Innate goodness big plus for charismatic Juan Karlos

Thirteen-year-old Juan Karlos Labajo’s natural charisma is unquestionable.

From The Voice Kids Blind Auditions trailer in May up to the proclamation of the grand champion on Sunday, the Cebuano lad had been winning hearts by hundreds of thousands every day.


Juan Karlos Labajo

(Click thumbnails to enlarge pics)

The Blind Auditions video of him singing Adam Sandler’s Grow Old With You breached the 2-million mark for the reality singing competition on YouTube.

His witticism interspersed with the sad news about his mom’s death in November endeared him more to viewers.


JK hugs then lifts Lyca

As the contest progressed, people saw the other side of him – serious about his craft but easily connects with the audience, well-liked even by the other contestants (both younger and older) and teachable as testified by his coach, rock icon Bamboo Manalac.


JK, Lyca, Darren, Darlene (hidden) in a huddle after the show

JK performed Yesterday by The Beatles for the Power Ballad Round in the Grand Finals, which had him cry towards the end and was not able to answer host Luis Manzano’s question why he cried, but just pointed up as gesture for the reason of his emotion was his mom.

He did Runaway Baby by Bruno Mars in the Upbeat Round, earning accolades from his Coach Bamboo that he made the song his own.


JK and Coach Bamboo

His charm, singing talent and strong stage presence assure him of a career in singing, and surely, as an actor, too, being a total package.

His enigmatic rendition of the song made Lea Salonga comment:

“I’m actually looking at you as a 13-year-old and seeing what you’re going to be like five years from now, ‘yung mga DJ na ‘yan, ‘yung mga… wala, sorry. Their names are going to be erased once you get to that age…”

Fans of heartthrob Daniel Padilla (also known by his nickname, DJ, for Daniel John) immediately took to social media to voice their reaction to the Broadway star’s candid comment.

Lea did not have to wait for more reactions and posted on Twitter and Facebook:

“Ohhh dear… I offer my deepest apologies to Daniel P and his fans. In building up JK I neglected to think that I might hurt other people.”

Daniel, meanwhile, said Lea’s comment did not offend him and there was no need to explain or apologize for as his mom Karla Estrada (also a singer-actress who started out as That’s Entertainment talent) has high regards for the original Miss Saigon.


JK’s swag is all his own

JK can fill a room merely by his presence, illuminates it some more when he sings, then brings the heat when he moves.

On Sunday, he performed Eto Na Naman with Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano – the only upbeat number among them four Grand Finalists.


TVK’ Hosts and Coaches with ABS-CBN Execs Gabby Lopez (extreme left) and Cory Vidanes (extreme right)

Ranked third after Lyca Gairanod and Darren Espanto (both of Team Sarah) when the votes were tallied choosing the Top 4 out of the Top 6, the ranking never changed on Grand Champion Night.

Lyca was declared the first-ever The Voice Kids Grand Champion.

Upon the announcement, JK immediately hugged and lifted the nine-year-old tyke from Cavite, as if she’s his younger sister and not a competitor at all.


‘TVK’ Season 1 Big 4

JK’s gesture was praiseworthy as it’s a display of his innate goodness. Though barely noticed by the diehards, some took their hats off and lauded the young man for it.

Even at the After Party, where Lyca expressed her gratitude to all those who supported and voted for her, it was JK who led in the performances along with members of Team Bamboo and their beloved coach.


Seeing Double with Darren Espanto

Shows and guestings have been lined up for the The Voice Kids Top 4 in the coming days.

One of these is the Charity Concert of The Voice Kids.

Dubbed Boses Ng Bulilit, Kami Ulit the concert features the Top 4 (Lyca, Darren, JK, Darlene), the coaches (Sarah, Bamboo and Lea) and Kapamilya artists. This is for the benefit of the victims of recent Typhoon Glenda.

