It’s payback time for Rachel Alejandro
- Maridol Rañoa-Bismark () - November 15, 2002 - 12:00am
My, how times change! Many years ago, Rachel Alejandro and Dingdong Avanzado was hot copy. Every little tiff of theirs was magnified in print, radio and TV. "Our fights were the stuff of showbiz TV programs," recalls Rachel.

Professionally, they never had it so good as a team. Rachel was the lyricist, Dingdong the composer. Together, they created the melancholy Paalam Na and Paano Kung Mahal Ko Pa (inspired by Dingdong’s real-life agony over a girl who left him after his relationship with Rachel ended).

Oh, how Rachel misses that very fruitful professional partnership! Her upcoming concert, entitled Another First! (tonight at the Casino Filipino, Amphitheater Parañaque with Starworks Inc. as line producer), could have pitted her back-to-back with her former boyfriend (now very much married to Jessa Zaragoza). But the concert bosses (were they thinking of Jessa?) deemed it better to just tap Rachel’s ex-boyfriend as guest in the weekend show.

Rachel herself is careful lest things be misconstrued.

"I don’t want to step on other people’s toes. So, unlike before when I can call him anytime whenever an idea strikes me, I text Dingdong first to ask when is the best time to get in touch with him," says Rachel.

Her five-year boyfriend, Lee Robin Salazar, understands. In fact, he’s breathing a sigh of relief that their relationship isn’t as high profile as that which transpired between Rachel and Dingdong.

Age, Rachel discovered, has much to do with the fate of a relationship. Dingdong, she recalls, was older than she is and therefore, more set in his ways. Robin, two years her junior, finds it easier to bend to the demands of the relationship.

Rachel herself admits experience has mellowed her.

"I used to be a perfectionist. Now, if something goes wrong, I can laugh about it," she says.

The more relaxed mood is well-earned. After such mammoth productions as Katy, Alikabok, Kenkoy Loves Rosing and Larawan, what else is there to prove?

Rachel acknowledges this and counts her blessings in her latest composition, Heart’s Desire, which she will also sing in the show. She sums up her feel-good outlook:

"I always wanted to be a singer since I was a girl. Singing is God’s gift to me. Now it’s time to share this gift with others and offer it to the Lord."

The song, which also mirrors her present state of contentment, will be included in her next album which Rachel plans to produce herself.

Hajji Alejandro’s daughter also longs for the day when she can revive her fruitful professional partnership with Dingdong. After all, even if they can’t stare into each other’s eyes, nor kiss each other in many a TV show anymore, the friendship has remained.

It was Rachel the distraught Dingdong ran to years after they broke up and a succeeding love affair failed. "You’ll get over it,’’ she promised him. In fact, her cousin, Nino Alejandro, even introduced him to another girl.

As Rachel now recalls. "Dingdong wouldn’t have met the love of his life – Jessa – had we forced ourselves to continue the relationship." But even if she has nary a complaint about her love life, Rachel shakes her head when quizzed about marriage plans. She has many other things to do, in the first place.

First up after her Casino Filipino show (with tickets at SM branches) are two concerts in picturesque Switzerland. Then, since she and Geneva Cruz were such a smash in their recent show, their back-to-back concert, Showdown, will have a repeat.

"Geneva is a friend. I know what her strong points (as a singer) are. And, since I want her to shine, I let her hog the limelight in the show," Rachel spills the beans on the secret of Showdown’s success.

After 16 years in the business, Rachel Alejandro is way above the gimmicks singers, and their managers sometimes dish out, just to make their presence felt. Yes, she has warned Dingdong talks about their past romance might be revived, now that he’s guesting in her show. But they’re confident it won’t go overboard, since they’ve moved on with their respective lives.

Besides, the time for intrigues, for comparisons, is over. Rachel wears her crown as one of musicdom’s most enduring artists, with cool confidence.

Now she knows it’s payback time. Time to let others like Carol Banawa, a guest in her show, shine as well.

Rachel knows that far from diminishing her star, it can only add luster and spice to her act. That, come to think of it, is as right an attitude as any for someone as established an artist as Rachel Alejandro is.

AMPHITHEATER PARA ANOTHER FIRST AS RACHEL CAROL BANAWA CASINO FILIPINO DINGDONG GENEVA CRUZ RACHEL RACHEL ALEJANDRO SHOW
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