For Filipinos et al., Jessica Sanchez is 2012 AI | Inquirer Entertainment

For Filipinos et al., Jessica Sanchez is 2012 AI

/ 08:52 PM May 26, 2012

SANCHEZ. The first day of her new life as a certified singing star has only just begun. AP

CHULA VISTA, California—In a new fan craze called “Fanchez”, Jessica Sanchez supporters worldwide have described her journey through Season 11 of American Idol as iconic. Filipino Americans have described the pride and solidarity Filipinos have thrown behind her as “parang si Manny Pacquiao.”

Week after week Filipinos have been eager to watch and vote for Sanchez as many times as possible.


“Mga kababayan ang sarap ng pakiramdam na nasa Chula Vista, voting for Jessica!” Beth Camerino cheered loudly.

But this week, the enthusiasm just wasn’t enough to secure Jessica’s victory in the end. The teen singer lost to Phillip Phillips in Wednesday night’s season finale.


“Umiyak ako dahil I love Jessica. I knew her noong bata pa siya,” said Luz Mercer, a friend of Sanchez’s lola.

Jessica Sanchez may not be America’s Idol but she is still Chula Vista’s idol. Family and friends from her hometown were heartbroken but happy to see her make it this far.

“It is a disappointment that she didn’t win American Idol but this is just the start of her career. She’ll be able to go far and she’s still an inspiration to everyone,” Mitchell Llavore said.

Llavore’s mother teared up but tried to remain positive in front of the fans who came to support Sanchez at the finale party. The Llavores are family friends of Sanchez and organized the weekly official viewing and voting parties in the Eastlake neighborhood of Chula Vista, a small city in southern San Diego County.

Mitchell said he was proud to have Jessica represent their community on national television on such a big stage. “It’s been really crazy yet really fun at the same time…her being on the show itself just being a girl from here in Chula Vista is a one in a million chance. So knowing she could be that one is really amazing,” said Llavore.

Jessica’s Lolo Eddie Bugay was in attendance at the finale party to show appreciation for all the local, hometown supporters. He already knew the results prior to the West Coast airing so when the results finally aired, he smiled, laughed, and clapped – not showing any negativity toward the announcement.

Earlier this week before the finale while Jessica Sanchez was preparing for the biggest performance of her life, life back at home in Eastlake seemed normal and quiet.


The news team knocked on Jessica’s door at Unit 92 on the 2300 block of Corte Pescadero and her Lola Virgie Bugay answered. At the time, family members were still under contract not to speak to media but Bugay allowed her friend to introduce two others who are close to Jessica – her dogs Abby and Gigi, to FAS.

Miguel Moso lives next door to the Sanchez family. His nephew played with her younger brother. But he says he didn’t even realize he was living next to such a talented star.

“It wasn’t until I watched the show and they showed the family that I realized it was her,” Moso said. “Her winning would mean a lot to Filipinos not just here but all over the world.”

Another neighbor of the Sanchezes also didn’t recognize that the girl-next-door was a singing sensation until they watched her on American Idol.

“We started watching the show and then it hit me and I said ‘Oh, no wonder we’d see her playing her guitar and singing all the time,” said Joanna Montes.

Filipino-Americans in the San Diego area have been so devoted to cheering on their hometown star proudly wearing different variations of Jessica Sanchez T-shirts and waving all kinds of dedicated banners. Signs in front of local businesses showed their support for the singer and Filipinos have even seen a billboard on a nearby freeway.

On the day of Jessica’s last performance, Tapioca Express owner Eduardo Rivera hosted a boba drink promotion. He did it at all four of his locations as a tribute to the singer but also in hopes to get teens in the mindset to text and vote for Jessica.

An employee from the Eastlake location of Tapioca Express remembered what it was like to see Jessica perform even as a young girl.

“Last time I saw her, she was really little. I think she was about 10 and I haven’t really heard anything about her since then until she was on ‘American Idol’ and I was like ‘She looks familiar’ and then they said her name, and I was like ‘Oh, she’s that little girl I saw before,” Princess Cervantes said.

It was not hard to find Filipinos in the area who knew Jessica or remember her singing when she was younger. Many Fil-Ams have kids who went to school with her or her brothers. And others remember watching her performances local singing competitions and exhibitions like at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar. Sanchez has also sang the national anthem for the NFL home team, San Diego Chargers, three times.

As for the final party on Wednesday, anxious and excited family members, friends, and fans started showing up hours before airtime. The same choir Jessica sang for just a few years ago, Eastlake Middle School Choir, entertained the crowd with a rendition of a popular Bruno Mars song as they all awaited to hear Jessica’s fate.

Baker Abby Gomez and her sister even brought an elaborately decorated cake to give to Jessica’s family. They said they made it to celebrate Jessica’s success and show her how proud they are of her. “We wanted to make a cake for Jessica Sanchez because she’s our American Idol…She’s a winner no matter what,” Gomez said. Win or lose – they felt she deserved the gift.

This seemed to be a sentiment shared by many at the event. While many showed signs of sadness and disappointment, supporters in Chula Vista are still very proud of their hometown star and can’t wait to welcome her home.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: American Idol, Entertainment, Filipino, Jessica Sanchez, Migrant, Music, US
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our entertainment news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.