(Call 0937-411-4850 and look for JM Lafuente for ticket inquiries and reservations)

Click links to watch JK’s Grand Finals videos:


JK with Lyca’s parents


‘Runaway Baby’

‘Eto Na Naman’ with Gary Valenciano

Announcement of Grand Champion

Other videos:

Teaser video, now with almost 2,400,000 views

Full Blind Auditions

Battles Round, ‘A Thousand Years’ with Julienne and Maite

Sing-Off Round, ‘Stay’

Announcement of Team Bamboo Final 2

Semi-Finals Round, ‘Sway’

Top 6 Boys, ‘One Way Or Another’ with Darren and Tonton

Related stories in this blog:


Get to know JK once again thru his slam book

 Photos and videos from and The Voice Kids PH YouTube Channel


Despite not winning ‘The Voice Kids’ title: Singing heartthrob Darren is staying and may try acting, too!

#DarrenDontLeaveThePhilippines became a trending topic not only in the Philippines but worldwide soon after the proclamation of Lyca Gairanod as The Voice Kids grand champion with Canada-based Pinoy singing sensation Darren Espanto placing second.

TVKDarren1 TVKgrandfinaleteamsarah (Click thumbnails to enlarge pics)

Fans, especially the Darrenatics, were weary and wary that Darren will go back to Canada for good since he did not win the title.

The hashtag has been retweeted more than 2,000 times and favorited more than 1,000 times.

Upon the proclamation of Lyca as grand champion, Darren was seen being hugged and comforted by Coach Sarah Geronimo. When the replica check was awarded to Lyca, Darren was seen hugging ABS-CBN executive Cory Vidanes (who announced the result) and sobbing.


Darren not winning the title made a lot of people – both supporters and neutral viewers – sad, some even cried, not because Lyca won but because they knew and believed Darren should be the first The Voice Kids grand champion.


One issue being discussed and circulated is that when they voted for Darren (following the mechanics) they got replies saying that the vote was confirmed to have been received but went to Lyca.

Darrenatics are in protest of this kind of scheme, again, not because they think Lyca is not the rightful winner, but because their votes for Darren was counted for Lyca.

Having been fooled, duped, naisahan and other terms available for this kind of scheme, fans and supporters are up against the system and have collectively moved to file a formal complaint with ABS-CBN.


When the Top 4 were announced out of the Top 6, Lyca was called first and Darren was last. Host Luis Manzano later revealed the ranking: 1) Lyca 2) Darren 3) Juan Karlos (Labajo of Team Bamboo) 4) Darlene (Vibares of Team Lea). Both Lyca and Darren come from Team Sarah.

The difference between Lyca and Darren reportedly was very slim, almost neglible.


After the grand finals performances last Saturday, Lyca came in quite strong with Narito Ako by Regine Velasquez and Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen. But Darren was stronger with Ngayon by Basil Valdez and Somebody To Love by Justin Bieber.

As seen by neutral viewers, the performances on Sunday, though, sealed it for Lyca with her concert-like performance with Aegis for Basang-Basa Sa Ulan.

Filipinos love underdogs but also celebrate hair-raising experiences especially in singing competitions, with the fact that Aegis songs are the most popular yet hardest-to-perform ditties during gatherings.


Darren, who said he was to give Lyca the house prize if he won, shows no regret at all for not winning the title. This should allay the fears and weariness of his legions of fans.

Is he staying put or is he going back to Canada?

“Kung may (If there are) offer(s) I’ll stay here po,” he said in an interview at the backstage after the show.

Shows and guestings have been lined up for the The Voice Kids Top 4 in the coming days.

One of these is the Charity Concert of The Voice Kids.


Dubbed Boses Ng Bulilit, Kami Ulit the concert features the Top 4 (Lyca, Darren, JK, Darlene), the coaches (Sarah, Bamboo and Lea) and Kapamilya artists. This is for the benefit of the victims of recent Typhoon Glenda.

