MANILA, Philippines - Two Filipino teens left for South Korea on Oct. 24 to compete in the reality TV talent show "K-pop Star Hunt 2," sponsored by the Seoul City government and organized by cable channel tvN, CJ E&M and Cube Entertainment.
Sheila Mae Eunice Ona, 21, from Quezon City and Liahona Flores,15, from Cagayan de Oro City are the Philippines' representatives to the TV contest. They're in Seoul to compete with other 14 hopefuls from seven other countries.
Ona and Flores were declared winner and first runner-up, respectively, in the Philippine search of "K-pop Star Hunt 2" held last Sept. 12 at Glorietta Activity Center.
TvN and the judges were impressed with the 16 Filipino finalists chosen from 2,200 applicants who competed in the local search.
"The Filipinos have done it again, proving to the judges that Filipinos are world-class performers," according to the tvN website.
It added, "No one could tell that the 16 Finalists were not professionals. Performing in front of a full house crowd, they kept the audience entertained with their powerful vocals and energetic dance moves."
Ona thanked everyone for supporting her.
"I just wanna thank you guys for all the support and love. Thank you for always being there for me, my new found friends, old friends, family, relatives and to all, thank you. I owe you guys big time. We'll do our best in Korea," she posted on her Facebook page.
Flores also expressed gratitude for the support.
"Thank you so much to all of your support! I am very thankful and happy to meet people like you! :) Your inspiring messages and congratulations really built my spirit to do well in Seoul," she wrote on Facebook.
"For winners Sheila Eunice and Liahona, the journey to Kpop superstardom has only just begun," tvN said.
Besides Ona and Flores, the other finalists of the hunt are Shimali De Silva and Leona Ho from Hong Kong, Tanya Tai and Chih-Ang Tsai from Taiwan, Anthea Wang Yi Thong and Rendy Lauwady from Singapore, Nur Shazreen Binti Sharupidin and Khairul Najmuddin Bin Abu Samah from Malaysia, Kawintida Sujindaporn and Isarapa Thawatpakdee from Thailand, Nguyen Dieu Huong Trang and Ngo Dang Thu Giang from Vietnam and Miku Ishida and Saika Maeda from Japan.
TvN added Malaysia and Japan this year to the roster of participating countries: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.
The 16 finalists will receive professional training from CJ E&M and Cube Entertainment for the show in Korea.
"The winner will receive an intensive training for K-pop singer by CJ E&M and CUBE Entertainment, along with an album release and even a chance to make the debut stage appearance on 2013 MAMA [Mnet Asian Music Awards], the leading international music award show in Korea. The finalists' ups and downs on the road to success will be captured and shown on the reality series on tvN, sharing their laughter, sweat and tears behind the scene," the cable channel said.
Ona and Flores are currently leading among the 16 finalist in the online voting on the tvN website to select the Best 3 performers. Fans have until Oct. 31 to vote.
To vote for Ona and Flores, go to http://www.tvnstarhunt2.com/voting.
"K-pop Star Hunt 2" will premiere on Nov. 24.