Two young singers of Filipino roots — rising Broadway star Kirby Asunto and “American Idol” runner-up Jessica Sanchez — impressed the crowd during the boxing fight of Saranggani Rep. and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and American fighter Timothy Bradley.
Asunto, 14, sang the Philippine national anthem “Lupang Hinirang” while Sanchez, 16, sang the American national anthem “Star-Spangled Banner” on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the United States.
The audience clapped wildly as Asunto was about to finish singing the Philippine anthem perfectly, without missing a note. In contrast, the audience cheered the more popular Sanchez even as she was just starting to sing the American anthem.
The audience of 16,000 included Filipino-American singer Apl.de.Ap, Hollywood celebrities Mark Wahlberg and Jeremy Renner, who recently shot the movie “Bourne Legacy” in the Philippines.
Asunto, who recently signed a contract under Pacquiao’s talent management agency, wore a red dress by Filipino Hollywood designer Oliver Tolentino. On Twitter, Tolentino said: “Good Saturday AM! Looking forward to Kirby Asunto singing the Philippine national anthem tonight in my red dress at the Pacquiao fight.” Sanchez, on the other hand, wore a tight-fitting yellow dress with black designs.