LOS ANGELES—Filipino-American nurse Lydia Agulto took the day off Thursday and camped out in front of CBS studios under the hot afternoon sun to show support for “American Idol” hopeful Jessica Sanchez.
“I skipped work, drove more than two hours and battled traffic to get here,” said Agulto, who joined the “Rally for Jessica Sanchez,” a campaign to garner more support for the Filipino-Mexican “Idol” bet who was nearly sent home after getting the lowest votes in the US-based reality singing competition last week. “Jessica deserves to win.”
Rally organizer Rembrandt Sabelis said he hopes Sanchez gets enough Fil-Am votes to keep her in the competition.
“We have to remember that ‘American Idol’ is a popularity contest,” said Sabelis, director-producer of a newly launched LA-based Fil-Am TV station. “What ends up happening is everybody expects the votes for Jessica to come in, but they won’t take the time to vote. We saw that last week.”
Sabelis said that while only a small crowd gathered to show support for Sanchez, being a working day, their message reached tens of thousands via the social media. “Rock the vote; Show your Filipino pride,” said the rally invitation widely circulated on Facebook.
“Whether it’s a small gathering or large gathering, it’s getting the word out,” Sabelis said.
Sabelis added that the Fil-Am community needs to support not just Sanchez but all Fil-Ams aspiring to break into the entertainment industry.
“It’s a shame that Asian-Americans make up only 3 percent of the artists in Hollywood,” he said. “I know we have a lot more talented people than just 3 percent.”
“It’s time for Fil-Ams to come out of the shadows and be seen and heard,” said Adrian Lecaros, another rally participant.
Sanchez, a top favorite on “American Idol” season 11, remained in the competition after the judges intervened and used their “save” option last week.
Agulto is a proud resident of Chula Vista in San Diego County, Sanchez’s hometown. She said her husband hails from Bataan province, which also happens to be the home province of Sanchez’s mother Editha.
Agulto, her two sons and several Fil-Am fans of the 16-year-old singer waved “Vote for Jessica” signs in front of the studios a few hours before the popular show was aired Thursday.
This week’s episode, which had the theme “Now and Then,” had the contestants singing two songs—one Billboard chart-topper from the year 2000 up to the present and a classic soul tune.
Sanchez’s rendition of Alicia Keys’ Grammy-winning song “Fallin’” and Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” earned raves from the judges.
“You don’t really know how good you really are … I hope America shows up and votes for you this week,” said Randy Jackson.
“With a talent like yours, you have a right to get mad at a song,” said Steven Tyler.
“You’re just a little baby. I’m glad we had a save and used it on you,” said Jennifer Lopez.
The scare of last week’s near-elimination of Sanchez prompted an outpouring of support for the youngest “Idol” contestant online.
Sanchez used the social networking site Twitter to ask her fans to vote for her.
“Please, please vote! I don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow. Every single vote counts! Thank you loves,” Sanchez tweeted Thursday.
“I hope my performances were enough tonight,” added Sanchez, using the Twitter handle @JSanchezAI11.
Twitter and Facebook users in the Philippines followed Sanchez’s lead and urged their followers to vote for her.
Television host Kat de Castro tweeted: “To all my family and friends in the US, please vote for Jessica Sanchez.”
“America, vote for Jessica Sanchez,” posted actress-TV host Ruffa Gutierrez, followed by details on how to vote.
On Facebook, more than five “Vote for Jessica” pages were created.
One page, “Save the Best—Save our own—Save Jessica Sanchez,” which was created this month, has over 3,000 likes.
International celebrities also expressed their awe of Sanchez on Twitter.
“Idol” alumnus Adam Lambert posted: “Jessica Sanchez better sing. Jeeeeeez. That first run was nuts,” including a hashtag #futurepopmegastar.
“Jessica Sanchez & Skylar Laine are my fave ladies #AmericanIdol. Yall betta werkkk,” tweeted actress Gabrielle Union.
Singer Jesse McCartney was very vocal of his admiration. He tweeted: “Wow! She’s a 16-year-old version of Jennifer Hudson. Who’s watching this? Somebody tell her I want a duet.”
“Jessica Sanchez is, hands down, the best of this season,” said Lisa Moody, FilAm TV general manager, who also helped organize the rally. “She has come a long way and deserves to be recognized as the best.”
“Last week, when she was voted off, it struck a raw nerve. Could the best be eliminated because of her Asian and Mexican ethnicity? Sad thought, but it can very well be a reality,” Moody added.
On the same day, Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox urged the city’s residents to support Sanchez, according to Fox5 Online News.
“Jessica is an amazingly talented young woman. Her poise, professionalism and stunning voice defies her young age. I am very proud she is not only representing Chula Vista but San Diego County and the entire West Coast,” Cox said.
“The time to support her is now. I encourage everyone to put signs of support on your car or in your business, or in your living room windows, host a viewing party, but most importantly, vote for our hometown favorite,” Cox added. With a report from Inquirer Research