Jessica Sanchez, The People’s Idol, Pinoy Unity Ambassador

She may not have won the title of American Idol but Jessica definitely gained the stars of her own. Singing her way to the finals, she was able to once again raise the pride of the Filipino people. Being a Filipina-Mexican immigrant in the US, 16 year old Jessica made Filipinos glued to their TV screens every time she sings and competes in the American Idol stage. Her dreams and aspirations became source of inspiration to many people especially Pinoys here and in the U.S.

Since childhood she was already accustomed to performing in front of many people. At her early age she was already joining several singing competitions which helped her hone her vocal skills. She in fact also competed in America’s Got Talent but she wasn’t able to advanced into the finals.

During her American Idol journey, she became an early favorite, getting several standing ovation performances from the audience and the Idol judges. She also experienced some trips to the bottom 3 and her elimination in the Top 7 which was derailed by the judges 1-time saving power. From then on she proved to be the girl to beat as she became the only female contender in the top 3 and eventually entering the finals. Her ascension to stardom is really something that inspires aspiring singers and other dreamers, that dreams really do come true to those who are persistent and determined.

But what’s more notable about Sanchez’ journey is the unity that was again shown by the Filipinos. This is evident by the resounding online campaigns for Jessica for her not to be eliminated in the competition. It can be compared to how Pinoys are supporting every bouts of Manny Pacquiao. The competition which is ought to be among American’s only became another battle of races as Filipinos in and outside the U.S. went out their way to throw their support for Jessica. Indeed it was another shining moment for Pinoy Pride, because for some time we became united again to support a Kababayan. Just like with Pacman’s fights, several free viewings of the Idol Finale were slated in Manila and other parts of the country as a show of support for Jessica. Filipino community in the U.S. were also united in campaigning for her. Numerous voting parties were organized by the Filipino communities to attract more votes for her. It was indeed a united Philippines in support of the Filipina Jessica.

It’s really happy to see Pinoys united for the sake of another Kababyan. How I wish it’s always Pacquiao Day or Jessica Day, so we can always see this unity among us. Now that we knew that unity among Filipinos is not an impossible thing, hope we can try this everyday to push for the improvement and development of this country. Jessica maybe an icon or symbol of unity but can’t we, each one of us be that symbol or unifying factor for our own’s best interest? If we can do it with Pacquiao or Jessica, it’s not impossible to do it for our family and for the future generations of this country. Let our future became our inspiration to become unified in pushing for a better Philippines.

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“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”- J.K. Rowling

Miami Heat wins Game 1, Led the Eastern Conference Finals

Miami Heat beats the Boston Celtic’s in their first game today leading their Best of Seven Eastern Conference Finals 1-0. Heat’s main man Lebron James led their team’s win with his 32 points and 13 rebounds. Kevin Garnett’s 24 points may be a big one but not enough to counter the offense of Heat.

It was close first half for the Celtics, but Miami pull off in the 3rd and 4th quarter making it hard for them to comeback. Miami Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said “At times, it was a strange game. Some good runs, both teams. I think we felt we could have played better. I’m sure they felt the same thing but we were able to find a way to grind it and you have to do this against this team.”

Team play is the great factor for Miami’s win with Dwayne Wade and Shane Battier complimenting Lebron James. Wade contributed 22 points while Battier had 10, to cap off a win at 93-79.

Game 2 is scheduled on Wednesday (Thursday morning in Manila) at the Miami’s American Airlines Arena.

Day 44 : Senate Impeachment Court Convicts Chief Justice Corona (Corona Impeachment Trial)

After more than 5 months of grueling trial, the Impeachment trial of the Chief Justice Renato Corona has finally came to its end. 23 Senators are present and have voted either to convict or acquit the accused Chief Justice.

The promulgation started with the prayer of Sen. Manny Villar then followed after by the open voting in alphabetical order. Each Senators are supposed to cast their votes and chose to explain it for 2 minutes but the presiding officer Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ruled to have no time limit for their explanation. Sen.Edgardo Angara open the voting and ended by the presiding officer Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

And after the voting, the Senate Impeachment Court finds the respondent Chief Justice Renato C. Corona Guilty of the Article II of the Articles of Impeachment which is Culpable Violation of the Constitution and Betrayal of Public Trust for failure to disclose his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth. Senator Judges who voted to convict Corona were:

1. Sen. Edgardo J. Angara
2. Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano
3. Sen. Pia Cayetano
4. Sen. Franklin Drilon
5. Sen. Francis Escudero
6. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada
7. Sen. Teofisto Guingona III
8. Sen. Gregorio Honasan
9. Sen. Panfilo Lacson
10. Sen. Lito Lapid
11. Sen. Loren Legarda
12. Sen. Serge Osmena
13. Sen. Francis Pangilinan
14. Sen. Koko Pimentel
15. Sen. Ralph Recto
16. Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.
17. Sen. Sonny Trillanes
18. Sen. Tito Sotto
19. Sen. Manny Villar
20. Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile

Meanwhile those who voted to Acquit the Chief Justice were

1. Sen. Joker Arroyo
2. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
3. Sen. Bongbong Marcos

Senate Impeachment Court’s decision final and un-appeallable thus it is expected to be executed immediately.

