Latest Stories

‘Idol’ invasion

Super spent a fun afternoon with ‘American Idol’s’ Season 11 finalists


Joshua Ledet, Skylar Laine, Phillip Phillips, Heejun Han, Colton Dixon. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Jill Lejano

The tables had been turned. The “American Idol” Season 11 finalists were sitting in a panel and we were vying for their attention.

So far, two fan girls were winning.

Elise Testone, Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh, Erika Van Pelt. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Jill Lejano

“Um, hi!” they squeaked into the microphone, giggly and high-pitched.

Realizing that they were at a press conference and they needed to ask a question, the girls added, “We love you so much, do you love us too?”


It was Tuesday afternoon and we were at the Manila Hotel. The Idols had just flown in for their Manila concert and, fresh from their US tour and fighting jetlag, they faced members of the media.


“We’re sad that the tour is almost over but we’re also very honored that you have us here in the Philippines for our very last show together. Thank you guys for that,” said Erika Van Pelt, who was now sporting rocking bright red hair.

Elise Testone said, “We heard that you really respect and appreciate talent that comes from ’American Idol’ and we’re so grateful for that.”

“I’m definitely excited to meet all the fans,” said Jessica Sanchez, the half-Filipina 17-year-old who endeared herself to Filipinos with her powerful performances on the show.

Heejun Han, the clown in the group, quickly stole the show. “My fiancee Jessica told me there are a lot of pretty girls in the Philippines but so far I couldn’t see anyone,” he deadpanned. Then, breaking into a smile, he said, “Just kidding. Beautiful girls here. I’ll give you my numbers later on.”

“WE REALLY got the chance to
live and explore this year,” said
Colton Dixon. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Jill Lejano

And when the fan girls asked Heejun how he learned to tweet in Tagalog, he responded, “Oh, Google. Google Translate.” A couple of weeks before arriving in Manila, he had tweeted, “Ako at si Jessica über handa na sa Sept. 21! Todo party na mga ’tol to the max!!”


The 10 singers were excited to be in the Philippines for different reasons—Hollie Cavanagh and Jessica wanted to shop; Skylar Laine couldn’t wait to try the food; DeAndre Brackensick was eager to eat real balut; and Joshua Ledet was having fun with the Filipino word he just learned, “Mabuhay,” using it over and over throughout the course of the afternoon.

“I’VE BEEN his huge fan for years. He has many tricks you still
haven’t seen.”–Heejun on PSY,
the man behind Gangnam Style. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Jill Lejano

Later that day, we sat down for a more intimate round table interview with Skylar, Colton, Joshua, Heejun and Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips.

They were asked about their favorite Idol judge.

Joshua: “I think Jennifer Lopez. I like her. And she liked me. I just love her advice because she’s a performer.”

Colton: “I’d love her advice too if she gave me a standing ovation every time I walked onstage.”

“IWAS feeling fiery coming to
the Philippines so now I’m a
redhead,” said Erika. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Jill Lejano

Joshua: “It’s not my fault I got standing ovations. It’s my God-given talent.”

“What’s the best thing you’ve given up?” someone asked.

Heejun: Our virginity? Just kidding.

Colton: I gave up sports. I miss sports.

Heejun: I don’t think we gave up a lot, we gained a lot.

“I CAN’T wait to eat some real
balut,” said Jessica’s boyfriend

Joshua: I gave up college. I only went for one day though and then I dropped out.

“Are you worried about the Idol curse?,” someone else wanted to know.

Phillip: “Ooh, what is that?”

Joshua: “What’s the winner’s curse?”

“OUR GOAL is to always do
something that makes us laugh
before we go onstage,” said Elise. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Jill Lejano

Heejun: “They get killed after!”

Everyone laughed but Phillip turned serious. “It’s cool to me that they believe all these things. It’s funny but it’s what makes the world go round. Some people like me, some people don’t, some people like Jessica, some people don’t. That’s the beauty of it. I just play music because I love it. I wasn’t trying to do anything but play music. I just went up onstage and had fun every night. That’s what I did. I’m not worried about any curse. I just have fun. I don’t worry about all that.”


On the other side of the room were the rest of the girls—Elise, Hollie, Erika and Jessica. DeAndre had gone to his room to rest—he wasn’t feeling well. The girls talked about clothes and makeup (According to Erika, last night’s show was the only one where they had to do their own hair and makeup.), their first public performances, what they’re passionate about (kids, ’80s movies, “Star Wars,” John Cusack, fashion and shoes), the songs they’d want played at their weddings (Michael Jackson’s “PYT” and Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”) and which celebrities they’d want to meet (Bonnie Raitt, Eminem, Pink and Mariah Carey).

“WE GET to do things that
people would kill to do. This is a
blessing,” said Hollie. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Jill Lejano

When asked to share memorable stories from the tour, the girls started laughing.

Hollie: “Jessica almost went topless one time.”

Jessica: “I usually have to tape my dress up.”

Elise: “I fell mid-song and nobody knew. When I fell, I almost did a split and stayed down there. One time, I ended up dropping the microphone.”

Erika: “That was so good.”

Hollie stood up for a reenactment.

HOLLIE reenacts Elise’s funny tour moment. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Jill Lejano

Erika then turned to Hollie and said, “Can I tell them about the wardrobe case? I know you hate that story but it’s so funny. Me and Hollie and Skylar were in the wardrobe room. I was signing autographs and Skylar was eating. All of a sudden, we see one of the wardrobe cases start to fall. Holly is behind one of the wardrobe cases, going, “Help! Help!”

Hollie: Imagine that wardrobe case—with everybody’s shoes, everybody’s clothes, and I’m screaming, “Help!” and Erika’s on the couch, going, “Oh noooooo.” And Skyler’s still eating her chicken wing, saying,

“I’m coming!”

Elise: You know I would have saved you.

The finalists were playful, laughing a lot and making fun of one another. They dished about each other’s weird habits, they ribbed Holly about her accent. When Joshua and Holly started singing the Barney song, which they claimed was their favorite song growing up, Heejun called out, “Security, please!”

Colton said, “Heejun is the king of making things awkward.”

But despite the jokes and the teasing, it was obvious that they had sincere affection for one another. “We’re one happy family. I’m gonna miss everybody,” said Skylar.

Somehow, the “Idol” finalists, once rivals in a huge talent competition, had become a family. Family—it was a word they kept repeating that day. Colton said, “We were staring out the plane window on our way here trying to see the different sights. It’s so cool to see a different culture and be a part of it. It’s a chance for us to spend time with each other this last week as a family.”

They were protective of one another. When asked if the Manila show was tweaked to give more spotlight on Jessica, Phillip said, “Everybody gets their time, I believe. And I don’t think any of us want to make one of the others feel uncomfortable or make the other one feel more special. We’re all really close and we want the best for one another.”

Joshua said, “I think everybody’s gonna branch out and be pretty good because everyone’s so talented. I don’t think anyone’s gonna overshadow everybody. Everybody’s just amazing.”

American Idol Live! Tour 2012 is produced by Ovation Productions in association with ETC, 2nd Avenue and Jack TV.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Heejun Han , Jessica Sanchez , Phillip Phillips , “American Idol” Season 11

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • [VIDEO] No assurances on Janet Lim-Napoles’ bid to become state witness
  • South Sudan president fires long-time army leader
  • 25 cops ordered relieved over links to drugs
  • Bloodied shirt, unwashed fork: JPII relics abound
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Guiao summoned by PBA for name-calling incident
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted