After more than eight months of grueling competition, Eat Bulaga has a winner. Blaster Silonga — the 17-year-old who impressed judges and audiences alike with his electric guitar prowess — emerged as the winner of the noontime show’s “Music Hero: Battle of the Champions” on March 18.
The budding musician from Marikina City bested seven other grand finalists for the title of Ultimate Music Hero. He also took home the P500,000 prize.
“Music Hero” was a musical competition that began in August last year. Instead of focusing on singers, the segment gave the spotlight to instrumentalists.
Musicians, ages 19 years old and below, competed against fellow musicians based on the instruments they played, until eight contestants were left for the show’s grand finals: Blaster (Electric Guitar Hero), Joaquin Rodrigo (Ultimate Drums Hero), Josh Espinosa (Ultimate Saxophone Hero), Zild Benitez (Ulitmate Bass Guitar), Brian Feliciano (Ultimate Flute Hero), Radlee Lacquian (Ultimate Acoustic Guitar Hero), Jim Tan (Ultimate Keyboards Hero), and Dominique Casacop (Ultimate Violin Hero).
“Masaya saka humbled. Hindi ko inakala na mananalo ako. Alam kong competition ito and kailangan kong galingan, pero hindi ko na inisip na kailangan manalo ako. Wala na po yun. Ang inisip ko na lang is to enjoy and to play my music,” Blaster said after being named the Ultimate Music Hero.
To win the title, Blaster had to survive two rounds of competition: a band round, where he performed Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” with Joaquin, Josh, and Zild; and a solo round, where he performed Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.”
He offered the song and his eventual victory to God, saying, “Maganda talaga yung message ng kanta. Favorite ko yung kanta na yun, bata pa lang ako noon. Ang lakas ng dating sa akin. Yung ‘If I Ain’t Got You,’ kay Lord ko po kinakanta yan. Kahit anong meron ako ngayon, if I ain’t got you wala rin.”
Blaster, a Grade 11 student at Berean Crosspointe International School in Marikina City, is a self-taught musician, learning how to play the electric via YouTube. It helped that his father is also a musician who became a finalist in a reality TV talent competition years ago. He considers Michael Jackson, John Mayer, and guitarists Eric Clapton and Paul Gilbert as his musical idols.
After winning “Music Hero,” Blaster said he wants to continue sharing his music. Despite getting attention as a guitarist, he wants to expand his knowledge in music.
“Dati, gusto ko maging gitarista. Lately, na-realize ko na iba yung gitarista sa musikero. Pag gitarista ka lang, marunong ka mag gitara. Pero iba yung nasa kaluluwa mo yung music. Gusto ko marunong ako mag gitara pero naiintindihan ko rin kung paano gumana yung drums, yung bass,” he said. “Ngayon, patuloy lang sa pagshare ng music ko. Ayoko na dito lang magtatapos. Gusto ko tuloy-tuloy,”
According to Jenny Ferre, senior vice-president for creatives and operations of TAPE, Inc, she had always wanted to do a music segment in Eat Bulaga that does not focus on singers.
“Nobody has really paid attention to the genius of the Filipino musician,” she said. “Natakot kami noong una na baka walang batang magaling. Surprisingly, marami pala. It was a gamble. We never really realized na ang dami palang musikerong naghihintay lang ng pagkakataon. So ngayon, nalaman natin na ang talent natin hindi lang pala singing.”
Ferre also said successfully mounting “Music Hero” made the show “a little more daring in trying out new things.” “You don’t underestimate the Pinoys. Noong una natakot kami, pero napakarami pala talagang magaling na Pilipino,” she added.
Unfortunately, Eat Bulaga has no plans of immediately doing another edition of “Music Hero” right after its finals. But the show has big plans for Blaster and the other “Music Hero” finalists.
Of course, viewers should expect Blaster and the seven other “Music Hero” finalists to become fixtures in Eat Bulaga. But beyond that, Ferre wants Blaster and those who joined ‘Music Hero’ to make a mark in Philippine music.
“We have big plans for them. Medyo malaking pangarap, subukan natin, pero baka sila ang mag-redefine ng music of the millennials right now,” she said. “Ang dream namin, to see among them a new breed of musical directors, the best drummers in town. Essentially, we would want them to be the youngest, coolest band in the country.”
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