An Ashboo Story
People were celebrating. The first TVOP winner was just announced. He was at the after-party, absorbing the scene, hearing snippets of conversation here and there. A few years back, he could not have imagined himself being involved this kind of show. But here he is, a proud mentor to Myk.
He looked around for her and saw her at the corner, talking to one of the party’s guests, holding Klarisse’s hand. She had her ward beside her for most of the party, seldom letting go of her hand. He was observing her, trying to discern her feelings. Although she was smiling, he can see, even from afar, that the smile did not reach her eyes.
Sarah Geronimo. Years from now, most people would be probably associate their names together as two of the coaches for The Voice of the Philippines. A lot of people say that he is very fortunate to have been chosen as one of the coaches. And he doesn’t disagree with that. He doesn’t disagree at all.
Myk did not win. But he knows that is not the reason why there’s a heaviness in his heart right now. He wanted to talk to her and wished he could absorb for her the pain and sadness she’s feeling. He tagged Myk along and went to her side of the room. Her back was on him when they were approaching.
She turned upon hearing his voice. “Hey,” she answered back with a sad smile.
If not for the circumstances, he would hug this woman in front of him. Hug her tight as if it could purge the sadness from her eyes. She wanted this so badly for Klarisse.
Instead, he gently patted her on the back, a gesture he felt wanting due to the high emotions of the moment. He’s not one for sentimentality but there is something about her that brings out the soft side in him.
She could see in his eyes the deep concern, from the man who a few months ago was just her duet partner. She remembered the first time she learned that they will be doing a number together at Asap and how she squealed like a school girl when she knew no one was watching. She has always been a fan of his and the idea of performing with him was a dream come true.
At first, he did not talk much. And this was a bit hard for her since she is accustomed to being the one coaxed to open up and speak. But eventually, the walls slowly crumbled as they continue to perform together and learn to be comfortable with each other.
“You both did a great job. All season long,” he said to her and Klarisse, his voice bringing her back to the present. She could feel that he wanted to say more. But for reasons she could not fathom, he seems to be holding back.
“Thank you. You and Myk weren’t so bad either. Magaling ka magturo coach ah, marunong mangharana ‘tong si Myk. Gino-google ka na ni Mommy ngayon Myk!” she jokingly said to lighten the moment.
They weren’t able to talk more since the other guests were vying for her attention. It seems everywhere they go, people would flock to her like a light does to a moth. The next thing he knew, she was hugging Klarisse and bidding people good night.
In the middle of her ride back home, her phone rang. He’s calling and she wondered why. Perhaps a last minute instruction to return?
“Hello coach Bamboo.”
“Hello coach Sarah.”
“I just called to tell you that you really did a great job for this first season,” he started.
“Thanks again coach. You told me that at the party.”
“I did? Well, it’s very important to emphasize that so I’m telling you again,” he said, smiling.
He added, “For me, you’re the best coach. If I were one of the artists, I would’ve chosen you without batting an eyelash.”
“First things first. What makes you so sure I’d turn for you huh?” she teasingly asks him.
He simply said, “Because I’d sing Iris.”
Aahh Iris. Every time he sings this song with her, it is as if everything else is a blur. No shouting crowds, no blinding lights. Just him and Sarah and the beautiful music. They’ve done this song several times but still, every time is like the first, because the audience never knows where they will bring the song. He is passionate about his music and his craft, and in his opinion, she is one of the few in this industry who matches or even surpasses this passion that runs through his veins. He can take the song anywhere he wants and he knows that she will be there along with him on a journey only the both of them are privileged to travel. He’s a very private person but whenever they do this song, it’s like he’s opening himself up to her.
And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am
I just want her to know who I am, he silently says.
“Coach, may kumanta ng Iris ha, pero hindi ako nag-turn. And neither did you.” The sound of her voice brought him out of his reverie.
“Yeah, but that was him and this is me. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to mesmerize you with my unique voice”, he said, adding a playful smugness to his tone.
He could feel her smile. And even though he could not see it, he felt that this one reached her eyes. And if there’s one thing he wanted to achieve by calling her, it was to make her smile. Because when she smiles, it is as if everything in the world will be alright.
“And why would you choose me?” she asked, humoring him.
This one’s easy, he thought. “Because you coach from the heart.”
She was silent for a while, hoping he’d say more. But he didn’t. Because those six words are enough.
“Ikaw din naman coach ah, galing din naman sa puso lahat ng ginagawa mo.”
“Yeah, that’s why we’re a good match you know. I mean, as coach and artist. That’s why I would’ve chosen you. Mitoy and Klarisse forgive me, but for me, you are the real winner of this competition because you have proven to so many people that you deserve to sit on that chair.”
She was at a loss for words and all she was able to say was, “Why?”
He was a bit confused. “What do you mean ‘Why’?”
“Why are you doing this?” she asked softly, even though a part of her already knows the answer.
To answer simply, it’s because he cares. He cares deeply for her. His image is someone who is “astig”, a rock icon, someone who exudes confidence and bravado. But behind that exterior is a man who has a big heart, someone who could empathize with what she is going through tonight. She may not have opened up to him as much as she did to coach Lea, but he can feel a connection with her. A connection borne out of their love for music. Music is such a great part of her that she once said, “Mawala man ang lahat, huwag lang ang musika sa puso ko.”
But before he could answer her, she spoke again. “Why did I have to ask? Of course you’re doing this because you don’t want me to feel so bad so I would go back to season 2 and you’ll have someone to bully during blinds.”
“Hahaha.” Now it’s his time to laugh. “Now we’re talking, coach. Now we’re talking. So, ah, see you in season 2?”
Season 2. Would she have the strength to go through all of that again? The pressure, the bashing, the heartaches? But then she remembers Klarisse and the rest of her team, the friendship they made and the experiences and knowledge that they shared. And of course the friendship that she has with the other coaches. Each of them has taught her something that she will take with her for the rest of her life.
“We’ll see coach. We’ll see,” she answered, her tone non-committal.
He felt that what she showed in season 1 was just the tip of the iceberg. Sarah has still so much to share not just to aspiring singers out there but even to the likes of him. New ones, veterans, all could learn a thing or two from this phenomenal woman.
“ ’We’ll see?’ Come on now Sarah. We’ll have so much fun. You don’t wanna miss out on Season 2’s winner from camp Kawayan,” he playfully teased her.
“Huwag ka masyadong kampante coach. Two point oh na ‘tong kausap mo,” she laughingly said. “But seriously, I would just like to say thank you.” She felt her words inadequate in expressing her gratitude for this man who really made the effort to make her feel better tonight. She had to admit that she’s not the eloquent type, one who says all the right words at the right time. But she’s trying. She is. But tonight, that’s all she can say to him. Thank you.
He sensed her sincerity from those two words and for all the unsaid words that filled her heart but somehow were not spoken. And he knew that she said those not just for tonight but for everything that they have experienced together.
She knows who I am.
For some reason, the lyrics of Iris keeps playing in his mind.
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am
There are certain things one treasures for the rest of one’s life, he thought. She knows who I am. And for now, that’s all that matters.