognized me from the press pool. He began a conversation and it felt cool he talked to me -- short but sensible. Aura and all he was one idol and three years later we all mourned his passing.

Topics: Philippine Idol , JAM Sessions , Smart Araneta Coliseum , Reymond Sajor , Ryan Cayabyab , Francis Magalona
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