With a bright future ahead, Idol Philippines winner Zephanie shares her secret to success and her future plans for her singing career.
In numerology, the number 18 is a significant one. It represents independence, setting goals, and opportunity. A new chapter and a new beginning, being 18, for us, is a milestone and a celebration of growth and change. But even more so, it’s a momentous occasion in one’s life, as it signifies moving from adolescence into adulthood.
When we reach this chapter of our lives, we feel like we can do anything. We feel like we’re at the top of our game—presented with many opportunities and possibilities that we can explore. But while a good number of us focus on academics and college courses, some have loftier aspirations—that is, being in the spotlight.
And singer-songwriter Zephanie is a fine example of that.
Of Humble Beginnings
Unbeknownst to many, Zephanie Dimaranan—known by her mononym Zephanie—is already a veteran singer-songwriter even before reaching the tender age of 18. In fact, singing is practically second nature to Zephanie, as she herself says that she has been singing ever since she was a child.
“I guess, it was because [I was] exposed to performing [as a child] in family events—birthday parties [or with] friends, in school and in intermissions… [it felt like as a kid], yun na yung sanay. A routine [in my life],” Zephanie recalls. “Whenever someone wants to hear me sing, I’ll sing for them. [And] that’s what I’m still doing now.”
Born and raised in Biñan, Laguna, Zephanie comes from a family who loves to sing. But among her siblings, she was the only one who fully embraced it. As the third of five kids and the daughter of a pastor, she is blessed with their support, which drove her to pursue singing as a career. “I’m part of a big family. That’s why I’m reaching for my dreams. I want to do this for them,” she says simply.
Zephanie’s Musical Journey
“I joined several singing competitions ever since as a kid,” Zephanie shares. “I started singing when I was 3, I guess, [but I started being] aware [of it when I] was, I think, 6-years old. And I joined singing competitions [back then, but] since [they know that] I really sing, [they didn’t let me join anymore].”
From joining singing competitions in her school and in her barangay, Zephanie soon set her sights on a much grander scale: televised singing competitions. When she was 12 years old, she joined season 2 of The Voice Kids but was eliminated in the live rounds. Undeterred, she joined Tawag ng Tanghalan, another singing competition last 2017, where she lost against the eventual champion Janine Berdin.
One would think that after two losses, Zephanie would give up. But she was a fighter—driven and determined. “For a young kid, it’s so disheartening, [when a child loses]. Alam mo yan, aayaw na sila. But all her failures didn’t stop her from trying and trying,” Cynthia Roque, Zephanie’s manager from Cornerstone Entertainment, explains.
“What we saw in her was perfect timing. We approached her because we saw something in her, but we [first told her to] wait,” she continues, recounting how she scouted Zephanie immediately after seeing her in The Voice Kids. “[We have something like that] in Cornerstone, [we don’t just keep pushing things]. There’s a perfect timing for everything. There’s preparation that needs to be done.”
In fact, Zephanie’s journey also inspired record producer Jonathan Manalo to write the song “Pangarap Kong, Pangarap Mo“—an original song that soon became the first of many chart-topping songs sung by Zephanie.
On Joining Idol Philippines
As luck would have it, Zephanie’s singing career took flight when she won in the first season of Idol Philippines. Zephanie even describes it as the biggest foundation of her life and in her journey as a singer. But surprisingly, this chapter in her life was not planned.
“To be honest, [I wasn’t even] supposed to join [Idol Philippines]. Kasi totoo nga, even for a kid, it’s disheartening, sad, and frustrating [that those events happened],” she shares, alluding to her consecutive losses in previous singing competitions. “[I even thought], ‘ito ba talaga path ko? Is this really what God wants for me?'”
“[But I think that] this is really what [the] Lord wants for me,” she goes on. “Kasi my family kept pushing me, motivating me, and telling me to keep going. [They were] telling me na, ‘itry pa rin natin‘. One last time.”
