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Article 3

          


Manila Bulletin, Aug. 22, 1999

Simply Regine Velasquez
by Shirley Matias Pizarro

Did you know that Regine Velasquez finds immense comfort in stargazing?
A hobby she has adopted even as a young girl. Regine says that her most
favorite time of the day is during dusk, 5:47 p.m., she jokingly says
"because that's when light suddenly changes into dark. I just love watching
day turn into night. And I do that very often, I climb the roof of our
house in Bulacan, settle, wait for the great transition, and then wait
again for the first star to appear." Regine says she only stops when the
heavens go alight with stars, more stars. Then, she'll happily go down to
have her supper.

At first blush, that could be an anecdote to describe a simple barrio lass,
not a songbird who has charted incredible achievements in the field of
music. But both statements are true. That's how Regine has managed to be
even after 14 years of sweet success in her chosen profession.

>From the looks of it, she remains to be unaffected by the pomp and
pageantry attached to the status that she rightfully occupies now. Her joys
are still simple, her dreams still reachable and her feet still firmly
planted on the ground.

Alright she dreams bigger dreams now but she's also fairly realistic.
While she's been trying to hit the international market, Regine also knows
that she has a long way to go, still. But then again, it doesn't do any
harm at all, when a certain David Massey, right-handman to Tommy Motola had
to come all to way to LA, California to watch Regine perform during
rehearsals of her show with Kuh Ledesma just last month.

Regine says Massey had positive reactions after seeing her perform, but
since she doesn't have a true blue manager to handle this side of her
career, she's still figuring out what her next steps would be. But Regine
says she plans to go back, in the meantime, to her old turf - Asia, the
region where she had made quite an impact with when she did a duet with
superstar Jacky Cheung a few years back. "Nakafirst base na nga ako doon
kaya gusto ko ulit i-try mag-release ng album ko doon. And Viva Records is
very, very supportive of this plan. In fact, they already have talked to a
company that will handle the distribution of my albums there. And I am
very, very thankful to Boss Vic for all his help," she says.

We got together with Regine again (after a long, long time) for a one-onone
interview last Friday at Dulcinea in Quezon City. When she arrived,
casually garbed in white shirt and black pedal pushers, hair tied in a pony
tail, carefully madeup (because there was supposed to have a TV interview
but unfortunately didn't push through), instantly apologizing for being
late, we knew that we both have put our right foot forward. Following is an
easygoing banter that will tell us more about what the songbird is busy
with right now and what's she's been up to lately.

Question: When did you come back from the States? How long have you been away?

Answer: We arrived July 12, I had three shows with Kuh Ledesma, the "Power
of Two" part 2 in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, California.
Luckily, all shows were successful, since the last shows we had there were
about two years ago pa. I have been away for a month and a half, the other
half I spent vacationing, nagpahinga ako, konting shopping.

Q: You were supposed to meet with Tommy Motola there for the possibility of
an international album, what happened?

A: Hindi natuloy but I was able to meet David Massey from Sony
International, they say he is the right-hand man of Tommy Motola. He's a
very busy man but I met him. He saw me perform during the rehearsals and my
dad and Patty said he liked what he saw. It's just that I don't know how to
go about it. I didn't want to call him after, I find it inappropriate.
Hopefully, that's why I'm asking for Viva's help, plus my lawyer in the
States so we can explore any possibility.

Q: I thought you were being represented by Mark Feist for your
international dealings?

A: My contract with Mark has already expired so I am now being represented
by a lawyer who is based in the States. I was told by someone to get a
producer first, kasi tie-up daw yon with the recording company there. So
right now, tinutulungan ako ng Viva at saka nong lawyer ko, pero as of now,
talagang wala pa.

Q: Have you decided already on how you're going to call the company that
you're setting up with your dad?

A: Not yet. Siguro mga next year pa. I really plan to set up a company
because I wanted to help some people who are close to me who know
production a lot. Hindi ko naman sila talaga matulungan ng husto kung
halimbawa sa booking lang, maliit lang ang naibibigay ko unlike kapag
involved sila sa production, mas nabibigyan ko lang sila talaga ng chance
kumita kapag ganon. Gusto ko lang talaga silang tulungan. Much as I would
like to hire them as my booking officers, I can't kasi mahirap, I can't
afford it kasi ako lang ang artist. At saka kailangan din ang company
because of the tax. Lahat nagre-reflect sa akin e hindi naman talaga sa
akin napupunta ang lahat. At saka iyon di naman talaga ang gusto namin,
makapagdevelop ng sarili naming production, although I admit that I am not
yet very well-versed in it. But I am learning. Siguro hopefully next year,
we could set it up. But then again, kahit may company ako, I am not going
to force my production to any producer who would get me. If they will get
me only as a talent, I will work for them as a talent. Hindi magiging part
ng contract ko yon, to get my production team everytime they would get me.
My company will hopefully get other shows, like for Cacai, she's coming
home soon. Most of them came from Ronnie, so they are now doing free lance
work.

