Ever since The Voice Philippines franchise began in 2013, Bamboo has been a recurring coach. And as the Kids edition is back for its fifth season beginning February 25, everyone is definitely looking forward to see him reprise his role and watch how he is going to vie for the auditionee’s nod to be part of his illustrious Kamp Kawayan.
But as we anticipate who among the aspirants will be part of his team, as well as how he’s going to persuade them to choose him to be their mentor, let’s look back first on his unprecedented and awe-inspiring almost three-decade journey in the local music scene.
Born Francisco Gaudencio Lope Belardo Mañalac on March 21, 1976, the seasoned musician imparted during his Magandang Buhay guesting in 2017 that his fervor for music got cultivated when he was still a child. Among his music inspirations include Michael Jackson, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra.
He reminisced how he and his cousins used to perform in front of their whole clan during family gatherings. But the funny thing about this, according to him, was they were never exposed to musical instruments, so nobody in their family knew how to play neither a guitar nor a piano until he came along.
It was in 1994 when his musical career took off with the help of his then-schoolmate and friend Nathan Azarcon, who at that time was the bassist of a band called Xaga. With the departure of their former vocalists, Nathan urged Bamboo to audition, which he initially declined since he was not used to performing in front of other people apart from his family and friends. But he eventually tried and got the role on the spot, after the manager got impressed with his incredible vocals. Thus, he considered himself as an ‘accidental musician’.
As they established their final lineup, they agreed to disband Xaga and replace it with Rivermaya, comprised by Nathan on bass guitar, Rico Blanco on keyboards and backing vocals, and Mark Escueta on drums.
Together, they began putting up tracks after tracks, such as their first-ever single “Ulan,” and other hits such as “214,” “Himala,” “Kisapmata,” “Hinahanap-hanap Kita,” and “Awit ng Kabataan.” They earned a plethora of achievements – greatest albums, numerous awards, and successful concerts and tours here and abroad. However, he decided to leave the band four years later due to personal reasons. During his hiatus, he pursued his college education abroad by studying English, Philosophy, and Film while taking on several odd jobs.
After living in Los Angeles, California for four years, Bamboo came back to the Philippines. In his return, Nathan introduced him to Ira Cruz and Vic Mercado, and they formed the rock band “Bamboo.”
Bamboo was able to garner a huge following, too, through their powerful and LSS-inducing hits like “Noypi,” “Hallelujah,” and “Tatsulok.” But that was only short-lived as he decided to depart from the band after their successful run. He spent his one-year break writing songs for his first-ever album as a solo artist, “No Water, No Moon,” in which he was able to unleash his real self and further showcase his powerful and soulful voice to which he is known for.
In his return to the music scene, he wasn’t only able to launch his solo career, but also became part of the ASAP family in 2012. In his exclusive interview with Karen Davila for ANC’s Headstart that year, he admitted that he didn’t actually expect this feat, saying, “That’s something I never thought that I would do, but yes, I am. I just think that I’m not the right fit for it at the beginning. They came and they asked me, and invited me to it. It’s been great. I’ve been blessed.”
Here are some of his remarkable performances on the Sunday variety show alongside other Kapamilya artists, wherein the rock icon was able to brandish his versatility and distinct singing prowess.
Prior to their friendly clash on the debut season of The Voice in 2013, Bamboo and his fellow judge-mentor Sarah Geronimo rend our hearts with their version of P!nk and Nate Ruess’ “Just Give Me A Reason.” Since then, their tandem has been one of the most requested to be seen on ASAP.
In the succeeding year, he was able to share the spotlight on the program not just with Sarah, but with their The Voice fellow coach, Broadway Diva Lea Salonga, too. As they promoted the remaining days of the singing competition, they got us bopping to Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s “Love Never Felt So Good”.
The Kapamilya rockstar then impressed us with his riveting solo performance of Sia’s “Chandelier” in 2015.
Once again, the Rock Royalty and the Popstar Royalty delivered another trending number as they put their own flavor to the top favorite Ed Sheeran hit “Shape of You”.
Together with Yeng Constantino and KZ Tandingan, the 46-year-old singer-songwriter left us mind-blown with their emotive mash-up of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” and Evanesence’s “Bring Me To Life.”
Just in case we couldn’t get enough of the trio’s first number together, here’s another video of them singing the 90s alternative classics “Closing Time” by Semisonic and “Iris” of Goo Goo Dolls that you shouldn’t miss.
The Voice of the Philippines (2013)
The Rock Maestro’s wish to share his expertise as a seasoned artist to the younger generation, which he mentioned to Karen Davila in the aforementioned Headstart interview, finally came true when he was tapped to be one of the judge-mentors of the The Voice Philippines.
On the first regular season, he was able to take his protégé Myk Perez to the grand finals, wherein they had a duet of his original composition “Morning Rose.”
The Voice Kids Philippines Season 1 (2014)
Presenting the 18 young artists under Kamp Kawayan, Bamboo rocked the The Voice stage with them by singing the Rivermaya hit “Awit ng Kabataan” altogether.
The Voice of the Philippines Season 2 (2014)
In the sophomore year of the regular season, he joined one of his bets, Rence Ranapot, in serenading us with another Rivermaya trademark song “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” in one of the Live Shows.
The Voice Kids Philippines Season 2 (2015)
A few moments before the announcement of the winner for the second season of The Voice Season 2, Bamboo, Coach Lea, and Coach Sarah shared the stage for an enthralling patriotic number by singing “Sariling Awit Natin” during the Live Finals performance.
The Voice Kids Philippines Season 3 (2016)
For the Final Showdown of the Kids’ season 3, he and his young understudy Justin Alva swooned us with their powerful duet of the Shawn Mendes’ pop track “Stitches”.
The Voice Teens Philippines Season 1 (2017)
In the inaugural staging of the Teens edition, the revered Pinoy musician proved us that Kamp Kawayan indeed deserved to clinch the first win for the said season through his and his charge Isabela Vinzon’s collaboration of “Kapayapaan” during the grand finals.
The Voice Kids Philippines Season 4 (2019)
True to his rockstar DNA, Bamboo engaged his young mentee, Carmelle Collado from Camarines Sur, in a breathtaking and powerful rock version of “Let It Go” through their duet performance in The Voice Kids Season 4 grand finals in 2019 that really brought the house down.
The Voice Teens Philippines Season 2 (2020)
Even though the finale of the second season of the Teens edition had to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the government, that didn’t hinder the four coaches (Bamboo, Sarah, Lea, and Apl.de.ap) from presenting performances. The Rock Maestro delighted us with his rendition of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” with his Top 3 artists Heart Salvador, Kate Campo, and Rock Opong.
ASAP Natin ‘To
He also got the chance to sing one of his compositions, “Untitled,” in one of his appearances in the Sunday musical variety show in 2020.
Decades since it was released, he got to perform his former band Rivermaya’s hit track “Himala” alongside Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano on the as ASAP stage.
A few days later, he joined Janine Berdin during her birthday performance wherein they sang “Tatsulok” together.
He may have considered himself as an ‘accidental musician,’ but the universe apparently had already poised him ever since to become a rock icon and maestro of Original Pilipino Music!
Will the fifth champion of The Voice Kids Philippines come from Coach Bamboo’s Kamp Kawayan? Well, that’s for us to find out in the coming months as the new season begins this coming Saturday and Sunday, February 25 and 26, on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, A2Z, and TV5.