Juan Karlos Labajo performs during the July 27 finale of 'The Voice Kids.' ABS-CBN
MANILA - Before he earned fame as a runner-up on ABS-CBN's "The Voice Kids," 13-year-old Juan Karlos Labajo was the target of bullying in school.
In an interview on "Aquino & Abunda Tonight" that aired Monday, Labajo said some of his school mates would make fun of him because of his mixed race.
Labajo's Filipino mother died in November 2013. His German father left him and his mother when he was born, according to Labajo in an earlier interview. Though he has a step-father, Labajo said they have lost contact. He is now under the care of his uncle, Giovanni Labajo.
"Marami din pong nag-bu-bully sa akin, especially po sa school, noon po. Kasi po 'yung parang not accepted by the community," said Labajo, who hails from Cebu City.
According to his maternal grandmother, Erlinda, who was beside Labajo during the interview, the young singer would get punched several times by a group of students. This, despite Labajo avoiding encounters by spending his lunch break under a tree.
At one point, Erlinda said his grandson sustained scratches when he was pushed towards a thorny plant by his classmates. In some cases, 10 kids would bully him at the same time and tease him to fight back, according to Labajo.
Asked how the bullying affected him, Labajo answered: "Actually po, to all the bashers and the haters, nagpapasalamat po ako kasi naging motivation ko po kayo na mag-perform better."
Aside from numerous guest stints following his "The Voice Kids" finish, Labajo is set to join the primetime series "Hawak Kamay" where he will co-star with Piolo Pascual, Iza Calzado, and Zaijan Jaranilla.