Ryan Mayor (left) and Gelo Bernal call themselves Bokals Vocals on Expat Duets.


The bold, bald and beautiful at Expat Duets


DUBAI – On Expat Duets, they call themselves Bokals Vocals, a play on the Filipino word kalbo, or bald, which aptly describes their main and mane attraction.

“We used to be insecure about it, wearing hats as a cover up. But now we’re comfortable with being bald and we love it,” Gelo Bernal, 36, told

But what Bernal and partner Ryan Mayor lack in hair, they surely make up for in talent. The duo has won several competitions in the UK, including the North Norfolk’s Got Talent where they were the only Filipino contenders. They also won the Grosvenor Casino Talent competition, which opened the door for them to have concerts in the UK.

In Dubai, they are one of the crowd favourites in the UAE-based singing showdown Expat Duets, which culminates in grand finals on March 10, 7 p.m. at Vegas Dubai.


The partners moved from the UK to Abu Dhabi last year, with 43-year-old Mayor working as an events coordinator and Bernal as a nurse educator in the UAE capital.

It’s their love for music and the friendships they have built along the way that have fuelled their drive, quite literally, to travel to Dubai from Abu Dhabi every week for the Expat Duets showdowns.

“Getting to know people and gaining friends in the process keeps us going. Every week is memorable because the themes set the challenge, showcase our versatility and mould us as better singers, we hope,” Mayor told

Let’s get to know them better with their Q&A:

Describe yourself when you’re not performing or holding a microphone.

Bernal: I sing everyday using a remote control… in the toilet, while cooking and in almost every waking moment so it is impossible to imagine me not singing. In my most sedate moment, I walk the dog and cook a wonderfully garnished super yummy meal.

Mayor: I do love tennis and meeting friends over coffee and tea having tete-a-tete about random topics.

What’s your life like in the UAE?

Bernal: Thrilled that we get to experience a different culture hence the enjoyment in exploring the UAE life.


Have you always loved music?

Bernal: We both love music. We have different genres of music but we both breathe, eat and sleep music.

Mayor: The passion has never waned. It’s always there. We got together only few years ago and we found that we get well together in doing harmonies. We tried musicals at first and our different tones complimented the music (well, according to friends).

Who is your musical inspiration and why?

Bernal: I am a massive Michael Buble and Gary Valenciano fan.

Mayor: I am a fan, too, but I’m a bigger fan of the classical giants (known tenors and sopranos). They appeal the most to me.

If you could describe your current life in a song, what would that song be?

Bernal: Let It Go

Mayor: That song is becoming our all-time favourite.


What achievements in your life are you particularly proud of?

Bernal: I won singing competitions in the Philippines and in the UK, including the prestigious Pinoy Idol tfckat where I represented UK in Nice, France.

Mayor: I have won a few minor singing competitions when I was a lot younger but I guess I have focused my life doing academic stuff. Completing my postgraduate studies abroad and my Masters in Clinical Education was an accomplishment for me but that has never steered me away from my love for music.

What do you love about your expat life in the UAE?

Mayor: Getting the chance to immerse ourselves into the culture and learning from it. There’s so much difference yet we all have the same needs. Life’s truly interesting in that way.

Bernal: We are actually dreading the idea of summer based on what people say. Let’s see if there’s a smidgen of truth to what they say about that season.

What is your motto in life?

Bernal: Anyone can deal with victory but only the mighty can bear defeat.

Mayor: Live life to the fullest. Sunset is inevitable.

Best lesson you’ve learned in life.

Bernal: Do not make decisions at the height of anger.

Mayor: This may sound cheesy but love makes the world go round so keep on loving.

Your message to other expats in the UAE.

Bernal: Embrace who you are and be contented with what you have.

Mayor: The moment you start comparing yourselves to others is when you realise how insatiable you become. The outcome is usually deleterious.


What: Expat Duets (Grand Finals)
When: March 10, 7 p.m.
Where: Vegas Dubai, Holiday Inn Bur Dubai
Tickets: Entrance is free


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