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Charice rocks Obama pre-inaugural balls

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Charice rocks Obama pre-inaugural ballsby Momar G. Visaya
Asian Journal Press, Jan. 21, 2009

WASHINGTON—The unstoppable Charice brought yet another honor to the Philippines and her millions of kababayans when she wowed audiences during two very important pre-inaugural gala events held in this city to celebrate the swearing-in of President Barack Obama.

And this was not just the usual audience.

President Obama’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and her husband Conrad were both teary-eyed when Charice performed her show-stopping version of God Bless America at the Pearl Presidential Inaugural Gala held at the Mandarin Oriental on Monday, Jan. 19, the eve of the President’s historic swearing-in.

"That beautiful and powerful rendition, which came from this small package, is capable to shatter the biggest apathy in this world," Soetoro-Ng told the audience as she hugged Charice.

Soetoro-Ng and her husband represented President Obama in the gala that gathered nearly 1,500 personalities and community leaders in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Businesswoman and philanthropist Loida Lewis was instrumental in the decision to invite Charice to perform. Ms. Lewis and Millie Gurfinkel have both attended various fundraisers for the Democratic Party, and they discussed about the wonder girl that is Charice. Loida then conferred with the gala co-chairs Gloria Caoile and Francey Lim Youngberg for the inclusion of Charice in the program.

"Charice is now an international symbol of not letting adversity get you down. She is the symbol of what Barack Obama says, ‘Yes, I can!’ She rightfully deserves to be here in the biggest gathering of Asian American leaders," Lewis told the Asian Journal.

Realizing the Dream

In the Martin Luther King, Jr. pre-inaugural gala aptly called Realizing the Dream, Charice was the finale performer. She also sang God Bless America, and was immediately hugged onstage by the hero’s son, Martin Luther King III.

"Sobrang kaba ko po, kasi first time ko kasi na kakantahin yung God Bless America sa harap ng ganito katinding audience," Charice told us at the Hyatt moments before the event.

It turns out that she did not need to worry one bit. The audience, including the dignitaries who attended—Sen. Edward Kennedy’s son Ted, Queen Noor, Atlanta Rep. John Lewis—loved her performance.

The event was held to commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the celebration of the Realizing Dream Awards. This year’s awardees were Sen. Edward Kennedy, Rep. John Lewis, Burma’s Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi and Rev. Claude William Black.

Philippine Embassy reception

Charice’s winning streak continued when she joined the reception at the Philippine Embassy and performed a couple of show-stopping numbers for her own kababayans.

She was escorted to the event by Atty. Michael Gurfinkel and his wife Millie, and the Asian Journal, which alerted the embassy that Charice was in Washington, DC and that she wanted to pay Ambassador Willy Gaa a courtesy call.

"Iba pa rin po kasi kapag ang kinakantahan ko yung mga kababayan natin and kahit naman saan po ang marating ko, I will always be a Filipino and I am proud to be one," Charice said.

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