Pinoy talents who won big in reality shows around the world

Gerry Plaza June 28, 2018 12:35 PM

KZ Tandingan

Photo source: kztandingan IG

Kriesha Chu

Photo source: kzt__ IG

Jessica Sanchez

Photo source: jessicasanchez IG

Cyrus Villanueva

Photo source: cyrusvill IG

Marlisa Punzalan

Photo source: marlisamusic IG

Lukas Janisch

Photo source: lukasoscarjanisch IG

El Gamma Penumbra

Photo source: elgammaofficial IG

Angelica Hale

Photo source: angelicahale IG


Pinoy talent has long been world class. 

Many have even conquered the international stage, especially on reality talent shows all over the world that made them create immense buzz. When we hear their incredible journeys in these competitions, we feel proud and inspired in knowing and seeing the Filipino in them and witnessing their breathtaking performances.

Either they originated from the Philippines or based in a foreign land, they pushed the boundaries of what Filipinos can achieve and made foreigners believe further in what we can do.

In making us feel proud and happy as Filipinos, we recognize these outstanding, talented Pinoys for their achievements in the world stage, specifically in international reality shows.

KZ Tandingan

She’s known as the Soul Supreme and the first and only Grand Champion of The X Factor Philippines for her impeccable, extensive vocal talent, but KZ Tandingan, who is a regular on ASAP, became even more impressive in her widely followed stint in China’s Singer 2018. She truly slayed each performance, giving a new twist and sound to the songs she performed making the Chinese audience watch in awe. Even her fellow competitors, including British pop star Jessie J, admired her talent and became instant fans as well.

Though she didn’t reach the final stage of the competition, KZ made the international audience experience the versatility and brilliance of Pinoy talent.

Kriesha Chu

Who would imagine that a Filipina would become a K-Pop idol? And her journey was very long and arduous. From her native Cebu, Kriesha Chu migrated to San Francisco, where her amazing vocal and dancing talent was discovered by a Korean talent agency named Urban Works Entertainment. Under its wings, Kriesha moved to South Korea and trained further for a shot at K-Pop stardom. Last year, she auditioned for a Korean reality-based talent competition called K-Pop Star 6 and left the judges, who are bigwigs in the K-Pop industry, stunned. She then impressed the Korean audience with her performances in eight weeks of the televised competition, before she got eliminated. 

She then came back as a judge’s wildcard but now as a member of a trio called “Kwins,” which eventually ended up as the runners-up of the highly rated talent show.  
With the popularity she gained from K-Pop Star, this Cebuana debuted as a solo artist early this year and is now a full-fledged K-Pop artist, releasing her first mini-album in South Korea called Dream of Paradise this year.

Jessica Sanchez

Who could forget Jessica Sanchez? The one Filipino-American who astonished us with her vocal talent comparable even to the greats of American music. When she competed in the eleventh season of American Idol, we were all moved by her incredible vocal calisthenics, her soulful renditions, and gripping stage presence that voters from across the US chose her week after week to stay in the competition.

So much was their belief in her that she ended up among the final two competitors, and became the strongest bet to win the title, especially with her version of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” However, she ended up as runner-up to eventual winner Phil Phillips. Despite this, Jessica still got immense following and admiration as a pop star with a hit album, Me, You and Music and its carrier single “Tonight,” a collaboration with R&B icon Ne-Yo.

She recently appeared on ASAP as part of a comeback stage.

Cyrus Villanueva

Cyrus Villanueva, whose father is from Cotabato, has received acclaim with his vocal prowess, especially in Australia where he is based that joining The X-Factor Australia in 2015 was very much expected. And he slayed it—being the season-long frontrunner of the talent competition.

Cyrus, with his versatility and talent, impressed the judges and the audience throughout the competition, including the Grand Finale, wherein he became the season champion that year. 

He then released his debut album Cyrus with the carrier singer “Stone.”

Marlisa Punzalan

Filipina singers are always world-known for their soaring vocals, and Marlisa Punzalan was no different. At age 15, she wowed judges and audiences in The X-Factor Australia in 2014 with her gripping performances week after week and eventually won the Grand Finale.

Her impressive singing abilities led to a singing career in the Australian pop scene. Her first single, “Stand By You” was a certified hit in Australia, reaching number 2 in the local charts. Her album Marlisa was certified Gold and the carrier single “Stand By You” was named the Song of the Year in 2015.

She truly proved Filipinos can reach stellar heights anywhere in the world.

Lukas Janisch

This multi-talented Filipino-Austrian crooner and pianist learned to sing from his Filipino mother, who hails from Palompon, Leyte and is obsessed with karaoke singing. Joining The Voice Kids Germany in 2016, Lukas Janisch impressed the coaches and viewers of the show as he sang heartfelt ditties as he played the piano. He ended his remarkable journey by being the season’s Grand Champion.

Lukas has since been active on the German music scene and has scored a recording deal with a major label. Seeing a Filipino stand out in the European music scene is rare, but here is Lukas now making a name for himself in Germany.

El Gamma Penumbra 

This all-male shadow play group El Gamma Penumbra started to present their jaw-dropping skills in Pilipinas Got Talent in 2011. They presented this peculiar skill of telling visual stories by way of shadow imagery that truly amazed viewers. After landing fourth in the competition, they thought of going the next level: joining the Asian version of the reality talent show.

And when they first appeared on the initial season of Asia’s Got Talent in 2015, no one had seen anything like it. Their performance left the judges spellbound and after earning a Golden Buzzer, they reached the semifinals. Performing a war-based routine that tackled recovery from the chaos to eventual peace, El Gamma Penumbra received a rare second Golden Buzzer to reach the Grand Finals outright. And in the Finals, nothing could compare to their performance highlighting environmental issues that moved everyone to the tune of Vanessa Williams’ “Colors of the Wind.” And overall public votes from across Asia unanimously picked them as the first Grand Winner of Asia’s Got Talent.

Indeed, El Gamma Penumbra showed how impeccable and wide-reaching Filipino talent could be.

Angelica Hale

Everyone who watched America’s Got Talent last year astounded to hear a 9-year-old sing so well. From the time she earned her Golden Buzzer from the auditions, Angelica became known as the “Girl on Fire” in reference to the Alicia Keys song she sang. And indeed it was appropriate. Her fiery vocals incinerated the competition on her way to the Finals. She performed Clean Bandit’s “Symphony” and finished second place, the youngest runner-up in the show’s history.

She had since been delighting Americans with live performances in such events as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, and being a kid ambassador of the US National Kidney Foundation. 

It really shows how much Filipinos can achieve, no matter how young they are.

They all make us proud and push us better to become the best we can be. Their exploits and triumphs are truly one for the books, not only in proving how Filipinos can go far and beyond anyone can expect but also bring pride and love for the country they either come from or have strong roots.