The Songbird still soars
Don Jaucian (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Regine Velasquez-Alcasid just shattered the myth of her highest version videos.

But first, a bit of context: a quick search of “regine velasquez highest version” on YouTube yields a smattering of songs apparently sung in stratospheric notes. “Love on Top (highest version) – Regine Velasquez After Giving Birth”, “Halo – Regine Velasquez [With F5 to G5 Belted Note]”, and even “Disney’s Frozen ‘Let it Go’ The Greatest Version in the World [HQ].” In one video, shot in a mall show in Cagayan de Oro, a fan actually shouts “Miss Reg, taasan mo!” as she prepares to sing Pangarap Ko Ay Ibigin Ka, to which she replies, “Try ko.” These videos are a testament to her seemingly boundless vocal capacity. Regine though, in all humility, laughs it off when asked about it and unkowingly breaks the hearts of a million gay men.

 “Nakakatawa nga yun eh tapos hindi naman. Hindi naman highest version, nilalagay lang nila. Wala namang highest version.”

The Songbird admits though that sometimes she tends to get bored with songs that don’t require powerful vocals. She’s aware that fan service, the kind that gets them all riled up with their eyeballs popping out, comes with a degree of difficulty, literally in her case.

 “I don’t mean to make any songs hard. It’s just that when I’m on stage, with the adrenaline rush and all, you get excited. I do try to hold back [because] otherwise I’d be screaming the whole show. That’s not good; people don’t want to see a singer scream all the time. Pine-pace ko din kung saan lang ako magagalit.”

Pinoy fascination with birit

It’s a Pinoy fascination, this idea of birit as a spectacle. Long before American Idol brought back the frenzy of singing contests, Pinoys have held their own star search in every barangay and, to some extent, in karaoke bars. Stories such as Regine’s have become hallowed fairy tales coming from the talent search stage: a little girl from a humble background gradually making rounds of all the competitions she can join until she finally becomes a legend in the music scene. This isn’t overselling her success — she has actually become a benchmark for aspiring performers who sing using their hairbrushes as they dream of singing for a crowd of thousands.

Regine balks at the word “idol” and the concept of being one. She prefers to be called an “inspiration.” Perhaps it’s the apparent association of “idol” with worship (she is a devout Christian) and the imagery that comes with it. But it’s hard not to put someone like Regine on the altar of pop music. Her brand of music is solely hers, her takes sonically distinct and recognizable. Songs like Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw, Narito Ako, and Tuwing Umuulan (which she admits is her favorite song to sing) remain in her hold, no matter how many covers have succeeded her versions.

For someone who has been performing since she was six, it’s vital that she keeps on challenging herself. In her upcoming series, “Regine at the Theater,” she’s both surprised and excited that she can still push the limits of her abilities. Populated with showtunes from musicals and theater productions, her setlist ranges from staples (a medley of songs from Wicked) to the unexpected (Still Hurting from The Last 5 Years).

Out of her comfort zone

 “I’ve been rehearsing, practicing my tone. Kasi iba-iba yung placement ng kanta so binabago-bago ko yung placement ng boses ko. I have to get used to the tone that each song requires. Iba-iba siya eh. Hindi siya kagaya nung songs ko na ganun na sya, yan na yun. Out of all the concerts that I’ve done, this will be the most colorful as far as vocals are concerened. I’m using techniques that I haven’t done before, singing songs that are not in my comfort zone,” she says.

Regine has been careful in plotting out the next step in her career, mindful of her age and what is expected of her. Her reign has been storied and intense: she has sung perched atop the Manila Peninsula fountain, performed at the Carnegie Hall, and even upstaged Mandy Moore at the MTV Asia Awards. She might be more inclined to favor the mellower side of the musical spectrum these days and perform with less flashy outfits. But whatever she is doing, we’re all just glad to witness the Songbird doing what she does best.

* * *

Regine at the Theater runs on Nov. 6, 7, 20, and 21 at the Solaire Theater.

Tweet the author @donutjaucian.

ACIRC ALIGN AMERICAN IDOL ASIA AWARDS BELTED NOTE CARNEGIE HALL GREATEST VERSION KAILANGAN KO LEFT QUOT REGINE
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