While the nation is still analyzing and getting over how and why national boxing hero Manny Pacquiao has lost his WBO welterweight belt to Timothy Bradley in a stunning split decision in today’s match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, another showdown people are talking about are the performances of the two young ladies who sang their respective country’s national anthems: American idol Season 11 first runner-up Jessica Sanchez who interpreted “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the relatively unknown US-based Filipina Kirby Asunto who sang “Lupang Hinirang.”
Both are just in their teens: Jessica is 16, Kirby is 14. Both have worn Filipino Hollywood designer Oliver Tolentino’s creations—Jessica during one of the episodes of the famed talent search show and Kirby, in tonight’s fight in Las Vegas. Both have Filipino blood in them: Jessica is Mexican-Filipino while Kirby is a US immigrant who was born in the Philippines.
Earlier, the public kept guessing which national anthem Jessica Sanchez will be singing during the Pacqiao-Bradley fight. It was only a week before the fight that the announcement of Jessica singing the American national anthem came out.
Kirby is actually related to Pacquiao. She’s a niece of the boxer’s cousin, on his mother’s side. Kirby was personally asked by Pacman himself if she would like to sing in the said match. Kirby said yes without thinking twice. The Pinoy boxing champ first heard her sing during an offering Mass before the Pacquiao-Marquez fight last year. She also performed at the concert after Pacquiao won the fight. Kirby has won awards in several talent competitions, including being the grand champ of the singing contest Child Access Broadway, on the regional and national levels
The comparison between the two young singers was inescapable, though not that brutal. One Twitter user wrote: “Si Kirby Asunto, magaling din! Me pusong Pinoy, I mean halatang me pusong Pinoy, di gaya ni Jessica ayaw ipahalata na Pinay. (Kirby Asunto is also good and has the heart of a Filipino. It’s obvious she has the heart of a Filipino. Not like Jessica who’s hiding her being a Filipino.”
Another Twitter user made this comment: “Jessica Sanchez, Filipino blood, singing America’s national anthem. for the win.”
While another expressed: “Jessica Sanchez and Kirby Asunto killed it. So proud for them. #PACMAN you better win this.”
For sure, both young ladies with promising careers in the offing have also emerged as champs as they both impressed the crowd of about 16,000, which included celebrities like Fil-Am singer Apl.de.Ap, Hollywood actors Mark Wahlberg and Jeremy Renner (who recently spent several weeks in the Philippines to shoot the film Bourne Legacy).
News websites and social media users have praised the flawless renditions of both performers, citing that Asunto didn’t miss a beat while Sanchez showed off her signature effortless but powerful vocal talent.