(Call 0937-411-4850 and look for JM Lafuente for ticket inquiries and reservations)

Whether in the Philippines or Canada (or anywhere in the world), Darren will surely continue singing.

As taught by Sarah to be always humble, Darren feels blessed and happy of the support he’s getting.

He also wants to try acting and would love to have a project with his coach.

“Pangarap ko rin pong mag-artista (It’s also my dream to become an actor),” he said when asked if he’d try acting, too, adding that he’d love to have a project with his coach and idol, Sarah Geronimo.


Click link to see related article Will Darren Espanto be staying in the Philippines after ‘The Voice Kids’?

Click link to watch Darren’s cover of Rihanna’s Diamonds

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Darren asserts supremacy in both rounds of ‘The Voice Kids’ grand finals performances

All four The Voice Kids grand finalists are good. In fact, they are more than good – already assured of places in the Philippine entertainment sun.


In Saturday’s performances – Juan Karlos Labajo, Lyca Gairanod, Darlene Vibares and Darren Espanto each sang a power ballad and an upbeat number.

(Click link to watch Darren’s powerful rendition of Ngayon)

Lyca sang Narito Ako by Regine Velasquez. All coaches were impressed by her performance. In the upbeat round, she sang Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe.


Lyca Gairanod

Lea Salonga said that whenever she’d talk to the kids in English, Lyca would say she could not understand, but proved she can also do English songs, after all.

(Click links to watch Lyca‘s performances)

Her coach, Sarah Geronimo, said “Kahit anong gawin mo, mamahalin at mamahalin ka namin, kasi talagang (Whatever you do, we will always love you, as certainly) you have the makings of a superstar.”


Juan Karlos Labajo

Juan Karlos did Yesterday by The Beatles, which had him cry towards the end and was not able to answer host Luis Manzano’s question why he cried, but just pointed up as gesture for the reason of his emotion was his mother who died only last November.

(Click links to watch JK‘s performances)

JK did Runaway Baby by Bruno Mars in the upbeat round, earning accolades from his Coach Bamboo that he made the song his own. His charm, singing talent and strong stage presence assure him of a career in singing and also acting being a total package.


Darlene Vibares

Darlene started out of sync performing Sharon Cuneta’s Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas but able to catch up and still gave a powerful rendition of the popular love song. Her coach, Lea, said it happens to all performers but praised her for making it through.

(Click links to watch Darlene‘s performances)

Darlene did Louder by Charice and also got remarks from Lea that the international singer must be very proud of the kid’s performance.


Darren Espanto

It’s Darren that brought the house down and had all three coaches giving him standing ovation, not just her coach, Sarah, after his performance of Ngayon by Basil Valdez.

Shedding tears after the prolonged high-note last word of the song, he told host Alex Gonzaga that he was just emotional, the reason why he cried.

Lea commented, “Sa lahat ng iniidolo ngayon ni Darren, ito ay isang babala sa inyo, ilalampaso kayo ng batang ito balang araw (To all those that Darren presently idolizes, this is a warning, this kid will sweep you away someday).”

Darren slumbook

Get to know Darren again thru his slam book

Coach Sarah remarked: “Ngayon ay pinatunayan mo na ikaw ang karapat-dapat na tanghaling grand champion ng The Voice Kids (Now [title of his song in English] you have proven that you deserve to be proclaimed as the grand champion of The Voice Kids).”

Darren performed Somebody To Love by Justin Bieber for the upbeat round.

Sarah said Darren is very much ripe, ready for superstardom and there’s nothing to coach him on anymore, as every forte is his forte.

(Click link to watch Darren‘s upbeat number)

She added that Darren is a mixture of Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano (known for his singing-dancing skills) and Power Balladeer Martin Nievera.


The Voice Kids grand champion wins P1 million, one-year recording contract from MCA Universal, house and lot (from Camella Homes), home appliance showcase, musical instrument showcase and P1 million worth of trust fund.

