Young Filipina Diva Wows Ellen Degeneres

by Maria Sunantha Quibilan and Joseph Pimentel/

LOS ANGELES — Filipina singing phenom, Charice Pempengco, left the studio audience of the Ellen DeGeneres Show breathless on Wednesday, December 19.

The 15-year-old’s rendition of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going from the Broadway musical Dreamgirls received an extended standing ovation. She also received another ovation toward the end of the show when she sang Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You.

The performance left DeGeneres impressed and in tears. At the end of Pempengco’s performance, the talk show host was speechless and hugged Pempengco.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show website describes Pempengco’s appearance as “one of the most incredible performances” DeGeneres has ever seen. Pempengco was moved to tears by the overwhelming response of the American audience.

Before Pempengco sang, DeGeneres told her audience that they were in for a treat.

“All right, I’m warning you again right now, I’m going to cry again today,” said DeGeneres. “She’s fifteen years old. We flew her in from the Philippines. She’s never been to the United States before. She doesn’t have a recording contract. She’s never done this before. You are going to be blown away. This is the most incredible gift of all the gifts that we’re giving [away] you’re going to witness something today and say ‘I was there the day she [Charice] sang on the show.’”

Her appearance on the show was Pempengco’s first performance on US Television.

After she performed, Pempengco admits she could not hold back the tears.

“I started crying because I saw all the people giving me [a] standing ovation,” she said to the Asian Journal after her performance. “I’m very proud because I realized [during the performance] I’m here performing in front of Ellen DeGeneres and all the people.”

Prior to her stage appearance, she admits that she was nervous.

“I was a little nervous,” she said. “Of course, I was excited too. It’s my first time performing in American in front of all the wonderful fans. It was a pleasure.”

Pempengco’s talent was first noticed when, at the age of 12, she won third place on the first season of Little Big Star, a singing contest aired on ABS-CBN in the Philippines and internationally on The Filipino Channel.

Besides the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Pempengco has been featured twice in the Daily Ten, a regular show on E! entertainment channel.

A native of Laguna, Philippines, Pempengco, arrived in Los Angeles on December 13. She got a special invitation from DeGeneres after featuring a YouTube video of the young Filipino diva on her daytime show on Nov. 28. The video showed Pempengco singing And I Am Telling You I am Not Going, amazing hosts and audience alike, on Star King, a South Korean TV variety show.

Pempengco credits her popularity to her exposure on the Internet. Her performance on ABS-CBN’s Little Big Star where she belts out Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You has been viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube. She placed third in the competition.

The popular video sharing is also how DeGeneres found the young Filipino diva.

“We’ve found some good people on YouTube but wait until you see, we had to bring her over here from the Philippines,” said DeGeneres before introducing Pempengco.


It didn’t take long for people around the world to comment on Pempengco’s performance. There is already over 1,000 comments on Ellen’s blog, as of press time.

“One word Ellen…GOOOSEBUMPS!!!,” posted Cherry Ramirez.

“Someone told me that there could only be one Whitney Houston. I think there is another one…Charice Pempengco! I want to see her again on your show Ellen, Please! I’m begging you,” posted Norman of Florida.

Viewers at home also reacted.

Lenalour Limayo, 30, didn’t know who Pempengco was before a friend sent her a clip of her YouTube performances.

“I started crying,” she said. “It was really emotional to see [Pempengco’s] reaction. She was so happy about the feedback she received from the US audience.”

Attorney Michael Gurfinkel, who paved the way for Pempengco and her mother to travel to the US, said that the comments are an outpouring of Filipino pride.

“This girl is truly amazing,” he said.

Backstage tears

Millie Gurfinkel said that the people backstage could not hold their emotions when they heard Pempengco sing.

“I’m just very happy for her,” said Racquel Pempengco, Charice’s mother.Pempengco’s mother Racquel, who arrived from the Philippines last week, also could not hold back the tears. This is Racquel’s first ever plane ride. The first time she has left the country. She had never had a passport until now.

“I thought I would never get this chance,” said Racquel. “They helped me realize my dream of seeing my daughter perform in front of the American audience.”

As for what’s next for her young daughter, Racquel said she doesn’t know.

“I told her to always remain humble to always have a foot on the ground while she reaches for the stars,” said Racquel.

Pempengco again wants to thank her fans for their support.

“I really appreciate all the support of my fans and in America,” she said. “I really appreciate everything. Pray for me. I love you all.”


Leave a comment

Filed under Feature

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s