Every day is Showtime for Mel Feliciano

Mel with choreographer wife May Francisco and their children

Every day is Showtime for Mel Feliciano

Rogelio Constantino Medina (The Philippine Star) - March 8, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — It’s Showtime every day of the week for Mel Feliciano.

Inside the studio, 57-year-old Pangasinense Rommel Kierulf Feliciano, or simply Mel, who is also a noted dancer, choreographer, certified retro Zumba instructor and stand-up comedian rolled into one, was filled with enthusiasm as he gave instructions to some 300 people in the studio and somehow entertained the crowd with his jokes. 

Later, during a commercial break, Mel approached me and invited me for an arranged interview with him backstage.

Somewhere at the upper floor of ABS-CBN, I met It’s Showtime choreographer May Francisco, Mel’s wife and my late sister Au’s colleague as OctoArts’ Solid Gold Dancers, the famous dance group that Mel choreographed in the ‘90s.

“I am planning to retire in the near future to spend more time with my children, especially with my 10-month-old child who is almost exactly like me,” said the proud dad who has been with ABS-CBN for the past 30 years.

He said the reason for his separation from his former wife Anna (he has a child with her) is due to lack of time. “It is work-related. Both of us are choreographers. Both of us were too busy with our work. We could not agree with each other. Time was the reason.”

He continued: “I want the people to know that I gave all my properties in Filinvest home and in Baguio City to her.”

Through dint of hard work, he was able to buy a land in Vista Verde in Cainta, Rizal and later built a simple house there. As a sideline, he has been selling pandesal, earning P3,000 a day and has a lugaw and mami carinderia near his home and a food house in front of FEU Manila. 

It should be recalled that he was the choreographer of Eat, Bulaga! (then on Channel 2), Sa Linggo nAPO Sila (with the APO Hiking Society) and ASAP. He also became the floor director of Pilipinas, Game Ka Na Ba? (then hosted by Kris Aquino and later by Edu Manzano who danced to the music of the Papaya song that Mel choreographed) and  Wowowee (hosted by Willie Revillame). 

Mel had a band known as Mel Feliciano and the Rubber Band that performed in Camelot Hotel and other entertainment outlets.

He next reminisced about his younger years. When his late uncle Guillermo Feliciano, who financed his education, died, he became a tricycle boy and a junior basketball player in high school at the Lyceum of the Philippines to help in the family’s income. But he finished his secondary education at Espiritu Santo Parochial School in Tondo, Manila. In college, he took up business administration at the Philippine Christian University. 

He revealed that it was his younger brother Zaldy Feliciano (his other siblings are Dodie, Gina, Adit, Ronnie and Jelai) who introduced him to the world of dancing. Famous dancer-TV host Chito Feliciano, host of Dance Time with Chito, was his uncle. 

“I was just Zaldy’s assistant. In the course of joining him, I observed how his group danced and I found out I could perform,” remarked Mel, who became a member and later as choreographer of Dina Dancers and Alma Moreno Dancers.

He said he learned a lot from TV directors Al Quinn, Vic de Guzman, Danni Caparas, Bert de Leon, Johnny Manahan and Bobet Vidanes (director of It’s Showtime). “I owe them lots of learning — from the things that dancers need, to how to use a camera and how to do blockings.”

Given the opportunity, Mel wants to appear in a TV drama or comedy series and wishes to be a stand-up comedian abroad to earn money for his family. 

“When I visited Japan, I was treated in a restaurant in a five-star hotel by some members of the old Solid Gold Dancers as we remembered the happy days. They used to call me Manong. They are now contented and well-off,” he said with a smile as I was about to go back to my seat in ABS-CBN’s It’s Showtime show that has entertained Filipino households for eight years now.

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