Few people get to make their lifelong dreams come true at 35, but Poppert Bernadas managed to headline his own solo concert—a goal he’d been trying to reach as early as the second grade—all thanks to hard work, a little bit of luck, and a lot of love from his fans, peers, and mentors. With “The Power, The Voice”, Poppert’s birthday concert produced by A-Team, the singer-songwriter reels people in with his powerful vocals and an even powerful life story.
Poppert Bernadas kicks the night off with Miguel Vera’s Nais Ko, the legendary collaboration with composer Ryan Cayabyab, and I Who Have Nothing by Ben E. King. The Voice of the Philippines alumnus demands attention with his killer voice, presenting a perfect mix of gentle and explosive vocals from the get-go. In between a few of the songs, he shares a chapter of his life or two that are considered huge turning points for what would eventually become his life as a professional singer.
“Pag nakikita [ko] na silang kumanta, kinakabahan [na ako], kasi ako lang yung bata,” Poppert shared a few minutes after his set started, detailing his initial thoughts on local singing contests in Davao which he participated in at a young age. “Pag nakita mo na yung mga yun, parang wala na, kasi ang gagaling nila.” He also said that he chose some of the songs on his concert set list because he wanted to put his own spin on some of the classics that his older co-contestants loved to sing, something that he feels is powerful.
His third song of the night, Kailan, is a Ryan Cayabyab piece, and he tells the listeners that Cayabyab—who has collaborated with him for some OPM hits he penned—is one of his most adored people in the music industry because of the living legend’s humble nature.
“Hindi mo sya makikitaan ng paggiging icon ng music industry, kasi napakasimple nya lang,” Bernadas addressed the audience. “Hindi rin sya pumipili ng trabaho,” he shared as he then told stories of how his mentor did plenty of wonderful things for him backstage: letting him be a part of the prestigious musical group, the Ryan Cayabyab Singers (RCS), visiting his family while they were in mourning at her mother’s wake, and eventually creating a demo for a song he wrote for his mom (Payakap, Inay, his ninth song of the night), which he recalls made him cry his eyes out.
Cayabyab is but one of the thousands of people who inspire him to continue singing. The many musical roads Poppert has taken, including the months-long musical rehearsals he’s been missing, his stints in Rak of Aegis, Lorenzo, Magsimula Ka, and Katy!, and his run on The Voice of The Philippines, introduced him to a ton of supporters from in and out of the industry, including Sarah Geronimo, Robert and Isay Seña, and Nestor Torre, all of whom he says inspire him to do even more with his talent.
He then maintains a steady pace with his next songs, Basil Valdez’s Sometime, Somewhere, Buktot, Luha, and Nandito Ako, a four-step career narrative that describes his transition to greater heights: after years of performing in theater, he was tapped by OPM legend Ogie Alcasid (who duets with him in Ikaw Lamang) to be a talent for the Alcasid Total Entertainment & Artist Management, or ATeam for short—which he laughingly recalls rejecting at first.
“Sure ba talaga ‘to? Papasok ako sa bagong pamilya?” he recounted his doubts in starting a new chapter in his life with Alcasid’s artistic ensemble. He would accept the offer a few months later, however, when ATeam offered him a spot in their roster a second time. Poppert now celebrates one year of being a part of the management.
Of course, Poppert’s story isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. The crooner also shared stories about his mom, who he considers is his main driving force for pursuing a music career, and how losing her impacted his life.
“Saan na mapupunta yung mga pinaghihirapan ko?” he remembered asking that question to himself when he read a text from his sibling four years ago that let him know their mother had passed away. He recalled supporting her dialysis treatment for five years, how they’d call and text each other when he was studying in UP Diliman, and how he used to tease her that she spent way too much time complaining about things whenever they’d talk.
“’Mamimiss mo boses ko balang araw, nak,’” he recalled her words that ring truer than ever. Poppert would then use his grief and longing for one more hug from his mother to write Payakap, Inay, and Mama Ko (which he performed with Ryan Cayabyab playing the piano), two of his most personal and gut-wrenching songs. The hurt is palpable as he sings the songs in the beginning of the set’s second half, where he tries to hold back tears during the very emotional highs of the songs.
“Ang advice ko sa mga anak dyan: mahalin ninyo [ang mga magulang ninyo] at isipin ninyo na ang gusto nila ay mapaganda ang inyong buhay.”
The singer then shares his thoughts on his journey so far, recalling how simple his life was in the beginning, and how it would be nice to go back to the old days where he’d sing to the ocean and sell his parent’s catches from the sea in the wet market to make a quick buck.
“Gusto ko pa rin balikan yung kabataan ko, nung simple lang ang buhay. Tambay lang sa dagat at kain ng ice candy,” he shares while laughing. He then captivates his online crowd as he sings a quiet, powerful rendition of The Beatles’ Yesterday, a retrospective love song that reflects his want to turn back time, as well as his desire to belong to her mother’s care again.
Before closing the show with the hope-infused Hallelujah and a mashup of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Home, Poppert sang Ambot Lang, a song he is incredibly proud of because of its lyrics being written by him in Visaya. He claims that the will-they-won’t-they, puppy love song is a team effort with a friend of his who checked if his lingo is up-to-date (Poppert is a Bisaya, but he doesn’t use the local dialect every day).
As if the concert’s narrative couldn’t get any better, Poppert Bernadas ends the night with his original single, Go With the Flow, a Taglish mid-tempo song that reminds its listeners to enjoy life and live it one step at a time. Poppert imparts the importance of stopping in your tracks sometimes to smell the roses and take in all of what’s around you.
For someone who has only headlined a solo concert once, Poppert Bernadas feels like a pro. When it comes to creating an incredibly cohesive set, he stuck with storytelling as the greatest element of the concert, save from his voice. Not a lot of powerhouse vocalists sacrifice airtime to be vulnerable and relatable, but he commits to his goal of this-is-my-story, heart-on-my-sleeve-ness, and it makes for an incredibly heartwarming show.
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