Korean is I Love OPM winner
Leah C. Salterio (The Philippine Star) - April 26, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Foreigners can really embrace Filipino music. This holds true in the recently-concluded I Love OPM, an ABS-CBN reality music competition that featured 19 foreigners called Touristars, from different countries. Throughout the run of I Love OPM, the performers impressed everyone by crooning, belting out, rapping and dancing to Original Pilipino Music (OPM).

Korean charmer Yohan Hwang bagged the first Grand Touristar title, besting three other finalists — Ryan Gallagher from the USA, Dio Smith from Pakistan and the J Morning pop quintet also from Korea — who reached their Grand Destination. The finale was aired from the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila.

A singing student heartthrob based in Manila, Yohan won P2M, a recording contract from Star Music and vacation package to Cebu. He got 32.82 percent of the combined total votes from the Himigration Officers or the judges and the public. The latter chose their bets through text or online voting.

For his winning piece, Yohan rendered the stirring Tagalog ballad, Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak, with the UST Chorale. The song was originally recorded by Sugarfree, with a version by KZ Tandingan. Meanwhile, Gary Valenciano also recorded his version as the theme of Coco Martin’s primetime teleserye, FPJ’s Ang Probinsiyano.

In second place was Ryan Gallagher, who got 23.27 percent of the votes. He belted out Gary Valenciano’s Narito, with the Mandaluyong Children’s Choir. The Himigration Officers all gave positive comments about Ryan’s performance. Lani Misalucha called Ryan’s number a “hair-raising moment,” while Martin Nievera described Ryan as having the “highest range and most beautiful tone” among all finalists. Toni Gonzaga said she could simply look at Ryan while she’s infanticipating.

Third placer was J Morning, who sang Freddie Aguilar’s Bulag, Pipi at Bingi with the Philippine Institute for the Deaf students and earned 23.42 percent of the votes. Rocker Dio was in fourth place. He brought the house down with The Dawn’s rock anthem, Salamat.

The singing search for OPM-loving foreigners debuted on ABS-CBN on Valentine’s weekend and aired twice weekly on Saturdays and Sundays. Anne Curtis hosted I Love OPM, with comedian Eric Nicolas as co-host.

For a grand production number during the finale, the Himigration Officers performed with the four Touristar finalists onstage. Opening salvo featured Hajji Alejandro, Randy Santiago and Arnel Pineda, joined by 19 Touristars who competed stage, singing Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika.

James Reid was also a special guest who rendered a song number. He made a live appearance to also promote his forthcoming film with Nadine Lustre, This Time.






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