Filipinos all over the world swell with pride as homegrown shadow play group El Gamma Penumbra wins the first season of Asia’s Got Talent.
The 13-piece group bested other nine acts in the grand finals, followed by Mongolian folk band Khusugtun, Pinay classical singer Gerphil Flores, and Thai little rockers Talento.
Highlights of the show
The much-anticipated grand finale opened with a number that showcased all nine finalists to the tune of “Turn up the music.” Immediately after, hosts Mark Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez introduced the four superstar judges: David Foster, Anggun, Vaness Wu, and Melanie C.
The audience was also treated to a sweet, heartfelt rendition of “Lay Me Down” by judge David Foster and his former protégé, international singing sensation Charice. Introducing the latter as someone who has always had a place in his heart, Foster described Charice as the “pride of the Philippines and of all Asia.”
Soon after, the hosts announced the finalists who were moving on to the competition. Gerphil Flores was called out first, followed by little rockstars Talento (Thailand), El Gamma Penumbra (Philippines), Kabuki pop-lockers Triqstar (Japan), throat singers and horse fiddlers Khusugtun (Mongolia) and funky dancers Junior New System (Philippines). It was goodbye for cute tap dancers Dance Thrilogy (Singapore), ballet artists Gao Lin and Liu Xin (China) and 10-year old singer Gwyneth Dorado (Philippines).
Anggun gave a stunning performance of her signature hit, “Snow on the Sahara,” and had her fellow judges on their feet. Then it was time to announce the top four finalists who will still battle for the top prize on Asia’s Got Talent. They were Talento, Gerphil Flores, Khusugtan and finally, El Gamma. Two dance groups, Triqstar and the Philippines’s Junior New System had to go, but not without well wishes from the judges. “Hold your head high… keep working at your craft, your passion will take you there” Vaness said. “Never give up.”
Before the announcement of the top 3, the judges shared the stage for the first time ever and gave their own take on “Let’s Groove.” It was upbeat, rousing and as everyone came to know later on, full of heart too – as Anggun revealed that proceeds from the downloads will go to those affected by the recent earthquake in Nepal.
Four contestants remained, another one had to go. El Gamma Penumbra, Gerphil Flores and Khusugtun made it to the top 3, while Talento was eliminated.
Anggun reminded the boys of how she loved them since the beginning. “I know you must be very disappointed right now, but you know what, more than a hundred million people have watched your performance… I believe it doesn’t stop there. You will continue on and on and on,” she said.
Pumping up the energy to a different level at Marina Bay Sands was the illusionist and Merlin awardee Cosentino. In his act, he tied the hands of a woman and let her inside a box that was pulled high into the air, made her disappear, “changed” into the woman and shocked the judges by appearing right behind them. How he did it was just mind-boggling.
Going back to the competition, Mongolian band Khusugtun and Pinoy prides El Gamma Penumbra and Gerphil Flores remained. The hosts then announced that the last person who had to go was Gerphil. When asked what David Foster wanted to say to his “golden girl,” the latter said he wanted to say it to Flores in private. He then approached the stage and talked to Gerphil sans the microphones and good camera angles.
When he was back with the judges, David Foster finally said of Gerphil, “she was my Golden Buzzer and she still is my Golden Buzzer.”
After a look back at the top 2’s AGT journeys, each act performed their finale pieces on the stage one last time. Two-time Golden Buzzer earner El Gamma Penumbra did their emotional tribute to Mother Nature to the tune of “Colors of The Wind,” while Khusugtun’s magical throat singing around an open fire took listeners back to the ancient mountains of Mongolia. Both received a standing ovation from the judges.
Before the most-awaited announcement, El Gamma Penumbra and Khusugtun each thanked their supporters and expressed how grateful they were to have gone thus far. The Pinoy prides shared that they already felt like winners for having performed on an international stage, while Khusugtun said winning the competition would make Mongolian people very happy.
Finally, the answer to the ultimate question was revealed: the first winner of Asia’s Got Talent is El Gamma Penumbra! Members of the shadow play group dropped on their knees in disbelief, tears of joy streaming down their eyes. Khusugtun clapped with them graciously, and congratulated them for a well-deserved win.
As the winners, El Gamma will receive a cash prize f US$100,000 and a chance to perform at the Marina Bay Sands.
*Photo courtesy of Asia’s Got Talent’s Twitter account.