Donna is back... but not totally

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During her heyday, Donna Cruz was local showbiz’s original Multimedia Star, making her mark in music as well as other forms of media.

Looking back now, Donna realizes what a big risk she took, giving up her career just when it was peaking. “Ang dali ko siyang na-give up,” she reflects.

Donna was only 21 years old when she married Dr. Yong Larrazabal and gave up her career for a new life as a wife and mother. Following her marriage, Donna moved to Cebu (where her husband is from) and settled there, leaving Manila and her showbiz life behind. Her mother Yollie admits that she shed tears over Donna’s decision, although it turned out to be the right one. Says Donna: “It was a big risk (that I took), pero no regrets. Sobrang blessed ako.”

Donna is now a mother of three. Her kids Belle, 16; Sean, 13; and Gio, 8 all support her showbiz comeback, even if they were too young to remember their mother during her prime as a singer-actress. Donna has officially returned to singing with the release of a new album under Star Music, titled Now and Forever. The album has two original songs and six of Donna’s favorite OPM songs — Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin, Friends, Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin, Nag-Iisang Ikaw, Hanggang and Ika’y Mahal Pa Rin, a duet with Piolo Pascual.

Donna says her return to the scene though, is not really what one would call a full comeback. “It’s only for singing muna, kasi ‘yon naman ang first love ko talaga,” she says, adding that she’s glad Star Music waited until she was really ready. “If I really missed something ever since I got married, it’s singing and the feeling that people like listening to my songs and my singing. It’s one of my greatest joys in life. Singing is my first love and I will always go back to it.”

A lot has changed about the business since she first entered it in the ’90s, but Donna’s not worried about competition or adjusting to the new scenario. In fact, she’s pleasantly surprised that people still remember her music and that some of the young artists today — like Janella Salvador, who did her own version of Donna’s original hit, Kapag Tumibok ang Puso for her own album — are still singing her songs.

Star Music audio content head Jonathan Manalo says they really waited for Donna to become available for this project. “We have what we refer to as ‘legacy artists,’ ‘yung mga nakapag-iwan talaga ng tatak sa industry. Lani (Misalucha) was the first. After her album, nag-iisip kami kung sino pa ang pwede, and that’s when we thought of Donna.”

Speaking of “legacy,” in this album, Donna is reunited with composer Vehnee Saturno, who has also built a significant legacy of his own in local music. It was Vehnee who wrote the two original songs in the album, A Love to Last and Langit Ang Pag-Ibig.

Donna is glad to be working with him again. “Tito Vehnee had a huge part in, and should take a lot of credit for the success of my previous albums and songs, so you can expect to hear the ‘Donna Cruz’ kind of songs in this album,” she says. “People will also recognize my way of singing or style when they listen to the songs, only with more feelings or emotions now because I have experienced and I know the feeling of loving someone so much and feeling so much love.”

Although she has chosen to focus on her music for now, Donna is not closing her doors to other opportunities that might come along. “May mga offers,” she confirms. The only concern is that since she is based in Cebu, doing a teleserye, with its shooting schedule, might pose a bit of a problem, but otherwise Donna is excited to be back and return to where it all began.

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