Anna Maria: The Philippines is in her heart

DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2015 - 9:00am

She has been based abroad for a number of years, but Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (a singer-actress known for her roles in Hannah Montana and in the stage musical Camp Rock, Anna Maria is the granddaughter of Sylvia La Torre) says that no matter how far she travels or how many years she lives away from home, there will always be a soft spot in her heart for the Philippines.

Anna Maria is now here to attend her brother’s wedding (she will be in the country until January 2016) but at the same time is keeping her options open in case work opportunities present themselves. In the last 10 years, Anna Maria has been to the Philippines twice and ended up working both times: In 2012, when she opened for the Jonas Brothers concert and the following year for the inauguration of The Circuit Makati.

“Yes, I am open to possibilities,” says Anna Maria when asked if she’d be willing to consider settling in the country and building a career here. Although she has family and friends in the US, there are so many things she misses about the Philippines that would be reason enough for her to consider living here again: The friendly people, the family-like culture, the traditions and festivities (especially at this time of the year, when Christmas is just around the corner), the tourist spots, the food and the shopping.

Given an opportunity though, ultimately, she would still want to be doing what she loves doing, whether it’s here or there, in the Philippines or in the US.

“Honestly, I see myself still doing what I love most, which is singing and acting, be it on Broadway, musicals on TV and film,” she says, adding that she’s willing to consider doing a stage musical in Manila like other international artists like Joanna Ampil, have done, especially if the project is, in her words, “really interesting.”

If she had the chance to work here, one of the things she would definitely want to try and do is record an album of old kundimans, especially her grandma’s novelty songs. “I’ve been listening to her music,” she says.

Aside from that, she also expresses interest in collaborating with other Filipino singers and songwriters of which she knows there are many talented ones here. One of them is singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid.

“I’m Ogie’s biggest fan,” she gushes. “I had the privilege of doing an impromptu performance with him in New York City without any rehearsal, and it turned out good!”

Another composer whose songs she adores is Jose Mari Chan. Says Anna Maria: “I would be honored to sing and perform with him. Most recently, I have been listening to another talented composer, Vehnee Saturno. I love the Filipino songwriters. They’re so gifted.”

Aside from the Philippines’ talented songwriters, there is another iconic performer she would love to meet and work with: Celeste Legaspi. “I’ve heard so much about her from my grandma, and her music is really classic and one of a kind. I would also love to collaborate with my favorite singers like Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby, Erik Santos, Mark Bautista, Jason Dy (grand champion of The Voice of the Philippines Season 2, which she apparently followed, even while in the US; she keeps close tabs on showbiz developments here via DirectTV. Anna Maria is a regular viewer of Pangako sa ‘Yo and On the Wings of Love) and Christian Bautista.”

But Anna Maria’s interests are not limited to just performing. “I am also passionate about fashion, so I still see myself coming up with my own makeup and clothing line. And who knows? I also dream of studying fashion design in London, Paris and New York.”

In the last few months, that’s exactly what Anna Maria has been doing: A lot of traveling. She did a number of Filipino cultural shows, one of which was a special concert in New York City with her grandmother, who she calls ‘Mamacita.’ She was also a guest performer in Google Talk promoting the Broadway show Allegiance, which is currently running in New York City featuring Lea Salonga and George Takei. “I was also doing readings and presentations for new and upcoming musicals in New York. I appeared on ABC Family’s hit TV series Baby Daddy. I starred in Stephen Schwartz’s hit Broadway show Godspell in  New York.”

At the end of the day, Anna  Maria knows that no matter where her fortunes take her — near or far — she’ll always have a second home in Manila.

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