For fans of Original Pilipino Music (OPM), box office queens and quite simply the biggest names in local show business, a collaboration between Megastar Sharon Cuneta and Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez is succinctly overdue. In less sophisticated words, even the idea of bringing them together in concert is easily a no-brainer.
After all, while Velasquez will always acknowledge and concede to Cuneta’s seniority and superstardom, she seems to have shared the stage or at least had a duet with every OPM royalty there is already save for the Megastar. Her list of collaborations impressively include Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, her husband Ogie Alcasid of course, and even Jose Mari Chan; and Zsa Zsa Padilla,
Lani Misalucha as well as Kuh Ledesma among very few other illustrious singers in the country.
Technically too, both Cuneta and Velasquez have always been considered Viva artists all these years besides having their own personal managers, so that it’s not uncommon to hear that while fans are rejoicing over the announcement of their back-to-back concert in October, they also can’t help but quip, “Why only now?”
“One of the major reasons in the past was that we were from different networks,” Velasquez reminded a jampacked media conference at Luxent Hotel in Quezon City, finally side by side with the Megastar, and beaming with pride.
Indeed, it can be recalled that Cuneta had always been with ABS-CBN, save for a two-year stint with TV5 in the early 2010s, while Velasquez was a GMA Network talent for the longest time until she joined the Kapamilya Network in 2018.
But then again, with no more contractual stumbling blocks in the way of the Megastar and Asia’s Songbird to work together now, there actually seem to be more compelling reasons that such an iconic concert as theirs — which in fact is the very fitting title of their coup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum come October 18 and 19 — is only happening now.
Truth be told, their almost two-hour long tête-à-tête with media somewhat suggested that even these unrivaled and unmatched stars in Philippine show business believe that now is just the right time for them to share the stage. And the most persuasive justification that emerged is that it has only been in recent years that the pair of famous females have gotten comfortable, and happily today, very close to one another.
“Sobrang fan ako ni Ate Sharon bago pa man ako napasok sa showbiz, and alam naman ng lahat yon,” Velasquez recalled. “Pumila pa ako noon sa Meycauayan for her movie ‘Bukas Luluhod ang mga Tala’ in 1984. So nang makapasok na ko sa showbiz, I was so starstruck with her. Kinakausap niya ako, hindi ako nagsasalita. Hiyang-hiya ako!”
“Akala ko naman, mataray siya,” Cuneta confessed laughing. “We were together in a dressing room one time before and kinakausap ko pero hindi man lang kumikibo. I told myself, ang suplada naman nito.”
And then back in 2010, when Velasquez married one of Cuneta’s good friends and contemporaries singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid, a window opened for the two women to form a solid bond.
“[But it didn’t happen overnight] because there was a time na pag nag-te-text ako sa kanya, sasabihin niya, ‘Mega?’ Then sasagutin ko naman siya, ‘Bakit nakiki-Mega ka? Kung tawagin kitang Songbird, pangit, di ba?’,” Cuneta laughed at the recollection.
“Eh kasi nga idol kita,” Velasquez blurted out as blushed like a little girl.
“But today, walang makikita ang mga tao kundi yung talagang obvious — yung love for each other na meron kami,” Cuneta came to her friend’s rescue. “Ako, I really adore Regine and I have so much respect for her. As a singer, bow na bow na bow ako sa kanya. She’s a very generous performer and co-worker.”
Giving media a glimpse into how their rehearsals for ‘Iconic’ have been so far, the Megastar shared, “You know, when you’re a good artist, you’re very generous. Hindi ka nangangain o nananapaw ng kasama mo sa stage, and Regine is like that, no matter how great a singer she is.
“In-eencourage pa nga niya ako because sometimes I tell her, ‘Ako Reg, yung ganyang nota, hine-headtone ko na yan, di ko na kaya yung buong boses kasi alto ako.’ Siya, lahat ng range kaya niya, eh. But still, she’ll tell me, ‘Hindi Ate, kaya mo din yun, try mo’ Tapos I try the note and hindi ko pa rin kakayanin i-sustain! Pero it’s just so nice that she’s so encouraging.”
Suffice it to say, the concert is a dream come true for Asia’s Songbird, who was touched when Cuneta claimed it’s just the same for her.
“I can’t say enough good things about Regine. More than anything, she has a very good heart and she’s a good person. Her husband is one of my best friends in the world and I’m becoming closer and closer to Reg so this concert is a blessing to me one million times over — not just because of the performing together bit, but a million times over in all aspects of my life. And that’s from the bottom of my heart.”
