Maureen "Mau" Marcelo does not deny that her life has changed after winning the first Philippine Idol title.
However, Mau—who is half-Filipino and half-Puerto Rican—says that it is only her family's lifestyle that has changed. "Siguro sa part lang po sa pamumuhay medyo tumaas po ng konti," says Mau during the January 17 press conference at Annabel's on Tomas Morato, Quezon City, to announce her pre-Valentine's Day concert.
"Kung yun naman pong sa sarili ko, sa ugali, wala pa rin naman pong nagbabago siguro," Mau says.
The native of Lucena City never had any formal voice lessons. The training is something she got from all the singing contests she kept joining since she was a kid.
"Parang na-discover lang ng nanay ko na marunong akong kumanta. And then, nawili na lang ako sa pagsali sa mga singing contest," she says.
Even before her big win in Philippine Idol, Mau had already competed in several singing contests on TV, such as Sing-Galing and Star for a Night. In the latter, she became a finalist the same year that Sarah Geronimo emerged as the winner.
Her Philippine Idol journey started when a friend told her about the contest. She tried her luck when she found out that there would be an audition in SM Lucena. She got in. Eventually, Mau made it to Philippine Idol's Top 24, but failed to make the cut when the viewers' text votes determined the first six contestants of the Final 12.
However, Mau got another chance to compete as a wildcard contestant. From there, she made it to the Top Three.
When she finally won the grand prize, this "Soul Idol"—as people called her during the competition—was able to take home one million pesos. She also got a one-million peso non-exclusive contract from ABC-5, and a recording contract from Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
For starters, Mau just launched her CD-Lite album entitled Mau Marcelo: On My Own. It has her three winning pieces—"Try It On My Own," "Love Takes Time," and "Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin"—plus minus ones of these singles.
After this, Mau is also set to launch her debut album.
"Siyempre, iba ang focus kay Mau since she is the winner. Si Mau gumagawa na nga ng album niya. First is her CD-Lite, then next is her [debut] album. Mau is actually very busy right now," says Sandra Chavez, who is the manager of the 12 Philippine Idol finalists. (Sandra also manages the stage appearances of Sharon Cuneta.)
More immediately, Mau and the other 11 Philippine Idol finalists will also hold a pre-Valentine's Day concert, dubbed the Valentine's Final 12, on February 9, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Unknown to even Philippine Idol avid viewers, Mau is already a mom! She has two children: four-year-old Patricia and nine-month-old Paolo.
"Nag-audition ako noon, one month pa lang akong kakapakanganak," Mau now reveals.
She says she is not yet married to her boyfriend of eight years, Richie Bonilla.
Asked if her boyfriend has proposed to her, the 26-year-old Mau replies with a laugh, "Actually po, inaakit na before pa. Matagal na matagal na, ako lang po yung umaayaw."
According to Mau, one of the things that's keeping her from marrying her boyfriend is precisely her singing career. As breadwinner, she wants to focus on her career to earn money for her family. To pursue this course, she has asked her partner to stop working and to look after their kids.
Mau has been living alone in Manila since joining Philippine Idol, while the rest of her family continues to stay in Lucena. Mau says this will soon change. Next month, her family is planning to make the move to Manila.