ALEXANDRIA, Va. Dec 11- Spc. Richard Sianoya, winner of the 2007 Operation Rising Star singing contest, plans to use his $2,000 prize to help move his mother from their hometown of Manila, Philippines, to live with him at Fort Irwin, Calif.
"I'm actually spending that money to go home for vacation to visit my family in March," said Spc. Sianoya, 23, who was born and raised in Manila. "I'm going home to get my mom so she can live with me over here."
His mother, Sylvia, has an interview with U.S. Embassy officials in the Philippines scheduled for January to apply for an extended visa.
"We have petitioned to bring her to live permanently with me in the States, so this could not have come at a better time," he said.
Spc. Sianoya, who attended John F. Kennedy High School in Tumon, Guam, came to America when he was 15 and joined the U.S. Army at age 17.
He adds the title of Operation Rising Star to an impressive Army Entertainment Division resume that includes a spot in the 2006 U.S. Army Soldier Show and a 2005 Military Idol runner-up finish.
Thirty-six installations and more than 300 vocalists participated in Operation Rising Star, which replaced Military Idol this year, a singing contest based on FOX television's American Idol. The competition was open to active-duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel from all branches of the U.S. military.