TALENTADONG Pinoy once again lived up to its reputation as the premiere talent show in the country as it showcased an array of world-class Filipino talent during its Battle of the Champions (BOTC) weekend.
There were singers, dancers and acrobats, but in the end it was the pure artistic talent of Joseph “The Artist” Valerio that prevailed.
Using his unique talent, Valerio breathed life to a pile of ordinary grains of sand and turned them into a series of moving images—both literally and figuratively—that transitioned to the song “Dance with my Father.”
His art depicted the story of a father-daughter relationship that almost brought the judges and the audience into tears. “Yung ibang performance, nakaka-wow, nakaka-impress, pero yung sa iyo, tonight you proved hindi ka lang basta sand artist, ikaw ay isang story teller,” quipped judge Audie Gemora.
A tricycle driver from Biñan, Laguna, Valerio said that he had always been fond of drawing. Born to a carpenter father, Valerio’s schooling was a struggle. He wanted to pursue fine arts in college, but his father advised him to enroll in a more practical vocational course instead. The obedient Valerio took up an electrical course, but even in school his drawings had been appreciated by his teachers through the plates and circuit plans he submitted.
He used his artistic talent to help augment his family’s finances by submitting his works in a comic publishing house. And when his salary still proved insufficient, he worked part-time as an assistant shoemaker in a neighborhood shoe shop. And when Typhoon Ondoy struck, his family saw nothing but dirt and sand. One day, as he was sifting dirt from the sand, he realized that he could do something with it. From there began his sand art.
Because of his polio-stricken legs, he was often the butt of jokes and was often called names by his neighbors.
Instead of losing hope, it inspired Valerio to dream that one day, his neighbors would look up to him. Valerio said Talentadong Pinoy not only fulfilled his dream of gaining respect, it also allowed him to showcase his unique art form to the world.
As the Ultimate Talentado of 2011, Valerio won P1 million in cash, a brand new Chevrolet Cruze (worth nearly P1 million), a four-year scholarship (transferable) from the Immaculate Conception Academy College and the chance to be one of the Philippine Representatives to the World Championship of Performing Arts. The championship is considered to be the Olympics of performing arts.
Saturday’s performance night was one great production number after the other as a group of dancers and accompanied each “Talentados’” presentation. “Fire Attraction” opened the night with a scorching performance of “Firestarter.” “Beatbox Gor” then came next and mixed his beat boxing skills in several genres of music. “Joseph, The Artist” turned things slow and emotional before “Sfazhiva” came down from the rafters in a fairy costume for her pole dance routine, and was followed by the isolation dancer “RR Friends.” It then became a showdown of vocal prowess as the trio of “Newborn Divas” and the Broadway duo “The Believers” who sang their way into the hearts of the audiences. The night came to a close with a dance-off between wildcard finalists Belinda Adora’s Stepkids and the acrobatic pair of “The Zion Show.”
Sunday’s episode meanwhile was a showdown of winning celebrity Talentados who partnered with 2010’s Talentadong Pinoy Hall of Famers: Ciara Sotto and the Far East Acrobats, Valeen Montenegro with the Tribal Dancers, Regine Tolentino with Makata Tawanan, and Rosanna Roces with Leah Patricio. Sotto’s pole dancing routine while singing Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life” won her the grand prize.
While every performance lived up to all the hype, the only letdown of Talentadong Pinoy’s BOTC finals was the non-appearance of two of its most eagerly anticipated judges—Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillio and Nora Aunor. Host Ryan Agoncillo had announced during an earlier press conference that wife Judy Ann had confirmed her guesting, while several news reports said Aunor would be flying back to the country to be part of the jurors. It would have been the first TV appearance of Judy Ann since giving birth and would have marked the return of the Superstar to showbiz.
Talentadong Pinoy’s Battle of the Champions record-breaking weekend aired live from the Ynares Center in Antipolo. The show garnered a whopping 56.5-percent audience share according to AGB Nielsen Philippines, breaking its own previous record of 48-percent audience share in 2010. For the coming season, Agoncillo revealed they would now hold auditions outside of the country to find the most talented Filipinos in the world.