Perfume magnate Joel Cruz was triumphant during the Finals Night of Celebrity Duets 3 held last Saturday, November 14. The singing entrepreneur took home one million pesos in cash, portions of which will go to his chosen charities including Hospicio de San Jose and Tahanang Walang Hagdanan.
The Finals Night kicked off with the powerful voices of Janine Desiderio, Bituin Escalante, Sheree, Kris Lawrence, and Ayen Munji-Laurel, who all graced the opening act together with hosts Regine Velasquez and Ogie Alcasid, and some of the past contenders.
After mounting production numbers for the ten-week run of GMA-7’s celebrity singing competition, Joel Cruz secured a spot in the Final Three, along with actor-concert producer Jomari Yllana and Brazilian-Japanese model Akihiro Sato. Previously eliminated contenders include beauty titlist Janina San Miguel, celebrity fashion designer Maxie Cinco, boxing champion Nonito Donaire, Jr., fashion photographer Niccolo Cosme, and actress and director Gina Alajar. Beauty and wellness expert Mikaela Bilbao quit earlier in the competition, citing health issues as the reason behind her voluntary exit.
The Final Three performed two songs for the Finals Night, with each performance showcasing a different duet partner.
For his first production number, Joel Cruz and funny man Michael V. wore sailor costumes as they performed Village People’s "In the Navy." The second performance was as vibrant as the first, with Joel belting out alongside Pinoy Idol alumna Mae Flores for the trance hit "Electric Dreams." All three judges—stage and TV director Freddie Santos, socialite and Celebrity Duets Season 1 Grand Winner Tessa Prieto-Valdez, and composer-arranger Danny Tan—had nothing but compliments for Joel. Freddie applauded his perseverance and determination; Tessa, his enjoyment of the competition; and Danny, Joel’s apparent improvement as a performer and his interesting performances.
Jomari Yllana gave a mellow performance with his soft and sweet renditions: a jazzed-up version of "The Way You Look Tonight" replete with a horn instrument. The former Guwapings member wore a tuxedo while his duet partner Kuh Ledesma wore an elegant gown. His second song was Jose Mari Chan’s "Tell Me Your Name" with crooner Christian Bautista. Tessa and Freddie praised Jomari’s voice and musicality, while Danny said that Jomari is a born-performer and that throughout the competition, his confidence shone through. His chosen beneficiaries were the victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.
Akihiro Sato pumped up the atmosphere by singing next to comedian Arnel Ignacio and grooving out to Prince’s upbeat hit song, "Kiss." He mellowed down a few minutes later as he performed with Starstruck graduate Rich Asuncion with the romantic duet "Way Back Into Love." It seemed as though the judges only had compliments for the finalists, as Akihiro also garnered praises from all three. Danny said that Akihiro has "proven his worth" and that he now sings in tune and has rhythm; Freddie complimented his "sense of love and enjoyment for what he is doing" and Tessa pointd out that although Akihiro’s strength doesn’t lie on his singing, he is always charming and wears a big smile every time. Akihiro chose Gawad Kalinga as his beneficiary.
By the end of the night, Aficionado owner Joel Cruz was awarded the one million peso cash prize, the chance to share it with his charity of choice, and the title of Celebrity Duets 3 Grand Winner. Joining him in his moment of glory were talent manager Lolit Solis and one of Joel’s celebrity endorsers, Pauleen Luna.