By Marinel Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:41:00 08/18/2008
MANILA, Philippines—“The viewers chose me as their idol. I hope everyone would respect their decision,” declared Gretchen Espina, a 20-year-old Biliran native and winner of “Pinoy Idol,” the talent search co-produced by GMA 7 and FreeMantle, which is behind the hit reality show “American Idol.”
The Philippine Daily Inquirer sought the reaction of Espina because of comments she bagged the title with her father’s “political connections” and not because she deserved to win. She is the daughter of Governor Rogelio Espina of Biliran, one of the smallest provinces in eastern Visayas.
“I have the talent,” said the former member of the UP Singing Ambassadors. “I probably would not have lasted long in the competition if people were not impressed with how I performed. I knew this issue would come up before I joined the contest, but I assure everyone that I fought fairly. Anyway, I was able to prove that I deserved to be here.”
Espina’s closest competitor was Jayann Bautista, 24, a Pampanga native and former Viva recording artist. Ram Chaves, 25, of Cagayan de Oro, placed third.
“Pinoy Idol,” which debuted on April 5 on the Kapuso network, seeks to discover the best singer or “idol” in the country through a series of nationwide auditions and live performances, which is determined by public voting through SMS.
“Show biz can be really nasty. I’m ready for it. It’s not any different from politics,” Espina told the Inquirer on Sunday shortly after the final results show at SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City. She admitted that her parents were against her joining the contest. “They wanted me to finish my studies first,” said the European language student at the University of the Philippines.
Espina, who gave impressive renditions of “For Your Eyes Only,” “Stand Up for Love” and “Ngayon” during the final performance night on Saturday, will receive P1 million, a condominium, a new Mitsubishi Lancer, a P1-million recording contract with Sony BMG Music Philippines and a television contract with GMA 7 worth P500,000.
Espina added: “I will share a portion of my winnings with the two other finalists. Napagkasunduan na namin ito (We agreed on this).” Bautista and Chaves will each receive P100,000 from her.
From over a thousand aspirants, 179 made it to the next round of auditions. Tryouts were held in key cities like Cagayan de Oro, Batangas, Iloilo, Cebu, Davao, Pasay, Dagupan and Angeles.
For the Pasay auditions, Ida Henares, head of GMA Artist Center (the talent arm of GMA Network), took over Jolina Magdangal’s seat in the judges’ panel, as the latter had left for the United States. Danny Tan is the show’s musical director.
This is the second “Idol” franchise in the country, after “Philippine Idol” that was shown on ABC 5 (now TV 5) in 2006. GMA 7 does not recognize “Philippine Idol” and its winner Mau Marcelo.