MANILA -- Fans of "Tawag ng Tanghalan" were spoilt for choice on Thursday as the remaining finalists delivered a string of entertaining and enthralling performances with much gusto, each worthy of a bigger stage.
But as the dust settled, it was Sam Mangubat, a Batangas native with a sizable following, thanks to his popularity on YouTube as a cover artist, who came out on top.
Mangubat, sporting a slicked back hair, had the mostly female studio audience singing along to the chorus of his rendition of Sarah Geronimo's infectiously catchy "Kilometro," which judge Jaya described as perfect.
"Today I am seeing you as a performer," the songbird told him. "Nag-shine ka today. Perfect song. Mahirap kantahin at sumasayaw ka pa so feeling ko talaga ito iyong araw na pinaghandaan mo and I'm glad."
Jaya's co-judge Nyoy Volante chimed in and assured Mangubat that he is more than the number of his fans, adding: "Hindi puwedeng sabihin na popular ka lang eh because you are very, very, very good."
By the time the singing contest pulled its curtains for the day, it was revealed that Mangubat received the highest combined judges' and text votes (98.7 percent), defeating his fellow hopefuls Marielle Montellano, Mary Gidget dela Llana and Eumee Capili.
He will advance to the grand finals as part of the top five of the singing contest on Saturday, joining Carl Malone Montecido, Froilan Canlas and Noven Belleza. One more slot is up for grab on Friday.