[PHOTO AT LEFT - IDOL: President Arroyo welcomes Filipino-American singer Jasmine Trias who paid a courtesy call on her at Malacañang’s Music Room yesterday. Trias, the newest endorser for Bench, will visit the Bench store at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City at 5 p.m. today. - Photo By Willy Perez ]

MALACANANG, October 13, 2004 (STAR) If she could have her way, American Idol Top 3 finalist Jasmine Trias wants to have a day off so she could visit the beaches and enjoy the sun and sand of the Philippines.

This is what she told President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during a brief courtesy call on the Chief Executive at the Music Room in Malacanang this afternoon.

"Hopefully, I could have a day off so I could go to the beaches," Jasmine said.

Jasmine is set to go back to the United States on October 22. Before that, she will have a big concert in Manila on the 16th. Aside from that, she has appeared on several television programs and made product endorsements. All in all, she’s in the country for two weeks.

Trias, who came with father Rudy Jr., mother Nora, brother Ronnel and younger sister Neolani, gave the President autographed pictures, two boxes full of macadamia nuts and an orchid bud, which was her signature hair accessory during the duration of the American Idol contest.

The President praised Jasmine for her singing talent, the inspiration that she has on Filipinos abroad and here in the Philippines and her family’s resolve to instill Filipino values in their children.

"It’s good that as part of the youth, you have a lot of energy and the smile is always there," the President said.

Jasmine also came with her grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Rudy Trias Sr. and Uncle Lito Trias, the President’s chief steward aboard chartered Philippine Airline flights whenever she travels abroad.

The President asked the elder Trias if they are related to Gen. Trias of Cavite.

"That’s what I heard but I really don’t know," he said. "Somehow, we’re related to the Aguinaldos and Viratas." The Trias family has roots in Tanza, Cavite.

"You have come from a lineage of revolutionary heroes as well," the President told Jasmine.

Mr. Trias Jr. told the President that the last time he was in Manila was 21 years ago.

"What a nice and triumphant homecoming for all of you," the President said.

Mr. Trias Sr., meanwhile, noted that it took him six to seven years since the last time to take a step inside Malacanang again, to which the President said "that’s the side dividends of having a very talented granddaughter."

"And you’re a family idol as well,’ the President turned to Jasmine.

The Chief Executive informed Jasmine that many people were hoping she would be in the country during the Philippine Independence Day celebration last June 12.

Jasmine replied that she had promised to be included in the June 12 celebration in Hawaii, which hosts a large number of Filipino communities dating back centuries ago. 

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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