The Hitmakers and Pops hold Manila shows after ‘sold-out’ US tour

Leah C. Salterio - The Philippine Star
The Hitmakers and Pops hold Manila shows after âsold-outâ US tour
The Hitmakers — Rey Valera, Nonoy Zuñiga, Marco Sison and Hajji Alejandro — and concert queen Pops Fernandez will have a Manila leg of their US concert tour, Four Kings and a Queen, at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Newport World Resorts (formerly Resorts World Manila) on Aug. 26 and 27.

MANILA, Philippines — The recent US concert tour of The Hitmakers — Hajji Alejandro, Rey Valera, Nonoy Zuñiga and Marco Sison — and concert queen Pops Fernandez allowed them to get to know each other better and bond together.

An unfortunate and unexpected thing happened in the tour though, when Hajji and Nonoy suffered from mild COVID sickness, as well as half of the production who were with them.

“We had to reschedule one weekend show in Las Vegas (Nevada), which was pushed back because we had to go on quarantine,” Hajji disclosed. “We had to follow protocol so we were isolated for a week in our respective rooms.

“But all the shows were sold-out and everyone was happy. We got to know Pops better while we were on tour. She’s really very professional. No wonder, up to now, she’s still the ‘Queen’.”

Pops admitted she felt the jitters performing with The Hitmakers for the first time and in the US yet. “I know them,” she shared. “I talked to them previously. My previous expectations of them, I kept them to myself.

“They’re so easy to get along with. It’s so easy to work with them. You will not find any problem being with them. They are all so funny.”

Most endearing about The Hitmakers is their professionalism all throughout the tour. Pops said Hajji acts as the leader in the group, when it comes to lining up the songs in their repertoire and organizing everything for the show.

“He’s strict when it comes to time,” Pops said of Hajji. “Somebody has to do it. Nonoy is the one who’s really calm, while Marco was the one who was consistently followed by his fans anywhere we went, with matching kisses. Rey is really so quiet. At first, I thought he was suplado. But once he’s there, he will make you feel at ease.”

The Hitmakers were surprised that Pops was very down-to-earth all throughout their tour. “She has no airs usually seen in other performers,” Hajji said. “Pops is queen, not just in her performance. Even in her ways.”

Rey’s initial impression of Pops was suplada. “When you go on tour, that’s where you will know the real attitude of a person. All four of us have been together for a long time. Even if our heads are not cool, we understand each other.

“I was waiting for Pops to really show her true attitude. She has patience. A very long string of patience. She’s very professional. That’s why she can really join us any time. We can do a concert tour again. We don’t mind doing it with Pops again.”

Marco noted that Pops’ sense of humor surprised most of them. “Out of the blue, Pops will crack a joke. Aside from being fit for a queen and very good-looking, I love her sense of humor. She’s very professional in every sense of the word. She’s very prompt. Magaan to be with her.”

Pops had nothing but nice words for The Hitmakers. “In every production, there is no such thing as perfection,” she said. “You have to be open to a lot of unexpected situations.”

“The Hitmakers are all professionals. They know how to adjust. They know how to deal with the problem. When your luggage didn’t get on your flight, you cannot do anything about it but to wait. They really waited for their luggage and our show was scheduled the same night,” she added.

Hajji couldn’t be more thankful for the warm reception of Filipinos in the US when The Hitmakers performed with Pops. “We witnessed anew the love of Filipinos for the Original Pilipino Music (OPM). The support, you cannot go wrong with your fellow Filipinos. You will feel their excitement, support and love.”

The group was supposed to perform in Lake Tahoe (Nevada), Chicago (Illinois) and Honolulu (Hawaii), but they decided to save those places for the tour next year. Most likely, Texas, Mississippi and even Canada will be added to their 2023 itinerary.

Meanwhile, Four Kings and a Queen will be staged at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World Manila on Aug. 26 and 27. Hajji announced the Manila shows will be improved, with a few more songs added, while other tunes will be removed.

“Dagdag-bawas,” Hajji smilingly said. “When it’s a casino, you are only allowed to perform for only two hours. When you don’t regulate the performances of these artists, the show will last for three days and two nights. That’s only for the spiels.

“Given a time window, we manage to squeeze in everything. So, we choose the best songs for our repertoire. The ones that we did in the US, we will stage that at Newport.”




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