But that reality, Sanchez pointed out, does not make her less a Filipino.
The 17-year-old Sanchez was born to a Filipino mother, Editha Bugay, whose clan hails from Samal, Bataan province. Three months ago, a tabloid columnist wrote that “Jessica is full-blooded Filipino. Her mother and father are Pinoys. So why the Filipino-Mexican-American tag? Well, she was adopted by her stepfather, a Mexican-American.”
“Of course I was born in America, but I still consider myself 100-percent Filipino. I felt very much at home upon arriving in the Philippines. There is so much warmth and love,” the “American Idol” Season 11 runner-up told the Inquirer shortly before she was formally presented to reporters at Edsa Shangri-La hotel as the latest product endorser of a leading food chain.
Sanchez’s statements virtually trashed an intriguing question posted on the Internet by the new personal manager of another Filipino singing sensation, Charice.
On her Twitter account, Courtney Blooding, an American whom Charice appointed as her new handler, asked why the Philippines had been claiming Sanchez as its own, when she didn’t even have a Philippine passport and couldn’t speak the native tongue.
You’re Filipino if…
Sanchez said one of the “very Filipino” things she loved doing with her family while growing up in Chula Vista, California, was singing on the karaoke.
Although she sang mostly Whitney Houston songs during her childhood, her desire to pursue a music career is an aspiration normally wished for by Filipinos.
Asked by the Inquirer what being Filipino really meant to her, Sanchez said: “We’re very family-oriented. Back in the States, my grandma, Virgie, cooks a lot of Filipino food.”
Her favorite Filipino dish, she had said in an earlier interview, was “sinigang, the one with pork.”
She likewise likes the food she sampled during a visit to a Jollibee store a few days ago. “I love fried chicken, so Chicken Joy is now one of my favorites,” she said.
Has she been trying to learn the Filipino language?
“Definitely,” Sanchez replied. “My grandma’s been teaching me. The week that I arrived here, I’ve been trying to learn some words.”
Midway through the sellout concert on Sept. 21 at Smart Araneta Coliseum that featured the “Idol” Top 10 finalists, a visibly overwhelmed Sanchez told the cheering audience: “Mahal na mahal ko kayong lahat (I love you all very much).”
There was never a time, Sanchez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, that she felt discouraged or considered setting aside her dream to become a pop star. “Music has always been my passion. It was not a hobby or something I can take out of my life. My family has been very supportive.”
Losing in singing competitions, for that matter, has not fazed her a bit: “I have [experienced failure and rejection] a lot … many times. But my family always told me that I should keep singing. So that’s what motivated me.”
Sanchez said she “definitely wants to go back here next year and experience more of Filipino culture.”
At present, there are negotiations for Sanchez to hold a solo concert in Manila in February 2013—a source who had knowledge of the proposals told the Inquirer.
Before Jollibee signed Sanchez, the same source claimed that the endorsement deal was first offered by an agent to another food chain, but was turned down. The Jollibee contract, the source said, “is worth at least $200,000 (more than P8 million)—the same amount Sanchez was paid for her endorsement deal with Bench.”