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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 15, 2023




NO DOUBT being a coach-judge in “The Voice Generations”, now seen on Sundays on GMA-7, has boosted the career of the P-pop boy group SB19 singer-choreographer Stell Ajero. 

To think that he was initially reluctant to accept it as he felt intimidated being in the company of other coaches like Billy Crawford, Julie Anne San Jose and Chito Miranda.

“They’re such big names in the industry, mga batikan na, compared to me na baguhan pa lang,” he says. 

“So parang ang laki ng pressure para sa akin.”

How did his colleagues in SB19 react to his going solo: Pablo, Ken, Josh and Justin?

“From the start, very supportive na sila. They’re excited and they’re all rooting for me. Sila ang nagsabing huwag ko nang palampasin ang opportunity na ibinigay sa akin ng GMA. Tinawag nila ako agad na Coach Stell.”

Stell is now 28 years old and hails from Las Pinas.

He was a working student working with a fast food store and also taking up hotel & restaurant management at STI when he auditioned for a group and trained to be what is now known as SB19. 

They made their debut in 2018 with the song “Tila Luha” and it took some time before they were able to make a name for themselves in the local music industry. 

They used to be managed by a Korean group, ShowBT, but they are now on their own. 

SB19 is the first Pinoy act to appear in the Billboard Next Big Sound Chart, the first Southeast Asian group to be nominated in the Billboard Music Awards and also the first to make an appearance in the top 10 of the prestigious Billboard Social 50.

How has his life changed since he became part of SB19?

“The best thing about it is we are now earning on our own and we can help our families financially. 

"But we also have a price to pay kasi hindi na namin madalas na nakakasama ang family namin as we’ve become so busy with work and we now live in the same place kunsaan magkakasama kami para mas malapit sa trabaho namin.” 

SB19’s latest hit is the hip-hop and EDM-inflected dance track “Gento.” 

It has garnered at least 30 million streams and views on Spotify and YouTube. 

It reached the eighth spot of the World Digital Song Sales chart published by Billboard.

The song also sparked a viral dance challenge and has been used in 1.2 million videos on TikTok.

The impact “Gento” has made surprised Stell and his bandmates.

“We’re really surprised by the success of ‘Gento.’ We didn’t expect anything, but the song has really gone such a long way,” Stell says of the song written by SB19 leader, Pablo.

Stell is now enjoying the company of his co-judges in “The Voice Generations”. 

“Kung kinakabahan ako nung nagsisimula pa lang kami, now, after several weeks of working together, I can say na ‘Napakasuwerte kong sila ang nakasama ko.’

"’Yung kaba ko, nawala na, kasi sobra ang suporta at pag-alalay nila. Maganda ang team work at camaraderie namin sa show.”