SAMAL, BATAANA, MAY 26, 2012 (STANDARD) by Butch Gunio - American Idol did not hand the crown to Jessica Sanchez on Thursday, but in this seaside town north of Manila she is “second to none,” and in the worldwide net she is the “World Idol.”

Thousands of people watching the show on a huge TV screen at the town plaza clapped their hands and stomped their feet as host Ryan Seacrest named Phillip Phillips, 21, the new American Idol who hugged Sanchez, 16, whose mother is a member of Samal’s Bugay clan.

“She may not be the American Idol, but she will always be our idol,” said Carina Nanasca, a government employee.

“We will still be celebrating. We are so proud of her,” said Samal Mayor Gene Malibiran de la Fuente.

Phillips, a bluesy Georgia guitar man, was the fifth male “Idol” winner in a row. He appeared stunned after the host announced his name.

Phillips received the winning share of the record-high 132 million votes cast after Wednesday’s finals showdown with Sanchez. The vote count was not announced, which was typical for the contest.

In their showdown on Wednesday, Phillips, a pawnshop worker from Leesburg, Georgia, sang Home by Billy Joel, the song that could be his first single. Sanchez sang the pop ballad Change Nothing.

Minutes after Seacrest announced the result, the Internet was swamped with messages of support for Sanchez from all over the world. One message said she did not need the American Idol title because she was the “World Idol.”

“If Phillip Phillips is season 11’s American Idol, then I guess Jessica Sanchez is the World Idol of all seasons,” one net blogger said.

They told Sanchez to come home to the Philippines “and feel how much love there is for her.”

“Come home soon. The entire Philippines is waiting for you,” one tweeter said.

Malacañang said Sanchez had gained the loyal and enthusiastic support of Filipinos worldwide, and that people considered her “a performer imbued with an extraordinary gift of music and heart.”

“This is only the beginning for Jessica Sanchez whose incredible talent has been recognized and appreciated the world over,” said deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said.

Vice-President Jejomar Binay said: “Jessica’s amazing journey on American Idol showcased not just her talent but the spirit of bayanihan shown by every Filipino who supported her.”

At the House of Representatives, legislators praised Sanchez, and Bataan Rep. Albert Garcia filed a resolution congratulating her for her exceptional achievement.

“She has shown innate Filipino talent,” the resolution says.

“She stunned the whole world and earned the adulation of millions. She is a beacon of inspiration for Filipinos everywhere.” With Maricel Cruz

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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