In the first part of back-to-back Grand Dream Nights of Pinoy Dream Academy Season 2 last night September 13, at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City, the top six scholars demonstrated what they could do as artists if they were named this as season's Grand Star Dreamer.
The scholars did not offer surprising performances, as in the first season's Jay-R Siaboc's "Kisapmata." And the scholars certainly didn't take any notable risks, like when season one winner Yeng Constantino sang her own composition, "Salamat," for the finale. But they were able to show how much they improved in a span of 13 weeks, proving that they could have a place in the country's mainstream entertainment industry.
Miguel Mendoza betrays his "versatile musician" label when he sang "Love is on the Way" and "Man on the Mirror," the type of songs he had been singing for the longest time. Juror Girlie Rodis was for Miguel. She said the "outstanding balladeer" had vastly improved since the start of his "journey," perhaps a reference to his stint in Philippine Idol two years ago. "Maganda naman ang performance mo, you delivered the song well. I can't say anything against it... Maski ano pa mangyari ngayong gabi, alam mo na magaling ka, may talento, pagtibayan mo na lang ang loob mo sa mga darating na challenges sa buhay mo," she said.
Meanwhile, Laarni Lozada (her new screen name instead of Laarni Losala) proved last night that while she may not be a perfect singer, she is clearly an engaging performer. Laarni's rendition of "Manalig Ka" and "Boogie Wonderland" may seem impeccable for the typical listener, but not to the keen ears of Headmaster Ryan Cayabyab. "Ang laki ng pagkakamali mo," he said, although he continued, "maganda pa rin ng dala mo sa pagkanta mo." The Headmaster also said Laarni is the most "blessed" of all the singers in the competition because "ang dami mong nagagawa sa boses mo."
Mentors and jurors alike have been saying all season long that the show's "Heartthrob" Van Roxas (formerly Van Pojas) does not possess the show's most impressive voice. But his songs "Hard Habit to Break" and "Probinsya" did for him last night what his previous renditions of "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" and "Tatsulok" did for him during the competition-prove that, with the songs, Van can shine as a singer. "Alam mo kung ano ang advantage mo sa lima na kasama mo lalo na pagkatapos ng performance mo ngayong gabing ito? You're biggest advantage is that you are a star. So go for it," Performance Master Joey Reyes said.
Sexy sultry Cris Pastor had tagged as the season's resident female eye candy, but she is obviously more than just decorative last night, when she delivered "Out Here On My Own" and "Candyman" commendably. Voice mentor Monet Silvestre was on the spot with her critique of Cris' performance: "Sa buong three months ng academy, si Cris kasi nabansagan na sexy, maganda. Pero ang natutuhan naming mentors, at ng mga co-scholars, at ng buong bayan at mundo na rin, na si Cris ay isang totoong artist talaga. She's finally found her focus," he added.
It might be too early to give Liezel Garcia the title "The Future of Philippine R&B." Still, her "I am Changing" and "Respect" were her typical fare. The season's resident juror Louie Ocampo, a Liezel fan right from the start, was clearly impressed. "I believe people are... destined to become stars. It may not happen to today, tomorrow, but I think you will have your time and you will be a star."
Bugoy Drilon (formerly Bugoy Bogayan) performed last, with "Ligaya" and "Climb Every Mountain." "Angels did bring you here," Voice Master Kitchie Molina said. "You deserve to be here tonight and I hope will come true."
Now that we know what mentors and jurors have to say, it's time for the voice of the public to be heard. Who among Miguel, Laarni, Cris, Van, Liezel, and Bugoy deserves to be named the Grand Star Dreamer of Pinoy Dream Academy Season 2?
Was Ryan Cayabyab's comment on Laarni's mistake called for? Is Van really a star? Can Cris and Miguel rise up to the stiff competition? Can Liezel take the crown after dominating the competition for several weeks? Are speculations that Bugoy will win by a landslide true?
Find out during the finale tonight, September 14, in Pinoy Dream Academy Season 2's Awards Night, right after Goin' Bulilit on ABS-CBN.