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Focus on the Philippines: Fil-Am teen turns four chairs on The Voice US

Another singer with a Filipino connection is making waves on a reality talent competition. Anatalia Villaranda, the child of Filipino immigrants, impressed the panel during the premiere episode of the 12th season of The Voice US on Monday.

Performing a cover of the hit pop track Runaway Baby by Bruno Mars (who also happens to be Filipino-American), Villaranda turned the chairs of all four judges Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani.

Villaranda was just one of two contestants, among 11 featured in the pilot episode, to receive a four-chair turn.

“I do believe you could win this entire thing,” Levine, the frontman of Maroon 5, told her.

After each judge appealed to Villaranda to join their respective teams, the 16-year-old singer eventually selected Keys as her coach in the competition.

Keys told her: “This is more than just a voice. This is an artist who is unafraid to express yourself. I would like you to look in your heart and see how important it is for you to be on my team.”

After the episode aired, Villaranda posted on social media: “Is this real life? I am so grateful to The Voice and all of you for the support. And I am so very lucky that Alicia Keys picked me, so I could choose to be on her team! I’m so humbled by this experience and the amazing beginning of this journey.”

Villaranda previously auditioned for the 15th and final season of American Idol, which aired last year, reaching the Top 51 before being eliminated from the competition. She also appeared on the Disney Channel sitcom Step It Up, which ran from 2010 to 2013.

Born and raised in California, Villaranda was accompanied in her audition by her mother and siblings, who rushed on stage in tears immediately after Villaranda’s performance. “It’s a shame you don’t have a such a supportive family,” Levine quipped.

Villaranda has now advanced to the next stage of the competition, known as the battles round, which will air beginning March 20.


Sarah Geronimo confirms return to The Voice Philippines

From one international franchise of The Voice to another: Filipino pop sensation Sarah Geronimo confirmed this week that she will return to the judging panel of the reality competition after taking a year-long break and months of negotiations with the show’s producers.

Geronimo will join coaches Sharon Cuneta, Lea Salonga and Bamboo Mañalac for The Voice Teens Philippines, a special edition for aspiring singers between the ages of 13 and 17. Cuneta, Salonga, and Mañalac announced they were returning to the show last January while the producers courted Geronimo, who took a break last year to focus on her music.

“For all the contestants out there who are planning to join, I’ve been in your shoes and I know what you’re going through,” Geronimo told ABS-CBN News. The 28-year-old singer catapulted into fame after winning the talent show Star for A Night in 2002 at the age of 14. She has since released 12 chart-topping studio albums and 10 soundtrack records.

The Voice Teens Philippines will be the second teenage edition of the show globally — after Colombia — and the first in Asia. The programme is scheduled to debut in the summer.

The Voice franchise, which began in 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.

Filipino films screen in New York and Amsterdam festivals

Two Filipino films have been selected to screen at the Cinemasia Film Festival, which will be held in Amsterdam from March 7 to 12. Sunday Beauty Queen, a documentary by Baby Ruth Villarama about domestic workers in Hong Kong taking part in a beauty pageant, has been chosen for the festival’s Official Selection lineup. The acclaimed feature premiered at last year’s Busan International Film Festival and won the top prize at the recent Metro Manila Film Festival.

Also included in the Official Selection programme is Ivan Andrew Payawal’s I America, a feature film about Amerasian children abandoned by their American military fathers in a base in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, television journalist Atom Araullo’s documentary Warmer, which compares the impact of climate change in both the Philippines and Norway, has been selected as a finalist in the climate change and sustainability category of the New York Festivals Awards, which honours the year’s best international television programmes and films. The awards night will be held in Las Vegas on April 25.

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