Q: How about talent management as part of your company's agenda?

A: Right now kasi maraming lumalapit sa tatay ko regarding management. So
if ever we'll set up a company, I will not handle that talent management
aspect. Tatay ko na lang yan. Even my own career, he handles it, too. I
basically decide on my career but it doesn't mean that I can do everything
totally. I still have to consult my father, sometimes I still talk to
Ronnie, if I have concerns, still. Alam naman nila na nangangapa pa rin
ako. I'm still much of an artist, I don't like handling the business side
of my career.

Q: Can you talk about your upcoming show on Aug. 27 at the ballroom of
Westin Philippine Plaza?

A: For the first time, I'm going to have a show featuring all songs that I
have recorded. This will be some form of a teaser for a major concert which
will happen next year to celebrate my 15th year in the business. This is
really the idea of Maxi-media, kasi napansin nila na I've been doing
concerts all the time but none that features me singing only my songs.
Hindi ko naman nare-realize yon, before naisuggest na rin ni Ronnie ang
ganoon but hindi ako masyadong sold sa idea na yon. Ang feeling ko kasi
baka hindi mag-enjoy ang mga tao. Hindi kasi ako confident and I am not
aware na ganoon na rin karami ang songs ko na naging hit na rin namin. But
in this concert, marami pa kaming kantang nakabangko. We are planning
something bigger than this, an all-hit concert probably at the Araneta
Coliseum kasi hindi pa ako nakakapagconcert doon. Probably in April, my
birthday also. Remember during my 10th sa UP naman. For the 15th year
concert, buhos na talaga yon. For this show kasi, may 15 percent pa na
hindi ko kanta, teaser talaga ito. We chose songs from all the different
albums. I will still sing songs that they expect me to sing, but those that
are so much identified with me, ibubuhos namin sa susunod na lang. Kasi
dapat naman we will present something new for them on my 15th year.

Q: Who directs the Philippine Plaza show?

A: Si Rico Mortel of Maximedia, but the musical director is Homer Flores.

Q: Do you still suffer from stage fright even after 15 years in the business?

A: Oo naman. Alam mo ganito ako. Kapag may concert excited ako kasi may
show ako. Pero kapag three days na lang before the day, sinasabunutan ko na
ang sarili ko sa tensiyon and I ask myself, why do I do this to myself.
Dapat gumigimik na lang ako sa tabitabi, hindi na lang major concert. pero
bakit ko ba ginagawa to sa sarili ko? Lalo na kapag mahirap ang mga songs,
tapos kailangan mag-rehearse ka, palagi hirap na hirap ako. Mataas Madalas
kasi kapag rehearsal, wala ka sa mood, iba kasi kapag performance na
talaga, may adrenaline ka na non di ba?

Q: How do you diffuse the tension from within you?

A: Hindi ko alam. Usually nagtatatalon ako bago umakyat sa stage. Dati what
I do, kuwento ako ng kuwento kaya lang nauubos ang boses ko, by the time
kakanta na ako, wala na akong boses. Kasi ang speaking voice mas madaling
makamalat kesa pag kumakanta ka na. Masyado kasing throaty and speaking
voice ko whereas pag kanta, alam mo kung saan huhugutin di ba? Usually
first three songs ko, kabado pa rin ako. Pero on the fourth song, okay na.
Pero ngayon may bago akong sakit, and it happened to me twice na, napansin
ko lang noong "Retro" concert ko, first three songs, malat ako, wala akong
boses, kasi siguro dahil sa tension. Bumalik noong sixth song ko na. First
time it happened sa Mandarin, first song, wala akong boses. Pero tension
lang kasi kalagitnaan ng show balik na ang boses ko kasi relaxed na ako. At
saka ako, kapag palapit na ang show, naglulugas din ang hair ko. Ganon ako
matense. Meron din naman akong security blanket, like iyong mga lyric
sheets ko, itinatago ko sa ilalim ng unan ko. Di ba katulad noong high
school sabi ng matatanda, kapag gusto mong magmemorize for an exam, ilagay
mo ang book sa ulo mo. Ginagawa ko pa rin yon, and I think it works for
me. Di ba ang ganda?

Q: What for you is the hardest part of a live performance?

A: The hardest for me is to get the audience's attention. Ang hirap-hirap
non. Sumisigaw ako talaga lalo na when I was just starting because the
audience were never sanay to see me singing mellow songs, so I scream a lot
to get their attention. And when I say my spiels, naguusap-usap din sila.
So ang ginawa namin, nag-mellow ako sa repertoire ko. But now I found a way
to catch their attention. I talk to them like I am not on the stage. I
don't anymore have a script because it doesn't work for me. Mas nakikinig
ang audience at nag-iinteract with me, mas may attachment ang audience that
way di ba? Dati kasi ang uso, may script pero hindi bagay sa akin lalo na
kapag may mga English na spiels. Kaya ginawa namin sa akin, Taglish ang
spiels ko, mas effective.

