After a rigorous round of auditions that had judges listen to 147 hopefuls across the U.S. and Canada, narrowing it down to 20 semi-finalists, and eventually just 10 finalists, two winners have been declared.
As the house lights dimmed, the spotlight shone on the stage, and ten finalists waited with bated breath, hosts Ginger Conejero and Eric Nicolas announced the champions for the night: Jing Wenghofer from Chicago, Illinois and Steven Paysu from Fontana, California.
Wenghofer could not believe the announcement. She was emotional when she recounted that “I wasn’t sure if I really heard my name, but someone in the audience shouted my name. I immediately looked up and said my thanks to God. My eyes were teary and my heart was overflowing with happiness.”
When Paysu saw that Global Events Marketing and AdSales Head Ricky Resurreccion was holding a bouquet of flowers after calling the first winner, the former already assumed that the second champion would also be female. He was surprised when host Nicolas called his name. “It was a feeling of fulfillment and excitement at the same time. I thanked God right away quietly.”
Paysu’s winning entry was “Everything I Own” by Bread, while Wenghofer performed “Hinanakit” (Resentment) by Imelda Papin.
Global Tawag ng Tanghalan judges Pop Rock Superstar Yeng Constantino, King of Teleserye and Movie Theme Songs Erik Santos, and OPM Icon Rey Valera all said that it was a challenge judging the 10 finalists. There was a certain pressure being in Las Vegas, as expressed by Valera. He said, “Mahirap i-entertain mga tao dito dahil nakita niyo na lahat ng entertainer. Iba talaga ang Vegas.” (It is very difficult to entertain the people here in Vegas because they have already seen all sorts of entertainment. Vegas is truly special.)
Both North America champions just wanted to sing and share their talents as singers, but life got in the way. Now, they have this opportunity to shine and share their gifts with the rest of the world. Paysu shares that he put a hold on his dreams because he prioritized his family first. He then confides, “Now, I feel that it is never too late to pursue your dreams. At my age, right now, I would have not imagined that this time would still come but thanks be to God and Tawag ng Tanghalan for the blessing and opportunity I have been given. I will be forever thankful for allowing me to shine again on stage and believing in the talent that God has given me.”
Wenghofer is a music teacher so she can impart wise words to her students. She tells them to “Never stop pursuing your dreams. Keep practicing, follow your heart and keep trying. And most importantly, pray. His answer might not be the one you are asking for, but believe that everything will come at the right time.”
This seems like the right time for Wenghofer as she gets to represent North America, together with Paysu, in the Tawag ng Tanghalan Global Cluster Finals that will be held in the Philippines from December 11-16 this year. They will be competing with other regional champions from Region 2–Europe, Region 3–Middle East, Region 4–Hong Kong/Singapore/Malaysia, Region 5–Japan/Taiwan/South Korea, and Region 6-Australia/New Zealand/Papua New Guinea/Guam/Saipan.
Prior to competing at the Global Tawag ng Tanghalan North America Region Finals at the Ed W. Clark High School, the 10 finalists had a day to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Entertainment Capital of the World. It was a good chance for the 10 contestants to get to know one another while playing tourist, since it was the first time for some of them to see Las Vegas.
The finalists also had a closed-door performance for the judges the day before the Region Finals, and a meet and greet at the Vegas branch of Seafood City. All the finalists enjoyed their time out on the town, and the overall experience.
Elizabeth Sooy from New Jersey expressed how she “love these people and the experience.” Danielle Jade Laganson from Edmonton, Alberta shared that she was “glad to call the other nine incredibly talented singers my new friends.” Laganson also added that even if they came from different parts of the U.S. and Canada, they still connected as one through their “love and passion for singing and for music.” Marie Joy Amaro of Texas said that it “did not feel like a competition. We helped each other and we encouraged each other like we were a team, a family.”
ABS-CBN Global Head of Events Ricky Resurreccion also soaked in the overall atmosphere of family. Resurreccion admitted that this region finals was “the most intimate event TFC Live has ever mounted.” He added that it was “a welcome respite from doing huge venues. The talent was raw and pure, and the energy was palpable. One could also sense the genuine affection that immediately clicked among the finalists. It was a blast!”
Next Stop: Manila, Philippines
Wenghofer and Paysu will be going to Manila, Philippines for the Global Cluster Finals that will take place from December 11-16. During that whole week, all global finalists from the six different regions will compete against each other. Of these, only two winners will be chosen, and these two will then move on to join the Tawag ng Tanghalan “Huling Tapatan” (Grand Finals) in March 2018.