REALITY SHOW CHRONICLES: Zephanie Dimaranan almost quit after losing in two singing contests before Idol Philippines

by James Patrick Anarcon
Oct 28, 2019
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) chronicles Zephanie Dimaranan's journey from her two failed attempts in joining reality shows to becoming the first Idol Philippines.
PHOTO/S: Noel Orsal / Idol Philippines (ABS-CBN)

On the night of July 28, 2019, 16-year-old Zephanie Dimaranan was hailed as the first grand winner of ABS-CBN's Idol Philippines.

The youngest among the Top 12 finalists, Zephanie scored a perfect 100% score during the finals night, allowing her to set a record in the history of reality shows in the Philippines since a contestant rarely gets a perfect score.

However, Zephanie's win did not come easy.

Prior to Idol Philippines, Zephanie experienced failures and losses which were also seen by the viewing public through the televised reality programs she joined in the past: The Voice Kids and It's Showtime's "Tawag ng Tanghalan" segment.

Fast forward to this day, Zephanie is reaping the fruits of her labor as she is now a regular performer on ASAP Natin 'To and is set to headline her first major solo concert.

In this exclusive interview, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) chronicles Zephanie's journey from her two failed attempts in joining reality shows to becoming the first Idol Philippines.

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ZEPHANIE DIMARANAN IN THE VOICE KIDS 2

Zephanie was born and raised in Binan, Laguna.

She started her reality show journey when she joined The Voice Kids (TVK), the kids edition of The Voice of the Philippines.

Her first attempt happened in 2014, when she tried to join TVK's first season, but she did not make it.

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She was then able to successfully penetrate the program in 2015.

Zephanie recalls, "Actually, nag-try na po ako season one pa lang, pero hindi po ako pinalad.

"So, nag-try po ulit ako, season two, doon po, 12 years old po ako noon.

"Bata palang po ako, sumasali na ako ng mga competiion sa mga mall, na-try ko na rin po mag-amateur, mga barangay contest, pero nag-focus po ako sa mga mall, nagta-try po ako sa TV before."

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During the blind auditions, two coaches turned a chair for her: Sarah Geronimo and Bamboo Mañalac. She chose Sarah as her coach.

Zephanie reasons out, "Siguro po kasi, siya po talaga yung isa sa mga pinapakinggan ko po na singer, bata pa lang ako.

"Siyempre, yung pag idol mo yung isang singer, parang gusto mo siya makasama and mabigyan ka niya ng advice, so siya po yung pinili ko, since parang babae din po siya.

"Kasi yung songs din naman po ni Coach Bamboo, yung genre ko po kasi, mas genre din ni Coach Sarah."

How is Sarah as a coach?

"Off-cam and on-cam, sobrang same po siya, nagbibigay siya ng mga advice sa amin kung paano mapapaganda yung mga songs namin.

"Super kind, super sweet na coach. Parang ate."

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Zephanie was able to enter the semi-finals round as part of Team Sarah, but she lost to co-member Kyle Echarri, who made it to the grand finals.

At 12 years old, Zephanie experienced rejection too early for her age, the reason why she became emotional about her loss.

She admits, "Siyempre, sobra po akong na-sad. Siyempre, yung kapag bata ka, yung emotional, kung paano mo siya iha-handle kapag sobra kang nag-expect na makakaabot ka.

"Pero yung iyak naman po na yun, hindi naman araw-araw, pero parang sobra yung iyak ko.

"Medyo napapaisip po ako na kung nakapasok ako, ano yung feeling, hanggang saan ba ako.

"Pero hindi naman po yun tumagal nang sobra. Mga ilang weeks lang. Naisip ko naman po, baka may iba pang shows na puwedeng salihan."

During the season, Elha Nympha from Kamp Kawayan (Coach Bamboo's team) won the competition.

ZEPHANIE DIMARANAN IN TAWAG NG TANGHALAN

After Zephanie's stint in The Voice Kids, it took three years before she joined another competition.

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This happened in 2018, when she joined It's Showtime's singing competition segment, Tawag ng Tanghalan.

