15-year-old Pinay wins 'X Factor Australia'


Posted at Oct 20 2014 06:51 PM | Updated as of Oct 21 2014 05:27 AM

MANILA - (UPDATED) It's Rose Fostanes all over again!

Fifteen-year-old Marlisa Punzalan on Monday capped her stellar run on Australia's edition of "The X Factor" as its grand winner, making her the youngest champion of the talent search across its six seasons since 2005.

The victory of Punzalan, whose parents are both Filipino based in the suburb of Mount Druitt in Sydney, comes nine months after former caregiver Rose Fostanes, also a Filipina, won "The X Factor Israel."

It was a proud moment for Punzalan's mentor on the show, Irish singer Ronan Keating, after she beat Brothers3 and Dean Rey, who were coached by Dannii Minogue and Natalie Bassingwaithe, respectively.

"This has been the tightest result in 'X Factor' history," said host Luke Jacobz shortly before announcing Punzalan was the winner, referring to the 0.01% difference in the public votes.

"It is so close," he said.

Asked for her reaction to being named winner, Punzalan said: "I just can't believe it! I feel like I am floating on a cloud right now. Thank you so much, Australia! I couldn't have done it without you!"

The grand finals, which aired nearly a year after "The X Factor Australia" first held auditions in November 2013, had the Top 2 reprise what they consider their best moments on the show.

Punzalan, who admitted to lacking confidence early in the competition, once again belted out the club anthem "Titanium," about staying strong despite criticisms.

The young singer's duet with runner-up Rey -- their first and last on the show -- followed performances from several big-name stars, including American superstar Taylor Swift and "Australian Idol" winner Guy Sebastian.

Punzalan's win was bolstered by raves from judges during Sunday's performance night. She reprised The Beatles' "Yesterday," her audition piece, and got a standing ovation for her powerful performance of "Stand By You," her would-be first single as the winner.

Minutes after the results show, Punzalan's official Facebook page was updated with the first look of the single cover of "Stand By You," which immediately garnered thousands of likes.

"My 'X Factor' journey has been incredible because of the beautiful people around me," she said on her page. "To my loving family, thank you for standing by me through thick and thin, you are my rock and my strength!"

During her hometown visit shown on Sunday, Punzalan was seen to have close relationships with her parents and grandparents, who expressed pride in the diminutive Pinay.

Welcoming her and mentor Keating were family members and what appeared to be Filipino neighbors dancing in Ifugao attire.

Addressing Keating, the 15-year-old added: "Thank you for believing in my ability and nurturing my talent, I have enjoyed every single day of working with you."


"And to all my supporters," she continued, "thank you for getting behind me every single week, for I will not be where I am today without your support. And to The Lord above, I thank Him for everything."

Punzalan, along with Fontanes, are the latest Filipinos to make waves in international singing competitions, following the likes of Jessica Sanchez, Jasmine Trias, Madonna Decena, Charlie Green, Cheesa Laureta, and Joseph Apostol.