Minsan nga komedyante na ang dating ko pero it was not a conscious effort
on my part. It just happens that way kasi kinakausap ko lang ang isang
audience. Kapag big venue naman, I have discovered na dapat, opening number
pa lang, dapat kuha mo na ang attention ng tao. Kasi, iyong iba, inaayos pa
ang upuan, may mga late dumating. And usually, nakikinig lang sila on the
third song na. As much as possible I do good opening numbers na, otherwise,
it will just pass them.

Q: What do you think is the hardest part of your whole career?

A: To please everybody. Although I know that it is not bad to want to
please everybody, it somehow works on a positive light because that way,
you always want to give your best shot.

But then again, people will always find something to say about you. I think
minsan nga, they just look for butas to criticize me. Like when I was just
starting, they say that I scream all the time, that I don't speak well,
that I'm like this. As an artist, I also welcome those criticisms because
that is also a way to improve myself. You always have to have that big
space to learn new things. I'm basically a stubborn person, Taurus ako, but
when it comes to my craft, my career, ayokong maging stubborn, I try to be
flexible, like a sponge that will absorb lessons from different people.
Pero ngayon, napapansin ko wala nang ganong material. It's either mataba
ako, ayaw nila ang make-up ko, ang gown ko, happy naman ako don. Ayaw ko
rin namang masabi ng tao na ang feeling ko, sobrang galing ko na na hindi
na ako puwedeng i-criticize.

Q: Is there something that you would still want to do?

A: Maging bold star. (laughs) Hindi believable, pangit, hindi magandang
pangitain, masagwa. Wala na akong maisip. Halos lahat nagawa ko na, mga
concepts na lang sa concerts. Sa singing okay na ko. Right now, I want to
achieve something in the international scene. Kung meron pa sigurong dapat
gawin at matutuhan, sa movies yon.

Q: What if you will be made to choose between sacrificing your values in
exchange for fame in the international scene, say you become a mistress to
Tommy Motola, how would you react?

A: Huwag na lang. I won't ever compromise my values. Kung papipiliin ako,
between my career here now and that, dito na lang ako. Siguro for love I
will do it anytime of the day, pero kung para lang sa career ko. Huwag na
lang.

Q: What's next after your movie with Aga? I heard Aga would like to do a
movie with you again?

A: Wala pa silang sinasabi sa akin. But that's because the movie that we
did together was really cute. And we've been told that he's never been that
involved in his movies before. Sobrang excited siya sa movie na yon. I
would love to, I will be honored if he really wants us to team-up again.

Q: And there were so many kissing scenes in that movie?

A: Ang natatandaan ko nga tatlong kissing scenes lang, pero noong napanood
ko, oh my gosh ang dami nga. Binilang niya more than 20 plus nga.
Nakakatawa noong premiere night, noong pinapanood namin, ang Mommy ko nasa
harap. Noong mga early part pa ng movie, okay lang siya, kahit na kissing
scene, pero noong tumagal, medyo passionate na ang mga kiss, hindi na siya
tumatawa. Tapos kinakausap niya si Aga sa screen, tapos humarap siya sa
amin, at sinita si Aga.

Q: Did you see him in the States?

A: No. What happened was he called us up in LA and he wanted to meet up
with us to have dinner. We would have wanted but I got busy, and I didn't
know where to get in touch with him so we ended up not seeing each other at
all. We haven't seen each other until now, hindi ko nga siya na-greet noong
birthday niya. Anyway, my follow-up movie will pair me with Cesar Montano
and Boss Vic told me that Cesar already said yes. That movie was supposed
to start shooting in October but I have to start with my next album with
Viva kaya next year na lang. Probably January or February.

This next album, I'm sort of producing it but it will be a product of a
collaboration between me and the new A&R in Viva Records, Rene Salta who's
very magaan katrabaho. Si Mr. C (Ryan Cayabyab) ang magpo-produce. Puro
retro ulit ito, kasi uso di ba. Kasi if you remember, iyong "Retro" album
ko was the first of its kind to be released during that time bago
naglabasan na ang iba ng ganong formula. Now, naman medyo pawala na ang
uso, I'll be coming up with the last one. Parang to close the season, sort
of.

Q: What's the status of your contract with Viva?

A: I've just signed up a new contract with Viva recently, this time it's a
five-year contract. The first contract was shorter. This is because I'm
very happy with them. That is to dispel rumors that I'm leaving Viva dahil
daw hindi ako masaya sa dami dami namin doon.

Q: What is it about your job which makes you feel that all the hard work,
the difficulties, the controversies and intrigues, are worth it?

A: When I perform before and I see my audience enjoying themselves. Kahit
anong intriga ang dumating sa akin, kapag nakita ko ang audience na
nag-enjoy, sumaya at nag-connect sa akin, tumawa sila sa joke ko, sumayaw
sa awitin ko, bawi. Nakakalimutan ko lahat kung anumang intrigues meron.
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" Life's a gamble girl.
You gotta take chances."

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