Will ‘One Last Time’ really be Gary V’s last concert?

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star
Will �One Last Time� really be Gary V�s last concert?
Gary Valenciano’s ‘One Last Time’ concert is a three-and-a-half-hour visual and auditory delight. Mr. Pure Energy never leaves the stage, and there are no intermissions. Even his costume changes are done onstage.

As I sat transfixed and electrified by Gary Valenciano during his “Pure Energy: One Last Time” concert at the Mall of Asia Arena Friday night, many of his songs took me on quite a few trips down memory lane.

One such memory was meeting Gary in 1981, when we were both in fourth year high school. He was a student in La Salle Greenhills while I was in St. Paul Quezon City, and we were both members of our school’s respective glee clubs. That year, there was a chorale competition at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) among Catholic schools in Metro Manila which both our schools joined.

At one of the rehearsals, Gary and his groupmates Tony Vytingco (now a doctor and the hospital administrator of the Medical Center Imus in Cavite) and Tong Salvador (younger brother of Badong Salvador) struck up a conversation with me and my groupmates Arlene Sanchez, Menakshi Sehwani, May Ann Casal and Milette Francia. After that, rehearsals became more fun because of all the chatting and the seemingly endless exchange of stories between our barkadas.

Charo Santos and Alessandra da Rossi.

After the competition (I don’t even remember who won), Gary and his friends continued to keep in touch with us. He was even Arlene’s date at our senior prom while May Ann eventually became one of his backup singers from 1994 to 2004. (For the “One Last Time” concert series, May Ann once again shared the stage with Gary.)  

Phone lights illuminate one of Gary’s numbers.

When Gary signed up with ABS-CBN 20 years ago, I would see him regularly and he remained as warm, humble, and friendly as always despite his superstar stature. Of course, we would always reminisce about high school and wax nostalgic.

Billy Crawford and wife Coleen Garcia.

And so, when Gary announced that his “One Last Time” concert would celebrate and commemorate his four decades in showbiz, I hoped I’d be able to watch him (and May Ann) do what he does best, even though it was nearly impossible to get tickets.

Gary V with one of his special guests Zsa Zsa Padilla.

Luckily, Milette Francia-Belmonte had an extra ticket for the last show on May 10 since her husband Miguel was a ninong at a wedding and couldn’t make it. Needless to say, I was only too happy to accept when Milette invited me to the show with her. 

Homer Flores and wife Rocky

She and I thus braved the traffic and headed to Mall of Asia last Friday. We had an early dinner at Gloria Maris across MOA and by 8 p.m. were seated in the jampacked Arena.

Company call before the show with Gary and son Paolo Valenciano at the foreground. — Photo courtesy of May Ann Casal

When the lights dimmed and Gary appeared on stage, the crowd went wild. And by the time he sang and danced to Shout For Joy with 30 backup dancers (composed of the Manoeuvres Ignite, Manoeuvres Pioneer, kids of Manoeuvres Pioneer and A-Team) gyrating and grooving with him, everyone was on their feet singing and dancing along. “Mr. Pure Energy” indeed. 

Sam Concepcion.

There were special numbers with Zsa Zsa Padilla, Gloc-9, Jay Durias, Gary’s children Gab and Kiana, and nephew Gio and niece Liana Martinez (children of Gina Valenciano). But it was when best friend Martin Nievera spoke after his special number with Gary and Kiana that gave me goosebumps.

Wife, manager and concert producer Angeli Valenciano.

Martin surprised Gary and the crowd by asking everyone to stand and give Gary a standing ovation to thank him for his undeniable contributions to the music industry. It was so magnanimous of Martin to express his feelings when decades ago he and Gary were rivals. What a blessing it is that they transcended this pop culture “rivalry” and became the best of friends somewhere along the way. 

Gary with May Ann Casal, backup singer.

My personal favorite number that evening was Growing Up, the theme song from the movie “Bagets” that brought back a flood of happy and fun memories from my youth. The crowd went wild again, the people dancing the song’s signature dance step and filling the air with a palpable euphoria.

Gary is a staunch Christian and those who listen to his testimony can’t help but be amazed by how gracious, generous, and faithful the Lord has been to him. He has type 1 diabetes and when he was 14 years old, his doctor said he would live to be 44 to 48 years old tops with sight problems. Not to mention he had heart bypass surgery in 2018, after which his right kidney was diagnosed with cancer.

Thankfully, however, he was later declared cancer-free following surgery! During the concert, as a matter of fact, he regularly checked this high-tech device that could read his sugar level. Fortunately, the readings were always good, thus allowing Gary to continue performing.

And so, when he sang Lead Me Lord and asked celebrity friends in the audience to sing with him. Charo Santos-Concio, Billy Crawford, Coleen Garcia, Vina Morales, Alessandra da Rossi, Sam Concepcion and many others joined him onstage while the crowd turned on their mobile phone lights and sang along, too.

The concert was a three-and-a-half-hour visual and auditory delight. Gary never left the stage, and there were no intermissions. Yes, he took quick water breaks every now and then, but even his costume changes were done onstage! Hats off to Gary’s son Paolo, the concert director, for the captivating LED screen displays, the dazzling drone shots and the amazing production numbers. The beautiful arrangements were care of Mon Faustino, musical director and longtime friend of Gary since their La Salle days. This was a world-class concert fro m start to finish.  

Will “One Last Time” really be Gary’s last concert? Although he jokingly hinted that he wants to make movies again (I believe his last film was 1995’s “Hataw Na” with Miss Universe Dayanara Torres), I hope and pray he will continue to gift us with live performances. After all, doesn’t life begin at 60?

(Gary V becomes a “dual citizen” on Aug. 6 this year.)

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with