Nathalie Tomada – The Philippine Star

October 15, 2021 | 12:00am

Idol Philippines winner Zephanie Dimaranan is excited about career possibilities after recently taking part in the Now United boot camp in Abu Dhabi.

The 18-year-old singer was among 11 representatives selected from around the world to train for two weeks at the Now United Creative Hub of the 18-member global pop group Now United, the brainchild of American Idol creator Simon Fuller. Other talents came from Brazil, Argentina, US, Indonesia, Greece, Nigeria, France and Saudi Arabia.

The boot camp included song and dance workshops under Blackpink choreographer Kyle Hanagami and America’s Got Talent alum and vocal coach Joseph Clarke. They also recorded a song with Grammy-nominated producer Emile Ghantous. The training culminated with a joint performance of the boot campers and Now United members for the song Come Together, the music video of which is currently trending on YouTube with almost two million views.

Fresh from her overseas trip, Zephanie shared the challenges and lessons learned during the Now United boot camp. “I would say the whole boot camp experience was a really big challenge for me. Just going there, thinking about the fact that I would be with different people from different parts of the world, was challenging for me. Kaya ko ba makisama sa kanila? Mahirapan ba ako makipag-usap at maintindihan sila or sila maintindihan ako? And also the fact that it’s another level for me, as I’m trying to make my skills better, in terms of singing and dancing, especially the latter,” she said during a Zoom interview.

She noted that while she learned a lot on the technical side of performing, what made more impact was what it did to her confidence.

“Mas nabaon ko na lessons ay talagang more on the attitude na dapat na iniisip mo, whenever you’re performing, is that you really should believe in yourself and in what you can do. Every time you perform, it’s important to know your worth, and how talented you are,” she shared.

“And I learned to be a risk taker more. I really experienced going out of my comfort zone not just in performing, but also when it comes to being who I am. I think, mas na-boost yung confidence ko sa pag-pe-perform and also personally. I guess, I learned to work more efficiently and in the best way possible with other people, especially since we all came from different countries and we had to be united. I think nagawa po yun ng Now United to unite us (laughs).”

Asked what’s next for her after the boot camp, Zephanie told The STAR, “We weren’t informed yet of what their plans are for us, if they’re looking for new members or if we’re going to be part of another group of the company. All I know is that I’m so excited to see all the output that we did, from shoots to songs. I’m really hoping for good feedback from them.”

She added, “Napakarami pong possibilities ngayon kasi wala pa silang sinasabi sa amin but I’m just so happy to be part of the boot camp. It’s a great opportunity and a blessing if ever I’m given the chance to be part of their group or to be part of one of their projects. But now nakauwi na po ako, I’m excited to apply all that I’ve learned — slowly. I’m so excited to execute everything when I’m going to perform na.”

The ASAP Natin ‘To winner and artist’s first taste of the music scene was via The Voice Kids six years ago. Professionally, she’s been in the business for two years now after becoming the first-ever grand winner of Idol Philippines.

“I still can’t believe that I’m now two years in the business. Up until now, I still feel the same way, kung paano po ako nag-start, na talagang I’m trying my best to improve every day. And sobrang happy po ako, sa mga na-re-receive na opportunities from my management Cornerstone and ABS-CBN.”

She said it’s not been an easy journey choosing to pursue music. Being a pastor’s kid helped her, she added. “Sobrang blessed po ako na lumaki sa church and namulat po ako na kilala ko si Lord. Marami na rin po akong na-experience in life na kahit papaano na-test rin yung faith ko.

“Sometimes, may dumating na moments na I kept on trying and nothing was happening and paulit-ulit lang. Minsan, I would ask Him kung para sa akin ba talaga ito kasi kung hindi ilagay niyo nalang ako sa iba, mag-change nalang ako ng path, something like that. But lagi niya po akong binabalik sa path na ito. I think, naririnig talaga ni Lord yung mga questions ko at binibigay niya yung answers kahit hindi directly,” she reflected.

Zephanie just turned 18 and she’s all about discovering more about herself and finding her voice. “I really can’t say I’m happy with my voice. Right now, I’m happy with my genre (pop-ballad), but I also don’t want to stay here. I want to explore different genres and styles, lalo na sa songs i-release in the future, so who knows I might do rock!” said the singer, who’s releasing her first studio album soon.

“Since I just turned 18, I’m still on my way to nagde-decide for myself. Now po nafi-feel ko na yung responsibility na kailangan alam mo na talaga ginagawa mo, aware ka sa surroundings mo and tao na dapat pinapasalamatan or binabalikan. And with the right people that God gave me to guide me, challenging pa rin but kahit papaano po, di ako masyado nahihirapan.”

Zephanie said she’s aware that she still needs more training and improvement as an artist, but the boot camp definitely “opened” a lot of possibilities and further ignited dreams of “sharing my talent worldwide” and that “I’m praying for the best.”

“Right now, siguro po, I’m looking at the present. Right now, gusto ko lang talaga i-continue yung pagpe-perform,” adding that she also wants to explore other facets of the industry. “Definitely, po. I’ve been taking acting classes… It’s also fun to act. I think I will.”

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