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Migrant rights group demands transparency from ‘American Idol’

Relatives and supporters of American Idol finalist Jessica Sanchez hold pictures and banners of her and wave Philippine national flags as they celebrate Sanchez’s runner-up finish during the live feed of the show’s finale in Samal town, Bataan province, north of Manila May 24, 2012. Indie artist Phillip Phillips won “American Idol” on Wednesday, besting Filipino-Mexican-American Sanchez. (MNS photo)

By Nimfa U. Rueda and Rod Mijares

LOS ANGELES – A nonprofit group promoting migrant rights on Friday asked the producer of “American Idol” to explain their judgment process “in the spirit of transparency and public trust.”

“We do not want to be misconstrued as sour grapers because we were supportive of Jessica Sanchez,” the Washington DC-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) said in a letter to Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of the popular reality singing competition. “We deserve to know the entire process, including the information as to how the board of auditors conduct(ed) the tallying of scores.”

MHC demanded a breakdown of the 132 million votes that will show how many votes went to each of the contestants.

The letter was signed by MHC executive directors Arnedo Valera, Grace Valera-Jaramillo and Jesse Gatchalian.

After Tuesday night’s record-breaking 132 million votes cast, the 21-year old guitar-performing singer Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Georgia was voted 11th season American Idol winner besting 16-year old teenage sensation and powerhouse Filipino-Mexican-American Jessica Sanchez of Chula Vista, California.  No doubt, they are the two biggest names in America right now as host Ryan Seacrest declared based from the total votes tallied.

The wrong and the right choice of songs definitely spelled the difference between winning and losing.  Whether they were taken as a challenge or as a deterrent were up to the contestant to dwell on, act affirmatively, and perform their best for the judges and the audience alike.

At the finale, the performer who delivered and made the audience felt better and wanting more was the sure winner.  Phillip Phillips did this with his second song and finished it off with his third and coronation song, Greg Holden’s “The Home” complete with a marching band accompaniment that earned him a standing ovation from the judges and the 7,000 audience in attendance at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater. The third song by Phillip surely pulled the biggest votes as he captured the hearts of his listeners who were mesmerized and dazzled by his performance.

Jessica and Phillip had to sing three songs for the finale night. By virtue of a toss coin, Jessica had to sing first on each of the three rounds.

Simon Fuller, the “Idol” creator, selected Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” for Jessica and chose Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” for Phillips. After the first round, Randy Jackson gave it to Jessica while Steven and Jennifer Lopez were noncommittal about their pick.

In the second matchup, Jessica sang Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer” as her favorite performance and Phillips performed Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” as his favorite. It was dead even as Steven commented that it was Jessica’s round while Jennifer said it was Phillips’ round.  Randy said it was even for both contestants.

Performance wise, the third matchup was the deciding round and Phillip Phillips took his audience with his winning single “Home” while Jessica Sanchez’ “Change Nothing” has really nothing to wow the audience to pull it off.

Phillip and Jessica paid tribute to their music mentors by presenting them each a key of their new car.  Surprisingly, Ryan Seacrest pulled out of his pocket and awarded one key each to the two final contestants of their 2013 Ford Fusion.

When Phillip was announced the winner, Jessica sort of jumped with glee and immediately hugged him with her back against the camera. There was no way to determine her facial expression at all while embracing Phillip.

If there was any consolation at all of being a runner-up aside from future recording contracts, Jessica’s duet with recording artist and Tony Award winning-actress and Grammy Award-winning singer Jennifer Holliday of Dreamgirls almost stole the awards night as they both gave it all in singing  “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.”  Their performance was so powerful and their exchanges were so phenomenal, jaw-dropping and heart stopping. Judges and the audience could not help it but give them their well-deserve standing ovation.

After all the hugging and the congratulations, Seacrest handed over Phillip’s guitar to him to render the winning song, “Home” once again. In the middle of the song right after the band marched behind him, Phillips choked with happiness as tears engulfed him and could sing no more.  He just continued plucking his guitar until such time that it was no longer bearable that he walked down from the stage to his waiting family and hugged them. Then, the three judges one by one.

America has voted. Phillip Phillips continued the boys’ dominance as he was coveted the 11th season and 2012 “American Idol” champion and truly deserving of his title.

As for Jessica Sanchez, she made Filipinos proud and united. She may not be the champion, but to them she is are their “American Idol.”


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