Day 43 : The Oral Arguments (Corona Impeachment Trial)

After 42 trial days, the Senate Impeachment court has finally came down to the final battle on the Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Both the prosecution and the defense panel laid their final oral arguments pertaining to the Impeachment Case of the Chief Justice. One hour for each side was given to voice their arguments and convince the Senator judges to vote either to convict or acquit the accused.

On the part of the prosecution the speakers were Lead Prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr., Deputy Prosecutor Rudy Fariñas and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. On the other side, for the defense the chosen ones were Dean Ed Delos Angeles, Atty. Dennis Manalo and Lead Defense Counsel Ret. Justice Serafin Cuevas.

The prosecution reiterated that indeed there are malice in the intention of the Chief Justice not to disclose bulk of his assets. Rep. Fariñas in fact used the word “Palusot” for the excuses or allibis of the defense pertaining to his non-disclosure of the dollar and peso accounts. He enumerated several instances of “Palusot” by Corona because he cannot find any more creadible allibi as why he did not properly declared all his assets in his SALN. On Speaker Belmonte’s closing argument he appealed to the Senator Judges to see through the character of the accused Chief Justice. He also said it seemed the Chief Justice wants to be exempted in the SALN law, which is not good because he’s the highest magistrate and he should set good example for all.

On the other hand for the part of the defense, they banked on the argument that the Chief Justice’s non disclosure of some of his assets is protected by the FCD Law. They reiterated again and again that Corona has no obligation to disclose his dollar accounts because of the provisions on the FCD Law that prohibits disclosure of the foreign currency accounts. Another argument raised by the was, Is not disclosing his dollar accounts impeachable noting his interpretation of the FCD Law? They’ve appealed to the Senator judges to give the verdict of acquittal because although the Chief Justices admitted for not disclosing his dollars, it was done in good faith.

After the oral arguments of both panels, Senator judges were given the chance to ask clarificatory questions. But none of the 23 senators except the presiding judge Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile posted questions. He asked the defense some points on the FCD Law, if there will be undue injury on the part of the Chief Justice is he will declare the dollar accounts. That line of questioning somewhat hinted JPE’s stand on the case.

The trial adjourned much earlier than usual. And tomorrow will be the verdict day where the judges will vote to convict or acquit the Chief Justice.

Day 42 : Corona Cameback, Defense Rested Its Case (Corona Impeachment Trial)

After the walkout issue last Tuesday and after signing the hospital waiver, Chief Justice Renato Corona went back to the Senate Impeachment Court to continue with his testimony and to answer questions from prosecution’s cross examination and from the Senator Judges.

When he got back to the witness stand the defense manifested that they will no longer conduct any further direct examination on the Chief Justice. Because of the manifestation and the earlier manifestation of the prosecution that if in case no additional direct questioning from the defense they will waive cross examining the witness, thus became the case. The prosecution waive their chance to cross examine the Chief Justice and just relied on the testimonies and documents presented by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

During today’s trial, CJ Corona also signed and submitted (unconditionally) the waiver for his bank accounts which was later decided on by the Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile not to act on it anymore.

Also during the break when the Senators are having caucus, the Impeachment court suddenly became a family reunion as the Basa and Corona family reconciled with each other. It was a surprise for many that after exchanges of not so good words for each other they finally patched things up and reconciled.

Several Senator judges posted questions on the Chief Justice mainly clarifying his reason why after admitting he has 3 dollar accounts did not declare it on his SALN. To which Corona answered, that those were covered by the Foreign Currency Act thus no need to disclose. During the questioning of Sen. Estrada regarding what he thought about Ombudsman Carpio-Morales motive or reason to testify against him, Corona mentioned that the current Ombudsman was never really his ally and he thought that she allowed herself to be used by Malacañang. He also told the court about Carpio-Morales’ retirement benefit request which the Chief Justice denied. That statement prompted the Ombudsman to went on a presscon to answer Corona’s accusations. In her own words she said “I am fuming mad, He’s a certified liar”. Carpio-Morales also said that the issue is not getting higher retirement benefit but Corona’s alleged cutting of benefit from the usual 1.5 million to 650 thousand pesos. She also said that she has 1 dollar account in BPI and that she disclosed it in her SALN.

The trial ended with defense submitting its formal offer of evidences, thus prompting the resting of its case. Impeachment trial will be back on Monday for the oral arguments and decision  is expected to be promulgated on Tuesday.

Philadelphia forces Boston to a Game 7

It could have been Celtics at the Eastern Conference Finals but the 76ers didn’t let it happen as they pushed Doc River’s team to a do or die Game 7. In their Game 6 today, Jrue Holiday led the 76ers with 20 points to tie again their playoffs series at 3-3.

