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Filipino-American Hannahlei Cabanilla wins ‘So You Think You Can Dance’

Coconuts logo Coconuts 6 days ago Coconuts Manila
Photo: Hannahlei Cabanilla's Instagram account. © NA Photo: Hannahlei Cabanilla's Instagram account.

Another Filipino-American has won a major television competition. Yes, it’s #PinoyPride time again.

Hannahlei Cabanilla, an 18-year-old dancer from California, bested other competitors at the 15th season of So You Think You Can Dance in the finale aired on Sept. 10, United States time.

She was the fan favorite throughout most of the competition, according to entertainment and lifestyle website Pop Culture.

According to The Orange Country Register, Cabanilla won US$250,000 in cash (more than PHP13, 473,000) and a guest role in Fox’s adaptation of the musical Rent, which will be broadcast in 2019.

She told the publication that she’ll use a portion of the money to bring her parents to Greece “because they’ve supported me through this whole experience and throughout my whole dance career.”

A contemporary dancer, Cabanilla will also appear on the cover of Dance Spirit magazine, a publication that features dancers.

She bested finalists Jensen Arnold (second place), Genessy Castillo (third), and the only male finalist, Slavik Pustovoytov (fourth).

Meanwhile, there’s another Filipino making waves overseas: 17-year-old Maria Laroco, who flew all the way from the Philippines to audition for the United Kingdom edition of The X-Factor.

Her performance of Prince’s classic song Purple Rain impressed the judges so much that they gave her a standing ovation. She was so good even the cantankerous Simon Cowell stood up.

As of today, her audition video has received more than 394,300 views on YouTube. It was also the 10th trending video in the Philippines, based on a ranking by the social media platform.

She said before performing: “Since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to be an international superstar. I want to be big. That’s why I’m doing this, because I love to do it and this is my dream.”

Replay Video
 One of the judges, former One Direction member Louis Tomlinson told Laroco her performance was “absolutely incredible.”
Judge and pop singer Robbie Williams told Laroco: “Look what you did to the audience. This doesn’t happen a lot!”
Laroco snagged the approval of all four judges and managed to land a spot in the talent competition’s next round.
According to Radio Times, Laroco competed in the Philippine edition of The Voice Kids when she was 13 years old using the name Giedie Laroco (her real name is Maria Giedie Ocang Laroco). However, she was eliminated in the eleventh episode of the competition.

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