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Saving Jessica Sanchez

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If the Chinese Navy ever invaded the Kalayaan municipality in the Spratly Islands and captured all of its 223 Filipino inhabitants, I am uncertain if the resulting campaign by the global Filipino community to save them would come close to the current massive united effort being mounted to save Jessica Sanchez from elimination in the American Idol finals.

I have never seen anything like it. For the last several days, I have been bombarded by emails from everyone I know- and even from those I don’t know – asking me to please, pretty please, remember to vote on Wednesday night, April 18, from 10PM to 12 midnight (Pacific Time) for Jessica Sanchez. And to vote not just once, but as many times as possible. And not just by phone, land line or cell, but also by Facebook or Twitter. Vote early and often and it’s legal.

Even though I have voted for Jessica Sanchez in my Facebook page for the past several weeks, I was initially annoyed that the same global concern for saving a fellow Filipino was not expressed for Dondon Lanuza, an overseas Filipino worker in death row in Saudi Arabia for killing a Saudi in self-defense. Lanuza  has been pleading on the Internet for 12 years for Filipinos to save him by raising funds to pay the “diyya” blood money demanded by the aggrieved Saudi family to secure his release.

Somehow “Save Dondon Lanuza!” just does not have the same ring of urgency that “Save Jessica Sanchez!” possesses even though, in Lanuza’s case, the effort would be literally saving a life. Fortunately, with the help of Loida Nicolas-Lewis, national chair of US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), enough funds may have been raised to spare Lanuza’s head from being permanently separated from his body.

The push for Filipinos to vote for Jessica eclipses all past support for Fil-Ams who have made it to the American Idol finals including Jasmine Trias, Camille Velasco, Thia Megia, Ramielle Manubay, Sway Penala or Melinda Lira.

Filipino Idol fans agreed with the vocal assessment of the three AI judges – Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steve Tyler – that Jessica is one of the best singers to perform inAmerican Idol ever. They were confident that Jessica would make it to the top three finalists and that her most serious competition would come from Joshua Ledet, an African American male, and Elise Testone, an Italian American female. So confident, in fact, that many forgot to vote.

So when the millions of votes were counted and announced on Thursday night, April 12, the results came as a total shock. Rather than showing Sanchez, Ledet and Testone at the very top, they were all bunched together at the very bottom, with only young, less talented white singers remaining in the top 4. “Expect the Unexpected!” was flashed on the screen and it was right on the money.

Host Ryan Seacrest then announced, as tension mounted, that Ledet was safe. When Seacrest announced that Testone was also safe, it meant that Sanchez was the week’s lowest vote-getter and was out. WTF! I screamed.

As the audience whistled its disapproval, Sanchez tearfully sang her swan song, the standard routine for the eliminated singer. Less than a minute after she started singing, the AI judges walked up to the stage as Jennifer Lopez took the mike from Jessica and announced that they had unanimously voted to use their one and only save of the season on her. “We are saving Jessica without any doubt,” Jackson declared. “This girl is one of the best singers in America ever!”

Before the evening was over, I received dozens of angry emails condemning the white American teen viewers who only voted for their favorite white singers, singers they could relate to and they could not relate to a 16 year old Fil-Am. Others thoughtfully analyzed why Jessica received the lowest number of votes.

Former Miss International Aurora Pijuan wrote that American Idol is not a talent contest but one based on popularity where the voters are American teens. “Jessica comes across as demure and conservative, not exactly someone they will hoot for,” she wrote. “Packaging has to appeal to this profile.  Not all songs are equal. Though judges appreciate her performance, this contest is decided by mainstream audience who may not care much about nuances. She may have to choose a more “baduy” song and be a bit outrageous to appeal to the voters. Entertainment, like politics, is after all a buyers’ market.”

The Washington DC-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) called on Filipinos all over the world to vote for Jessica Sanchez. In her email, Grace Valera, MHC Executive Director, wrote:  “Dear Kababayan, family, friends, friends of friends. . . Our dear JESSICA SANCHEZ almost got eliminated from AMERICAN IDOL tonight had the Judges not saved her… Kababayans, please vote for her every Wednesday night…right after the show…all of your cell phones, landline, online Facebook.”
Nony E. Abrajano of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) emailed everyone he has ever known in every organization he has ever joined to “please take time to give this girl our votes.  It is all right to VOTE as many times as you can.  She needs all our votes.”

Former San Francisco Consul General Rowena Mendoza Sanchez emailed from Manila to advise that even Filipinos in the Philippines can vote by logging on to http://www.americanidol.com/vote/ or to http://bit.ly/jessicasanchez. But fans can only vote during the two hour window after 10 PM on Wednesday, April 18, Pacific Time (around 1 PM Thursday April 19 Manila time).

I must confess that I have voted in the past for some Filipino contestants simply because of their ethnicity to provide America with visible Filipino role models. But I am proudly voting for Jessica this time because she is a deserving, supremely talented singer who happens to be a Filipino-American. I agree with the judges – she’s the best.

If tens of millions of Filipinos all over the world vote for Jessica Sanchez this week, and every week until she is proclaimed this year’s American Idol, it will disprove a canard that Filipinos can never unite on any issue. If we can show the power of our unity on this pop culture issue, perhaps it can inspire us to unify on larger, more significant issues.

If that happens, watch out world.

(Send comments to Rodel50@gmail.com or mail them to Rodel50@aol.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415.334.7800).