The first grand champion of The Voice Kids (Philippines) is known tonight, Sunday, July 27, 2014.

Take note of the time: It’s 6:15 p.m. and not 6:45 p.m. on ABS-CBN.

See related stories in this blog:


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Darren to give house to Lyca, musical set to Darlene, money to church if he wins ‘The Voice Kids’

In a casual conversation of The Voice Kids Big 4 while sipping tea during break, Darren Espanto said that, in case he wins, he will give the money to his church and the house to Lyca (Gairanod).


‘TVK’ Big 4

Juan Karlos Labajo said he will share his winnings also to Lyca so she can buy house for her and her family, in case he wins.


Darren Espanto

Darlene (Vibares) protested that no one’s giving her anything. JK later said he will give Darlene financial support, five thousand (pesos) and guitar.


Lyca Gairanod

Darren first said he will give Darlene his moral support, but later changed his mind and said he will give Lea Salonga’s bet the musical set.


Darren, Lyca and Coach Sarah

The 53-second video was posted by Michael Asher Andal Hermo and shared to Sarah Geronimo’s Popsters.

Lyca fanatics, though, said nothing like this could happen as it’s their superstar who will win.


Darren and JK

The Voice Kids grand champion, to be known on Sunday, July 27, 2014, wins P1 million, one-year recording contract from MCA Universal, house and lot (from Camella Homes), home appliance showcase, musical instrument showcase and P1 million worth of trust fund.


Juan Karlos Labajo

Darren is the strongest contender to the title, along with Lyca. Both are from Team Sarah.

(See related story Team Sarah vs Team Sarah: Darren and Lyca seen slugging it out in ‘The Voice Kids Champion’ final round


Darlene Vibares

Juan Karlos from Team Bamboo and Darlene are the other two grand finalists in the first edition of the singing reality franchise that originated in the Netherlands in 2010.


The Coaches with ‘The Voice Kids’ grand finalists

Click link to watch video clip


Darren plays big brother to Lyca


See related stories in this blog:

‘The Voice Kids’ Big 4: Lyca, Darren, Juan Karlos, Darlene in grand finals!

After the votes were tallied basing on the performances of The Voice Kids Top 6 on Saturday, the Big 4 were announced by hosts Luis Manzano and Alex Gonzaga on Sunday in no particular order: Lyca (Gairanod) of Team Sarah (Geronimo), Juan Karlos (Labajo) of Team Bamboo, Darlene (Vibares) of Team Lea (Salonga), and Darren (Espanto) of Team Sarah.


Lyca Gairanod

Click link to watch opening number


Luis, however, revealed that by ranking, topping the list was Lyca, followed by Darren, then JK and Darlene.


Darren Espanto

Click link to watch announcement of Big 4–lyca-move-on-to-grand-finals

Tonton (Cabiles) was #5 and Edray (Teodoro) was #6.


Both Sarah’s Final 2 made it to the Big 4, making her the winningest coach, as Lea and Bamboo have one each.


Juan Karlos Labajo

Click links to watch performances of Lyca, JK and Darren

The Top 6 performed songs of their choice in the live semifinals – Darlene with I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston (who cried before finishing the last note as she dedicated it to her dead grandfather), JK with Sway by Michael Buble, Lyca with Pangarap Na Bituin by Sharon Cuneta, Tonton with One Day In Your Life by the young Michael Jackson, Edray with Beautiful by Christina Aguilera and Darren with One Moment In Time by Whitney Houston.


Darlene Vibares

Click links to watch performances of Tonton, Darlene and Edray

Voting was open after the show and each of the Top 6’s supporters rallied behind their favorite contestant.

Earlier on the day, live on ASAP, the coaches and the Top 6 opened the Sunday show performing the late rapper Francis Magalona’s hits – Mga Kababayan Ko, Meron Akong Ano and Ito Ang Gusto Ko.


