MANILA -- Long before Regine Velasquez transferred to ABS-CBN, she was already being wooed by Sharon Cuneta for the two of them to share the stage together in a full-length concert.
Last year, Cuneta guested in Velasquez’s concert at the New Frontier Theater. At that time, apparently there were already talks about the two artists doing a back-to-back concert.
“Even before that, we have been discussing about this concert for a long time,” Cuneta said. “Ang hirap lang ng maraming factors na iniisip na hindi magkatugma.”
"She’s an icon. Nauna lang ako na mag-artista. She has such a good heart. I am just so blessed to be working with my inaanak.”
However, when Velasquez finally moved to ABS-CBN and Cuneta guested in her concert, the talks led to actual plans. “Then we decided on pushing through with this concert,” Cuneta beamed.
The two-night show, “Iconic,” will finally happen on October 18 and 19 at the Araneta Coliseum. Musical directors are Louie Ocampo and Raul Mitra.
Velasquez admittedly found it unbelievable that Cuneta gave importance to her and invited her to perform in a concert. “Nagulantang ang life ko ng very, very light when she said she wanted to do a concert with me,” Velasquez said. “I found it unbelievable. I’m a fan. I’m a Sharonian.
“I have always been very vocal about it. She has been an inspiration since the beginning of my career. When you idolize someone, you bring that person with you. She’s you’re inspiration. In defeat, frustration, in whatever, you bring her with you”
Even when Velasquez was still in GMA 7, she proudly remembers how Cuneta would always request for her to perform for the birthday of KC Concepcion. “Muntik na akong maging regular ng ‘The Sharon Cuneta Show.’ Nakaka-touch talaga,” Velasquez recalled.
“You don’t know how important this concert for me. I’m so happy. I’m so proud. It’s an honor for me to be sharing the stage with her.”
Call it a mutual admiration society, but Cuneta and Velasquez are certainly aware about their respective vocal capabilities after decades of being in the music industry and the entertainment business.
“Regine is the better singer,” Cuneta said of Velasquez. “We both have our strengths. Magka-iba lang talaga ang styles namin. This ‘Iconic’ concert is a coming together of two different voices, of two different personalities.”
Meanwhile, Velasquez surprisingly countered, notwithstanding her stratospheric range. “Ate [Shawie] is a better belter because she is an alto. When she hits her high notes, she uses her head and chest tones. When she sings, mas powerful,” she noted.
In lining up the songs for the “Iconic” repertoire, Velasquez was really eager to perform the pop hits of Cuneta. “My younger sister told me, ‘Ate, bigyan mo naman si Ate Mega ng song na sosolohin niya.’ Kasi ginawa kong duet lahat. The mixture of the songs, the way they are arranged, the solo songs of Ate Shawie and my songs, talagang parang totoong duet ginawa ang songs.”
Cuneta is all praise for the show’s musical directors – Ocampo and Mitra. “Hindi mo pwedeng tawaran si Louie at Raul. They are two of the bests [musical directors and arrangers]. We are really very blessed,” she said.
Asked about her all-time favorite Sharon Cuneta song, Velasquez mentioned the numerous theme songs of memorable movies that they are now rehearsing as part of the concert’s repertoire,
“'Bituing Walng Ningning' is really beautiful,” Velasquez offered. “I’ve sang it before, but I didn’t realized how beautiful the song is until recently. Louie made a different arrangement and he made it into a duet. Nakaka-iyak.”
Velasquez also has another favorite, “Now That You’re Gone,” which Cuneta herself wrote. The song has been revived by Ella Mae Sayson and even Angeline Quinto.
“Almost all of the songs that Reg want me to do, I will do it,” Cuneta asserted “Halos lahat ng kanta niya, alam ko. Pati ‘yung hindi alam ng iba, alam ko. The music alone is heavenly. Humanda po kayong lahat dahil lalamunin ako ni Regine.”
Yes, a number of duets have been arranged for them. “Okay lang na duet because it’s the two of us,” Cuneta said. “It’s exciting for me to also hear the versions of Regine ng mga kanta ko. We will also do great medleys.”
Admittedly, Cnueta is challenged with singing the new arrangements. “The voicing is hard for me,” she confided. “Bihira akong mag-voicing. I’m so used to performing solo. Itong si Regine, kahit second and third voice, kaya niyang lahat, kahit biglaan. Bilib na bilib ako sa mga taong ganoon. My daughter, Frankie, is like that. Zsa Zsa [Padilla], too.”
While “Iconic” will even go on tour early next year, Cuneta disclosed the show is one of the last concerts that she will do.
“This is the first time I’m doing a back-to-back show with a woman,” Cuneta noted. “So, it’s really special for me. It’s a big factor na kabigan mo ang kasama mo [sa concert]. Genuine at sincere ang love ko kay Reg. If you’re performing with someone special to you and you’re sharing the stage, it’s really special to me.”
Days before, the Megastar was not able to rehearse because of her throat. She had to go on bed rest for a few days. Yet, she strongly counts on her faith that everything will be fine.
“We prayed for this [concert],” said Cuneta. “I have faith in Jesus. The demon wants to remove my happiness, nakawin ang joy mo, sirain ang kaligayahan mo. My husband was praying for me last night, because he knows that I love Regine and I’ve been looking forward to this concert for a very long time. But we rebuke everything. We want this concert to be a happy celebration.
“Sharonians and Reginians are coming together. It’s like family coming together finally. This is very emotional and very special to me. Even me, I’m excited about it.”
Cuneta and Velasquez have been in the industry for decades. Velasquez insisted she totally understands that Cuneta is now thinking about retirement. “You come at this point in your life where you want to give your life to your family,” she explained. “Hindi kabawasan sa sarili mo that you gave a part of yourself to your fans before.”
Being an icon is one of the hardest to look up to, insisted Cuneta. “Not every superstar is an icon. Ilan lang ‘yan sa showbiz. If we are really called ‘icons,’ we deserve it. We worked hard for this. To be where we are now.”