The many faces of the Songbird



Regine Velasquez talks about discovering and mentoring new singers
It is always a delight to engage Regine Velasquez in a conversation what with her animated ways, lovable facial expressions and sheer honesty.

These days, if you want to see her talk with a passion, ask her about her new GMA Network program, “The Clash,” and she will burst with excitement.

A singing competition she is hosting, The Clash is her new baby and says of the unique concept, “This is one competition you have got to see!”

Certainly not your ordinary singing contestant, the participants actually get to choose their opponents in the course of the show.

As such, the Songbird advises, “The contestant should be smart in making his or her moves. Dapat alam niya kung sino ang kakalabanin niya kaya the concept is a first for Philippine TV.”

Since she can’t wait for the show to start, Regine actually joined the multiple auditions held in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. She would even sing couple of songs for the crowd, not only to entertain them but to inspire aspiring singers.

“Nilibot natin ang buong Pilipinas. In the auditions, ang daming magagaling kumanta so we really won’t run out of good singers in the Philippines. Mga bata pa lang ang huhusay nang kumanta kaya buti na lang I’m not the one sitting as judge! It’s a very hard task given all these good singers.”

“Impressive” is how Regine describes the applicants she saw, which begs the question, “How does a singer impress the Songbird in the first place?”

“Madali akong ma-impress, actually. Basta malinis kumanta at hindi nagpapakitang-gilas. Of course it helps if you have a unique style but singing can’t be all that; what impresses me is if a singer makes me feel what’s being sang. Yung totoong mag-perform at nilalabas niya yung soul ng kanta, and you can only do that if singing comes from the heart.

“Another thing that I admire in a singer is yung linis ng kanta. Kasi obviously, lahat naman sila, magagaling eh. But the one na malinis kung kumanta, yung para kang ni-record, that’s what makes a big difference.”

Just like past singing competitions she hosted, Regine does not discount the possibility of finding new “children” from The Clash.

“The winners and finalists, after the contests become really close to me. I become their ate and adviser, and I’m happy they stay connected with me.

“They would text me every now and then and I am flattered that they sort of make me their unofficial consultant. That’s why whenever they need me, like for guesting in their shows, I say yes basta kaya ng schedule na madalas namang mangyari.”

Regine is particularly proud of two of her young “sisters” Rachel Ann Go and Aicelle Santos who have both gone far in their career.

“Both of them are getting married. Lalo na si Aicelle, two big things are happening to her because she is joining the Miss Saigon UK tour. Si Shin naman is already doing well in London. Natutuwa lang ako na hindi sila nakakalimot. They always call or text me to give me updates on what’s happening with them. I’m flattered they treat me like their mentor kahit sa personal life.”

Meanwhile, Holy Week next week will mean vacation time for Regine and her family. But unlike past years when they’d go abroad, they will only be in Balesin.

“I have a show in Balesin so yun na yung bakasyon namin. We will extend our stay for a couple of days before we go back to Manila.”

For four years now, since Regine and her husband Ogie Alcasid became Christians, they’ve been fasting during the Holy Week.

“Actually, it’s fasting and prayer. The reason you go on fasting is because you commune with God. You also read His word then pray. You talk to Him and also listen to what He is saying. This is also what you can call spiritual feeding,” explains Regine.

Come April, the Songbird will celebrate her birthday, although she isn’t planning anything. She usually that to her husband.

“I know he’s already planning something. Ganu’n ‘yun, sasabihin niya sa akin, I have a surprise for you. Pag tinanong ko kung ano, hindi na magsasalita. So I just let him do everything para rin sucessful ang surprise niya,” the happy wife ended with a laugh.

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Overwhelmed to the point of emotional is how Glaiza de Castro describes seeing her new soap opera’s premiere on Monday.

‘Contessa’ Glaiza de Castro with leading man Jak Roberto

“I was thinking of how blessed I am to be given opportunities like this by my network. I am also very fortunate to work with such a great group of actors na ang sasarap katrabaho. Sobrang enjoy akong katrabaho. ‘Contessa’ also stars Gabby (Eigenmann), Geoff (Eigenmann), Miss Techie (Agbayani) at siyempre, si Jak (Roberto),” said Glaiza.

For his part, Jak admits he was feeling nervous in anticipation of the airing. This is his first time to be leading man in a soap.

“Nakaka-challenge kasi nga we know that we really have to make good. Kaya naman talagang we do our best para lalo pang mapaganda ang Contessa,” he said.

Both Glaiza and Jak find their scenes not only emotionally challenging but quite physical as well.

“Ako yung bugbog sarado kasi I get slapped, nasasabunutan, hinuhulog sa pool, lahat na ‘yan courtesy of Lauren Young,” Glaiza chuckled. “At the start, hindi ako lumalaban as in api-apihan talaga, pero there will be a point when I will rise again and have the upper hand.”

On the other hand, Jak gets to do lots of action scenes in Contessa.

“First day of taping pa lang, napasabak na ko,” he shared. “I had a fight scene with Mark Herras. It was something new to me because I’m used to doing drama o kaya naman comedy. I didn’t have any training in fight routines so I was kinda nervous.

“Thankfully, we have a very good fight instructor at naitawid naman. I also had a fight scene, with Kuya Gabby yata, na nasugatan ako. Tumama ang kamao ko sa relo yata yun. After the scene, I just saw my hand bleeding. But that’s fine with me. It’s part of being an actor, nasasaktan ka paminsan-minsan.”

Similarly plans for Holy Week have been laid out by Glaiza and Jak. Glaiza will stay in Manila with her family and enjoy less traffic; while Jak and his sister Santa Lopez will be off to Coron, Palawan.

“I figured it will be better to go on vacation now because after Holy Week, I’ll be very busy taping for Contessa so samantalahin na ‘yung mga araw na walang trabaho para talagang re-charged when you go back,” quipped Jak.

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SHORTS… Congratulations to showbiz’ beloved Manay Ichu Maceda who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 44th anniversary celebration of the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund). The award recognizes her unwavering efforts in helping the faceless workers of the entertainment industry a better life.

Showbiz pillar Marichu Maceda

Manay Ichu, who is considered as one of the pillars of the local movie industry, received the award with some of the members of her family…

…The trailer of the movie “Almost A Love Story” is so impressive that you’ll surely have the urge to see the entire movie when it comes out. Very good cinematography and very good dialogues indeed. Barbie Forteza and Derrick Monasterio’s chemistry is stronger than ever, and judging from the trailer, they gave very good performances. The premiere is set on April 10 with regular showing the following day.


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