The girls performing ‘Let It Go’

The kids later performed again with mainstays Erik Santos, Angeline Quinto and Yeng Constantino doing Katy Perry’s Roar.


The boys performing ‘One Way Or Another’

The Voice Kids grand champion, known next week, wins P1 million, one-year recording contract from MCA Universal, house and lot, home appliance showcase, musical instrument showcase and P1 million worth of trust fund.


‘TVK’ Big 4

Related stories in this blog:

Photos and videos from and

Lea, Bamboo ‘The Voice Kids’ semis bets chosen; Sarah’s known this weekend

First to go were Coach Lea Salonga’s kids. From 18, the team was trimmed down to six in the Battles: Angel Aguilera, Darlene Vibares, Eufritz Santos, Jimboy Garcia, Shanne Dandan and Winston Cabiles Jr.

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The six went on to Sing Off and Darlene, the cute comedic nine-year-old girl from Antipolo City, and the young Bruno Mars of Cebu City, Tonton, were chosen by the multi-awarded Broadway actress-singer to represent Team Lea in the live semifinals.

Clink link to watch Darlene’s performance

Lea said that it’s as if there’s an old person inside Darlene whenever she sings and the girl was on fire giving it all the drama when she rendered her version of the Jennifer Holliday song, And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.

Click link to watch Tonton’s performance

The Cebuano boy elicited admiration both from Lea and Coach Sarah Geronimo with his rendition of the Fil-Am singer’s It Will Rain.

“Just beautiful singing – no trills (or shouts), doesn’t hurt the ears, so beautiful to hear,” Lea said of Tonton’s performance.

Click link as Lea chooses her Final 2

Last week, it was Team Bamboo’s turn.

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The kids who gave their all in the Battles were Borge Rivera, Edray Teodoro, Gem Capalad, Nathan Bautista, Juan Karlos Labajo and Stacy Pineda.

Coach Bamboo was in the brink of crying when he thanked the kids and their parents before announcing his choices to represent his team in the semis.

Click link for Juan Karlos’ performance

Click link for Edray’s performance

He borrowed Borge’s scarf to wipe away his tears and said in jest, “Can’t we have (a) commercial (break)?… Oh, I hate TV…”

Bamboo then announced that he chose Juan Karlos because he knows how to connect with the audience and always sings from the heart. For Edray, he said it was her impressive performance.

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Sarah commented that if Edray was an actor, she certainly knew pretty well how to put herself in the story.

Click link to watch as Bamboo chooses his Final 2

The 13-year-old JK (that’s how fans call Juan Karlos now), whose mother died in November last year, looked up and pointed upward as he sang the last word of his rendition of Stay by Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko. His Blind Auditions video breached the two-million views mark on YoutTube for The Voice Kids PH.

(See related story ‘The Voice Kids’ amazing discoveries ensure steady supply of singing superstars

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This weekend, July 12 (Saturday) Team Sarah will be the Battles for the 18 kids: Kyle vs Khen vs Rica; JM & JC vs Sam vs Darren; Isaac vs Lee vs Lyca; Don Mark vs Twittle vs Earl; Triscia vs Diana vs Hannah; and Musika vs Gab vs Mitz.

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Netizens have favorites for Team Sarah since Day 1: Darren Espanto and Lyca Gairanod. In fact, some are saying that if these two make it to the semis then hands down, the winning coach would be Sarah G.

Meanwhile, The Voice Kids had been going on tour around elementary schools in Metro Manila.

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This Saturday, July 12, they will be at the Venice Piazza in Taguig at 5 p.m.
Hosted by Luis Manzano and Alex Gonzaga, The Voice Kids airs 6:45 p.m. Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. Sundays on ABS-CBN.

Related story in this blog: Canada-based Pinoy singing sensation Darren Espanto sets social media afire with ‘The Voice Kids’ blind audition, chooses Sarah G. as coach

Photos and videos from and