Young Filipino Diva Arrives for US Debut on Ellen Show

by Joseph Pimentel/

LOS ANGELES — It’s fitting that the first song that 15-year-old Filipina diva Charice Pempengco sang when she got off of the airplane in Los Angeles International Airport was Whitney Houston’s One Moment In Time.

In the corner wing of the Tom Bradley International Airport arrival center, the brown-haired, light-skinned, and petite Pempengco sang the song with much gusto, causing passersby to watch in admiration as she belted out the chorus in front of the Asian Journal and a small ABS-CBN television crew.

This is Pempengco’s moment to shine.

“I chose this song because it really fits me,” she said before she burst into song.

The talented Filipino singer wunderkind from Cabuyao, Laguna, Philippines is the latest YouTube sensation. Her video performance clip of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You when she was 12-years-old on ABS-CBN’s Little Big Star has garnered more than 700,000 page views and counting.

Pempengco arrived from the Philippines on Thursday on a special invitation. Last month, television host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres featured Pempengco on her network daytime show (also seen on YouTube). After viewing a video clip of Pempengco singing, the crowd clapped in ovation while Degeneres said in front of the camera, “You [Charice] come here too. Yeah. You!”

Pempengco took up the offer and a few weeks later, she’s in the United States for the first time. It has been reported but not confirmed that she will be on the Ellen DeGeneres Show next Tuesday.

“I’m a little bit nervous but excited,” said Pempengco, who was escorted by Millie Gurfinkel. “This is my first time [here] and I’m going to meet Ellen DeGeneres.”

The Asian Journal tried to get in contact with Ellen DeGeneres but the e-mail was not returned as of press time.


Pempengco credits much of her success to YouTube, a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share [legal] video clips.

Charice became a singing sensation at the age of 12, when she appeared on the Philippine show Little Big Star.

She placed third on the competition but her career took a turn for the better when people began to watch videos of her performances posted on the popular website, YouTube.

DeGeneres, one of hundreds of thousands of viewers, saw the clips and demanded her to be on the show.

According to Pempengco, DeGeneres’ people discovered her after watching the videos.

“After talking to an [Ellen DeGeneres show] producer, Ellen DeGeneres called me,” Pempengco recalled. “And then she said, that she’s my No. 1 fan. I’m really really shocked that she said that.”

“I’m so excited. I can’t explain [it],” she added.

This is not the first time that Pempengco was discovered on YouTube. A record producer in Sweden discovered her after watching her YouTube performance.

Pempengco said she recorded six songs in Sweden earlier this year.

She then made an appearance on a South Korean TV variety show Star King and sang And I am telling you I’m not going from Dreamgirls last October.

Pempengco said she wants to be the next Filipino international superstar. But first things first, she said that since she’s in Los Angeles, she just wants to visit all the tourist destinations.

“I want to visit Disneyland, Hollywood, the Walk of Fame,” she said.

Special thanks

Pempengco is taking her recent success in stride.

She knows she wouldn’t be successful if it weren’t for all the fans that continue to watch her sing and perform.

“I want to thank you for all of your support and I hope that you will still support me,” she said. “Now that I’m in the United States, just pray for me. All my dreams are dedicated to all of you.”

As for her appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show next week, she’s keeping her performance a secret.

“Of course I’m going to sing in the show,” she said. “[But] it’s a secret. It’ll be a surprise.”

And just like the song, One Moment In Time, this is Pempengco’s moment on US national network television. Let’s hope this moment lasts for eternity.


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