With a passion for singing


Liju Cherian –

LIFE for Mary Lycel Millan will never be the same again. Crowned the best female voice among the kababayans in Oman, she recently took home the title of Voice of Palayok Grand Championship Trophy.
This senior administrator in a Muscat-based hygiene company had a shocked expression as she had no clue if she was able to overcome the tough fight from among her own countrymen in the gruelling contest.
With a passion for singing, she vowed the huge audience with her appealing voice when she crooned ‘a light of a million mornings’
Says Mary Lycel about her crowning glory. “I was hoping but never expected my name to be called as the grand champion. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity of taking part in the competition, and to be declared the champion is the icing on the cake.”
Having a singing idol in Filipino singer Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, Mary wowed the audience when she sang ‘a light of a million mornings’ and wowed a packed audience at Palayok Restaurant.
Sophie Soldevilla, director of The Voice of Palayok 2016, mentions Mary’s success as having a perfect projection on stage with the right choice of song and with full emotion without having to try hard with the highest notes. She was confident and outstanding when compared to the eliminations and semi-final round. “She was full of dedication and had thorough preparation throughout for the competition.”
Mary Lycel also got the highest number of Facebook likes which shot up to 14,100 in two weeks. She also pocketed a diamond necklace and took home ‘The Voice of Palayok 2016’ winning a cash prize of RO 400 and gifts from sponsors.

announcing-the-winners-at-palayokA graduate of science and law, Mary had also emerged champion in the Star of Davao Season 3 back home in the Philippines and was one of the top 20 finalists in ABS-CBN’s Search for Star in a Million Season 2.
The preparations she did to groom herself for the contest were daunting. Mary stopped drinking or eating anything cold and sweet and was on medications for almost during the entire competition. Despite these, she was able to practice, rehearse and make it through to the finals. “ I vocalised every day, exercised and did lots of prayers,” she says.
The 10 grand finalists sang their way out and developed a camaraderie among themselves. The singers who impressed were Joy Tagorda, Irma Alcera, Daphne Lumba, Carlos Payos, Jonathan Soriano, Robert Bautista and Rizaldy Arcilla.
Josephine Fernandez, a nurse by profession claimed the first runner up with RO 200 and Cheruby Dalid, a hotel receptionist, got the second runner up with RO 100.
More than the prize, the 10 finalists were happy to join the first season of The Voice which helped them gain new friends. Even after the competition, they still bond together. “Filipinos recognise us anywhere we go because of The Voice of Palayok and we are so grateful for that,” the singers chorus.
“We know that the venue is not enough but we tried to maximise the place through reservation. The show was really entertaining. Due to insistent public demand, the organisers are planning to host the Season 2 very soon.
The audition went on for six weeks at the Al Khuwair office of Filinvest International Oman. Before joining the contest, the participants were asked to attend the Filinvest financial literacy programme which educated the Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFWs) on how to spend their hard earned money wisely through rental business in their country.
Ferdie Catolico, Area Director for Filinvest International Oman, says the programme was able to tap the Filipinos interested to invest in the Philippines. The programme was launched to create an awareness that the pioneers in real estate in the Philippines which has 60 years in track record in building homes and helping build the Filipino dream.
Filinvest International Oman, JC Premiere Oman and Palayok Restaurant joined together to come up with something interesting for all Filipinos in Oman. “If there is one thing that binds the Filipinos in the world, it is our love for music. We are music lovers and that is our simplest happiness, said Sophie Soldevilla,” says the director of Grand Finals of The Voice of Palayok 2016.
Marissa Mehrez, businesswoman, and the success story behind Palayok Restaurant, says the place was jampacked each week. “We received so many participants and it was conceptualised in a way that every weekend, the OFWs have a place to come and enjoy while having their favourite Filipino food and delicacies.”
Rochelle Angelica Tomado, distributor of JC Premiere Oman, says “additional highlight of the programme was the raffle of Siomai King Foodcart business from JC Premiere. The franchise business is available in the Philippines and ready for operation.”
After audition, a weekly elimination was held in the hang out of Filipinos at the centre of Muscat called Palayok Restaurant.
“We were few in the team of organisers but overwhelmed with the support of our kababayans. We set the criteria for judging that includes the Facebook Likes to keep awareness in public of what’s going on with Filinvest International Oman, JC Premiere and Palayok,” Rowen Soldevilla, one of the organisers and ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel Oman correspondent said.
Using ‘The Voice’ has a copyright from the No 1 television network in the Philippines, the ABS-CBN TFC. We got the nod from the ABS-CBN TFC Middle East and that added the prestige in the competition,” says Rowen.