Bamboo: From rock singer to TV star

IMAGE Noel Orsal

Bamboo on how he handles personal questions from the press: “I think, sometimes, people say certain things to get a rise out of me, to get a reaction out of me. Ako, whatever comes out, comes out, whatever I wanna say. I’m pretty solid, I know who I am, I have a solid group of people behind me…”


Never in his wildest dreams did Bamboo think he’d become a TV star.

When he entered the entertainment scene in the ‘90s as vocalist of the band Rivermaya, his mind was set on music.

Aside from being a rock star, he’s The Voice coach, ASAP performer, and more recently, product endorser.

His latest deal is with denim brand Jag; his contract-signing was on August 14.

During the interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), YES! Magazine, and Yahoo, Bamboo revealed: “I never thought I was going to be on TV—I mean doing a TV gig.

“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing it so… it’s what I’m doing today, it’s what I’m doing now.

“I’m enjoying myself doing The Voice, there are so many aspects I love about the show. And then ASAP, there are certain things I like about itthe fun [and] you get to meet them [the fans].”

AS COACH. Joining the panel of the local franchise of the popular American reality TV singing competition is also his way of giving back.

He elaborated, “In some ways, I can say that.

“But that’s also, that has come naturally na. It’s sort of, ‘Oh it’s a way of giving back,’ especially with the kids, right?

“The aspect of coaching… I really felt these kids need help. They need help.

“I’m gonna make them sound good and look good on TV…”

In a separate interview, Tinna Bonifacio of Star Studio, asked if he feels any kind of pressure given that Team Bamboo has not produced a champion. In the first season, Mitoy Yonting of Team Lea Salonga won; while in The Voice Kids, Lyca Gairanod of Team Sarah Geronimo bagged the top spot.

His quick reply: “Absolutely none. I refused to go into strategy.”

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As a coach, he relies more on “instinct.”

He added, “Of course I wanna win but I don’t want to change how I do things. It’s growth over prize.”

Seeing his talent’s tremendous improvement by the end of the season is what matters most to him.

“I learn something from them, I learn something about myself…

“I always try to come in as a student and try to get something and learn from the experience…”

What did he learn this time?

“Oh man, what did I learn from the children?

“I learned something about myself. I knew coming in, there’s going to be difficulty—sensitivity with children, you know what I’m saying?

“That was gonna be hard for me, and I had to include the parents in the conversation… It was harder than I thought.”

He admitted, “…initially, I didn’t want to do The Voice Kids.

“I love kids, but that’s the thing—it could be difficult, it could be hard for me.

“I learned about myself kasi I had to open myself up a little more. It seems to happen each time, every season I’m done with The Voice.

“With the children, my ties, it doesn’t stop there. Even today, I still talk to some of the kids, especially adults of season 1 The Voice.

“A lot of them, I still talk to, I still do some mentoring. Some would call me up and say, ‘What do you think of this, or what do you think of that song?’ I give my opinion. Sometimes I say, ‘They’re gonna be great,’ or I say, ‘Oh that’s not very good, you got to do something better.’”

AS PERFORMER. There was a time in his career when he preferred to have a say on the songs he would sing when guesting on shows.

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But these days, does he say no if he feels uncomfortable singing a particular piece?

“… I get the go signal for the songs, certain songs, for some stuff na ako na gumawa, for some stuff… but most of the time, they sort of suggest the songs, and I just say if [they’re] good.

“I used to be the one to say, 'I like this song…’ then I got tired…

“Yeah, because my taste, I listen to a lot of different stuff… [but] they have a better idea of what people wanna hear right?

“So they give me the songs, and then I sort of give my feedback, ‘I can make this my own. Puwede ko ba gawin ‘to?’”

How is Bamboo with his fans?

“It’s been good, iba-iba, e. It’s been crazy…

“It’s not [always] that people are running after me or whatever, pero these days, I think, I have to admit, with TV, with my visibility on TV, it has changed [when] I go to certain shows or [when] I go to the mall...

“Now, it’s like—titas, lolas and real children.”

He said it gives him a natural high each time kids approach him and say hello.

“… that’s great! That’s exactly how I envisioned it when I was in rock.

“When I was doing that thing, and I wanted to be that, I wanted to cater to families and stuff like that. That’s what I’ve always wanted.”

Does he ever tell them that he's tired or he's not in the mood?

The Kapamilya star answered, “No, I’ve never done that and it does happen a lot—pagod na, I’m tired…

“I just appreciate it,” and he related how some fans from Manila drove all the way to Pangasinan just to catch his gig there.

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As for his next album, it’s “in the works.”

“My label would want it as soon as possible, but I don't want to set deadlines.

“I’m working with somebody I’ve never worked with in the U.S., with a couple of friends of mine there, so we’ll see ano’ng mangyayari.

“I can’t say, ‘Oh, I’ll be done in a month,' 'coz I don’t know. I don’t really know if it’s gonna happen.

“I just wanna go there [San Francisco] and try something different lang, get out of the box and see where I can get these songs, what I can do, and [get] feedback from someone different and not from me, [not] the guys you've worked with…”

One question: Is he still in touch with Rivermaya’s original band members—Rico Blanco, Mark Escueta, and Nathan Azarcon?

“Yeah, we do.”

Do they text each other?

Smiling, he said, “No, I’m not the texty type. I don’t text, I don’t tweet…

“But I mean, when I see them, we see each other. Once in a while, we have dinner…

“But I’m not that… every week, month, it’s not like that…”


AS MOVIE STAR? What if there’s an offer for him to act?

“… in movies? It would depend. I would never say never. But I would never do like a lead thingy, I can’t imagine myself,” he said.

If ever he agreed to a project, his major requisite would be: "It has to be well-written.”

He underscores his priority at the moment.

“I love my day job too much, I’m gonna work on this first. I’m a singer, I’m a performer, that’s it…

“I know what my real job is at the end of the day. I know what I really do, that’s what I do…”

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What about working behind the camera?

“I don’t mind that. I’ve always wanted to do that. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I agreed to do TV—to experience and watch the directors and the producers do their thing.

“I would love to do that. That’s something that's always been close to me.

“I did study film in school.”

He can edit videos and write his own stuff, but he wants to be good at the “visual” aspect.

Has he ever disagreed with the director?

“No, no, no, I don’t. Because ako naman as an artist, I understand naman I have to respect the director.

“Once I say yes to this guy, ‘Nag-yes na ‘ko sa inyo,’ I have to trust naman.

“I give my opinion from time to time, if I’m not comfortable or something.

“Pero if I work with you, kailangan may tiwala ako sa ‘yo and it’s all the way, you know what I mean?

“May vision ka; I have to respect that.”

AS BAMBOO. Off-cam, he’s quite reserved, and he values his privacy.

“Yes, I try my best. I always try to define that line. That’s something very, very important for me.

“… from day one, I’ve known what to include, what to put out, and what to say.

“That’s why it’s very hard for me to do interviews or anything else 'coz sometimes, I don’t answer because when they turn to my private life, I just sort of shut the door immediately. I don’t know how to answer.

“I just define [the lines], I don’t know, I’ve done it for so long… work is work…”

One time, a PEP contributor asked about his wife being rich. How does he handle questions like this?

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His answer is proof that he knows this business very well.

“I think, sometimes, people say certain things to get a rise out of me, to get a reaction out of me.

“Ako, whatever comes out, comes out, whatever I wanna say.

“I’m pretty solid, I know who I am, I have a solid group of people behind me…”


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