During her initial salvo, Zephanie emerged as the daily winner who battled to get the "golden mikropono" from defending champion, Janine Berdin, the eventual winner of Tawag ng Tanghalan Year 2.

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She recalls, "Ang nakalaban ko po noong una kong laban, si Ate Janine.

"Noong time po na yun, papasok na siya sa semi-finals. Yung pang-fifth day, ako yung nakalaban niya."

In the end, Janine was able to defend her title, and Zephanie lost again.

She says about the feeling, "Nalungkot po ako kasi akala ko, ito na."

Before the grand finals, Zephanie was able to return to the competition in the "Resbak" part, or the wildcard competition.

"Rumesbak po ako and noong time po na yun, medyo pinalad.

"Tatlong beses po akong panalo pero sa fourth day ko po, doon ako nalaglag."

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Though Zephanie was not very sad about the outcome, it was the time when she thought of giving up her dreams.

She narrates, "Hindi naman po ako sobrang nalungkot kasi okay na rin yun kahit papaano, yung napanalunan ko po, malaking help na rin siya sa studies and sa family ko kahit papaano.

"Pero noong time po na yun, naisip ko na baka hindi talaga ako for singing, baka for academics or sports kasi kahit papaano naman po, nag-e-excel din naman ako sa school, so sabi ko, baka doon ako meant to be.

"Hindi ako for this industry pero nag-try pa rin po ako."

That was when the chance to join Idol Philippines came.

ZEPHANIE DIMARANAN IN IDOL PHILIPPINES

In 2019, an opportunity fell into Zephanie's lap when Idol Philippines opened its auditions.

Zephanie admits that she initially had doubts about joining Idol, since she might face rejection for the third time.

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She says, "Actually, hindi na talaga dapat ako mag-o-audition for Idol.

"Nawalan na ako ng hope, parang nakakapagod na ang bata-bata ko pa, ang aga ko nagkakaroon ng failures na dapat, ine-enjoy ko muna."

At the back of Zephanie's mind, she was thinking: "Baka hindi naman talaga ako magaling kaya hindi ako nakapasok."

Because of her past experiences in reality shows, Zephanie's hopes of joining the showbiz industry were slowly crushed, causing her to doubt herself.

"Parang dina-down ko po lalo yung sarili ko na hindi ko kaya, baka masyado pa akong bata, dapat i-improve ko pa yung sarili ko.

"Minsan, naiisip ko na dagdag lang rin po siya sa mga expenses na instead na napupunta sa iba, sa studies and sa mga needs namin, mas parang napupunta sa akin, so parang dagdag lang ako sa gastos.

"So parang ayoko na, mag-aaral na lang ako. At least, kapag nag-graduate ako, makakatulong pa rin ako."

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But with the help of her current management, Cornerstone Entertainment, she was convinced to join the contest.

"Pero siguro, may mga ginamit po si Lord na instrument para i-push ako na 'Malay mo, kung saan ka makaabot.'

"Ayun po. Triny ko pa rin and ito na nga, nakaabot ako kahit parang noong una, ang daming hadlang na parang ayoko.

"Kung hindi ko pala itriny, baka hindi ako umabot."

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During the auditions, Zephanie still had her doubts, but she still gave her all.

"Noong nag-audition naman po ako, hindi ko naman po parang binasta-basta yung kanta.

"Parang sabi ko, nandito na lang din naman ako, so gawin ko pa rin best ko."

Zephanie was able to move forward to the next round: the solo rounds, where each of the finalists have to give their best shot for them to be able to move forward to the live rounds.

It was during the solo rounds when Zephanie experienced having doubts again about herself and her talent.

"Sobra po akong parang nawalan na rin po ako kaunti ng hope na baka di na ako makapasok sa live shows.

"Kasi yung pagod and pressure, nakaapekto na rin siya sa performances namin.

"So parang feeling ko, hindi ko nagawa yung best ko and hindi siya enough para ma-consider ako na isa sa mga Top 12."

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During the eliminations for the solo rounds, Zephanie was ready to get rejected.

"Noong time po na yun, ready na ako na hindi ako matawag, sabihin na hindi ako matawag sa Top 12.

