Fil-Ams generate excitement on ‘AI’


SANCHEZ. One of Season 11’s top favorites.

NOW that Jessica Sanchez is doing well on “American Idol,” local “AI” buffs are harking back to the tilt’s other Fil-Am finalists over the past decade. Most editions of the competition have featured a Pinoy bet, due in part to our innate musicality and love for vocal performance, and to Fil-Ams’ “vote-generating” involvement in the tilt.

Season 1’s Fil-Am finalist was Brad Estrin, born in San Francisco, California. Jordan Segundo, the first singer from Hawaii to make it as an “AI” finalist, competed in Season 2. After “Idol,” he performed for former President Bush at a prestigious banquet in Hawaii, with Kenny Loggins at his CD release party, and for the LA Lakers’ games.


Jasmine Trias made it to the finals in Season 3, along with Camille Velasco, and did so well that she ended up in third place. After “Idol,” her fanbase grew in the Philippines and other Asian countries.

In the Philippines, Jasmine did some commercials and performed on TV. Before “Idol,” she won the Brown Bags to Stardom state singing tilt in Hawaii, and the Road to Fame youth talent competition.

For her part, Camille Velasco released a single with Universal Motown and is reported to be completing an album. She has also performed extensively in concerts and on TV.

Season 4’s Fil-Am finalist was Melinda Lira, from Hanford, California. She began singing when she was only 5 years old, at her local church.

Jose “Sway” Penala was Season 5’s best Fil-Am bet. Before joining “AI,” he was a member of the 6th Day singing group.

Season 6’s A.J. Tabaldo had to settle for 18th place on “Idol.” However, he hasn’t given up music and is reported to be working on an album.

Season 7’s Fil-Am finalist, Ramiele Malubay, started singing for various functions in Florida, as well as opening for Filipino singers like Kuh Ledesma and Martin Nievera during their US tours. In Seasons 8 and 9, Jenisis Samoranos and Melissa Bitanga didn’t make it through Hollywood Week.

For her part, Thia Megia was our Fil-Am bet on Season 10—as was Clint Jun Gamboa, who made it to the Top 24. Prior to “Idol,” Thia made it to the semi-finals of “America’s Got Talent,” and was one of the singers tapped to record the collaboration YouTube video of “We Are the World for Haiti.”

Interestingly, and perhaps even prophetically, another singer on that benefit video edition was this year’s Fil-Am bet, Jessica Sanchez. The video’s participants were collectively recognized as “Persons of the Week” on “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” on March 19, 2010.

As for Jessica, her mother is Filipino and her father is Mexican-American. She competed in the first season of “America’s Got Talent” when she was only 11. Sanchez was not chosen to be in the semi-finals, but during the Wildcard round, Brandy Norwood chose her to advance to the finals. Now, on “AI,” she’s clearly one of the judges’ top favorites—and the rest is (evolving) history!

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  • Constantine

    This is now the best time for all Filipinos in the US to vote for Jessica!  

    The Americans discrimination is at work again and we should not let it happen. Her talent should not go to waste.

    Vote for Jessica Sanchez via text!

  • Pinoy

    but she was the one who got the smallest vote… hows that.. one of the best singer in America according to the judges is the bottom performer… is it the race that comes into play?? will you be the judge… the contest is not about the talent anymore.. its about nothing… hahahaha

    • Ruben

      Before her last song, a video was shown on those Fil-Am community in San Diego, California.  All Pinoys, no Mexicans or whites.  I’m sure Jessica has white classmates and friends.  This could be the reason why the only ones who voted for her were Fil-Ams and no Mexicans or whites and blacks.  They could have felt Jessica only recognized her Filipino roots and not her father’s side or being an American born in America.

      • agxo3

         How would you know who voted for her or not? If  you know the racial breakdown of the votes, please tell us and tell us how to get it! Inquiring minds want to know…….

        Or are you just making something up to justify your feelings?

        As for Pinoy – the best performer does not always get the top votes, nor does the best performer always win. Jennifer Hudson was voted off and she’s won both an Oscar and a Grammy. It’s about who gets the votes, and singing an unknown song and one that does not have wide appeal certainly cost her a lot of votes.

        The Americans who follow (and vote in) these kinds of shows have much in common with Filipinos who elect movie stars, murderers and children of corrupt politicians to public office – they go with popularity, not with competence.

      • Roving Eye

        And you have a factual basis for your votes breakdown?? Or is it just an ignorant assumption.

  • ValencianoEd

    sayang if discrimination shows off its ugly head in the case of Jessica!

    • riverwil

      There was no discrimination. The reason, JS did not get enough votes is because she sang a completely unknown song. If there was discrimination, h ow come she got the no 1 votes when she sang the popular songs of Houston?

    • Practical

      Race card???

      Remember that the majority of voters are teenage girls who would rather vote for cute guys!

  • makabayan

    This is what I have been dreading about that Jessica Sanchez might be booted when the white votes start to pour in because they believe that AI is not about talent but really about popularity. I think this can be misconstrued as vote rigging but it really is.  It is not about talent.  It is about popularity.  Filipinos can also look at it this way that we became complacent of not voting for Jessica or forgetting to vote for her because we thought she already won it.  That is not the case here! (I admit I am also guilty of not voting for her.  I thought my votes will be carried by the other kababayans).  In a way, this is a second chance for the Filipinos and Fil-Ams to show support for our JS.  Remember our unity and solidarity for Jasmin Trias which Simon Cowell abhorred.  Jasmin lived until the last 3 weeks until the true white votes came in and overwhelmed the Fil-Am votes from Hawaii.  This is now a call to all Filipinos to vote for Jessica next week and show our support for the best talent.  

    • Practical

       Race card?

  • makabayan

    I have a theory about why the voting in AI came out like that.  If the top 4 were 2 white dudes and 2 white girls, and the bottom 3 were 1 white girl, 1 black dude and 1 Asian, can you now infer who voted for everybody?  Obviously, the 5 caucasians got the votes of the white majority while the black dude and Jessica got the morsels of the voting populace who are either not die-hard idol fans or just plain indifferent of voting for their AI favorites.  Remember each voter can have 3 or 4 methods of voting via text, facebook or calling the 1-800 number for not more than 50 times each.  Each person can give 150 votes at the minimum.  How about those people who have 5 facebook accounts, 4 cell phones and 2 landlines.  You can contribute 550 votes at the minimum.  What can you say about that madlang pipol?

  • Deo Panganiban

    Hindi kaya more Pinoys are just mayabang but FORGOT or DID NOT VOTE for her? COMPLACENCY is very dangerous…next round and still small votes for her…yun na….puro kasi yabang, puro proud, proud of being Pinoy, wala naman binatbat….I’m putting this on Pinoys IN the USA cause they are the only ones who can vote…eh kung pwede lang bumoto mga Pinoy dito sa Pinas….

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