Are Dingdong & Jessa a ‘package deal’?
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - February 9, 2006 - 12:00am
At presstime yesterday, Jessa Zaragoza was rushed to the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City, complaining of severe stomach pain that started a week ago. After an endoscopy, the doctor discovered a valve in Jessa’s stomach which doesn’t open when she ingests something, thus giving her pain even if she as much as downs a glass of water.

"She has to undergo further observation and a biopsy," Jessa’s husband Dingdong Avanzado told Funfare in a phone interview. "So she has to stay in the hospital for a few more days."

Result: That Thing Called Love, their first ever Valentine concert together slated for Feb. 14 at the Music Museum, has been postponed to next month before they embark on yet another concert in the US – together.

Now, are Dingdong and Jessa a "package deal?" Do they have to be together in a show or, as in the case of their latest joint project for Universal Records, in an album?

"Not really," said Jessa a day before she was confined in the hospital. "Not necessarily. Nagkataon lang. I can go solo and so can Dingdong. I’ve made a name as a solo artist and so has Dingdong. But, of course, it’s better if we work together on a project."

Entitled Laging Ikaw, the Universal album is described as "historic" because it’s the first time that a couple are singing duet songs popularized as solo numbers, including Basta’t Kasama Kita (originally sung solo by Dingdong), As Long As I’m Standing Here (by Barry Manilow), Iisa Pa Lamang (Joey Albert), Born For You (David Pomeranz), Never Thought, Sa Aking Puso, Ok Sa Akin, After All (the only original duet in the selection, by Peter Cetera and Cher), Save The Best For Last, Ikaw, Panghabangbuhay and Laging Ikaw, the carrier single.

"It has never been done before by any other singing couple," said Jessa, "not even by Pops (Fernandez) and Martin (Nievera)."

The concept came from Universal lady boss Kathleen Dy-Go and singer-composer Jimmy Antiporda, who are the producers of Laging Ikaw, released in November last year.

"When Dingdong and I went to the Universal Records office," recalled Jessa, "Ma’am Kathleen informed us that before we do our solo albums, mas maganda if Dingdong and I first record an album of duets. The carrier single, Laging Ikaw, is one of the only two originals in the album. It was Jimmy who recommended us to Universal."

Asked if the green-eyed monster (known as "professional jealousy") has ever reared its ugly head between them, Jessa said, "No, never! Actually, there’s a lot of differences between Dingdong and me. What I admire about him is his passion for work; he’s more passionate than I am. Work is important to me, all right, but my time is now divided between work and being wife to Dingdong and mother to our daughter Jayda, almost three."

Married for five years, Dingdong and Jessa have happily adjusted to each other.

"Do we take a bath together?" asked Jessa. "Yes, we do. We even sing in the bathroom together. That’s how we rehearsed our songs in the album – while taking a shower together. In fact, we sing together in every nook and cranny of our townhouse (which is currently being renovated)."

In that sense, the couple are a "package deal."

"Dingdong is a meticulous artist. When I did a concert (called Soul Sisters) recently with Ara (Mina) and Marissa (Sanchez), it was Dingdong who directed us. According to Marissa, ‘Hoy, Jessa, ano ba ‘yang si direk? Rehearsal pa lang gusto niya performance level na!’ That’s how much of a perfectionist Dingdong is."

Besides taking a "conjugal bath," Dingdong and Jessa jive in many other ways.

"What they say about the adjustment period being difficult is true," admitted Jessa. "Siempre, two people with different backgrounds at magkaibang ugali living together under one roof can be challenging. You have to compromise, sort of meet halfway, and learn how to handle your differences."

Their sleeping habits, for instance.

"Dingdong wants the TV set and the lights off the moment he falls asleep, so even if I still want to watch TV or to read, I try to go to sleep na lang. I’m a very organized person at doon kami nagkakaiba. For example, I don’t want anybody wearing shoes when entering our room but Dingdong always does it. I often remind him, ‘Honey, please take off your shoes.’ He always forgets, eh."

The couple spent the Christmas season in the US with daughter Jayda.

"We went to Lake Tahoe where Dingdong proposed to me," said Jessa.

She remembers how it happened: Dingdong rented a carriage steered by an American. They stopped near the bay and got off. Dingdong fell on his knees and asked Jessa, "Will you marry me?", at the same time slipping a ring into her finger. Jessa was indisposed but she said, "Yes, of course!"

Their theme song used to be Glory of Love. Now, Dingdong loves to sing Three Times a Lady to Jessa.

It’s a pity that the couple’s Valentine show has been cancelled. They could have added more color and romance to the Valentine celebration of other couples.

In the meantime, you can always play Dingdong and Jessa’s Laging Ikaw CD and fall in love all over again while singing along with them in your own bathroom.

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph)

AFTER ALL AS LONG AS I BARRY MANILOW BORN FOR YOU DINGDONG DINGDONG AND JESSA JESSA LAGING IKAW TOGETHER UNIVERSAL RECORDS
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