"Parang okay na ako kasi baka talagang hindi talaga ito."

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Fortunately, Zephanie was chosen as part of the Top 12 finalists who would move forward to the live shows.

At 16, she was the youngest finalist in the Top 12.

But then, Zephanie says, "Noong nakapasok ako, parang doon po, hindi ko alam kung ano iisipin ko, kung matutuwa ba ako or hindi, kasi parang hindi pa tapos yung challenges sa 'yo.

"Yung pressure and kaba, nandiyan pa rin, e. Parang mas lumalala yun habang tumatagal."

ZEPHANIE DIMARANAN IN THE IDOL LIVE SHOWS

Zephanie was able to restore her self-esteem during the first live show, when she got the highest combined score from the viewers' votes and from the judges, composed of Regine Velasquez, Vice Ganda, Moira dela Torre, and James Reid.

On the first live show, Zephanie got a score of 99.75% for her performance of Ryan Cayabyab's composition, "Paraiso."

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This boosted Zephanie's drive to win the contest.

Zephanie says about this, "After po noong first week ng Idol Pilippines na live shows, yung naging maganda po yung outcome ng performance ko, mas lalo po akong ginanahan na gawin yung best ko sa mga sumunod na weeks.

"Gusto ko pa na yung mga hindi ko naipakita noong mga naunang rounds, doon ko po ipapakita and parang ipu-prove ko na yung decision nila na sinama nila ako sa Top 12 and kaya ko na makaabot hanggang dulo.

"So ayun po yung ginawa ko. Doon na po ako tinest ng competition na ibigay lahat, gawin lahat ng mga training na kailangan ko, ipagbawal yung mga bawal ng habits like matulog ng late.

"Sobrang nakatulong po yun hindi lang sa competition, pero parang sa kung sino po ako.

"Kailangan ko po talaga ipakita yung best ko kahit wala ako sa competition.

"Pero siyempre hindi mo naman yung laging iisipin na kalaban mo yung kasama mo, mas iisipin mo sila na kasama mo sa journey mo."

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Zephanie would continue getting high scores, and was the only contestant who got a consistent line of 9 score during the four weeks of live shows.

Aside from getting high scores, Zephanie is thankful that for each live show, she had the opportunity to work with OPM icons as her mentors, such as Ryan Cayabyab and Gary Valenciano.

Zephanie also points out that the whole Idol Top 12 had a solid bond that they support each other every live show.

"Yung mga moments na magkakasama kami noon, kahit yung may kaba na kami, may pressure, parang nakakapagsaya pa po kami minsan, kumakain kami sa labas.

"Minsan, may mga iyakan portion na parang nagda-doubt din sila sa sarili nila, 'tapos kami, yung iba naman po sa amin, bibigyan sila ng advice na, 'Huwag ka mag-doubt, kaya mo yan.'

"So nakakatuwa po na kahit nasa competition kami, hindi namin hinayaan na ma-down yung isa pero mas tsini-cheer up namin."

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Even though they are solid as a group, there were also misunderstandings that happened along the way.

Zephanie says, "Lahat naman po kami parang in good terms, walang away-away, walang sabotage.

"Wala naman po masyadong ganun na lumala, pero normal naman po na nagkakaroon ng misunderstanding.

"Since parang isa na rin po kaming family, malalaman mo, pero nagtutulungan kami na ma-solve kasi siyempre, competition man siya ngayon, pero after, magkakasama pa rin kami.

"Ang pangit lang po tignan kung may sama ng loob after 'tapos magkakasama kami, so yung performance po yung maaapektuhan. Hindi naman din po lumalaki kasi nagtutulungan po kami."

Zephanie tells PEP.ph that she enjoyed Idol the most because of her co-finalists.

"To be honest, yung Idol Philippines yung pinaka na-enjoy ko sa lahat ng competitions na sinalihan ko po kasi kahit mahirap po siya and ang daming pinagdaanan, hindi ako naging mag-isa no'n, parang kasama ko yung mga taong sumu-support sa akin and naniniwala.

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"Yung mga ate't kuya ko po sa Idol, first time ko rin po kasi na isa sa mga pinakabata. Parang ngayon ko napi-feel yung parang may kuya since mga ate yung meron ako.

