TAGS: Idol Philippines, Zephanie Dimaranan

Photography: Raphael Yu


The most compelling and inspiring stories in showbiz are those of celebrities who  struggled to make it big and had to start from scratch. But by hearing their stories of how they persisted, carried on, and dreamed, we can only be inspired to move forward and move up as well. 

Zephanie Dimaranan is one example of a person who never gave up, in spite of all the tedious preparations, rejections and criticisms. Through hard work and perseverance, Zephanie was finally able to reap the benefits of her labor, and was recently hailed as Idol Philippines’ grand winner.


Exclusive Photo from Starstudio.ph


Starstudio.ph was lucky enough to visit the rising star in her home in Laguna and talk to the singer about her life and her rise to fame.


Zephanie loved spending time with her family when she was a child, and had a lot of fond memories of her childhood. Zephanie recalled that she loved doing outdoor activities with her friends, as opposed to staying inside the house playing video games. “’May mga times na nakakapaglaro ako sa labas with friends. Kasi nung mga 12 years old pa ako, nakakapaglaro ako ng ganu'n, hanggang 14 years old.” 


Exclusive Photo from Starstudio.ph


Aside from hanging out with her peers, Zephanie shared that she loved attending school and made an effort to excel academically. 

“Sobrang love na love ko ang school. Kasi ever since, achiever po ako sa school. Na-i-inspire ako na gawin ang best ko every school year. Ayoko mawala ‘yung sipag sa pag-aaral.” 

She and her siblings attended a private school a few years back, but due to financial constraints, they couldn’t continue on and had to transfer somewhere else. “Nung una nasa private school kaming tatlong bunso nag-aaral. Pero hindi namin kinaya.” During high school, Zephanie said that she had to do well in order to keep her scholarship at the Alpha Angelicum Academy. By doing so, this would also help lessen the expenses of her family. “Nung nag-highshcool ako, sobra kaming natuwa na may nag-offer ng scholarship na 100%, ‘tapos naiintindihan nila ‘yung situation ko,” she said with a thankful smile.



It became clear to Zephanie at a very young age that her parents were struggling to make ends meet. There were times when they couldn’t eat as much as they wanted, because they didn’t have the resources to buy enough food. “’Yung kinakain po namin, kailangan naming tipirin. Kunyari, canned goods, minsan sa isang buong linggo ‘yun lang ‘yung kakainin namin,” she recounted. 

The teen continued on by saying, “Minsan sa school, ‘yung baon ko na Php100 sa isang araw, nagiging para sa tatlong araw. At pag may naipon ako, ipapahiram ko sa kapatid ko kasi wala nang maibibigay sa kanya si mommy at daddy.”

Even if they were a happy family, life at home became somewhat of a challenge, because her parents had a difficult time keeping up with paying the bills. 

“May times na nag-iigib po kami dyan sa poso kasi wala kaming pambayad sa tubig. Pag minsan wala rin kaming kuryente, bigla nalang pong mawawala.” They hadn’t realized that their bills started to pile up—hence the decision to cut down on costs. Instead of being selfish and demanding, Zephanie would try to be resourceful by doing errands, and would be thoughtful enough to ask her parents if they had enough money to spend. “Pag may gusto kami, tinatanong namin sila kung may budget. Pero sila mommy at daddy naghahanap sila ng way para hindi kami mahirapan, at mas maging comfortable kami sa life namin.”


Exclusive Photo from Starstudio.ph

Another incident that struck Zephanie was when she found out what her mother had gone through when she was 3 months pregnant with her. Her momshie, Richelle, was sick at that time, and had to undergo an operation; the doctor had told her that she’d be lucky if Zephanie would make it out alive. 

“Sabi po ng doctor, 'pag nabuhay ako, blessing ako sa kanya,” Luckily, Zephanie turned out to be a healthy baby. However, her mother couldn’t afford to buy what Zephanie needed either, such as diapers and milk.

“Wala pong pambili ng diaper at ng gatas. At nung time na ‘yun hindi rin in good condition ‘yung breastmilk niya. Nagulat ako na ‘yun pala ‘yung nangyari nung bata ako.” Richelle became so desperate that she had to borrow money from an owner of a local pharmacy. Luckily, the stranger was kind enough to give her money.



 When Zephanie was around three years old, her parents noticed that she could carry a tune. A couple of years later, Zephanie would perform in school and join competitions for fun. She clarified, however, that she was never really keen on the idea of becoming a singing celebrity. But Zephanie eventually gave it a go when she realized she had nothing to lose. “Nung bata ako hindi ko gusto. Pero nung nag-start akong mag-try, naging interested din ako sa showbiz, kasi parang ang saya ng feeling na artista ka, mapapanood ka sa TV, at kilala ka ng tao.”

As time went by, the soon-to-be-star began to take her craft more seriously and hone her skills. “Naisip namin na mag-take ako ng singing lessons para if ever may singing contest at may biglaang audition, ready po ako. So nag-take ako ng lessons nung 9 ako.”

Her mom and dad urged her to keep making the most of her talents, because they believed she could go far someday. “Alam po nila na kaya ko. At ako rin gusto ko na mag-try at sumali. Kasi if ever naging swerte ako at manalo, ‘yung makukuha kong prize do’n, makakatulong din sa amin.”



Exclusive Photo from Starstudio.ph

 It can be recalled that Zephanie auditioned for the first season 1 of the popular TV show The Voice Kids, but didn’t make the cut. She tried her luck again and joined season 2, and was fortunate enough to reach the live shows under Sarah Geronimo’s team, but failed to make it to the grand finals. 