Paul Pierce’ 24 points and Kevin Garnett’s 20 weren’t enough to purchase the ticket yet to the Conference finals. Their team coach said “We have to do a better job offensively. I thought we had a lot of empty possessions”. It was really not a good night for the Celtics who only averages 33.3 points in the floor which is very low compared to their previous games.

It may not be a perfect performance also for Philadelphia but they’ve managed to pull-off their third and fourth man to convert possessions into scores, which the Celtics failed, who only relied to Pierce and Garnett. Philadelphia ended the game with 7 point lead at 82-75 score. Game 7 will be on Saturday May 26 (Sunday morning in Manila) at Boston.

Phillip Phillips is the 11th American Idol Winner

After several months of competition, American Idol winner was finally revealed. It was another guy this year as America voted for Phillip Phillips as the American Idol Season 11 Winner.

With the record breaking 132 million votes cast, this season could be said to be the most watched and most loved edition of the singing competition. Filipino-Mexican-American Jessica Sanchez settled for the runner-up title but was highly praised with her duet with the original Dreamgirl Jeniffer Holiday. Their duet of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” was given standing ovation by the idol judge and the thousand audience of Nokia Theater.

Jessica Sanchez’ fans who are mostly from the Filipino community hoped for an upset for Phillips but observers say the male contestants teen-girl fan base are so strong that he came out victorious because of their big support for him.

Early on, after the final performance of the Top 2 many have predicted that the way the 2 contestants are presented seemed an indication of whose going to win. And they were right, Jessica’s powerful voice cannot seemed to overpower the huge following of Phillips who was never became part of the bottom 3 in the entire competition.

Phillips performed with the classic rocker John Fogerty on “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” then followed by “Bad Moon Rising” after, on the 2 hour finale show. It was also the first time that Phillips and Sanchez was paired in a duet of “Up Where We Belong”. Several artists also graced the American Idol finale like Rihanna, Chaka Khan, Neil Diamond, and Idol alumni Fantasia Barino and Jordin Sparks.

The show ended with the announcement that Phillip Phillips is the new Amercican Idol.

Corona’s Trialserye culminated by Walkout

Many people have waited for the much awaited presentation of Chief Justice Corona in the witness stand. But not all of us have anticipated the drama that will unfold in today’s trial. He started out with reading of his opening statement to which became rebuttal of all the accusations against him. It seemed that the opening statement became the defense’s direct examination in narrative form. It may have gave the lead defense counsel Ret. Justice Serafin Cuevas the rest that he needs because the floor was left to his client who kept on talking (with some interruptions during his crying moments) for 3 hours denying all that the prosecution have presented. He even matched the Ombudman’s “Lantern of Lies” powerpoint presentation with his “Pie of Truth” (thanks to Sir Loi Landicho for the phrase) powerpoint version.

But after that long testimony of declaring clear conscience and litany of truths on his part, the climax came when after challenging the 188 complainants of the impeachment and Sen. Drilon to sign the same bank waiver that he signed, he just walked-out of the impeachment court without being officially discharged by the presiding judge.

That immediately caught the ire of Sen. Enrile who felt disrespected by the Chief Magistrate. I felt sad and angry for JPE, that after the respect and courtesy he and the impeachment court accorded to Corona, he will just walk-out of the room without proper notification.

During the course of his litany of truths, I am starting to have compassion of him as he and his family are being drowned to such public humiliation and character assassination. That indeed he really is a man of good character and that he really has nothing to hide and be convicted of. But with that actuation after he ends his speech, it convinced me that all of this are drama. He was not there to show the truth but to draw sympathy so as the public will rally for him. He didn’t sat on the witness stand to prove the falsity of the testimonies and evidences against him but just to narrate that what he said is the truth. There may have been shining moment when he showed and signed in front of the public via the nationwide live television the waiver to open his accounts but to our dismay it has conditions. How can you one trust your sincerity in doing something if there are conditions attached to it. It’s like saying “Ok I will say sorry but you have to say sorry to me first before I do”. Where on earth is the sincerity in such an action?

Instead of clearing his name with all those statements he said on the witness stand, I can’t help but be more doubtful of his intentions. Did he took the witness stand just to lash out on his detractors? Does he have any intentions to be cross-examined or he just want to take the moment to voice out all his sentiments which is not new to the public? If Corona is really confident that he has done nothing wrong, why the walk-out?

Yes, I know that his legal team has already said that it was not an intentional walk out but it concerns his health because he suffered hypoglycemia right after his speech. But what a coincidence that is. There are several instances that his speech was halted because of his seemingly breaking into tears, why didn’t he called the attention of the court if he’s in pain already?

With what happened today, I think Corona added more burden on his shoulders to clearly explain his innocence. With the cross-examination schedule tomorrow, I will still hear his side but his explanation should be so convincing, because the drama and theatrics that unfolded in today’s trial is not easy to be disregarded.

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“It’s not the words that count, sometimes actions are more revealing than what you have spoken”