Another moment that Zephanie treasures during her Idol journey was the time when the judges noticed not only her talent, but also her character.

She recalls, "Na-acknowledge nila hindi lang yung performance pero yung personality ko po off-cam and kung paano po ako makisama.

"Natuwa po ako na nakita nila yung personality na maganda na kaya rin ako nakaabot sa round na yun, and kaya po deserve ko daw maging Idol Philippines is hindi lang dahil magaling ako kung hindi dahil din sa personality ko, sa character na meron po ako.

"Nakakatuwa na nakita din nila yun kung ano yung mga values na naibigay sa akin ng parents ko habang pinapalaki nila ako."

Their moments with the judges do not end after a live show.

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"Parang after po noong live shows, parang mini-meet namin kunyari si Mama Reg or si Ate Vice or si Kuya James or si Ate Moira, depende po kung sino makikita namin sa hallway.

"'Tapos, sinasabi po nila sa amin na parang, 'You did great ngayong week and sana ganun ka din next week.'

"'Tapos, mga advice na kailangan kantahin mo nang ganito, binibigyan nila kami ng advice and kung paano namin mase-save yung mga sarili namin sa elimination sa susunod na week.

"Unforgettable po yung mga moments na yun kasi dati, napapanuod mo lang sila, 'tapos ngayon, nakakasama mo na, binibigyan ka pa ng advice."

ZEPHANIE DIMARANAN IN IDOL GRAND FINALS

After four weeks of intense competition, Zephanie became one of the grand finalists, along with Lucas Garcia, Dan Ombao, Miguel Ordon, and Lance Busa.

The grand finals was held over two nights: a Top 5 show on Saturday and a Top 3 show on Sunday.

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Zephanie now admits that she had a lot of worries before the Saturday show.

"Grand finals na po, parang talagang nag-worry po ako ng sobra sa songs ko, na baka hindi ko magawa since pagod na 'tapos feeling ko, hindi ko na kayang ibirit yung mga songs, paano na gagawin ko.

"Talagang umiyak po ako noon. Sobra po akong nada-down, ayoko talagang matanggal lalo na, di ba, po, Saturday 'tapos three na lang po noong Sunday?

"Sabi ko, ayokong ma-out sa Saturday kasi isang araw na lang, kahit top three lang, okay na ako.

"Sobra po yung pressure noon na magawa ko nang malinis, and kahit di na pinaka-best, pero huwag lang yung pumalya ako sa song."

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But Zephanie, together with the other grand finalists, helped each other overcome their worries.

"Nakikita po nila na parang nada-down ako, pero siyempre, ayoko po na isipin pa nila ako kasi since sila meron din silang kanya kanyang mga doubts and worries sa performance nila.

"Nagbibigay po sila ng advice and mga kasama po namin sa team ng Idol, ibang mga boss, kinakausap po nila kami na kaya po namin."

Zephanie was able to enter the Top 3 along with Lucas and Lance.

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Before the night ended on July 28, it was announced that Zephanie got the highest score among the three finalists, allowing her to become the first Idol Philippines.

Everything then was surreal for the young singer.

She narrates, "Sobra po, hindi ko nga po maisip na bakit ako umiiyak, bakit ako napaluhod. Parang hindi talaga siya totoo.

"Actually, noong time pa lang po na sinasabi yung 'Ang kauna-unahang Idol...' nasa stage po kami, nakatayo na ia-announce na yung winner, ilang minutes na lang natitira, grabe, nakaabot ako dito.

"Kasi dati inaabutan ko lang, semi-finals, or 'Ang defending champion...'

"Yun po yung first time ko na grand finals na ito! Ito na yung last day ng competition 'tapos nakaabot ka dito. Sobrang parang hindi totoo na nangyayari siya.

"'Tapos, noong ina-announce na ako, parang hindi totoo. Hindi ka makapaniwala na nangyari sa yo, na hawak mo yung trophy, na yung mga taong sumu-support sa yo, tuwang-tuwa. Sobrang hindi ako makapaniwala."

