Laarni Lozada, a 22-year-old working student from Sultan Kudarat, was voted winner of ABS-CBN's top-rated talent show Pinoy Dream Academy Season 2 Sunday night.
Laarni, who was dubbed the show's "Independent Woman" for her quicksilver temper and amazing vocal range, garnered a total of 651,696 votes or 35.21 percent to beat Jay "Bugoy" Bogayan, a canteen janitor and farm hand from Camarines Sur, who placed second with 547,760 votes.
It was an emotional victory for Laarni who struggled in the early part of the contest and was in danger of elimination in her very first week in the academy. She also got in spats with fellow scholars because of her moods but always impressed the audience and the judges week after week because of her performance.
After being declared Grand Star Dreamer, Laarni was in tears as she sang the show-stopping "Manalig Ka", which was included in the scholars' compilation album "Pinoy Dream Academy Season Two Scholars Sing Cayabyab." Her prize package includes a laptop computer, component and LCD television from Sony, kitchen showcase from Whirlpool, P1.5 million worth of Crystal Clear purified water store franchise, a brand new house and lot from Globe Asiatique and a check worth P1 million from ABS-CBN.
Second-placer Bugoy sang "Climb Every Mountain" and gave an emotional speech to his supporters for bringing him one step closer to his dreams. "Mangarap po tayo. Kahit simpleng tao pwedeng mangarap!" he said as his fans cheered.
Balladeer and former Philippine Idol finalist Miguel Mendoza placed third with 13.69 percent or 253,402 votes. Mendoza, who entered in the academy with his girlfriend Bea Munoz, had been in danger of elimination several times but was always saved through text votes.
Five-time Star Scholar Liezel Garcia placed fourth in the contest with 13.36 percent or a total of 247,346 votes. Garcia, an early favorite in the contest, thanked the mentors for the training while inside the academy.
Van Roxas placed fifth with 6.06 percent or a total of 112,065 votes. The 18-year-old Roxas (real name Van Louelle Pojas) had revealed early in the contest that he did not tell his mother about how long he would stay inside the academy since he had to skip school to join. He was later prevailed upon to stay in the academy by the PDA mentors.
In last place was Cristina Pastor, 21, with 36,487 votes.
Lozada is the second PDA scholar to win the top prize. The first was Yeng Constantino in 2006.