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Filipinos see idol in Jessica

Floored by her performance, expats in the UAE sing praises of 16-year-old contestant

Jessica Sanchez
Image Credit: Supplied
Jessica Sanchez

DUBAI:  "She sounds just like Beyoncé and I'm sure she's going to win the title," says Dubai resident and Filipino expat Angelica Solva, excited and hopeful like the rest of her community, as 16-year-old American Jessica Sanchez, with Filipino-Mexican origin, makes it to the last three at the American Idol Season 11.

With the grand finale on May 23, there's only one prayer on the lips of every Filipino in the UAE who have been following the rise of Jessica since the 2012 Idol edition took off in January.

"I'm proud that she is half Filipino, but even without my Filipino bias, I will still vote for her for being one of the best contestants. Whitney Houston would have been proud if she'd heard Jessica's rendition of I Will Always Love You - it now has five million views on YouTube. She really deserved the standing ovation from the audience and judges," says Angelica 28, who works as a bank teller.

For Stella Rivera, 31, choir singer, Jessica is an inspiration. "We love Jessica. Even if she doesn't win, she'll always be an inspiration to all amateur and professional singers. Her vocal techniques are already so refined at such a young age. She pulls up her nuances and high notes very neatly and effortlessly. I was so moved when she sang Dance with My Father."

Jessica's fans are glad she has remained unfazed by the racism issues stirred by her Filipino-Mexican roots. "Jessica had a great start, but during a crucial moment, she didn't make it to the top seven when she got the lowest nation-wide votes. But the judges were able to ‘save' her and she deserved it," says Orlando Baldedara, 29, an insurance specialist.

No matter what happens on May 23, one thing is certain: Jessica will remain a symbol of hope for Filipinos eyeing the big stage.