American Idol runner-up Jessica Sanchez as endorser of Jollibee]

MANILA, OCTOBER 15, 2012 (PHILSTAR) FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo - When Jessica Sanchez was presented as Bench endorser last Tuesday, the unmitigated Philippine media was cut short when they started asking “forbidden” questions such as those about her parents (according to reports, her biological father and mother are pure Filipino and her adoptive father is Mexican-American) and the issue against her raised by a certain Courtney Blooding (said to be Charice’s manager).

“I was born in America,” Jessica told Funfare in a one-on-one the other day before she was introduced in a presscon as the newest Jollibee endorser (after Sarah Geronimo who people said is her lookalike), “but I consider myself a Filipino” — through and through, that is, even if she doesn’t speak Filipino.

Anyway, whatever her ancestry is, Jessica is well-loved by her fellow Filipinos because of her simplicity, humility, unpretentiousness and utter lack of airs.

Before the series of one-on-ones, questions of the journalists were carefully screened and “objectionable” ones were crossed out, something that personally I haven’t experienced during Hollywood junkets — not that strict anyway.

Here are the “innocent” questions okayed by Jessica’s alleged “handlers”:

Didn’t you experience some kind of culture shock?

“Hmmmm, somewhat…but in a good way. I love it here even if for a couple of days I had a terrible jetlag. But everything is so lovely and I feel so at home. So nothing too drastic.”

What was the first meal that you took?

“Oh, I definitely took Filipino food when I got here. But we did jog around and we got Jollibee a couple of times. I had the Chicken Joy, my favorite, and it was amazing. It’s so crispy and I can finish a lot. I may be little but I eat a lot! I’ve been eating a bunch of Filipino food since I arrived.”

What have been your memorable experiences so far?

“I think the most memorable part is just driving around and seeing how things are different from the States. They are beautiful and amazing. As I said, I love it here, it feels like my second home and I would love to come back again.”

How soon?

“Next year!”

What for…for a visit or for another concert (after the American Idol show at the Big Dome last week)?

“For a visit, for a concert…or just to learn more about Filipino culture.”

There’s a Filipino custom called pasalubong, a gift to friends and family back home. What pasalubong are you giving your siblings?

“I have two siblings, one is nine and one is 12, and they are two little monsters, hahahaha! Lovable monsters, definitely! I miss them so much. There’s a stuff to buy in the Philippines and I’m giving them jeans and clothing. I want to bring them over here so we can explore the Philippines together. I haven’t had much time to go around but I went shopping once. I’ve been spending my time working, eating and sleeping. But my experience here has been amazing so far and I can hardly wait to come back and learn more.”

I guess your mom (who said she understands but doesn’t speak Filipino; but Jessica’s lola from Bataan naturally speaks the language fluently) cooks Filipino food…

“…all the time…!”

…do you yourself cook Filipino food?

“I try.”

I guess you know how to fry scrambled Filipino eggs (joke!).

“I try to help my mom make lumpia. One of my specialties is making lumpia. My mom makes a lot of sinigang, pansit and adobo.”

Anything you want to say to your kababayan who welcomed you with open arms and open hearts?

“Thank you, guys, so much for everything. You’ve been so good and you’re making my whole journey memorable. I’m so happy to be here in Manila and I can’t wait to come back and see all of you again. I wanna thank Jollibee for being so welcoming and making me part of the family.”

No politics for Carlo and Donna

While most showbiz denizens allow themselves to be lured into the political arena, Golden Lions couple Carlo J. Caparas and Donna Villa are staying away from the (rat)race.

“Not our cup of tea,” they insisted.

[PHOTO -Golden Lions Couple Carlo J. Caparas and Donna Villa: Blood, sweat and tears]

Caparas was elevated to the Best Director Hall of Fame (for having won Best Story [for Panday] five times) at the recent 60th FAMAS Awards while Donna was honored as one of the four Outstanding Lady Movie Producers (including Star Cinema’s Malou Santos, GMA Films’ Annette Gozon-Abrogar and Regal Matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde).

“Carlo waited since 1979 for the honor,” Donna told Funfare. “Blood, sweat and tears ang pinuhunan niya. Ako naman, I’m honored and humbled to be ranked in the same league with the Prime Movers of the Industry. I can’t ask for more.”

The Golden Lions couple is biding its time but might return full blast next year with projects for the top three networks (Kapamilya, Kapuso and Kapatid), plus 50 films in collaboration with Viva Films.

Meanwhile, the couple is enjoying quiet time with their children CJ and Peach.

What’s up?

It’s definite: The 2012 Miss Universe Pageant will be held on Dec. 19 at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, the same place where Venus Raj placed fourth runner-up in the 2010 contest. Our bet is Janine Tugonon.

Effective yesterday, Cesar Montano’s Bellissimo Ristorante is open to the public from 5 p.m. to 12 midnight at its new location at #135 Scout Rallos, Quezon City. For inquiries, call 927-3162 or 0917-8881977.

Dr. Estanislao Go Jr. would like to announce that the Filipino-Chinese Medical Society will hold its 12th Biennial Convention (theme: Pearls, Pitfalls and Perils in Medical Practice) on Oct. 3 and 4 at Century Park Hotel. For inquiries, call 711-4141 local 216.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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