MANILA, Philippines – Filipina-American teenager Kirby Asunto sang the country’s national anthem ahead of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight on Sunday (Manila time) at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Asunto, 14, sang "Lupang Hinirang" a capella before a huge crowd of boxing fans from around the world who came to watch the fight.
The Filipina singer wore a red terno designed by Hollywood-based Filipino fashion designer Oliver Tolentino.
The Filipino boxing champion personally chose the New Jersey-based teenager to be part of his showdown with Bradley, after hearing Asunto perform at a Mass before Pacquiao’s November 2011 match with Juan Manuel Marquez. She also performed in his after-fight concert, following his controversial win over the Mexican.
Born on November 6, 1997 in the Philippines, Asunto had been performing in numerous events for the Fil-Am community in the East Coast. According to her management company Scat Productions NYC, she had her first taste of success in the US when she won the regional and national level competition for Child Access Broadway. She was also the grand champion junior level in Philippine Fiesta Idol in New Jersey.
In the Philippines, Asunto also performed during the inaugural ball of President Benigno Aquino III in 2010.
She was also a front act for Arnel Pineda’s concert in Atlantic City and just last weekend, she performed during the at Philippine Independence Day parade on Madison Avenue, New York City.
But her exposure during the Pacquiao-Bradley fight is her biggest ever.
Among the singers who have sang the Philippine national anthem during Pacquiao's previous bouts were Charice, Sarah Geronimo and Karylle. For last November's Pacquiao-Marquez III, YouTube sensation Maria Aragon sang "Lupang Hinirang."
Pacquiao’s fights have been one of the much anticipated boxing matches in the world, drawing in millions of people, including international celebrities.
Because of this huge exposure, the National Historical Institute (NHI) has taken interest in singers chosen to render “Lupang Hinirang.”
The NHI has repeatedly reminded them that there is a law stating the proper way to sing the anthem. Martin Nievera and Arnel Pineda were among those berated by the NHI for alleged improper rendition of the anthem.
Meanwhile, “American Idol” runner-up, half-Filipina Jessica Sanchez, sang the US national anthem, "Star-Spangled Banner."