PACQUIAO'S PROTEGÉ, KIRBY ASUNTO SANG RP ANTHEM / WHO'S KIRBY ASUNTO?

LAS VEGAS, JUNE 1Q, 2012 (ABS-CBN) Jessica Sanchez, Kirby Asunto's voices soar before Pacquiao-Bradley fight

Without the crutch of musical accompaniment, two young singers of Filipino roots -- rising star Kirby Asunto and "American Idol" runner-up Jessica Sanchez -- sang national anthems a cappella, just their voices and an audience of millions around the world alert to any missed notes in songs sung at many an event every day.


The consensus was the girls were nearly perfect, a fresh and feminine prelude to the violent contest between Manny Pacquiao and American challenger Timothy Bradley.

Asunto, 14, sang the Philippine national anthem "Lupang Hinirang" while Sanchez, 16, sang the American national anthem "Star-Spangled Banner" on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the United States.

The audience clapped wildly as Asunto was about to finish singing the Philippine anthem perfectly, without missing a note.

Jessica Sanchez, Kirby Asunto's voices soar before Pacquiao-Bradley fight Without the crutch of musical accompaniment, two young singers of Filipino roots -- rising star Kirby Asunto and "American Idol" runner-up Jessica Sanchez -- sang national anthems a cappella, just their voices and an audience of millions around the world alert to any missed notes in songs sung at many an event every day.

The consensus was the girls were nearly perfect, a fresh and feminine prelude to the violent contest between Manny Pacquiao and American challenger Timothy Bradley.

Asunto, 14, sang the Philippine national anthem "Lupang Hinirang" while Sanchez, 16, sang the American national anthem "Star-Spangled Banner" on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the United States.

The audience clapped wildly as Asunto was about to finish singing the Philippine anthem perfectly, without missing a note.

In contrast, the audience cheered the more popular Sanchez even as she was just starting to sing the American anthem.

WHO IS KIRBY ASUNTO?

[PHOTO -  Kirby Asunto in Oliver Tolentino's red silk pina gown with terno sleeves. Photo courtesy of Oliver Tolentino.]

 Just a few weeks after he designed a stunning purple silk gown for American Idol runner-up Jessica Sanchez, Filipino designer Oliver Tolentino has created an exquisite red piña gown with terno sleeves for Kirby Asunto, a 14-year-old who was born in the Philippines and now lives in the New York area. Asunto sings the Philippine national anthem in tonight’s Las Vegas Pacquiao-Bradley fight. Tolentino is fast becoming popular among Hollywood stars for his gorgeous gowns on the red carpet, dressing up celebrities like Oscar winner Anna Paquin, multiple Grammy nominee Kelly Price, E! News host Giuliana Rancic, and creating gowns for America’s Next Top Model: British Invasion!

The Fil-Mexican Jessica Sanchez will be singing the US national anthem in tonight’s fight.

Pacquiao handpicked Asunto when he heard her perform an offering Mass before his 2011 Marquez match. Asunto joins past Pacquiao anthem singer,Arnel Pineda, another proud Filipino who regularly wears clothes by Tolentino.

Before Pacquiao fights, his protegé Kirby Asunto will sing ANDREI MEDINA, GMA News June 9, 2012 11:00pm

[PHOTO -Kirby Asunto (middle) with the sons of Sarangani Rep. and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. From the official Twitter account of Kirby Asunto]

As the Pacquiao-Bradley bout nears, netizens have been abuzz not only about the fight itself but about the featured personalities who will be singing during the event: Jessica Sanchez for the American anthem and Kirby Asunto for the Philippine anthem.

While Sanchez has become a household name after becoming the first runner-up in "American Idol," many Filipinos have been wondering who Asunto is.

A Filipino-American, Asunto was personally selected by Manny Pacquiao to sing the Philippine national anthem during his match against undefeated American boxer Timothy Bradley Jr.

Filipino-American-Mexican Sanchez, 16, will first sing the American national anthem during the opening ceremonies of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight. Asunto, 14, will follow, singing the Philippine national anthem “Lupang Hinirang.”

In an email to GMA News Online, Asunto's publicist Elton Lugay, also a stringer for GMA News in New York, explained that the young singer was a "niece of Manny's cousin, his mother's side."

Lugay said Pacquiao's cousin hails from Inopacan in Leyte, hometown of the congressman's mother Dionisia.

Asunto's grandmother "is also from Inopacan, Leyte," Lugay explained.

On Asunto's Twitter account, her fan Lira wished her luck on her performance during the boxing megafight this Saturday (Sunday morning in the Philippines): “When you sing tomorrow, May the Odds be ever in your Favor @kirbyasunto :) God bless yah.”

Kirby Asunto with the sons of Sarangani Rep. and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. From the official Twitter account of Kirby Asunto

Asunto was introduced by the eight-division world champion during a press preview last February when Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee said they had big plans for Asunto who signed a contract under Pacquiao’s talent management company.

“We are committed to help Kirby reach greater heights in her career. We don’t expect much in return. Happy kami that we have the opportunity to help her,” Jinkee said.

Pacquiao first heard Asunto’s voice during the celebration of the Holy Mass before his most recent match against Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez last year which Pacquiao won.

Asunto also performed during Pacman's victory concert after the Pacquiao-Marquez bout.

On May 20 in Manhattan, New York, Asunto performed with Arnel Pineda, the Filipino front man of the legendary American band Journey.

Some of Asunto's other notable achievements include being a: • Winner – Child Access Broadway, regional and national levels • Grand Champion – Philippine Fiesta Idol, Seacaucus, NJ, junior level • Final three – NY Knicks Kidzbop Sports Talent Jam at MSG

According to a report of the entertainment site Broadwayworld.com on June 4, Asunto ("Child Access Broadway") and other Broadway stars such as Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, and "GMA Pinoy TV talents Dingdong Dantes and Aljur Abrenica headlined the Philippine Independence Day Council’s (PIDCI) well attended 114th Philippine Independence Parade and cultural show held on Madison Avenue Sunday afternoon."

The event, attended by around 100,000 people, was the “biggest celebration of Philippine independence outside of the Philippines,” Broadwayworld.com said.

Asunto was born in the Philippines but her family migrated to the US in 2006.

According to her official Facebook page, she has shown great interest in music since the age of two.

Asunto then joined her first singing contest without the knowledge of her parents while she was in nursery school.

Her parents had no clue that their daughter could already compete in a singing contest.

Asunto has since joined several contests and taken voice classes to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer.

Apart from this, she has been giving back to the Fil-Am community by singing in different fundraisers in the United States.

You can view Kirby’s performances of the American national anthem “Star Spangled Banner” on her official YouTube channel. - VVP/HS, GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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