Distraught, Zephanie couldn’t believe that her moment was cut short, and she admitted that she did not handle this well. “Since first competition ko ‘yun sa TV, medyo na-bitter ako. Parang nag-expect ako na makakaabot ako sa dulo.” 

She looked back on those days when she had a hard time coping with the loss and said, “Parang hindi ako nagsasalita at tahimik lang. Minsan secretly ako umiiyak, kasi 'pag naaalala ko ‘yun, nalulungkot talaga ako.” She had hit a low point in her life, that she couldn’t bear to watch television and see the other contestants perform. “Di po ako masyadong nanonood ng TV kasi nakikita ko sila. Pero nanood ako ng finals, kasi ‘yung best friend ko sa The Voice ‘yung nanalo, si Elha.”


Photo from ABS-CBN News

A couple of years later, Zephanie and her family heard about the upcoming auditions for a singing competition called Tawag Ng Tanghalan, or TNT, which was aired as a segment in the hit afternoon variety show It’s Showtime. Her parents encouraged her to try out and see where this could take her. 

She did exactly what they wanted, despite having doubts this time. “May mga times na nagdadalawang isip ako na sumali, pero mas gusto kong i-try kasi baka time ko na. Nu'ng time po na ‘yun, ang nasa isip ko, gusto kong ipakita na may place ako sa industry na ‘to.” 

Once again, however, Zephanie felt disappointed when she lost to Janine Berdin. 

But unlike before, she tried to take this experience with a grain of salt. “Feeling ko nu'ng time na ‘yun hindi pa ako ready. Hindi ako naging ‘bitter’, pero may time na ayoko nang sumali. Parang gusto ko nalang mag-focus sa studies ko. Naisip ko na baka hindi para sa akin ang singing.”


 Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment


Who knew that Zephanie’s audition at Idol Philippines would lead to her crowning glory? It happened despite the singer already having her reservations and was ill a day before the tryouts. 

“Hindi talaga ako dapat ma-o-audition sa Idol. Kasi nagkasakit ako before nung audition.” 

She revealed that she seldom practiced and wasn’t really active in singing unlike before. “Di nila ako nakikitaan ng determination na kumanta o mag-audition.” 

But her parents insisted that she give this opportunity another chance, thinking that occasions like these don’t come by often. “Pero, pinush pa rin ako nila mommy at daddy na sumali, kasi parang nasasayangan sila sa opportunity na once in a lifetime na mangyayari.” Zephanie sighed, then further divulged, “Hindi naman sa na-trauma, pero napagod ako. Napagod rin ako na nag-tra-try nang nag-tra-try tapos walang nangyayari.” However, after a long and grueling process—and we all know where fate had taken her— Zephanie was finally hailed as the winner of the show. 


Photo from ABS-CBN News

 When the announcement was made, Zephanie was astounded, not to mention happy with the outcome. But more than that, she was happy that her family had been by her side every step of the way, especially when she was struggling to get back on her feet. 

She recounted on those days and said, “Chini-cheer up nila ako at sinasabi na may iba bang opportunity. Sinasabi nila na bata pa ako, at marami pang dadaan na events sa buhay ko.” 

Fortunately, the Kapamilya star was named the champion, something that Zephanie truly long deserved. 



Apart from singing, Zephanie still has dreams of pursuing her studies if her schedule permits. “Gusto ko po sana maging doctor someday. Pero sa ngayon, iniisip ko pa kung i-pu-pursue ko pa rin ‘yun. Dahil medyo mahirap pag sabayin ‘yung course ng medicine sa career ko (showbiz). Kahit medyo busy, gagawan namin ng paraan na makapag-continue po ako kahit online. Kapag hindi po ako natuloy sa medicine, mag bu-business nalang po ako.”

The Idol Philippines winner underscored that all these achievements are just a way of giving back to her family. 

“Kahit wala akong career sa singing, may maitutulong pa ako sa family ko. Kaya gusto ko mag aral ng medicine kasi, alam ko na makakatulog ako sa kanila.” 

Zephanie added, “Gusto ko maging magaan ‘yung life namin at hindi kami magkakaroon ng financial problems. At ‘yung hindi na naming kailangang manghiram ng pera para mabayaran yung bills. Yung stable life.”


Exclusive Photo from Starstudio.ph

 The singer also plans to build her dream house for her family so they can finally live a comfortable life. “Yung gusto ko sana na dream house, gusto ko somewhere na peaceful at walang masyadong kapitbahay. Parang sa province like sa Tagaytay, ‘yung mga ganoong places,” Zephanie said. “At ‘yung may sari-sarili kaming kwarto, kasi hindi namin ‘yun na-experience. Siyempre since malaki na kami, gusto ko magkaroon na kami ng sari-sariling kwarto kung saan pwede naming ilagay ang sarili naming gamit.”

In spite of having so many other ambitions, Zephanie underlined that she would like to attain her place in showbiz as a singer for as long as she can. “Siyempre gusto kong tumagal sa industry na ‘to. Ang goal ko ay 10-15 years.”

Indeed, Zephanie has proven that by never giving up, one can surpass all the hurdles in life and make it big. Another important lesson learned from this story: our loved ones matter just as much as our dreams. 



Art Direction: Alfred Amado

Assistant Photographer: Benjie Capili

Make-up: Dong Bandal

Hair: Janna Tanchin