The week of April 23rd was a proud week for Pinay mamas in the world of American pop entertainment. In the three highest-rated American network TV talent shows, four of their Filipino-American offspring survived another round of increasingly tough competition.
Perhaps the most famous of the survivors is 16-year old Jessica Sanchez who rebounded in one week from being eliminated and then saved by the judges of American Idol to receiving the highest number of votes in the show the following week. The eldest of three siblings from Chula Vista, California, Jessica is the daughter of Gilbert Sanchez, a Mexican American Iraq War navy veteran from Texas, and Edita Bugay, the Pinay daughter of a retired U.S. Navy sailor from San Diego, California.
Another FilAm contestant who almost got the boot from TV viewers until she was saved by the judges, also unanimously, is 20-year old Cheesa Laureta, a transplant from Honolulu to Los Angeles who graduated from Hollywood High School. Unlike the other FilAm finalists, Cheesa’s parents are both from the Philippines, the mother from Cebu and the father from Manila.
Cheesa’s brother, Troy, worked with Charice Pempengco whose fans are eagerly voting for Cheesa. She and Troy form a singing duet called A2C. They previously auditioned for American Idol but didn’t make the cut as a duo.
Perhaps the least known as a FilAm contender is 21-year old Roshon Fegan, a finalist in Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) where he is paired with professional dancer Chelsie Hightower. Roshon is the son of a Pinay mama, Cion, and Roy, an African American actor producer. Roshon, like Cheesa also a graduate of Hollywood High School, hopes to succeed another FilAm DWTS former champion, Nicole Scherzinger.
The fourth FilAm also still in contention is the most famous of all of them, Cheryl Burke, a two-time champion of Dancing with the Stars. Paired with Latin heartthrob William Levy, Cheryl hopes to be a 3-time DWTS champion. ABC’s 20/20 already proclaimed her this week as “Best Dancer Ever” on Dancing with the Stars.
Cheryl’s father, Steve, was an immigration attorney of Irish and Russian descent. Her mother, Sherry Bautista, was a Registered Nurse who set up her own successful nurse registry in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cheryl and DWTS champion Mark Ballast performed together at a San Francisco fund-raiser for victims of Typhoon Ondoy in December of 2009.
It was not only a glorious week for proud Pinay mamas of pop entertainers but also for proud Pinay mamas of classical performers.
On April 20 last week, the Oakland East Bay Symphony featured three FilAms in its program: cellist David Requiro, Pianist-Composer Victor Noriega, and Composer Art Khu.
Performing to a near sell-out audience at the 200 seat Paramount Theater in Oakland, the three FilAms each receiving standing ovations for their works.
David Requiro is already being touted as the next Yoyo Ma. The First Prize Winner of the Naumberg International Violoncello Competition, he has placed first in other prestigious string competitions. His performance in Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
brought the orchestra to its feet and the audience to call him back three times to receive their resounding applause.
Victor Noriega is an award-winning pianist, composer and arranger whose compositions have been characterized as “layered, complex, interesting and rhythmic”. The April 20 symphony concert marked the world premiere of his original composition “Generations, Directions” which featured 8 movements – Harana, Arrival, the Bond, New Harana, Kuya, Children’s March and Harana Revisited.
Art Khu is a prolific jazz pianist, composer, arranger and producer based in San Francisco. Art studied at Yale School of Music and earned a Bachelor’s of Music in Piano Performance at Oberlin Conservatory and is considered one of the top musicians in the jazz scene today. The April 20 concert also marked the world premiere of his original composition, “The Symphony of Souls”.
In remarks before the concert began, Victor and Art described attending a party in the San Francisco Bay Area home of Vangie Buell, president of the Filipino American National Historical Society, where they met Oakland Symphony Conductor Michael Morgan.
In the program notes provided at the concert, Morgan describes the meeting: “Two years ago, I met the organizers of San Francisco’s Filipino Jazz Festival in the home of community leader Vangie Buell. Until then, I had no idea of its existence, but was very impressed by what I learned about the history of jazz within our large Bay Area Filipino community. Through them, I met tonight’s composers Art Khu and Victor Noriega, both of whom have written extensively but never for an orchestra.”
Whether in pop or classical music, FilAms are making their mark and their mamas could not be any prouder.
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