Last Monday, May 25, ay dumating sa Pilipinas ang American Idol Season 6 semi-finalist na si Adrian Joseph "AJ" Tabaldo. Nakapasok sa Top 24 ng American Idol si AJ, pero hindi siya pinalad na makalusot sa Top 12. Ang nagwagi sa season na iyon ay si Jordin Sparks, na kumanta ng hit singles na "No Air" at "Tattoo."
Ipinanganak at lumaki sa Santa Maria, California, si AJ. Pinoy ang kanyang ina at Portugese naman ang kanyang ama. Limang beses daw nag-audition sa American Idol si AJ. Natuwa naman siya't nakaabot siya ng Top 24 at nagustuhan ang singing style niya ng mga judges, na sina Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, at Paula Abdul.
"I just love to sing. I've been singing since I was 12 years old, and I got the talent from my grandparents. My musical influences include Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, and Justin Timberlake. I'm more on R&B, but I can do ballads and classics as well," sabi ni AJ nang makausap siya ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal).
Matapos ang American Idol ay sinubukan ni AJ ang kanyang suwerte sa Los Angeles, California. Naging opening act siya sa ilang Filipino artists na may mga show sa Filipino communities duon. Kabilang sa mga nakasama na ni AJ ay sina Dolphy, Gabby Concepcion, Judy Ann Santos, at ilang aspiring performers sa U.S. Umawit na rin siya ng National Anthem sa sports events tulad sa HBO/Showtime televised boxing matches.
Kuwento niya, "After I was eliminated from the show, a lot of work came to me and I was really happy. You don't have to be a winner to get work, right? I had numerous singing engagements and it was great.
"I had to move to Los Angeles and take a leave from my work because I've been moving around. I've been doing shows for Filipino communities and I've been meeting some of the local celebrities you have here. I'm familiar with them because I get to watch them on cable."
May nag-e-encourage daw kay AJ na magsimula ng singing career dito sa Pilipinas at marami naman daw ang tutulong sa kanya. Pero marami pa raw siyang aasikasuhin sa U.S., at pag-iisipan daw niya muna ito nang husto.
"It's going to be a big decision. I just can't make that decision yet. I also have a life in the States. My family is there, and it would be a decision that I have to stand by, if ever. I don't know yet. I'll make that decision when I'm really ready," nakangiti niyang sabi.
BERNIE ANN. Kasamang dumating ni AJ sa Pilipinas ang isa pang aspiring Fil-Am singer na si Bernie Ann Estiandar. Nagsimulang kumanta sa edad na lima si Bernie Ann at lagi siyang kinukuhang opening act sa mga nagsu-show na mga Pinoy celebrities sa U.S., gaya nina Christopher de Leon, Piolo Pascual, Vina Morales, Sam Milby, Jay-R, at Ogie Alcasid.
"My parents are both Filipinos and I was raised in Los Angeles. Pero umuuwi naman kami sa Manila for vacation kaya marunong akong mag-Tagalog. Unlike si AJ, it's his first time to come to Manila and he can't speak or understand a word of Tagalog.
"I'm helping him with it and he wants to learn the language, kasi he wants to build a career here as well. Matagal na kaming friends ni AJ because nagkakasama kami sa mga shows sa Filipino communities in the States," sabi ni Bernie Ann sa PEP.
Nasubukan na rin ni Bernie Ann na sumali sa isang malaking singing contest sa U.S., ang Star Search. Pero nag-backout siya dahil nagkaroon ng conflict sa kanyang school.
"School is my priority," sabi niya. "I don't want anything to interfere with my studies. Like what happened to Star Search, hindi nag-jive sa schedule ko with school, so I had to back out. I'm a full scholar at Mount Saint Mary's College and I can't afford to miss any of my classes. Ayokong i-sacrifice ang studies ko kasi I promised my parents that I will finish school."
LOVE STORY. Nandito sina AJ at Bernie Ann para i-promote ang kanilang CD titled Love Story. May tatlong Tagalog songs na included sa album na sinulat ni Vehnee Saturno. Ang carrier single ay ang "Isang Katulad Mo."
Inamin ni AJ na nahirapan siya sa pag-record ng mga Tagalog songs, pero naging malaking challenge daw 'yon para sa kanya. Pero natulungan naman daw siya ng ka-duet niyang si Bernie Ann.
"It was a big challenge for me," sabi ni AJ. "It's the first time I've encountered those words. But it brought out the Pinoy in me. When they interpreted the song to me in English, it's a great love song and it inspired me to record it in Tagalog."
As for Bernie Ann, may plano siyang mag-stay sa Pilipinas nang matagal, unlike si AJ na uuwi sa U.S. after three months dahil may mga trabaho itong naiwan doon.
"I want to establish myself here if I want to achieve something good for my singing career. Every time naman na magbabakasyon kami dito sa Pilipinas, ayoko nang bumalik sa U.S. kasi gusto ko rito. I love the people and how life is going on here. Unlike sa U.S. na fast-paced lahat. Dito, I feel that everyone is always having fun.
"We're currently making arrangements with my school in L.A. I might continue my studies here and I am hoping for the best," banggit ni Bernie Ann.