REVIEW: Maris impressive as Zephanie in inspiring MMK “Contest”
REVIEW Maris impressive as Zephanie in inspiring MMK Contest  1

Zephanie Dimaranan’s road to victory as the very first Idol Philippines resonates not only to young singing aspirants hoping one day to make it big, but also to all of us who have our own dreams to succeed in whatever field or discipline we are in.

READ: Zephanie Dimaranan named first Idol Philippines Grand Winner 

An old adage comes to mind—that it’s not how many times we fall down, but it’s how many times we rise up. Her story on MMK’s “Contest” episode last September 28 truly brings that to light.

This shows how Zephanie, played remarkably by Maris Racal, had all the reasons to give up on her dreams, but still believed she can eventually attain them with the necessary determination, fight, and persistence.

Incredible vocal talent

What kept her going was the incessant belief in her incredible vocal talent by her parents, Roden and Richelle, played by Dominic Ochoa and Mickey Ferriols, that even went beyond their means in supporting Zephanie’s hopes of winning singing contests that always fell short.

This led to her parents’ constant struggle in making ends meet for the family and spreading themselves too thinly in supporting both the singing aspirations of Zephanie (Yesha Camile) and sister Nessa (Rhed Bustamante), which led to the latter’s jealousy.

It also didn’t help that the siblings’ tuition payments suffered, and the more Nessa had blamed Zephanie for all their sufferings due to the false hopes that she would win it big. With their financial troubles, Zephanie felt that it was necessary to join these contests to help her parents, but her failures seemed too ominous for her to bear.


After setbacks in a number of competitions, Zephanie would try it out at the audition for The Voice Kids Season 1, but never received a call back. She would then try the next season, wherein she had been fortunate to pass the Blind Auditions, and eventually aced the Battle Rounds and Sing-offs but got eliminated in the Semifinals.

This devastated Zephanie and the pain that she felt made her avoid joining singing contests for a few years. Now in her teens, Zephanie (Maris Racal) would then concentrate on her studies, until the time she discovered that the electric power service had been cut and learned that her parents’ income wasn’t enough to shoulder the family expenses. That led her to decide to accept an invitation from Tawag Ng Tanghalan on It’s Showtime to audition for its second season. 

Zephanie would become a Daily Winner but lost to the defending champion that day, the season’s eventual Grand Champion Janine Berdin. This further pained her but her parents made her realize after a heart-to-heart talk that she should not misconstrue their support in letting her join these contests to help them earn for the family, but because it was her passion to sing.  Her efforts would touch Nessa (Kristel Fulgar), who would tearfully reconcile with her. 

Fighting for her dreams

She would still compete in the same season as a “resbaker,” and even held the Golden Microphone for a few days, but was two days short of making the semifinals when she was eliminated. But instead of getting discouraged, she was even more determined to fight for her dreams.

And when auditions began for the Search for the Idol Philippines, she became more resolute and intense in giving her best in the competition. She sang all the elaborate and difficult pieces on each stage of the competition—from the time the judges first saw her in the audition up to the Final 3—feeling and rendering them deeply with the heart.  And when the last round came, when she came to sing an original song composed specially for her, it truly embodied her long, painstaking journey, Jonathan Manalo’s “Pangarap Kong Pangarap Mo.” When the announcement came, she could only kneel down in tears, finally reaching her dreams as the very first Idol Philippines.

WINNING MOMENTS: Zephanie Dimaranan takes Idol Philippines title with perfect 100 rating 

We are all truly inspired and moved by her tale, more so with the able storytelling masterfully crafted by the show’s writers. Director Eduardo Roy, Jr. pushed the right buttons in making Zephanie’s story everyone’s own. 

Spot-on depiction

Maris Racal was commendable for her impressive spot-on depiction of Zephanie, as we truly saw the champion singer in her in more ways than one. Yesha Camile was likewise brilliant in her portrayal of Zephanie’s younger self, as it even would run consistent with how we perceive and envisage the Idol Philippines winner at present. Rhed Bustamante and Kristel Fulgar were outstanding in playing Nessa in those short yet powerful dramatic moments, and Mickey Ferriols and Dominic Ochoa deserve applause as well for their deeply felt performances.

Netizens were likewise enamored.