When Megastar Sharon Cuneta and Songbird Regine Velasquez shared the stage in “Iconic,” a full-length concert for the first time, both were understandably emotional. The former cried in only the first song in their repertoire and repeatedly throughout the night. The latter was in tears, too, when she rendered the classic “Bituing Walang Ningning.”
Cuneta marked her 40th year in show business last year, while Velasquez celebrated three decades of entertaining the public in 2016.
Who would first emerge onstage at the start of the concert became an easy question to answer for the audience. Velasquez dramatically sauntered onstage to croon the first few lines of “Pangarap na Bituin,” joined by Cuneta after the first few verses.
They were both sophisticated in their “shining, shimmering, splendid” gowns that looked really resplendent onstage. The two singing superstars later acknowledged nearly half a dozen designers – among them Leo Almodal, Mark Tumang, Rocky Gathercole – responsible for their outfit changes throughout the night.
Both singers rendered one of Velasquez’s signature pieces, “You Are My Song.” Dominating their repertoire for the rest of the evening were sentimental duets of their respective hits, beautifully arranged by their musical directors – Louie Ocampo and Raul Mitra.
In their duet of “Mr. DJ,” the first hit of Cuneta that Velasquez memorized, the audience expectedly sang with them. And Cuneta turned really emotional. Then, they segued to a medley of Cuneta’s hits – “High School Life” and “P.S. I Love You.”
Velasquez took the spotlight with her hit ballad, “Dadalhin,” undoubtedly a show-stopper even with her controlled belting. “Muntik na akong mahulog, maingay kayo,” she chastised her fans who were endlessly screaming.
When she sang another Cuneta hit, “Sinasamba Kita,” the audience simply howled. After which, she re-introduced the Megastar onstage, “My inspiration, my one and only icon, my Megastar.”
When Cuneta carried out the Odette Quesada composition, “To Love Again,” the audience sang with her overwhelmingly. “I love you my Sharonians,” she later said. “I love you [also] Reginians.”
Velasquez’s hit, “Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw,” made the Megastar break down again. “Hindi ko rin po alam kung bakit,” she explained. “When I first heard this song, I wished it was mine.” She inevitably cried twice within the song. “Concert ba ito or pelikula?,” she understandably asked the crowd, seemingly apologetic.
Long time fans of the two singing superstars were all in the audience, respectively screaming at every greatest hit song included in the repertoire and always rewarded with a thunderous applause from the crowd.
Velasquez sang with her beautiful timber that after more than three decades of performing, she still undoubtedly wows the audience with her stratospheric voice and clear tones. She can belt out with great ease and effortlessly shift to crooning a light melody.
“Ang boses mo, abot kay San Pedro,” Cuneta told Velasquez. “Ako kay Venus lang.” And they both merely laughed. They were both in their best element
Before the Megastar sang “Dear Heart,” the familiar theme of her big screen debut opposite Gabby Concepcion, she addressed her fans. “Para sa inyong mga umaasa, litong-lito na rin ako. Pero parang may pag asa,” Cuneta said, referring to her long-awaited big screen reunion with her erstwhile real and reel-life partner.
Interestingly, many of Cuneta’s leading men were also paired with Velasquez. The names include Christopher de Leon, Richard Gomez, Aga Muhlach, Robin Padilla. No wonder, Velasquez bragged she knew even most of the popular lines in the dialogue of Cuneta’s films – from “Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin” to “Bukas Luluhod ang mga Tala.”
Her husband, Ogie Alcasid, admirably penned three familiar tunes that became the title themes of his wife’s films – “Paano Kita Iibigin” with Piolo Pascual, “Pangako Ikaw Lang” with Aga Muhlach and “Pangarap Ko ang Ibigin Ka” with Christopher de Leon. Velasquez proudly sang those tunes that night.
Two of the only guests in “Iconic” were the first winner of “Idol Philippines,” Zephanie Dimaranan, whom Velasquez identified as the first ever winner of “Pinoy Idol,” the latter was her last engagement with her erstwhile TV network. “Sa GMA 7 pala ‘yun,” Velasquez said, apparently referring to “Pinoy Idol.” “Nasa ABS-CBN na ko!” and merely laughed.
Dimaranan was joined by Jeremy Glinoga, “The Voice” finalist under Cuneta’s team. They did a mash-up of “Come What May” and “Please Be Careful With My Heart.” Even if they were not born yet when the songs they rendered became popular, how we wished the young talents would know the correct lyrics of their songs.
Dimaranan was given her baptism of fire in big concert venues after she was proclaimed “Idol Philippines” winner. She had performed at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in the “Gabay Guro” annual program last September. Then, now at the Araneta Coliseum in “Iconic.” In November, Dimaranan will have her solo concert at the New Frontier Theater.
Cuneta and Velasquez did a lilting duet of Ryan Cayabyab’s “Araw Gabi” and “Tuwing Umuulan,” then later went upbeat with “Swing” and “Urong Sulong.”
The two did their own take on today’s OPM tunes. Velasquez gave her own version of Moira’s “Kung Di Rin Lang Ikaw” and in her dramatic opera coat, did The Juans “Istorya.” Meanwhile, Cuneta carried out Juan Karlos Labajo’s best-covered Tagalog hit, “Buwan.”
When they rendered “Bituing Walang Ningning,” Velasquez was in tears. She later revealed the scenario onstage that night was what she dreamed of even years ago, to perform with the Megastar. Meanwhile, the latter honestly admitted, “I’ll never go up against this woman in a contest.”
Their mutual admiration for each other was manifested anew, to the point where Velasquez bowed down before the Megastar. “I love you my Mega. Always,” Velasquez declared. Cuneta lost no time in returning the same gesture.
They did another mash-up of “Sana’y Wala nang Wakas” and “Narito Ako.” One song that they both recorded together, “Ikaw,” also beautifully made it to their repertoire.
The star-studded audience saw the likes of Vice Ganda, Anne Curtis, Robin Padilla, Ara Mina, Erik Santos, Gary Valenciano, among the many celebrities present on the first night. Cuneta and Velasquez’s respective partners, Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Ogie Alcasid, were in the audience, too.
With Rowell Santiago at the helm, “Iconic” ended on a high note, as Cuneta and Velasquez carried out an ‘80s dance hits medley – “Breakout,” “Get Into the Groove,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Gloria,” “Enough is Enough” and “I’m So Excited.”
Two hours will never be enough to squeeze in all the memorable hits of the two superstar singers in just one concert, performed in only one stage. “Iconic” has a second-night performance at the Big Dome and the show is likewise a sold-out engagement.
Next year, “Iconic” will have a US tour and maybe brought even to Europe, as fans of Cuneta and Velasquez from all over the world expect to see them share the stage and perform together.