With over two decades of reinventing Filipino music, it’s no surprise that Sarah Geronimo has become a champion for Filipino excellence in the global arena. Her decorated career is no stranger to anyone, but in this special episode of Billboard Philippines Volumes powered by BDO, she takes us behind the scenes of who she is, the state of Philippine pop today, and what’s next in the country’s music industry moving forward.

The episode, which was shot before her historic appearance at the Billboard Women in Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, opened with Geronimo recounting her journey as an artist. She didn’t take the “conventional” way of breaking into pop music then, which was by joining a lot of singing competitions and working your way up. However, as many people remember, she ended up clinching the grand prize when she was just 14. The rest, as they say, is history.

She then went on to ASAP, where she was part of The Champions segment. “Ang (The) feeling was…I was like in a competition all over again,” she recounts. “Parang pinaglalaban ulit kami, na I [had to] prove that I deserved my spot. Parang (It was like) we are expected to end our songs with talagang…to the highest level ng mga notes. Kung ano yung pinakamataas na note, ‘yun ang gagawin mo (Whatever the highest note you can do is, that’s what you’re supposed to do)!”

May time nanapagod na ako. Hindi na siya natural sa’kin. Sure, pwede akong mag-belt ng mga notes na kaya lang ng range ko pero yung sobra-sobra, hindi na siya okay sa’kin (There was a time where…I got tired. It wasn’t natural for me. Sure, I can belt the notes that are in my range, but anything beyond that, it wasn’t okay for me anymore),” she explains, as she opens up about that time in her life. “I felt like it was forced. It wasn’t me.”

After the team at ASAP noticed her disposition during the segment, they gave her a new one: The Other Side of Sarah. Here, she was free to stay true to herself as she leaned into her love for pop music. 

Fast forward to 2024, and she has made history as the first homegrown Filipina to be ever awarded at the Billboard Women in Music Awards. In the lead up to her flight to the United States, the well-traveled artist was not afraid to reveal her travel essentials to make sure that she stays prepared for her trip there.

“I never travel without my BDO Debit Card,” she says immediately. “Even if you don’t have cash, you can withdraw cash anywhere in the world using your BDO Debit Card, basta (as long as it’s) VISA or MasterCard.”

She continues by saying that the BDO Debit Card makes her life easier and more convenient as she spends time abroad. “Halimbawa, meron akong kailangan bilhin (For example, there’s something I need to buy) for work, an outfit for a show, or something I need at home, I can just use my BDO Debit Card anywhere in the world.”

As she looks back on her illustrious career, she shares that a defining moment had to be during her 20th anniversary concert last year, where she opened the show with her original songs. “Ang sarap ng pakiramdam ko (It felt so good)…these are my own songs! Usually, I open my concerts with covers, popular songs. But this time, songs ko talaga (they were truly mine). And, alam nila yung kanta (the audience knew the songs).”

Opening that concert with original songs was a game changer for her, and Geronimo knew exactly that because it was to commemorate 20 years in the industry, she wanted to “sing her own truth.” 

In a world full of pop stars, there is truly only one Sarah Geronimo. She envisions that Filipino music will continue to evolve and reach even greater heights. As she opens this new chapter in her life, armed with the unwavering support of her fans, her talent, and life essentials like the BDO Debit Card, it’s clear that her story is far from being over.

Watch the full episode with Sarah Geronimo here.