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Tags: American Idol , Entertainment , Fil-Am , Filipino , Jessica Sanchez , migrant , Music , Television , US

  • bryza10

    This story is just pathetic, shes just a singer.  How about we prove our unity by working harder and improving the Philippines? We need to prove to the world that were not just a country of extreme poverty, pollution, corruption, over-population and that we can do more other than sing or box.  Im sure there is a much more worthy cause than this.  Funny part is that she was probably born and raised in the states, so shes Americanized and doesnt have much affinity for the Philippines.  Hope she loses.   

    • 7Rodel77

       A lot of big things start with small things. We have to crawl before we can walk and run. Unfortunately, so many Filipinos in the US don’t see any value in uniting with other Filipinos as they believe that we are so divided we cannot accomplish anything. And more often than not, they’re right. My hope is that we succeed in uniting the Filipino community in the US to “save Jessica Sanchez” and that the success of this united effort will inspire us to unite for greater issues. I fear that if Jessica loses, as you hope, that it will be harder to get FilAms to see the positive result that can come from a united community effort on bigger issues.

  • mariam_joon

    Oh come on, it is just a talent show! Somebody wins, somebody loses. 
    Why sooo obsessed with Jessica Sanchez? Ok, she’s got a real talent, great talent! But why bug the Filipinos all over the US to vote for her. She is American!
    I see a lot of comments on the internet…obviously Pinoys, posting unpleasant words to other contestants. I guess, that made non-pinoys not to vote for Jessica…it was such a turn-off. 
    All the best for Jessica!

  • titolim

    wala manlang naitulong ang mga mexican fans?

  • mfdo

    so it becomes a Filipino Idol, if filipinos NOT IN AMERICA also voted.. get a life guys .. oh .. wait, while jessica is being safed,  China is stealing Spratleys ..

  • bahog_itlog

    Let’s unite for our sovereignty instead. Chipping in whatever amount so that our government can buy more warships to protect our coastlines from f**king Chinese.

  • pepengkabayo

    Jessica is good and very good but she won’t be good enough to be an American Idol.
    All the contestants are improving and getting better, Jessica remains good.
    Jessica’s fault…wrong choice of songs, she cannot connect.
    This time No More Saving Pnoy Jessica Sanchez.

  • Cassidy2011

    must be a slow day.  why you had to write an article about this massive effort is beyond me.  

    • 7Rodel77

      The clue to why is in my almost last paragraph:

      “If tens of millions of Filipinos all over the world vote for Jessica Sanchez this week, and every week until she is proclaimed this year’s American Idol, it will disprove a canard that Filipinos can never unite on any issue. If we can show the power of our unity on this pop culture issue, perhaps it can inspire us to unify on larger, more significant issues.”

      • Cassidy2011

        that’s the thing.  we seem to be perpetuating or sensationalizing efforts that, in the scheme of things, aren’t really that important.  filipinos will always remain fragmented.  i think jessica is great, but i don’t think she’s better than other contestants.  if she wins, i would like for her to be an “american idol,” voted by a majority of americans, not only by filipinos.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/NNAJQQUKFAB4DITXYZPSG26FYA Martin

        Here’s my analysis:  Because of too many white contestants, the whites usually vote for the ones who live and come from their state, city or town.  On the other hand, Filipino-Americans shall vote for Jessica nationwide.  The bulk of the votes would come from Hawaii, Guam, California and some states where lots of Filipinos reside.  Add to these are neutral whites who may vote for Jessica even if she’s non-white.  Now when Jessica reaches the final two and she’s against a white for the title, there goes the problem.  Whites in the whole America shall vote for their own.  Unless the blacks, latinos and other Asian groups unite and throw their support to Jessica against the white finalist, this white would win. 

      • Cassidy2011

        people should vote for the best regardless of ethnicity.  the fact that filipinos are staging this massive “save jessica” campaign might hurt jessica if she lands the final two. whites and non-filipinos who would otherwise vote for her would be turned off. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/NNAJQQUKFAB4DITXYZPSG26FYA Martin

        Good point.  That’s going to boomerang.  But if the Filipinos and Latinos as well as some other non-Filipinos vote for Jessica, she has a pretty good chance of landing at least second in the final.  The problem is Jessica seems to be not even mentioning her Mexican side and always Filipino only.

      • aristeosj

        …but the best does not always win in this particular singing contest.some won because of their looks or because of certain biases of the voting public.just look at jennifer hudson who was not even in the finale in that AI season.this save jessica campaign is probably just to awaken a lot of Filipinos in the states to get active in voting for her(knowing that some Filipinos are not into this kind of activity).

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/NNAJQQUKFAB4DITXYZPSG26FYA Martin

        But only Filipinos in America can vote.

  • 7Rodel77

    Congratulations to all of us. Jessica received the most number of votes this week. While there was a campaign to solicit votes from Filipinos world wide (including my article above), I was informed that American Idol has very sophisticated ways of ferreting out non-US votes (they’ve been at this for at least 12 years after all and AI has franchises all over the world it has to protect). I am confident that Jessica received US resident votes regardless of attempts by Filipinos in the Philippines to vote for her. The Latino community has also been supporting Jessica. I checked out Latinadotcom (the “dot” should be changed to a period). But we have to keep it up for another 5 or 6 weeks.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VPSXDLCQEZGZDJSX32G7PYHNCI Noel

      I hope you don’t claim the credit, sir.  As for the Latino votes, Jessica has to thank the Mexicans and the Latinos during the interview and not just mention Filipinos.  That’s going to encourage more Latinos to vote for her.  With Filipinos and Latinos votes, Jessica may end up at least second or even the winner.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VPSXDLCQEZGZDJSX32G7PYHNCI Noel

    I hope American Idol would also announce who got the highest votes for the week not only the lowest.



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