Ever since The Voice of the Philippines franchise began in 2013, Bamboo has been a recurring coach, alongside illustrious Filipina performers Lea Salonga and Sarah Geronimo. And as the Kids edition is back for its fourth staging beginning August 3, everyone is definitely excited to see them reprise their roles, as well as watch their funny and thrilling showdowns as they vie for the auditionees’ favor for mentorship.
But as we anticipate who among the aspirants will be part of his Kamp Kawayan, as well as how he’s going to persuade them to choose to be part of his elite group, let’s take a look back first on his unprecedented and awe-inspiring 25-year journey in the local music scene.
Born on March 21, 1976 as Francisco Gaudencio Lope Belardo Mañalac, the seasoned musician reminisced during his Magandang Buhay guesting in 2017 that his fervor for music got cultivated when he was still a child. Apart from listening to the music of Michael Jackson, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra, he and his cousins also 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 original vocalists, Nathan urged Bamboo to audition for the position, 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 heeded and got appointed on the spot after the manager got impressed with his incredible vocal prowess. Thus, he’s considered as an ‘accidental musician’.
As they established their final lineup, they decided 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”, “214”, and “Awit ng Kabataan”, which they recorded in demo form for prospective recording companies, and achieved a plethora of enormous achievements –released successful albums, obtained numerous awards, and loaded several successful concerts and tours here and abroad.
Four years after, he decided to leave the band due to personal reasons. During his hiatus, he pursued his college education 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 together they formed the rock band Bamboo.
Just like Rivermaya, Bamboo was able to garner a huge following too through their powerful and LSS-inducing hits like “Noypi”, “Hallelujah”, and “Tatsulok”. And after a successful run with his eponymous band, Bamboo called it quits with them too. He told veteran broadcast journalist Karen Davila during his interview in ANC’s “Headstart” in 2012 that moving on from the group was difficult, as he dealt with personal struggles.
He spent his one-year hiatus 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 enigmatic voice and powerful, soulful singing to which he are known for.
ASAP: 2012 - PRESENT
In his return to the music scene, he wasn’t only able to launch his solo career, but he also became a part of the ever-growing family of ASAP in 2012. In that same Headstart interview, 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.”
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, as well. As they promoted the remaining days of the exhilarating singing competition, they got us bopping to Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s “Love Never Felt So Good”.
The Voice of the Philippines (2013)
The Rock Maestro’s yearning to share his expertise as a seasoned artist to the younger generation, which he mentioned to Karen Davila in the aforementioned Headstart interview, was finally realized when he was tapped to be one of the judge-mentors of the The Voice of the 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 (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 Kita” during 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, he, Coach Lea, and Coach Sarah shared the stage for an enthralling patriotic number 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 intense duet on the Shawn Mendes’ pop track “Stitches”.
The Voice Teens Philippines Season 1 (2017)
In the first staging of the Teen edition, the respected Pinoy musician proved us the that he and Isabella Vinzon that Kamp Kawayan indeed deserved to clinch the first win for the initial staging of the competition’s Teen edition.
He may have tagged 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 fourth The Voice Kids Philippines come from Coach Bamboo’s Kamp Kawayan? That’s for us to see in the coming months as the auditions begin this weekend!