While most celebrities and famous personalities carry an air of self-assurance and confidence, it’s not something that comes naturally to Zephanie. “When I saw all of my co-contestants [in the auditions], sabi ko, ‘oh my, kaya ko ba to?‘” she laughingly recalls since she was one of the younger contestants joining. “[There were even times when] I wasn’t confident na kaya ko, or that kaya ko lumaban sa kanila. But I still did it anyway, kasi andun na rin ako. [I was there already].”
Third Time’s the Charm
And try she did. From performing “I Believe” by Fantasia Barino in the solo round to singing Ryan Cayabyab’s hit “Paraiso” (originally by Smokey Mountain) to cinch her spot in the top 12, Zephanie captivated both judges and the audience with her singing prowess. But inwardly, Zephanie was still gripped with fear and uncertainty during the solo round—wondering if this was really the path for her.
Eventually, she reached the grand finals. At this point, she immersed herself in more training—over and beyond what was expected in the competition. This included dance training, vocal training, and even personal development and acting. “[I was able to do all this], thanks to the help of Cornerstone para maimprove ko rin skills ko,” she recalls. “Puyatan talaga, but I risked it—for me, for my dream, and for the people who believed in me.”
Better equipped this time around, she was more confident going into the finals. Starting off with the song “Lipad ng Pangarap” on day 1, she continued with the song “Maghintay Ka Lamang” after getting into the top 3. And in a bittersweet twist, she finished off with her original song—”Pangarap Kong Pangarap Mo.”
With that, Zephanie’s efforts soon paid off, and she was crowned as the official winner of Idol Philippines, season one.
Building Success and Confidence
Coming from a journey that wasn’t smooth-sailing, the fear back then was warranted. It has been, after all, a roller coaster of ups and downs. Nevertheless, her victory in Idol Philippines promised blessings and clear skies moving forward.
“[To be honest], I didn’t expect to win. It’s what I see [down the line], but syempre, I kept that faith in me… that there was a right time. And it was that time,” she says. “When you try to claim it—manifest that it’s for you, that you can do it… it will come to you.”
“I’m really happy with what I’m doing [because] I realized that I can do so much more than just singing. I can inspire people, help people in ways that they don’t see. I have [a lot of dreams]—of being a known singer, finishing my education, my studies. My dream course is med [supposedly], but I’m currently thinking about it because I’m focused on my career of being an artist or singer.”
Despite being at a pinnacle of success, Zephanie remains down to earth. While she looks back at her journey, she remembers to credit the important people who helped her attain success: her family, friends, fans, her second family in Cornerstone, and most importantly, God Himself. “I am beyond blessed and grateful to have them all in my life,” she adds.
A Message for the Youth
With an upcoming concert and many other projects lined up, it’s certain that Zephanie has found her place in the spotlight. In fact, she just became a member of Now United, a global pop group made up of 18 members from 18 different countries. Yes, this songbird will soar to international skies as the face and voice of the Philippines!
But beyond her comfort zone of singing, she aims for so much more. Looking into dreams of acting, songwriting, and producing her own album soon, Zephanie shows us that at 18, the world is indeed her oyster.
To the budding musicians, the dreamers, and to the youth, Zephanie has one thing to say. And that is to keep going. “Do what you want to do and do what you love—do what’s in your heart. Always remember that there are people [who are there behind you], supporting you. Kahit isa lang yan, sobrang importante na meron.”
“[And even if there is only one person supporting you], believe in yourself. Believe in what you can do [and] believe in your skills—your God-given skills,” she adds. “There’s always a right time for everything you want in life and for your dreams. So, let’s be patient and it too will come.”
WORDS DIANE NICOLE GO
Photography JASON DY
Art direction JANN PASCUA
Makeup MARK QUA
Hair MJ RONE
Styling ICA VILLANUEVA
Sittings Editor MARGA MEDRANO TUPAZ
Shot on location at CORNERSTONE STUDIOS
Special thanks to the Cornerstone Entertainment team:
President ERICKSON RAYMUNDO
Vice President JEFF VADILLO
Artist Handler CYNTHIA ROQUE
Road Manager JEN VALENCIA
Project Head LIZ ALVAREZ
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