Jessica Sanchez strives to make Filipinos proud
MANILA, Philippines – Jessica Sanchez did not grow up in the Philippines and she has yet to speak fluently in Filipino but slowly, through her work as a singer, she has been learning more about the country and acquainting herself with the culture.
“I think the Philippines is just so amazing,” she said on Monday, during the launch of her charity single “Lead Me Home” at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila.
The 18-year old was again in the country but this time for charity work. Recently, she visited Sarangani and other provinces in Mindanao with a group of nurses and doctors from the United States. She helped distribute hearing aids from the Starkey Hearing Foundation to deaf beneficiaries.
“We’ve been driving around in these buses and I look at the country and it’s so green and so beautiful and on top of that the people are so welcoming and kind,” she said of her experience.
Sanchez, who is of Filipino and Mexican descent, said she is happy and honored to be a source of inspiration for Filipinos.
“I have a lot of eyes watching me, especially now having the Philippines look at me like I’m an inspiration,” she said, still surprised at the warm reception she has been receiving in the country.
“I feel honored actually, more than anything.”
Most famous for being an American Idol runner-up, she said it seems that she is now seen as a role model.
“I’m happy to be here for the charity, to inspire the youth and others to go out there and help others,” she said.
During the press conference, she announced that all of the proceeds from the sale of her single will be donated to the Red Cross for the benefit of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” survivors.
“I’m glad to help, to give back to my people in any way that I can,” Sanchez told media.
She said she was “really devastated” by what had happened in Eastern Visayas and nearby provinces.
“I love you guys so much. I hope you are safe…I hope all of your families are okay,” Sanchez said in a message to the typhoon victims.
Singing the Philippine anthem
As of late, the young singer has been repeatedly invited to the Philippines. Her visit to Sarangani happened at the behest of boxing icon and congressman Manny Pacquiao.
Before that, the boxing champion asked Sanchez to sing at his last fight against Brandon Rios last November 24.
Many were surprised and delighted to hear Sanchez sing both the “Star-Spangled Banner” and the “Lupang Hinirang.”
She was equally surprised when Pacquiao first “tweeted” her the request.
“It was crazy actually because Manny asked me over Twitter to sing for the fight. It kinda came out of nowhere. And I tweeted back and I was like ‘I’m so honored I would love to,’” she said.
Asked how she was able to sing “Lupang Hinirang” as if she had been doing it for years, she said she worked hard for two to three days to learn the song.
“It was hard. Because I know how proud you guys are about singing the anthem traditionally. It kinda stressed me out a little bit,” she said.
Her grandmother even helped her out, pointing out which words she couldn’t properly pronounce.
“There was like probably two words that my grandma said ‘you’re not saying it right’ and it was so slight. And I was like, ‘Oh my god, how could this be so hard?’” an exasperated Sanchez said.
In the end, she was able to sing the Philippine anthem flawlessly.
“I was happy that everybody was okay with how I sang it. And I hope I made you guys proud.”
Boasting of her grandmother’s cooking skills, especially her famous lumpia, Sanchez said a Filipino trait she was proud of was being family-oriented.
While she is now allowed to travel alone, she still brings her mother with her because she loved being with her family.
“When I move, my family moves. I think that’s how Filipinos are. We love to be together and I’m very proud that we have that trait,” she said.
Sanchez said she also wanted to learn and record Filipino songs in the future, saying the language was very beautiful.
During the press conference, someone asked her if it was true that her biological father is Filipino, implying that her mother’s Mexican husband was actually her stepfather.
“What? That came out of nowhere,” the singer laughed.
She replied saying, “My dad is Mexican and his name is Gilbert Sanchez. And that is my biological father. I’m half Filipino and half Mexican and I’m proud of both cultures.”
Regardless if she is “half” or “full” Filipino, Sanchez at a young age has shown that she cared about her people. Working hard and sharing her talents to the less fortunate, she knows how to give back.
Asked for a short message to Filipinos all over the world, she said, “You guys have really been so amazing. I can’t thank you enough.”
“My kababayans, I love you so much.”