The tension-filled "Ultimate Resbak" leg of "Tawag ng Tanghalan" continued Thursday with its first all-female match-up, resulting in an explosive vocal showdown that moved a judge to tears and a contender apparently conceding to her challenger.
"Resbakers" Lalainne Araña and Ato Arman, the current owners of two "seats of power" representing the last two slots in the grand finals, picked fellow returning semifinalists Arabelle dela Cruz and Adelene Rabulan to compete against each other.
The format of "Ultimate Resbak" has the winner of that initial showdown challenging one of the two seated "resbakers," in the hope of claiming the latter's "seat of power."
Dela Cruz sang "If I Were A Boy," while Rabulan performed "Wag Ka Nang Umiyak" for their face-off. Winning the judges' votes, Dela Cruz advanced to the challenge round, where she chose another female contender, Araña, to go against.
Araña, who was on her third try to enter a "Tawag" finale, took the stage with a song choice which the hosts noted reflected her journey -- "Pagsubok," about not giving up despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Dela Cruz, meanwhile, opted for a power ballad, "Run to You," which had the studio audience and judges on their feet as she approached and subsequently nailed the explosive notes popularized by Whitney Houston.
The resounding cheers for Dela Cruz -- who also had judge K Brosas in tears -- was apparently a disheartening sight for Araña, who cried as she admitted she had been worried about being challenged and losing her "seat of power" on her mother's exact birthday.
The odds, it turned out, were against Araña. Her colorful journey on the "Tawag" stage ended as Dela Cruz earned the higher combined votes of the public and the five-member panel of judges.
Now owning the second "seat of power," Dela Cruz, along with currently seated "resbaker" Arman, have to fend off the four remaining, all-male challengers until Saturday, to ensure their spot in the grand finals.