MANILA -- The week-long battle of "Tawag ng Tanghalan" kicked off on Monday with powerful performances from the first five grand finalists.
The other five grand finalists will have their showdown on Tuesday.
Prior to their showdown, the grand finalists were given time to return home to their respective provinces and seek support from their kababayans.
The "Tawag ng Tanghalan" contestants are now considered celebrities in their home provinces, with their supporters cheering for them.
They will be needing all the support they can get since text votes comprise 50% of their final score. The remaining 50% will come from the judges.
Here is the first batch of performers.
As the first performer, Carlmalone Montecido immediately warmed up the crowd with his powerful performance of Wency Cornejo's iconic song “Hanggang.”
His performance was praised by judge Karylle, who said the young singer is doing well in representing Bacolod City.
"Ang pinakapaborito ko talaga sa 'yo ay kapag tumataas na 'yong boses mo parang naiisip ko talaga kung saan nga ba nanggagaling 'yon. Kasi kapag nakikita kita diyan parang simpleng-simpleng tao," she said.
Montecido's parents were present in the studio. His father, who flew all the way from Bacolod, suddenly turned emotional when asked to comment on his son's performance. "Laban lang," he quipped.
For Montecido, who just recently brought home a total of P150,000, said he will do his best to support their family. "Habang humihinga ako, habang kayao, tutulong ako sa pamilya natin," he said.
Following Montecido was Pagadian City's Maricel Callo, who performed Basil Valdez's "Hanggang Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan."
Fresh from her grand homecoming in Zamboanga del Sur, the mother of three boys showed off her wide vocal range. Callo's husband, who was watching live in the studio, said he is really proud of his wife. "Sobrang happy po ako dahil ang ganda ng performance niya," he added.
The couple even performed their theme song "When God Made You."
Judge Eric Santos was amazed "with every aspect" of Callo's performance, particularly the quality of her voice, which he described as "swabeng swabe."
Cebu's Marielle Montellano, who had a duet with Matteo Guidicelli during her homecoming in Mandaue City, gave a powerful rendition of Elton John's "Skyline Pigeon."
Her performance was commended by hosts Vice Ganda and Vhong Navaro, who said she sounded like a professional singer. She also received hearty applause from judge Yeng Constantino.
Judge Rey Valera, who has been vocal about how difficult it is to judge the contestants, said he is thankful to have witnessed Montellano's performance. "I am so lucky, and so proud, and so honored na nakita kitang nag-perform today," he added.
Former farmer Noven Belleza, who received a warm welcomed from his province-mates in Victorias City, Negros Occidental, performed Rico Lupa's inspirational anthem "Lupa."
Judge Yeng Constantino described his voice as "gold."
"I think ang isa sa mababaon ko ay ang maka-encounter ng isang taong katulad mong nagpapa-alala sa akin noong panahon na mga ordinaryo pa kaming tao, 'yung purpose namin kung bakit kami nandito. Ikaw ang representante ng aming nakaraan, at kami naman ay representante ng kung ano ang magiging ikaw," she said.
The last performer on Monday was Rachel Gabreza of Makati, who belted out Leo Valdez's "Magsimula Ka."
Prior to the showdown, the former sales representative of a tissue company visited her youngest brother, a leukemia patient, who is the reason why she wants to win.
The Metro Manila bet, who admitted that her voice is not in top condition, was quite nervous after her performance, especially when judge Karla Estrada started giving comments.
But the "Magandang Buhay" host reassured Gabreza that she gave a good performance. "Huwag kang magalala kasi para sa akin, natapos mo ng maayos e," she added.
Belleza received the highest average of 96.2%, guaranteeing him a slot in the grand showdown on Saturday at Resorts World Manila.