Word nerds

My favorite performance of David Cook's from his run on American Idol is definitely "Always Be My Baby." It was just so original. This is a photo of him singing the song he called a "huge pop hit" in his pre-performance video.
When I first met Khalil Ramos, I thought he was kind of a tough nut to crack. It took American Idol and rocker David Cook, the winner of its seventh season, to turn us into friends.

In November 2011, a trade event was held at ABS-CBN, during which upcoming shows and stars were presented to advertisers. Khalil, who had just begun his showbiz career at the network, was part of it. I went to the dressing rooms that served as the artists’ holding area to visit some of my friends, including Ejay Falcon and Enrique Gil. I didn’t know that Khalil would be there, so I was pleasantly surprised to find him sitting in a corner with his mother and handler.

Me and Khalil Ramos in his dressing room before the ABS-CBN trade event in November 2011. This was our first photo together. We may be smiling here, but at the time I actually thought Khalil was sort of standoffish. Hehe.
My friends and I decided to include Khalil in our conversation, but I got the feeling that he wasn’t interested. Sure, he was nice enough, but he also struck me as a little aloof for some reason. Come to think of it, that was probably just because Khalil didn’t have much energy for meaningful social interaction. After all, he was fresh from his own stint on a reality-based talent search at the time, so he must have had quite a packed schedule. That would make anyone cranky and tired.

Back then, though, I just thought Khalil was a huge snob. I didn’t think we would become friends.

It wasn’t until I worked with him that I changed my mind.

We were doing a photoshoot at his old house in the South, and we got to talking about music and Idol. Khalil revealed that David Cook was one of his biggest musical influences.

“While I was watching David Cook on the show, I was nakatulala lang sa screen. His performance of 'Billie Jean' was my favorite,” he said. “Big impact siya sa life ko.”

I wasn’t surprised to hear that, since two of the songs Khalil sang on Pilipinas Got Talent were from David Cook’s Idol songbook.

Turns out, Khalil was also a David Cook fan. When he wasn’t busy posing for our photographer, we would talk about our common Idol. It was then that we realized we were both at David Cook’s show at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds in 2009.

Khalil admired the winner of season seven as much as I did. In fact, he remains the only Kapamilya artist I know who has not only listened to Analog Heart—the pre-Idol album by David Cook—but knows the songs on it well enough to analyze them with me for hours on end.

But the most meaningful David Cook moment Khalil and I shared took place on my birthday in 2012. I threw a karaoke party for myself and some friends, and of course I invited him. At first I wasn’t sure if he would make it because he had an important gig in the South and the venue of my party was in Quezon City.

I so didn’t expect Khalil to make the effort, but he did. He even sang David Cook’s rock version of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” when he arrived. (I told him before that that was my favorite of all David Cook’s Idol performances.) Watch Khalil's take on that song below.

Like a true Word Nerd, Khalil put his own spin on the song and managed to stay true to the original at the same time. Methinks David Cook would have been proud.

Me, Khalil and his father Lito Ramos at my birthday party in 2012. It was held at a karaoke joint near ABS-CBN, hence Khalil's performance. Trivia: Khalil inherited his love for classic rock from Tito Lito.
Because Khalil and I discovered we were both Word Nerds (the name all David Cook’s fans called themselves because of his love for crossword puzzles), we bonded. As author C.S. Lewis once said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What, you too? I thought I was the only one.”

American Idol is over now. In the fifteen years it was on the air, it produced Grammy Award-winning artists, who in turn have produced countless chart-toppers. But if someone asked me to make a list of the best things to come out of the show’s historic run, my friendship with Khalil would top that chart for sure.

First photo courtesy of American Idol.


The old Julian can't come to the phone right now.


  1. Super duper like po! �� Thank you so much po for making this blog and for helping us. God bless po ����

  2. This show who Khalil Ramos is. Thank you sir for being a wonderful friend to him. This blog is awesom. A true friendship is :)

  3. Thank you for making this blog Sir. Julian Mauricio, and for being a nice friend to our idol Khalil Ramos! :) GODBLESS!!

  4. Thank you so much sir Julian for this blog and for being such a nice friend to Kali! �� We love you po! :) Godbless!

  5. Thank you po sir Julian for making this blog. This shows who Khalil Ramos is and one of the million reasons why we love our dear Khalil :)

  6. This is why i love K. 😍😍😍

  7. Thank you sir julian! Godbless

  8. Thank you sir julian! Godbless

  9. Wow! Thank you for this blog Sir Julian :)

  10. Thank you so much sir Julian. Napakamabuti long kaibigan para sa idol namin. Gusto kitang Maging kaibigan. Hahahaha 😊

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  12. One of the best blog i've read. Thank you for this one. It really show who Khalil Ramos is and how strong and great your friendship have. Keep going. 😄

    - Matias PM

  13. Wow I love it. Thank you very much Sir, ang buti nyo pong kabigan saming idol At ag bait nyo rin samin GodBless you po always