Filipinos Abuzz Over “Saved” American Idol Contestant Jessica Sanchez

Jessica Sanchez

Jessica Sanchez

This story was written by Elton Lugay and originally published in the FilAm.

Filipinos around the globe are up in arms: Jessica Sanchez was nearly ousted from “American Idol.”

And whoever said we Filipinos are not a united people? This obsession with Jessica on Idol is fueling a united front never before seen since the Edsa Revolt of 1986.

The outcry ranges from vote manipulation to voter complacency. Filipinos are saying Jessica became a victim of reality show hype after her rendition of “Stuttering” by Jazmine Sullivan did not earn enough votes to keep her in the running. To widespread puzzlement and dismay, she was among the bottom three contestants. Of the three, she had the lowest votes. But to keep her from being eliminated, the three judges moved to “save” her.

Like Kanye with cleavage, judge Jennifer Lopez grabbed the mic and declared, “We are saving her!” Randy Jackson rallied for support saying, “Please save the best!”

To legions of Jessica  followers, it is unthinkable that this fast-rising FilAm musical talent who has consistently wowed the judges and pulled in phenomenal votes would rank lowest of the low. Marketing executive  Adora Penn said she smelled “something fishy.”

“Jessica is for sure the best among the contenders,” said filmmaker Kim Mende Itskov.

GMA News representative on the East Coast Grace Labaguis suggested there may be more to the voting than meets the eye.  “Some may not like the idea of her being the ‘favorite’ so they just had to pick another finalist. Let’s face it, Jessica is the strongest and most talented contender for this year’s American Idol,” she said.

There is no shortage of conspiracy theories.

“I think the voting process was rigged,” esthetician Virgie Potolin said bluntly.   The episode was choreographed to, “raise the ratings and keep the show interesting,” said Mylz Tolentino, a manager at Sprint.

Federal employee Nicky Despi said the show – like many reality TV shows — was attempting to  “create drama.”

Psychology professor Kevin Nadal did not discount race as a “huge factor.”

“Many have cited race as a major influence throughout the history of ‘American Idol.’ In fact, African Americans cited race as the main reason Jennifer Hudson was voted off in Season 3,” he said. But if it was, why did the three judges move to “save” Jessica?

Others blamed it on voter complacency.

“I think we’re being too reliant on others, we slackened off,” said student Gail Banawis from the Bronx. “She’s great, yes. But she needs our votes. We need to vote!”

It could be, said Nadal in agreement, that people simply were “overconfident  and didn’t vote.”

“Perhaps this is a call for the FilAm community and other Jessica supporters to step it up and vote if we really want to see her win,” he said further.

At the end of the day, said Nadal, “it’s just a contest.” A contest that he conceded can be powerful for the Filipino American community if Jessica becomes another Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

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Feet in 2 Worlds (Fi2W) is an independent media outlet, journalism training program, and launchpad for emerging immigrant journalists and media makers of color. Our work brings positive and meaningful change to America's newsrooms and has a broader impact on how immigration is reported and the ethnic and racial composition of news organizations.