FILIPINO teenager Marlisa Punzalan made the whole country proud after she was declared on Monday as the grand winner of “The X Factor” Australia.
Punzalan, 15, became the youngest champion of the talent search that started in 2005.
The young singer won the majority of public votes after getting rave reviews from the judges during Sunday’s performance night.
She reprised The Beatles’ “Yesterday,” her audition piece, and got a standing ovation for her powerful performance of “Stand By You,” her would-be first single as the winner.
The victory of Punzalan, whose parents are both Filipinos based in Mount Druitt suburb in Sydney, comes nine months after caregiver Rose Fostanes, also a Filipina, won “The X Factor Israel.”
Irish singer Ronan Keating mentored Punzalan, who beat Brothers3 and Dean Rey, who were coached by Danni Minogue and Natalie Bassingwaithe, respectively.
Punzalan, who admitted to lacking confidence early in the competition, once again belted out the club anthem “Titanium,” about staying strong despite criticisms.
Her duet with runner-up Rey–their first and last on the show–followed performances from several big-name stars, including American superstar Taylor Swift and “Australian Idol” winner Guy Sebastian.
Punzalan, along with Fontanes, are the latest Filipinos to make waves in international singing competitions that include Jessica Sanchez, Jasmine Trias, Madonna Decena and Charlie Green.