Jessica Sanchez has done local shows in San Diego and she’s opened for some big stars from the Philippines. I think she opened for Sarah Geronimo in Anaheim when she was 12,” said Editha Bugay, Jessica Sanchez’s mother.
Jessica’s grandmother Virginia joined in, “She opened for John Lloyd, Bea Alonzo. She was always the opening act. Nobody knew who she was yet. After the shows, she’d watch the fans ask the stars for autographs.”
It’s her turn now.
It was Tuesday afternoon and we were at the Edsa Shangri-La’s Isla 1 Ballroom for the launch of Jessica as Bench’s newest Global Benchsetter.
The 17-year-old joins the clothing brand’s roster of international celebrity endorsers that include Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, pop star Bruno Mars, “The Hunger Games” actor Liam Hemsworth, Korean star Lee Min Ho, “Pretty Little Liars” actress Lucy Hale, musician Joe Jonas and Michael Trevino from “The Vampire Diaries.”
“For us, it’s a no-brainer. We’re proud of what she’s doing, of her achievements. It’s our honor to have Jessica in the Bench family,” said Bench CEO Ben Chan. Ben said he had followed Jessica’s performances on “American Idol.”
During the press conference, Jessica said, “I’m excited to be part of the Bench family. I love their clothing.”
When asked how she felt about joining the ranks of Adam Levine and Bruno Mars, she replied, “I can’t even put my name next to these people. It’s crazy!”
Mom Editha and grandma Virginia are excited that Jessica is getting the spotlight she has worked so hard for. Editha said, “It’s amazing. We’re still trying to get a grasp of it, you know. But it’s a blessing. It really is. And she’s just loving it.”
“I pray for her all the time,” said Virginia, who’s now based in Bataan. “I believe in her voice. Talagang bata pa siya pinagmamalaki ko siya. When I watch her on TV and listen to her sing, it makes me cry.”
Filipinos fell in love with the California-based Filipino-Mexican-American singer during American Idol’s 11th season where she emerged first runner-up. But her passion for music began long before that.
“I started singing when I was two years old,” she said. “Music has always been a huge part of my life, it’s always been my passion, my dream. I know a lot of Filipinos do karaoke all the time. That’s how I grew up—I grew up singing on the Magic Mic all the time.”
Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey—she used to sing their songs as a little girl. Now, she has the chance to make her own music—Interscope Records has signed her and her first album is set to come out later this year. “I’m glad I can put us Filipinos on the map. In the States, I’m really pushing to put my music on the radio. I’m pushing for us to represent ourselves in the States,” Jessica said.
Music may be Jessica’s biggest love but there’s another thing she cares about—fashion. “Music is a way to release yourself, release your emotions. And fashion is the same thing too.”
She said she had fun at her Bench photo shoot in Los Angeles earlier this year. “The photographer was so amazing and the clothes were so cute. ”
Ben Chan, photographer Mark Nicdao and stylist Noel Manapat flew to LA for the shoot. Jessica wore pieces from Bench’s holiday collection including shirts printed with the words “Music & Me” and “Sing with me” which were designed for her.
Jessica loves how Bench’s clothes fit her petite frame. “The jeans are amazing. Everything fits me perfectly. The stuff in the States do not fit me at all. Coming here and finding pants that fit me is like … Hallelujah!”
When press con host Ginger Cornejo asked her if she’d like to join Bench Universe, Bench’s denim and underwear show, Jessica laughed and said, “I love runway but I don’t know if I’d be able to show so much skin. I’m only 17. But I’d love to be able to attend one. I love watching runway shows, I love fashion. It would be a cool experience to watch it.”
Jessica has returned to LA to focus on her album but she said she will be back soon. “My grandma taught me a lot about the Philippines but actually being here is helping me learn a lot more. Next time I come here I want to take the chance and the time to study everything around here—the food, the culture, the artists and what goes on around here in music.”
Bench still has a lot of surprises in store for the brand’s fans later this year. Ben said, “It’s our 25th year so we’re really celebrating it with a bang.”