And because who doesn’t love it when two deserving and unquestionable divas of OPM, and even television and the movies, truly become friends rather than compete as expected? The Sunday
Times Magazine definitely adores such a positive story and will therefore leave it to the Megastar and Asia’s Songbird themselves to tell the world just how famously they get along at this perfect point in time.
On whose idea it was for the two of them to share the stage in concert.
Regine Velasquez: Idea naming dalawa. Alam n’yo naman ano yung reason ko, kasi nga idol ko si Megastar. For years now, I’ve been wanting to do a concert with her; kahit guesting man lang sa concert ko, pero parang dati ang hirap mangyari.
Besides our schedules, it was also because, we were from different stations, so parang dati, dream na lang talaga.
Sharon Cuneta: Pero ako for years, lagi kong sinasabi, “Concert tayo.” Pero last year lang talagang naging seryoso ang usapan namin.
Regine: Hindi ko pa sinasabi sa kanya nun na I was going to move [and make it happen] kasi hindi pa ako sigurado.
On choosing the concert title “Iconic.”
Regine: Naku ang tagal naisip niyan…
Sharon: Kasi nung una, [we thought] parang ang yabang naman ng dating. Pero may makiki-argue, “Eh totoo naman kasi.” Although kahit kami, hindi naman tayo nag-a-announce na ganun kami.
[But then again] I think we’ve earned our places in show business, and I think with all due respect and modesty aside, the word “icon” should not be used very lightly. You should use it for certain people like Regine…
Regine: And like Sharon Cuneta of course!
Sharon: There’s a meaning to the word and there are several icons in this business, nagkataon lang nauna kaming gumamit.
On what to expect in Iconic.
Sharon: Madami syempre kaming duets…
Regine: But we can’t say [what they are] kasi we want them to be a surprise. Magugulat kayo dun sa mga numbers namin together kasi pine-prepare talaga at pinagisipan talaga. But ang isang clue, we’ll be singing mostly our songs — almost all of them actually. Ito, isa pang giveaway, I’ll definitely be singing one of Ate Shawie’s songs but I’m not going to say which one.
Sharon: It’s all very exciting because I’m also singing one of her songs. At tsaka ang nakakatuwa dito for the very first time lalabas siya bilang bubuyog at lalabas ako bilang Mrs. McDonald kasi pareho naming sponsor ang Mcdo at Jollibee! First time yan na sabay mag-sponsor these giant fast food chains, so siya naka-bubuyog, ako naka-clown! Baliktad diba kasi ako pa yung mataba di’ba? [Laughs].
Regine: We’re doing 19 numbers…
Sharon: But that doesn’t mean 19 songs [only] because those are medleys. We’ll be doing a lot of duets.
On their singing styles and possible comparisons from the concert.
Sharon: Nung bagong uso yung mga styles nina Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, Regine was the very first na nakakuha ng style na yun tapos lahat gumagaya na sa kanya, nakakapagod na. I’m sure pati siya naiinis na. [Laughs].
So ako kung gusto ko makinig ng original, kay Regine ako makikinig di ba?
[As for being compared] I already expected that. Lagi namang kailangang may intriga yung ibang tao pero ako, very humbly, I know my limits.
Actually ang joke ko nga kay Regine, pag mataas na ang nota, “Bigla kitang ituturo ha!” So siya na ang sasalo. But ako I will just do what I have always done. People have also appreciated my kind of singing naman, which is all heart, just like her. So in my own style, whatever God gave me, yun ang gagamitin ko; and Regine will come out in flying colors, with all that God gave her too.
Regine: So far kasi, I’ve worked with a lot of different singers and every time nagko-concert ako with other singers, parang wala naman akong nakikitang ganun na nangyayaring comparison because the concerts that we do when we’re with other artists is not about me as an individual, it’s about a team. And that’s why this is a back-to-back concert and a collaboration. It’s about both of us — her story, my story, her style and my style — that you will see. [I say “story”] kasi pag nakita n’yo yung concert, there’s actually a story. It’s not a showdown and there’s a reason bakit kakantahin namin yung particular song. And it’s us working together.
Sharon: And sana our fans, when they come, they keep in mind that it’s a collaboration; that it’s the coming together of the two of us with all this love and respect we have for each other.
