By NICKIE WANG
American Idol finalist Ramielle Malubay.
She made every Filipino proud when she belted out Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman during her audition for the seventh season of American Idol television series. Although she was voted off earlier than most people expected, she earned praises and admiration from the talent show’s judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.
Ramielle Malubay, famed for being ‘the small adorable Idol with a big voice,’ is here in Manila to celebrate Christmas and to be part of a concert dubbed “Ogie Sings with the Idols” slated on Dec. 20 to 21 at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City .
Ramielle will be singing together with no less than ultimate singer and song writer Ogie Alcasid. Included in the concert are GMA 7’s Pinoy Idol top 3, Ram Chavez, Jayann Bautista and Gretchen Espina, the other 9 Pinoy Idol finalists will have a special participation in the two-night concert. The front act will be an indie rock band called Menaya.
Ramielle, who was born in Dammam , Saudi Arabia and practically grew up in Miramar , Florida , speaks fluent Tagalog. She’s very proud of her roots being a big fan of Regine Velasquez and Lani Misalucha. Besides those local artists she considers Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey as her major influences in music.
When fellow Filipino-Americans Jasmine Trias and Camille Velasco made it to AI Season 3, Ramiele became inspired to join and audition to the world’s most successful talent search. She first auditioned for AI Season 5 but did not make it. She was sixteen years old then.
“I was eager, first in line, first in the first group to audition. Kumanta ako, three words came out of my mouth and they said next,” Ramielle recalled.
She was discouraged initially but continued to sing and win contests in Florida . She focused with her school. She took up BS Nursing at the Broward Community College and on her third year, she tried to audition again, and her dreams found its realization.
“It’s a really weird feeling, but when I made it I was just so excited because I realized I went through all the people in that line. Many people gave up their jobs. They sacrificed so much just for that show. So just to pass that round and be actually part of the show, it’s already a big accomplishment for me,” the determined singer related.
Controversies are part of the limelight. During Ramielle’s stint in American Idol, some of her photos were scrapped from her Facebook account. While David Hernandez, her fellow AI finalist, was discovered to be a former stripper in a night club that caters to gay clienteles through pictures on the internet, Ramielle was tagged lesbian.
“Oh sexy,” she chuckled when asked about the infamous photos that once became hot items on the internet. “But I was worried about kung ano ang sasabihin nila Mommy, how will they handle it. Okay lang kasi yung mga kasama ko dun mga best friends ko. They are like my sisters already. Loko-loko lang yun. It’s not a big deal to us. Nang nakita ko yung picture tapos binasa ko yung sinulat nila sabi ko: ‘My God, anong nangyari? How did it turn around like this?”
First Christmas in the Philippines
Ramielle arrived in the country on Dec. 12. She is going to stay in the here for three months to do shows while spending some time with her relatives. Her mother Alicia is originally from Zamboanga and her father Roger is from Quezon province. She already visited her relatives on her mother side.
“Three months ako right now, pero kung kailangang i-prolong, why not?” said the singer who stands at 4’11. “This is my first trip here in the Philippines na for work, pero as trip for vacation hindi.”
As her first Christmas in the Philippines , she is looking forward to seeing how the yuletide season being celebrated by most Filipinos in the country.
“Pag dating ko dito, wow andaming ilaw. Everybody tells me, yung mga kaibigan kong nagbabakasyon dito for Christmas na it’s different kahit maiinit or walang snow. Talagang iba daw ang feeling ng Christmas dito,” 20 year-old Ramielle enthused.
Aside from visiting her relatives in Quezon and Zamboanga, she will also visit Pampanga where her boyfriend Austin Torres’ family lives. She met Austin in a Goldilocks store in California .
“Yung Mommy and Daddy ko, they treat me sabi nila:‘Punta tayo sa Goldilocks, kain tayo, family lunch.’ Tapos ‘pag dating ko dun ang daming tao tapos may caremas. Tapos sabi nila:‘Ay nasabi ko ata sa owner na pupunta ka dun.”
On that day, Austin, who never knew who she was, was picking up some enseymada for his mother.
“Akala ko artista siya or something, basta familiar yung mukha niya. Sabi ko sa Mommy ko, ‘Mom, ang guwapo niya.’ Ang Mommy ko naman, ‘Quiet ka diyan!’ Galit siya! Tapos after that we met again,” she giggled. “He’s my first real boyfriend,”
When asked where her voice is coming from considering her very small frame, she answered: “My Mommy said my voice comes from my pata (thigh).”
Unlike other Filipinos who grew up in the States, Ramielle is proud of her language and speaks it fluent. In an interview with the press at Danny’s Grill Restaurant on Dec. 15 to promote her homecoming concert with Ogie, Ramielle answered all questions in Tagalog.
“Well, si Daddy kasi, nagalit dahil noong second time na nagbakasyon kami dito, nag-i-english kaming magkapatid. Tinanggal ni Daddy yung cable sa bahay for months. Ang naiwan lang, Filipino Channel,” she recalled and added: “Sa bahay pag hindi nagta-Tagalog talagang papaluin ni Daddy.”
Aside from The Filipino Channel, their home in Florida has GMA Pinoy TV as well. Is she planning to be a Kapuso or Kapamilya?
“As of right now, hindi pa ko in-offeran ng anything ng GMA or whatever. But binigyan nila ako ng opportunity. It was an honor na binigyan nila ako ng spot doon [SOP]. Hindi lang po isang kanta, they gave a very good exposure. Pag inofferan nila ako, I would think about it,” the petite singer told.
Ramielle was awestruck when she guested in SOP and saw her idol Regine, Ogie’s real-life sweetheart.
Ramielle’s contract with American Idol ended last August but she is busy doing projects with Disney Channel. Amidst the huge opportunity that awaits her in the States, she puts on hold her Disney projects to treat her Filipino fans.
“Yung Disney Channel doon, that’s very big. Gusto kong bumalik doon. Pero inuna ko muna yung concert dito. You know, this is my home. No matter where I stay, Florida , California , American Idol, dito ako,” she ended.
“Ogie Sings with the Idols” is being produced by TheUnderGround Studio, Inc (TUGS) under the supervision of Brian Sombero, vocalist/ guitarist of the band Menaya.