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Chadleen Lacdo-o is first ever grand winner of ‘Kanta Pilipinas’

Chadleen Lacdo-o.

Host-judge Rico Blanco never thought that anyone could take his classic ballad “Himala” to places he never dreamed of.

Chadleen Lacdo-o’s mesmerizing rendition took the song to a place she has never gone before — to the biggest stage of her very young career as the 18-year old business administration major from Cebu became the first ever grand winner of TV5’s singing reality search series “Kanta Pilipinas”.

With her family joining her on stage after her victory, Chadleen tearfully sang her winning number with the loved ones she cited as her inspiration.

“It was my Daddy who asked me to join ‘Kanta Pilipinas’. For me, the biggest fulfillment in joining this competition is hearing the judges appreciate my performance. Hindi ko makalimutan nung sinabi sa akin ni Mr. Ryan Cayabyab na ‘yung stage daw ay ginawa para sa akin,” she earlier told InterAksyon.

Chadleen pretty much owned the stage on grand finals night. Like the title of the song she performed, Chadleen’s whole life is a miracle in itself. Born with a cleft palate that became worse with unsuccessful surgery, she had difficulty speaking until a medical mission from international organization Operation Smile arrived in her hometown of Cebu and surgically corrected the defect.

The rest, as they say, is history as Chadleen was able to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. Her odyssey began with “Little Big Star”, a nationwide singing contest for kids and continued with “Idol”, a musical drama series on ABS-CBN where she was a mainstay; Operation Smile, the organization that appointed her as their singing ambassadress; and now, “Kanta Pilipinas”.

The Final Four who battled for the grand prize on Sunday: Ricky Deloviar, Jennifer Nepomuceno, Chadleen Lacdo-o and Thara Jordana.

From hundreds of aspirants who braved the contest’s nationwide auditions, Chadleen found herself in the company of 23 other top auditionees when the show premiered last month on TV. By the time she made it to the grand finals Sunday night, Chadleen was only one of four singers left standing.

The three other grand finalists, namely Ricky Deloviar, Jennifer Nepomuceno (originally introduced as Jennifer Maravilla) and fellow Cebuana Thara Jordana. All three singers gave Chadleen a good run for her money.

In the final show, all four contestants were first given a chance to perform a duet with an established artist before they were allowed to do their solo numbers in the second and final round.

Chadleen did well with performing the Apo Hiking Society’s “Ewan” with Imago’s Aia De Leon. Thara was a pleasant surprise when she took to the stage with rapper Gloc 9 and delivered an inspired rendition of his hit, “Upuan” and Jeniffer belted “Foolish Heart” like a pro with Nina.

Judge Ryan Cayabyab, however, thought Ricky was eaten alive by Aegis in their performance of “Luha” although Lani Misalucha thought he managed to hold his own. The lone male contestant, however, recovered bigtime with his surprisingly soulful reading of Ted Ito’s “Maghintay Ka Lamang”.

Thara sang Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper” beautifully as well but Mr. C thought she needed to deliver it more consistently while Jeniffer’s take on “Someone Who Believes In Me” brought the house down as the former member of the Nu Born Divas was evidently the most seasoned singer among the Final Four.

Chadleen flanked by judges Ryan Cayabyab and Lani Misalucha.

In the end, not only was Chadleen the most consistent in terms of the quality of her performances but her rendition of “Himala” was fresh, original and edgy enough for all three judges, especially for the visibly overwhelmed Rico Blanco.

It was also very creative as rather than belting the song, Chadleen instead relied on her falsetto and lower register to deliver it. She also opted to sit and play with her acoustic guitar for an added gambit that paid off pretty well in terms of the favorable feedback from the three judges.

As announced by TV5 head of creative and entertainment production Perci Intalan, all four contestants performed well enough for each of them to be entitled to both a recording and management contract from TV5. As the grand winner, Chadleen also took home the P1 million cash prize.

The grand finals show was also graced by no less than Lea Salonga, who performed the catchy theme song together with the 12 finalists of the show. The eight other finalists, namely Timmy Pavino, Nicole & Carlo David, Dea Formilleza, Allan Gonzales, Daniel Grospe & JB Landrito, Pia Diamante, 5az1 and Ferns Tosco, also performed “Mahal Ko Ang Aking Pangarap” with Lani Misalucha.

As its season drew to a close, host Rico Blanco announced that this is not the end of the road for “Kanta Pilipinas”. The country’s biggest singing reality search will go on a European tour to find its next batch of promising Filipino singers from overseas and return on the air as “Kanta Pilipinas World”.