We’ve both come this far in our careers for a reason. Iba-iba ang preference ng tao at napaka-blessed lang namin na pareho kaming minahal ng tao and we’re bringing that to the stage.
Yung storya [in the concert] there’s lot of heart in it, and it’s not heart na ginawa just for the concert. It’s heart coming from our backgrounds, our own journeys up until we became friends.
I’m very excited for this and I hope they appreciate that it’s teamwork — dalawang magkaiba na magsasama, at hindi yun kailangan ikumpara kasi magkaibang-magkaiba talaga kami kumanta.
What I’m looking for, and I hope what the fans will look for when they come to see us — is the collaboration of those two styles. I hope that they see and appreciate the coming together of two different styles instead of comparing them. You can’t compare apples and oranges so it’s more important to me that we give our best and bring our two different styles together.
On possibility of surprise guests at their show, perhaps even Sharon’s ex-husband Gabby Concepcion.
Sharon: Parang wag muna kasi yung kagabi [this interview was held the day after the “Gabay Guro” tribute concert where the Megastar and Concepcion sang on stage for the first time in years] pati ako na-surprise that it happened. Kung puro surprise naman baka wala nang excitement.
So ‘wag muna, kasi show muna namin ito ni Regine. Siguro pag may surprise si Ogie na lang na nakadamit na Regine. (Laughs). I don’t think it’s the right time.
On ‘Iconic’s’ advance ticket sales.
Sharon: The most expensive tickets for the two nights have been sold out already since three weeks ago. The Platinum seats are also sold out and ang natitira na lang I think are the seats sa sides and upper box bleachers for the two nights. We’d like to thank everyone na bumili na po very early especially yung mga Sharonians and Reginians.
On taking ‘Iconic’ on an international tour
Both: Might as well!
Regine: Maybe around May [next year].
Sharon: Kasi this is not the only concert we are doing [in the next few months]. We’re also doing concerts with other people, but this is the event for us now. But we’re certainly going to do our best to take this on tour — America, Canada and possibly [around] the Philippines.
On future projects together.
Sharon: I would love to do more with Regine. That’s in our plans we don’t know ang plano ni Lord but sana tumugma sa plano namin.
On Sharon’s much talked about gift to Regine.
[Back in November 2018, in time for the highly successful “Regine At The Movies” concert at New Frontier, Sharon sent Regine a very unique ring as a gift. Quite ostentatious, the ring is designed as a huge diamond-studded flower that spreads out onto two fingers for the stem and leaf. Made up of more than eight carats of diamonds and set in 18-karat white gold, the impressive piece of jewelry reportedly costs a million pesos.]
Sharon: Wala, [I gave her] love and friendship lang… OK, yes I gave her a ring. But you know, I do not buy people or friendships. I sincerely give gifts to people that I am grateful for, and often, as you know, when I give, I give quietly. But once in a while, like that night at Regine’s show, it was just in my heart sometimes to scream it out to the public that, you know, this person is special to
me. I want you all to know that Regine is special to me.
Regine: Around that time kasi whenever I’d see her, I’d go [tease her], “Ate, ang ganda naman niyan [referring to a ring] baka naman [you’d like to give it to me]. So nung show, ganun ulit. Yun pala, she planned it na that she was going to give me this beautiful ring.
Sharon: It wasn’t just a ring that I bought. It was a ring I saw in “Sex and the City 2 The Movie,” in the auction with Samantha Jones. She wanted to buy that ring and she got mad at her boyfriend because he bought it for her.
I really Googled that ring, I went to Jul Dizon and I asked my friend Candy Dizon [the daughter of the late famed jeweler after whom the famous Edsa Shangri-La jewelry store is named] for the exact same ring. And it took three months [to make it] because sometimes the fit wouldn’t be right. [It’s worn on] two fingers kasi.
So it was a ring I worked so hard to get, so it really meant something to me. I could have given her anything and I’m sure she would appreciate it, but it was special. I wanted to make it pamana [so that] she can keep it for the rest of her life.
For me, since childhood, material things, they’ve been there, they’re not so hard for me to get. What I really appreciate is loyalty, friendship and honesty; just love for the person that I am and not for my public persona. And Regine, she has a very good heart and I love her family. From Ogie to their son. Si Ogie kasi since the ‘80s has been my friend. Konti na lang yung natitirang ganyan sa showbiz and most of us started at the same time. And I’ll forever be their friend just as they will be mine.