Last Saturday, ABS-CBN's talent competition that features foreigners singing Original Pinoy Music (OPM), "I Love OPM" declared its first grand champion--Yohan Hwang, a Korean college student-turned heartthrob living in the Philippines.
Yohan's winning song was a leap of sorts from his familiar cute image--one that paid off. He sang "Wag Ka Nang Umiyak", a more somber ballad, garnering praises from all three judges and winning the hearts of viewers across the nation.
Hwang sang to the tune of P2 million, among other prizes, including a one-year recording contract with Star Music, beating out Pakistan's Harris Dio, American crooner Ryan Gallagher, and a K-pop group, J Morning, who also fought for the coveted title.
"Nagpatunay ka ngayong gabi kasi nage-expect kami na pakikiligan mo kami, ise-serenade mo kami pero iyong binigay mong performance sa amin, ramdam na ramdam ko ang bawat salitang binigkas mo. I feel you!" said judge Toni Gonzaga. (You proved yourself tonight because we were expecting that you will delight our hearts with something romantic but instead you gave a performance that gives us chills. I felt every syllable that you sang. I feel you!”)
Lani Misalucha, Gonzaga's co-judge, added: "Iyong performance mo kakaiba ngayon, nag-level up ka. At hindi lang iyon, may pinatunayan ka sa aming lahat. Hindi lang ka lang heartthrob, ikaw ay isang singing heartthrob." (Your performance now is different; you leveled up. Not only that, you have proven yourself to all of us. Not only are you a heartthrob, you are a singing heartthrob.)
Veteran singer Martin Nievera continued the barrage of compliments by commending Hwang for continuing to improve his voice and diction throughout the competition, "You proved to us tonight that Yohan loves OPM!" he said.
The winners were chosen based on scores from the judges as well as open public voting.
A free “I Love OPM” concert will be held in Resorts World Manila tonight. Gates open at 5:30 pm.