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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Focus on the Philippines: Jessica Sanchez takes knee at NFL game

Plus: Alisah Bonaobra eliminated from The X Factor UK; Philippine contestant bags third place at Miss Grand International; Filipino film Women of the Weeping River wins prize in French festival.

Singer Jessica Sanchez. Michael Becker / Fox
Singer Jessica Sanchez. Michael Becker / Fox

Filipino-American pop singer Jessica Sanchez made headlines last week after she knelt while singing the closing lines of the Star Spangled Banner during the National Football League (NFL) match between the Oakland Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers held in Oakland, California.

As Sanchez sung the anthem, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch remained seated, while Chargers’s Russell Okung raised his fist. In recent weeks, players and staff of the NFL have been doing such silent acts of protests against social injustice in America. The symbolic protests were started last year by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who gained widespread attention for choosing not to stand while the national anthem was played before the start of games. Kaepernick said he was protesting the oppression of people of colour in the United States.

“It’s something that I stand for — that I believe in,” Sanchez said in a video uploaded on Facebook. "I feel like I’ve always been very quiet about how I felt, and my opinions about things like this. (…) I realised I do have a voice and this is what I stand for. I don’t want to be quiet anymore. I hope you don’t see it as disrespectful because it’s not disrespectful.”

Sanchez, 22, finished as the runner-up of the talent programme American Idol in 2012.

Alisah Bonaobra eliminated from The X Factor UK

Filipino contestant Alisah Bonaobra’s journey on The X Factor UK ended last weekend after her elimination from the reality singing competition.

During a round dubbed judges’ houses, the remaining 24 contestants fought for a spot on the live shows. Each of the four judges — Nicole Scherzinger, Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne — could select only three acts each to advance in the competition.

For her performance, Bonaobra covered Sam Smith’s track Lay Me Down for Osbourne, who is mentoring the girls category this season. Osbourne was accompanied by her children, Jack and Kelly, at their home in San Francisco, where the performances were filmed.

While Osbourne praised Bonaobra’s talent, she ultimately decided to pick contestants Grace Davies, Holly Tandy and Rai-Elle Williams to advance, leaving Bonaobra to break down in tears.

“You have the most amazing voice,” Osbourne told Bonaobra. “I know you really need this and you really want it. But I feel that you’re kind of very one dimensional. Your power ballads — and even though they’re fantastic — I want to see other sides of you.”

Bonaobra, 22, flew to London last summer to audition for The X Factor UK, which welcomes contestants from around the world. She previously appeared on The Voice of the Philippines in 2015, finishing as the runner-up of the singing competition.

Philippine contestant third place at Miss Grand International

Elizabeth Clenci, the Philippines’s representative to the Miss Grand International, finished in third at the annual beauty pageant, which was held in Vietnam earlier this week. Peru’s Maria Jose Lora bagged the crown, while Venezuela’s Tulia Aleman Ferrer finished in second.

Brenda Jimenez of Puerto Rico and Nikola Uhlirova of the Czech Republic rounded up the top five.

In the competition’s closing round, the five finalists were asked: “If you have to issue a law to punish criminals of war and violence, how would you punish these people and why?”

Clenci responded: “They say a nation is judged not by the criminals and the crimes that they commit, but how the nation punishes them,” then explained that she advocated for mental rehabilitation.

Clenci, 26, is a musician who was recently appointed as a National Peace Ambassador by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Filipino film wins prize in French festival

Women of the Weeping River, the latest dramatic feature from Filipino filmmaker Sheron Dayoc, won the Best Director award at the recent War on Screen International Film Festival, held in Châlons-en-Champagne, France.

Featuring an ensemble cast of non-actors belonging to a Muslim community in the Southern Philippine region of Mindanao, the film chronicles land disputes between multiple generations of two families.

In a statement, Dayoc said the prize was a “crucial validation that we are creating a significant film not just for the Philippines, but also for a wider foreign audience”. His film, he said, aimed to help achieve “a deeper understanding of a deeply rooted culture of violence” in Mindanao.

“The current political conflict cannot be solved unless we first address this culture of violence,” Dayoc said.

Women of the Weeping River also screened at last week’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, held in Montreal, Canada.

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