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Focus on the Philippines: The Voice to launch teenage edition and more

Global reality-television singing competition The Voice is launching a special edition for kids between the ages of 13 and 17 in the Philippines.

The Voice Teens Philippines will be the second teenage edition of the show internationally – after Colombia – and the first in Asia. It is due to debut in the summer.

The first round of auditions will be held in Manila on January 14 and on the central Philippine island of Leyte on January 14 and 15. Additional auditions are scheduled across the country.

The Voice franchise, which beganin Holland in 2010, arrived in the Philippines in 2013. Since then it has produced two regular seasons and three editions for children between the ages of 7 and 13. The show’s roster of celebrity coaches include Broadway star Lea Salonga, rocker Bamboo Mañalac, pop superstar Sarah Geronimo, The Black Eyed Peas member apl.de.ap and music icon Sharon Cuneta. Producers have yet to announce the coaches of The Voice Teens Philippines.

The programme is broadcast on the local television network ABS-CBN.

Documentary about Hong Kong nannies win top prize in Manila film festival

Sunday Beauty Queen, a documentary film by Baby Ruth Villarama about Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong who compete in beauty pageants, was awarded the Best Picture prize at the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival.

The film – which had its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in October 2016 – was the first documentary selected as part of the festival’s line-up in the 41-year history of the MMFF.

“Most people thought of us as a mere speck of dust in the eye, or something that disrupted the tradition in the MMFF,” Villarama said. “But if that annoying speck would help bring the needed change in the industry, then we’d gladly say, that’s us.”

Television comic and presenter Paolo Ballesteros won MMFF’s Best Actor prize for his role in Jun Lana’s comedy drama Die Beautiful, and veteran actress Irma Adlawan won Best Actress for her work in Oro.

Sharon Cuneta releases new single

Filipino singer, actress and presenter Sharon Cuneta has released a new ballad titled Hanggang Dulo (Until the End). It is the first single from her forthcoming album, which will be the 44th in her celebrated career and her first for eight years.

“Here’s my first single from my first album in a long time, and my first for Star Music,” Cuneta posted on social media. “Enjoy! Hope you love it as much as I do.”

Cuneta, 50, is known in the Philippines as “The Megastar”, having starred in 53 films and a dozen television programmes. She first found fame in 1978, at the age of 12, after releasing a hit song titled Mr DJ.

Cuneta’s previous album, Musika at Pag-ibig (Music and Love), was released in 2009. Last month, she surprised fans with the revelation that she had returned to the recording studio to work on new songs. She performed a sold-out concert in Dubai in December 2013.

Miss Universe reveals itinerary in the Philippines

The Miss Universe Organisation has announced the pageant’s 16-day itinerary in the Philippines, culminating with the contest and coronation ceremony in Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena on January 30.

The 85 contestants will begin their tour of the Philippines on the beach island of Boracay on January 14, followed by a fashion show in Vigan, and stops in the provinces of Cebu, Baguio, Davao and Batangas. They will then pay president Rodrigo Duterte a courtesy call on January 23. They are expected to begin arriving in Manila on January 12. The show’s American host, Steve Harvey, will arrive on January 22.

This year’s pageant will be the 65th edition. The current title-holder, Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, will be present to pass on her crown to her successor.

Shortly after winning the crown in December 2015, Wurtzbach petitioned the Philippine government to consider hosting the next edition.

“I’m very excited. For so long, we had been talking about the possibility of holding the Miss Universe back in the Philippines. It started out as an idea and now it’s about to happen,” Wurtzbach told The National.

The pageant’s coronation ceremony will be held on January 30 at 8am, to coincide with an evening broadcast in America’s East Coast states.

The Philippines was the first Asian country to host the annual competition, in 1974, and also hosted the pageant in 1994. Wurtzbach was the third Filipino to win the crown, ending a 42-year drought for her nation.

The country’s representative in this year’s competition is 26-year-old Maxine Medina, an interior designer and model.

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