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ZEPHANIE DIMARANAN AFTER IDOL PHILIPPINES

Zephanie said that it was just recently when she realized that she indeed won the ABS-CBN competition.

She says, "Mga kailan lang po, mga ilang buwan na nakalipas. Siguro noong mga this September lang yung parang ina-accept ko po sa sarili ko na Idol ako.

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"So kailangan ko pong parang ipakita yung best ko, kasi noong una, parang totoo ba na Idol na ako?

"Kasi po minsan, kapag lumalabas ako, hindi nila ako kilala, so parang na-e-enjoy ko po pag nagma-mall ako.

"'Tapos, pag may nakakakilala doon po pumapasok na ako yung Idol. Kapag sinasabi nila, 'Di ba, ikaw yung nanalo sa Idol Philippines?'

"Parang hindi po ako makapaniwala na ganun karami yung taong nanuod at sumubaybay sa journey ko.

"Nakikilala po nila ako tapos parang nakakapanibago yung maiiwan yung ulo nila sa 'yo! Maririnig mo yung bulungan nila na, 'Di ba, si Zephanie yon?' Grabe, kilala nila ako, nakakapanibago pero nakakatuwa po."

After Idol Philippines, Zephanie's first regular show is ASAP Natin 'To, where she formed a group with Ehla Nympha and Janine Berdin, her two co-finalists in her previous reality competitions.

Zephanie says about this, "Ako po yung parehas nilang nakalaban. Parang natuwa rin po sila and sinabi po nila na happy sila for me na finally, naabot ko yung dream ko and magkakasama pa po kami sa isang group.

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"Mas madali po para sa aming tatlo na gawin yung performance namin ng maayos every week, kasi hindi kami naiilang na sabihin na 'Ito dapat gawin mo, ito mas okay.'

"Yung opinions po namin and mga advice, talagang nakaka-help sa isa't isa, so nakikita ko po na maganda yung magiging future naming tatlo kung ipagpapatuloy po namin yung ganun na nagko-cooperate po kami sa isa't isa."

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After becoming a regular in ASAP Natin 'To, and three months after her win, Zephanie is now preparing for her first major solo concert, which is set to happen this November 28, 2019.

Idol Philippines judge Regine Velasquez and Zephanie's The Voice coach Sarah Geronimo are set to perform with her in the concert.

How did she react when she first learned that Cornerstone, her talent management, is producing a concert for her?

Zephanie answers, "Grabe kasi ilang months pa lang po ako after ng Idol tapos concert po agad.

"Napapaisip po ako kung kaya ko ba and kung ano yung dapat ko pang i-improve para mas maging maganda yung concert, pero mas na-excite po ako kasi yung mga kasama ko po doon, sobrang idol ko po and nakasama ko sa journey ko.

"So, exciting po yung event na iyun and since first major concert ko po siya, sobrang hindi ko makakalimutan kaya masaya po ako na part sila noon."

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With all these projects, Zephanie is just excited to see herself grow in the industry, as long as she puts her heart in her work.

She says, "Kapag ipinagpatuloy ko yung talagang nagwu-work, nag-e-effort po talaga ako and maging patient ka lang sa gusto mong maabot, magiging successful po.

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"Yung mas marami pa akong ma-a-achieve in the future na panibagong mga experience na magiging memorable."

After two failed attempts in reality shows, Zephanie is finally making a name for herself after winning her third try.

PEP.ph asks her what is the most important lesson she learned from her experience.

With a smile, Zephanie answers, "Siguro po, yung pinaka highlight is believe in yourself na kaya mo, huwag ka mag-doubt, doubts na hindi mo kaya, kasi sobrang nakakaapekto po talaga sa ikaw as a person and sa performance mo.

"Always pray to God na i-guide ka niya sa ginagawa mo na maging successful and always acknowledge yung mga taong tumulong sa yo para maabot mo and marating mo kung nasaan ka ngayon."

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PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) chronicles Zephanie Dimaranan's journey from her two failed attempts in joining reality shows to becoming the first Idol Philippines.
PHOTO/S: Noel Orsal / Idol Philippines (ABS-CBN)
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