MANILA, Philippines – KZ Tandingan, a 21-year-old aspiring singer from Digos who almost lost her voice from a throat problem in high school, was named the first winner of “The X Factor Philippines” on Sunday night at the Pagcor Theater.
Tandingan, an early favorite on the latest ABS-CBN talent search, bested Gabriel Maturan and the group Daddy’s Home during the show’s star-studded season finale after garnering 54.77% of the total viewers’ votes.
Tandingan burst into tears when she was announced the winner.
“Lord, God, maraming salamat po sa lahat,” Tandingan shouted, adding that she will use part of her earnings to repair a church in her hometown.
Both Tandingan and her mentor Charice thanked their supporters.
Tandingan also said she wanted to prove that talent competitions are not just for “biriteras” or belters.
She then reprised her version of “Superstar” from The Carpenters, which she sang on the final performance show the night before, with the audience joining her on some parts of the song.
As the winner, Tandingan received a prize package worth P4 million, including a recording contract with Star Music. Second placer Maturan took home P100,000, while third placer Daddy’s Home received P50,000.
It was a comeback of sorts for Tandingan, who found herself on the bottom two for the first time in the competition in the previous week but was saved by judges Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano and Pilita Corrales.
It was Valenciano who exclaimed “A star is born in Digos” after Tandingan wowed the judges with her jazz interpretation of the standard “Over the Rainbow” during the show's provincial auditions. So impressed were the judges with the contestant that they asked her to sing another song. She did and sang Lauren Hill’s “Ready or Not” complete with rapping.
The video of her audition went viral after it was posted on video-sharing site YouTube, where got nearly 1 million views.
Since then, Tandingan has been praised by the judges for her consistent performance throughout the competition. Even her fellow contestants agreed that she is the one to beat in the Philippine franchise of the UK talent competition.
The performance-packed finale was off to an energetic start with a performance by the show’s host KC Concepcion. The four judge-mentors also took the stage, singing some of their signature songs such as “Pyramid” by Charice and “Hataw Na” by Valenciano, “This is the Moment” by Nievera and “If I Never Sing Another Song” by Corrales, who was then joined by the other judges.
The three grand finalists also performed duets with the ABS-CBN “champions.” Maturan sang Whitney Houston’s “On My Own” with Erik Santos, while KZ Tandingan joined Jed Madela for Jordin Sparks’ “This is My Now.” Daddy’s Home performed Brian McKnight’s “Win” with Jovit Baldvino and all three contestants joined Angeline Quinto for Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.”
The three grand finalists also performed with their mentors for the first time on the show. Tandingan and Charice took on the standard “The Way You Look Tonight,” while Daddy’s Home and Valenciano harmonized on Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Maturan and Nievera, meanwhile, did a duet on the Disney theme song “Go the Distance” from the movie “Hercules.”
Previous contestants, including “Osang,” also returned to the show for the production numbers, while the top 12 finalists reunited for the Christmas song, "Star ng Pasko," which was the Christmas ID theme song of ABS-CBN in 2009.