Posted May 28, 2012 by Stephanie Pollick
We were all glued to our television sets last Wednesday night as the winner of this season’s American Idol was announced. Jessica Sanchez made it to the top two contestants and performed beautifully throughout the season, but alas, she was not crowned America’s Idol. In a recent interview, Jessica said that she will always stay grounded and remember where she comes from. So just where does this 16-year-old come from? Raised in Chula Vista, California by her Mexican-American father and Filipina mother, Jessica has been fully embraced by both communities, receiving warm welcomes to her hometown by both Filipino and Hispanic supporters who flocked to the local football stadium to give her the warm welcome she deserved when she visited home a few weeks ago, as all top three Idol contestants do each year. It’s great to see the two communities come together to embrace a rising star.
Jessica captivated the nation with her singing and we hope that her career is only just beginning. But she isn’t the first Hispanic-Filipino artist to get our attention. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we would like to give a special shout-out to a couple of our favorite Latino celebrities who also share Asian roots.
2011 ALMA nominee Enrique Iglesias and singer Bruno Mars both have music in their blood. Enrique was raised by his Filipina mother and Spanish father who introduced us to the Iglesias name long before Enrique himself graced the stage. Everyone is well aware of his Spanish background, but his Filipino side is often a surprise to those who know him as a Hispanic singer. This could be because he was raised away from his mother for much of his life, but he does recall fond memories of the food that his mother used to make as well as the importance she placed on family—a core value of both Latino and Asian cultures.
Bruno was born in Hawaii to a Puerto Rican musician father and Filipina hula dancing mother. He grew up surrounded by music and has been performing since he was a toddler. Latino and Filipino fans embrace Bruno as one of their own and he is highlighted in both Latino and Filipino publications. At a concert in Manila on his first visit to the Philippines, Bruno announced to the crowd of 10,000, “I am Filipino!” and promised to go back.
By embracing the different sides of their ancestry, these stars are bringing communities together. It is important to embrace diversity not only within the general United States population, but within each community as well. Diversity strengthens our communities and helps us gain broader perspectives. Who is your favorite bicultural Latino star?