HIS was another rock ‘n’ roll fairy tale the Filipino audience had wanted.
At age 16, Jovit Baldivino sold siomai while studying to help his struggling family in Rosario, Batangas. At that time, his father, a pandesal baker, was just recuperating from tuberculosis, so he needed to help his mother make ends meet.
His story brought tears to comedienne Ai-Ai De Las Alas during his acts audition at the reality talent show Pilipinas Got Talent of ABS-CBN in 2010.
Baldivino wowed all the celebrity judges — De Las Alas, Kris Aquino, and Freddie Garcia — with his rendition of the American rock band Journey’s Faithfully.
The video of his PGT acts audition became viral, registering more than 1 million hits in one week.
His poor-teenage-boy-with-a-rockstar-potential image gave him the advantage over 11 other contestants. The celebrity judges no longer have the final say in the grand finals. As in the other Got Talent franchisees, the public voted on who will get the grand prize.
Baldivino won the grand prize worth P2 million, a big-ticket winning for a siomai vendor. In 2010, it was worth US$44,000 — relatively modest compared to other Got Talent franchise shows’ grand prizes worth US$300,000 – US$1,000,000.
Life after PGT
Being the first winner of the PGT, Baldivino singing career soared. ABS-CBN’s Star Records released his first album, Faithfully, and sold more than 7,500 units (gold status) in 2011. It was also named Best Selling Album in 2011 by the Awit Awards.
At age 17, Baldivino received his first accolade for Best Performance by a New Male Recording Artist in the 2011 Awit Awards. The Box Office Entertainment Awards also believed he was the most promising performer in 2011.
His second album, I’d Do Anything for Love, also had gold status from the Philippine Association of the Record Industry. His fourth and last album, Jukebox, got nominated as one of the favorite albums of the Star Music Awards in 2015.
The rock balladeer enjoyed the limelight for a few years, performing as a guest in ABS-CBN’s variety shows ASAP and Showtime. His gigs in the US, Australia and other TFC-sponsored events were crowd-pullers. Later, Star Music promoters branded him as #NewJukeBoxKing.
He tried acting in a short-lived musical series “Idol” with Coco Martin and Sarah Geronimo. He was also a part of “Growing Up” with Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla in 2012.
However, his singing career could only flourish so much in the dog-eat-dog entertainment industry.
Little is known about Baldivino’s personal life after he won the PGT.
Reports said he was able to build a house for his parents. He tried returning to school by taking a criminology course as he wanted to be a lawyer like his godfather. But he had to stop schooling to give way to his other siblings’ education.
But what’s interesting among showbiz scribes was his love life. He had three partners and fathered two daughters from two of them. His most tumultuous relationship was with his estranged partner, Shara Chavez.
Chavez accused his boyfriend then of being a womanizer and a gambler, which Baldivino later denied.
Last year, both engaged in a custody battle for their daughter. Both accused each other of scamming people, which both also denied in separate media interviews.
Baldivino and Arnel Pineda
The young singer’s voice is often compared to his idol, Journey’s lead singer Arnel Pineda.
Like Pineda, his voice was raspy but high-pitched. But Pineda believes Baldivino’s voice was better compared to his when he was 16.
“Daig pa nga nya eko eh. Kasi nung kasing edad ko sya, mas matining boses ko. Sya, mas matured eh. So I think malaki ang potential nya to be a very, very good rock singer,” the international rockstar told TV Patrol’s Marie Lozano.
Pineda also had a soft spot for Baldivino, having been homeless as early as 13 years old. Since winning the PGT, they have sung duets in ABS-CBN’s noontime shows.
In their first TV guesting together at The Buzz, the Journey frontman was asked what valuable advice he could give to Baldivino.
Pineda’s reply: “Sana huwag ka magbisyo, sigarilyo. Inom iwasan yan. You have to take care of your body, pag masira yan, that’s it. Buti ka pa, at age of 16 nakuha mo ang fame mo. Ako, it took me 25 years.”
“Sana huwag ka magbisyo, sigarilyo. Inom iwasan yan. You have to take care of your body, pag masira yan, that’s it. Buti ka pa, at age of 16 nakuha mo ang fame mo. Ako, it took me 25 years.”Journey lead singer Arnel Pineda’s advice to Baldivino after their 1st duet
Whether Pineda spoke like a prophet or drew wisdom from experience, it became apparent that Baldivino’s health became his last waterloo.
On December 3, the singer was rushed to the hospital after performing three songs during a Christmas party. Before this incident, a doctor had already prescribed him hypertension medicines and advised him not to strain himself. However, the singer could not say no to a gig last Friday. He died of a brain aneurysm.
Fans felt sad that at the young age of 29, a health issue deprived Baldivino of his dreams and the dreams of his legions of Filipino fans who rooted for him as the country’s next Filipino rock ‘n’ roll superstar. As old as the cliché goes — and as the recent pandemic has overwhelmingly reminded us — health is indeed wealth.
Photos courtesy Jovit Baldivino’s Facebook Page