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A Pinay Wins the Singing Contest in Hong Kong

Margaret Marie Necio Ortega wins the grand prize in this year’s “Star Factor,” the Hong Kong equivalent of “American Idol.” Photo taken from her Facebook fan page


Here's a piece of good news from Hong Kong: a 16-year-old Filipina bested over 2,400 singing contestants to win the grand prize in this year's "Star Factor," the Hong Kong equivalent of "American Idol." Margaret Marie Necio Ortega, in an elimination that ran from May to July, won first place for the English section in the age category 15 to 21 in Star Factor.

Singing “Terrified” by Kara DioGuardi (an American Idol judge), Margaret bested the remaining 23 finalists as she played her acoustic guitar and “sang from the heart.”

“I was terrified, literally, but I thought about the music and how beautiful the lyrics meant to me and everything just flowed from there,” Ortega told The STAR.

In the light of the recent tragic hostage-taking incident, Ortega said she hopes to be a voice to aid in healing the wounds between the Philippines and Hong Kong as she is set to perform for Hong Kong-based charity events for the Chinese and Filipino audiences as part of her commitment for winning the “Star Factor” title.

“With my singing at the charity events, it is my fervent wish that I could somehow help in mending the wounds between Hong Kong and the Philippines as a result of the hostage-taking incident,” said the eloquent Ortega, a Year 13 student at the South Island School, part of the English School Foundation in Hong Kong. She wants to take up Law in college.

“The hostage-taking incident in Manila last Aug. 23 was a sad day for mankind. This should not happen to any race, creed, color, religion or to anyone in particular. It is not about being Filipino or about being Chinese. This incident was against mankind. I want to take part in healing the wounds,” added Ortega who is also fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese.

Ortega said the Star Factor finals saw two age groups -- 8-14 years and the 15-21 years. The contestants were of various nationalities -- French, Indian, Chinese, American, British, Irish, Sri Lankan, Portuguese, Taiwanese, mainland Chinese and Filipino.

Songs were as varied and performances ranged from solo to duets, trios, quartets and full bands.

To get to the finals, the contestants had to pass the following guidelines: preparation and the execution of a performance level presentation, enthusiasm, singing ability, age, discipline, confidence and entertainment level to captivate the audience.

The final set of criteria included: technical ability, stage presence, audience rapport and overall presentation.

Ortega won HKD 3,000 cash, a recording session at Mad Max and a trophy.

The “Star Factor” is hosted by Face Productions, a division of the KG (Kid’s Gallery) Group founded by Chinese philanthropist and leading businesswoman Joanna Hotung in 1996. The KG Group is leading children’s arts and English language organization specializing in developing creativity and youth. Its programs provide visual, performing and language arts courses to children aged from 14 months to 16 years.

Ortega is the only child of Josemari and Therese Ortega. Josemari is the regional director of business solutions of DKSH, a Swiss company in Hong Kong and Therese is the manager for communications of The Peninsula Hotels worldwide. Therese, a survivor of the 1990 earthquake in Baguio, is also a professional crisis communications management services expert.

Ortega, who had been exposed by her parents to doing charity works in Hong Kong at the age of five, single-handedly raised P1 million pesos both in cash and kind for the victims of “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” last year by asking help from her friends on Facebook.

In Hong Kong, she has been actively participating in charity works for Mother’s Choice, The Little Sisters of the Poor (Home for the Aged), Pachamama Alliance. She intends to involve herself in charitable works in the Philippines.

Watch Margaret Ortega Sings

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