[PHOTO -The judges believe that Jessica 'is one of the best singers in America! Ever!' (Photo courtesy of Jessica Sanchez's Twitter account)]

MANILA, APRIL 14, 2012 (BULLETIN) By JULIEN MERCED C. MATABUENA - In a surprising turn of events, Thursday evening, Filipino-Mexican “American Idol” bet Jessica Sanchez was kept away from imminent elimination after the show’s judges unanimously agreed to use their only “save” for this season on her.

In the episode aired on the night of April 12 (US time) Sanchez, Elise Testone and Joshua Ledet were declared this week’s bottom three. However, it turned out that Sanchez got the least number of fan votes, putting her “at risk of leaving tonight after the nationwide vote,” as host Ryan Seacrest put it. The three judges Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Taylor, and fellow contestants, were all seen donning shocked expressions upon hearing the announcement.

Sanchez was then made to perform for the judges, after which they are to give their decision whether to “save” her or not. But as Sanchez was just beginning to sing a few lines of Deborah Cox’s “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here,” the judges, led by Lopez, left their seats to go on stage and interrupt her singing.

“Give me that mic! This is crazy! Yes, we’re using the save!” Lopez said, then commanding the young singer to “go sit down” with the other contestants.

“Hold on for a second. Let me break it down. This is a first. So the judges get one save per season [that] they’ve gotta use [through a unanimous decision] by top 5,” Seacrest explained.

Jackson told the audience, “We are saving Jessica without any doubt! Let me just say this, for myself, Steven and Jennifer: this girl is one of the best singers in America! Ever! Are you kidding me?

“Please, everybody, please vote for the best. It’s about finding the best. I mean, come on,” he finished.

Asked by Seacrest if she’s “surprised to be standing here at the end of the show,” Sanchez replied, “No, not at all. I mean, I don’t expect anything. I just do what I do. Whatever happens, happens, and I just want people to know that I’ve been working hard my whole life…”

Seacrest then commented, “A lot of people I’m sure are surprised; we’re surprised to see you standing up here. And the judges did the right thing.”

On Wednesday, Sanchez performed Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering” for this week’s theme, “songs from 2010 to the present.” The judges may not have given her a standing ovation this time, but nevertheless expressed only positive comments on her.

But prior to the elimination episode, Hollywood gossip website posted the item, “SHOCKER ON 'AMERICAN IDOL' Favorite is Voted Off” on Thursday afternoon.

According to TMZ, “sources connected with the show” told them that “one of the absolute favorites to win the competition will be eliminated” and that “producers are scrambling to persuade the judges to use their 'save' on the contestant.”

It added, “Producers actually thought 2 of the 3 contestants in the bottom tonight were strong candidates to win the entire competition.”

TMZ also hinted that the person that’s supposed to leave the competition that evening “is the one producers thought was the strongest on the show, and they are as stunned over the vote as they were when Jennifer Hudson was kicked off the show.”

In other news, Angeline Quinto, herself a former winner of ABS-CBN’s local reality singing show competition, “Star Power,” expressed her support not only for Sanchez but also for Cheesa Laureta, the other half-Filipina making waves in another US singing show, “The Voice.”

“Kakaiba naman po talaga ang galing ng Pinoy. Bawat tao naman po talaga ay may kanya-kanyang pangarap. Basta gawin lang natin ang makakaya natin, ang best natin para doon sa pangarap na ‘yun, at wala naman talagang [magiging] imposible,” Quinto was quoted as saying in a report by posted also on Thursday.

The Hawaii-based Laureta is currently among the top 16 finalists of “The Voice.”


Grace Lee Off to North Korea to Stop Rocket Launch Posted by So What's News on April 10, 2012 ·

MANILA, Philippines — TV personality Grace Lee (Korean: 이경희; born Lee Kyung Hee), who President Aquino is dating, will head to North Korea today, to try to stop the impending and controversial rocket launch scheduled just days away.

Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte made the announcement today at Malacañang, where she reiterated that Ms. Lee going to Pyongyang was agreed upon by both Lee and the President, and that the Korean expatriate was not forced or coerced. Kris Aquino was rumored to be “enthusiastic” about the idea.

In fact, Valte revealed, that the reason Lee resigned from Good Times, her morning show program on Magic 89.9 last month, was for her to be able to be briefed properly on her upcoming duties as a peace envoy.

Valte even quoted Lee as saying, “hindi ito isang overnight decision, pinag-isipan ko ito…”

North Korea announced last week it would launch the rocket to place a satellite in orbit between April 12 and 16, insisting it was for peaceful space research.

But the United States and other nations see the launch as a disguised ballistic missile test, and say that it would breach a UN ban on North Korean missile launches.

A previous North Korean long-range rocket in 2009 flew over Japanese territory and the boosters landed safely in waters off Japan. (from

A North Korean soldier stands in front of the country's Unha-3 rocket.

Lee was reportedly with the President at The Mansion in Baguio City during the Lenten break, to which the 29 year old sought spiritual guidance and enlightenment for the delicate task that she will undertake this week. It was revealed that Lee was the top pick of Aquino for the post, even edging out some veteran diplomats from a list of 10 candidates.

Rumors that Pnoy declined to let Vice President Jejomar Binay be the envoy, due to the fact that Aquino did not want the VP’s trust rating to be even more higher than his, has yet to be verified. Binay and former President Joseph Estrada’s recently announced coalition for the 2013 midterm elections certainly adds more weight to the rumors

The Philippines is trying every avenues to avert the launch, as the threat of falling debris from the rocket could poise danger to Filipinos. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) has issued separate warnings regarding the launch.

The NDRRMC, in its latest advisory on the rocket launch, said the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) has suggested a “stay indoors” policy for residents of Metro Manila and Regions 1, 2, 3, 4A, 4B, and 5 when North Korea launches the rocket any day from April 12 to 16.

“The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) – DOST submits the ‘STAY INDOORS’ policy for the residents of Regions 1, 2, 3 4A, 4B, NCR and 5 during the 12-16 April 2012 period, particularly between 0600H to 1200H,” the PNRI said. (from

ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio slammed the government for “sowing fear among the public,” and “spreading misinformation.”

North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un

Itinerary for the envoy and her team of Crisis Management experts includes meeting with their North Korean counterparts in Pyongyang, as well as a historical visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). But the highlight of the official visit is a formal invitation by the supreme leader of North Korea himself, Kim Jong-un for Ms. Lee to a special state dinner to discuss bilateral relations.

Lee was apparently handpicked due to the limited time frame that the Philippine contingent have to persuade Kim to change his mind. “In contrast, sending Ms. Lee would save us more time than if we send a veteran diplomat that required a Korean translator,” said Valte. She added, “time saved translating is time spent negotiating.”


TV-radio personality Grace Lee points out that she has acquired prudence, a valuable lesson she learned during the media circus that followed news of her romantic involvement with President Benigno Aquino III.

“Being judicious. Knowing what to believe and what not to believe. It really tests your entire person,” she reflects.

Pia Arcangel, her co-host in “Balitanghali,” gifted her with a DVD of “The American President” in February.

She finally got to watch the Hollywood film about a bachelor US president (Michael Douglas) and his girlfriend (Annette Bening) recently. “I loved it!” she says.

Did she gain any insight on how to cope with the pressures of public life? “It came too late,” she replies, only half in jest.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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