Geoff Taylor (left) and Frencheska Farr emerged as winners of GMA-7's reality-based singing contest Are You The Next Big Star?

Photo: Noel Orsal

After weeks of intense singing battles and grueling eliminations in Are You The Next Big Star?, GMA-7 has found two more stars worthy of inclusion in its talented roster. Frencheska Farr, 16, and Geoff Taylor, 23, emerged as winners of the original reality singing contest, beating an elite crop of 14 others to win the title.

Are You The Next Big Star? featured a talented "Circle of 16"—a group of young singers who auditioned from around the country. Two contestants were eliminated every week, as decided by the combined points from SMS voting and the scores from judges. Only one male and one female contestant could become the Next Big Star.

The reality show was hosted by Regine Velasquez and Keempee de Leon. Judges included Pops Fernandez, Danny Tan, Mon Faustino, Annie Quintos, and Vernie Varga. Randy Santiago, another contest judge, was absent during the finale.

Only six contestants made it to the show's finale, which was held last night, August 23, in GMA-7's Studio 7. Tondo-native Jay Perillo, 20, and Las Piñas resident Zyrene Parsad, 23, were eliminated after the finale's second round. Meanwhile, Bulacan councilor Alex Castro, 23, and Antipolo resident Camille Cortez competed during the third round.

Next Big Stars Francheska and Geoff were each awarded P1 million in cash from SM Supermalls, a brand new condo unit from Avida Towers, New Manila, a recording deal with GMA Records, an exclusive management contract with GMA Artist Center, and P100,000 worth of clothes from Danny Tan and Pepsi Herrera.

The two were also given a chance to record their victory songs, composed by the show's musical director Raul Mitra and Raul's wife Cacai Velasquez-Mitra. Geoff, who had previously lost in the first season of ABS-CBN's Pinoy Dream Academy, was given "Heto Na" to record, while Francheska, a former performer from the popular stage show Wanders, was given "Show Must Go On."

GMA-7's Senior Vice President for Entertainment Wilma Galvante awarded the title. Network executives present in the finale show were VP for GMA Talent Development and Management Ida Henares and GMA Records Officer in Charge Rene Salta.

Relatives and fans of the finalists were also present among the audience, each of them wearing color-coded shirts corresponding to their bet—pink for Zyrene, orange for Frencheska, purple for Camille, yellow for Alex, red for Jay, and black for Geoff.

Special guests included Ogie Alcasid, Basil Valdez, Kuh Ledesma, Kyla, Joey G. of Side A, Jett Pangan of The Dawn, Renz Verano, Julia Clarete, Maricris Garcia, Gian Magdangal, Geneva Cruz, and Marc Tupaz of Shamrock. Eva Castillo also sang a Whitney Houston duet with Regine Velasquez.

The top 16 also performed the song "Stand Up" with the show's judges.

ROUND ONE. During the first two rounds of the show's finale, finalists were set up in pairs and made to perform with an already established singer. Judges were not allowed to post comments in these rounds, unlike in the previous episodes.

The girls sang first during round one.

Zyrene, who previously hosted a morning show in NBN 4, sang "Sino ang Baliw?" with Kuh Ledesma. Camille, a lounge singer, sang the Bon Jovi classic "Bed of Roses" with Renz Verano. Frencheska ended the set with the song "I Finally Found Someone" with Joey G. of Side A.

When Regine asked composer and Next Big Star judge Danny Tan who won the girls' Round One, he did not hesitate to say Frencheska's name.