2. Regine with a difference
- Ann Montemar-Oriondo () - May 19, 2002 - 12:00am
A Regine Velasquez concert invariably becomes a big musical event, but even by Regine’s consistent standard, her One Night with Regine Velasquez concert last April 26 may well linger in music-lovers’ memories far longer than the rest.

For one thing, the outdoor setting at the Rizal Park’s Agrifina Circle was really something else. Imagine this: The sea breeze blowing playfully from Manila Bay; the twinkling stars and silvery moon overhead; the steps of the National Museum silently but powerfully leading the eyes to the stage fronting the museum’s facade; the Museum’s stained glass windows lit from inside, blending perfectly with the majestic Greek columns lit by a yellow-greenish hue; the Philippine flag billowing on the left of the stage, while the National Museum flag waved on the right; and a cleverly wrought, gigantic reddish letter "R" (for "Regine"), whose lower right slash winded its way all across the stage (it was so dramatic, Regine at one point stood in the "R’s" tail as she and the at-least-50-strong San Miguel Master Chorale did an awesome take of On the Wings of Love ala the classic Carmina Burana ).

For another thing, the concert had a lofty goal: To raise fund’s for Bantay Bata 163. For half a decade now, Bantay Bata 163 under the leadership of Gina Lopez, Managing Director of the ABS-CBN Foundation, has worked with the DSWD, Local Government Units, and other child-caring institutions in fighting child abuse.

Gina Lopez was present during the concert and expressed her hope that Bantay Bata 163’s latest project, the Children’s Village in Norzagaray, Bulacan, would become "a center of excellence." Regine revealed she had a soft spot for the center, coming from the province of Bulacan herself.

And then there was the symbolism of the night: Regine, a world-class Filipino, performing with the equally world-class Ryan Cayabyab (conducting the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra) right in front of the National Museum. When Regine performed some of the late National Artist and lyricist Levi Celerio’s classics like Ikaw Lamang ang Aking Iibigin, Saan Ka Man Naroroon, Kahit Konting Pagtingin and Sa Ugoy ng Duyan, one could not help but feel proud about being a Filipino. As the the notes of Levi’s musical collaborators and his own lyrics rang majestically all the way to the skies, one got the sense that Levi right then was smiling from the great yonder with deep approval.

The concert–at least for this writer– also aroused a compelling desire to visit the National Museum to appreciate other national treasures. More so after John Silva, Senior Consultant of the National Museum, related the Museum’s interesting history: The Museum was built in l939 by Antonio Toledo, the same architect who had designed the Manila City Hall. In l945, two-thirds of the Museum was destroyed by cannon fire. In 1946 the US Government said it would build a new Museum but Antolin Ureta, who had the Museum’s original architectural plans and believed in its beauty, suggested that the original plans be followed instead. That came to pass and the 94-year-old Antolin Ureta lived to witness the Museum’s rededication in l999. "Unless we go to war again," John Silva told the concert audience, "(the museum) will be forever!"

As a musical event, One Night with Regine offered a variety of songs to please just about all types of music lovers. Wearing slinky, glittery gowns that showed off her svelte figure, Regine dished out solo numbers from the Carpenters’ classic Sing, to Ikaw (sung in Pilipino and Spanish), to Aiza Seguerra’s Pagdating ng Panahon which she sang a cappella with the choir, to songs reflecting what women have to go through like At Seventeen and I’ve Been to Paradise, to an Abba medley (Thank You for the Music, Take a Chance on Me, Money, Money, and Mama Mia sang ala Handel’s Messiah).

Regine also had heartily-applauded numbers with fast-rising and debonaire RJ Rosales, with whom she sang a medley of Broadway songs from the West Side Story, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables; Roselle Nava, Bituin Escalante, and Carol Banawa, with whom she had the audience clapping and up on their feet with the disco hit, You Got the Best of My Love; and Ogie Alcasid with whom she set up a romantic mood.

Regine was in a playful mood that night, sitting atop Ryan Cayabyab’s piano at one point and singing there; greeting friends from the audience which included her sister Cacai Velasquez, Dodot and Mikee Jaworski, Jamby Madrigal, Maurice Arcache, and Vicky Zubiri, among others; and naughtily asking members of the audience a question or two. One interesting sidelight of the concert was when Regine greeted–and then led the singing of Happy Birthday– the debutante who had graciously agreed to forego holding her debut in the venue to give way to the concert.

It’s often been said that time seems to drag on when you’re with someone whose company you don’t like, and that time flies quickly when you’re with someone whose company you do enjoy. One Night with Regine made a good case for the truism of this cliché.

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