Focus on the Philippines: Rapping Filipino grandma draws cheers on Asia’s Got Talent

Plus: Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach inks two-year television contract, while boy group JBK and singers Elysa Villareal and Loverine Fermino bow out of The X Factor UK.

Mercifuletes Viola on Asia's Got Talent. Courtesy AXN Asia
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A 68-year-old widowed grandmother from the Philippines stole the show during the premiere episode of the second season of Asia's Got Talent, which returned on AXN Asia earlier this week.

Mercifuletes Viola entertained the reality talent programme’s live audience and panel of judges, comprised of Indonesian musician Anggun, South Korean hip-hop singer-songwriter Jay Park and Canadian producer David Foster.

During her audition, Viola drew cheers for her cover of Jessie J's hit track Price Tag, particularly when she showed off her rapping skills.

“You made me happy,” Anggun told Viola. “I was so, so entertained by you and I wasn’t alone.”

Park praised: “I was surprised you were rapping — but you were rapping on beat the whole time.”

All three judges agreed to send Viola to the next stage of the competition, which will broadcast on November 9. The successful acts will then be whittled down to 24 finalists.

Earlier this year, Asia's Got Talent held auditions in six Asian countries, including the Philippines, in search of contestants.

The show follows the format of the global Got Talent franchise, which currently has 70 local versions produced around the world. The first season of Asia's Got Talent, which aired in 2015, was won by the Filipino shadow play group El Gamma Penumbra.

Pia Wurtzbach inks two-year television contract

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach has signed a two-year contract with ABS-CBN, one of the top television networks in the Philippines. Under the terms of the contract, Wurtzbach will appear exclusively on the network’s roster of programmes, which include variety shows and drama series.

It is a homecoming of sorts: Wurtzbach started her showbiz career with ABS-CBN in 2002 at the age of 12, appearing in the network’s youth-orientated programmes.

Wurtbach, 28, will also star in her first feature film after winning the beauty pageant in 2015. Produced by ABS-CBN's film production studio Star Cinema, the film is tentatively titled The Revengers, a superhero flick set to premiere at the Metro Manila Film Festival in December. Directed by Joyce Bernal, it co-stars popular actors Vice Ganda and Daniel Padilla.

Since passing on the Miss Universe crown to France's Iris Mittenaere last January, Wurtzbach has made multiple appearances on local and international television programmes. Back in March, she appeared in the music video for Lebanese-Canadian singer Massari's R&B single So Long.

Boy group JBK bow out of The X Factor UK

Filipino boy group JBK were eliminated from The X Factor UK this week after failing to secure a spot in the competition's final 24.

In a round called the six-chair challenge, each of the reality talent programme’s four judges had to select only six acts to take with them to the next stage of the competition.

Simon Cowell, who is mentoring the group acts this season, was initially impressed with JBK's performance of the Boyz II Men hit I'll Make Love To You. The rest of the panel, comprised of Nicole Scherzinger, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh, even gave JBK a standing ovation.

But faced with the tough decision to select only six acts from a pool of talented contestants, Cowell called for a sing-off between JBK and the girl group Lemonade. Cowell ultimately chose Lemonade to advance in the competition, eliminating JBK.

Scherzinger, who is half-Filipino and has been a fan of JBK since their audition, stormed off the set to protest against Cowell’s decision.

Last summer, Joshua Bulot, Bryan del Rosario and Kim Lawrenz Ordonio — collectively known as JBK — flew from Manila to London to audition for the show.

"We dreamed and we lived it," JBK wrote on their group's Facebook page upon their elimination. "Being up there on that international X Factor stage only left us with a great sense of humility. This is just the beginning. We are fired up."

Another Filipino contestant, Alisah Bonaobra, survived the six-chair challenge and has advanced to the next stage of the competition, which will air this weekend. The top 24 acts will be whittled down to 12 finalists.

Two other Filipino acts were featured in this week’s shows: singers Elysa Villareal and Loverine Fermino, who both missed out on a spot in the next round.

The X Factor UK started accepting international contestants in 2015. That year, Filipino girl group 4th Impact finished in fifth place. In 2016, Dubai-based Filipino singer Ivy Grace Paredes made it to the show's top 24 round.


Read more: