Regine V breaks free from expectations, insecurities

Vanessa A. Balbuena (The Freeman) - February 28, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Initially billed as a Valentine’s spectacle, the “Freedom: Regine Velasquez-Alcasid Digital Concert” is finally a go tonight after it was postponed when the Asia’s Songbird was exposed to a Covid-19 positive individual.

The singer has already tested negative and will now fulfill her promise to fans in a two-hour live band concert setup where she is set to offer a different repertoire and will be joined for the first time on stage by a surprise guest.

Explaining her show’s title, Regine said it speaks of her desire to be free of anxiety, fear, and expectations. “Because of the pandemic, we all want to be free. We want to go out and do what we used to do…go to work, eat in a restaurant without being afraid. Also since I’ve been doing online shows, hindi naman sa nagsawa ako singing the same songs, medyo I wanted to do something else and be given that freedom to sing what I want,” she said. “Every year I would have a concert and I read on Twitter and Instagram their expectations and that stresses me. It drives me crazy. So I haven’t been reading. I want to be free of these expectations.”

Produced by ABS-CBN Events, IME, and PLDT, “Freedom” is directed by Paolo Valenciano with musical direction from Regine’s brother-in-law, Raul Mitra. It will be streamed at 8 pm over ktx.ph, SKY Pay-Per-View, and iWantTFC.

In a lengthy virtual conference, Regine talked about how she stays on top of her game, her comedic home life, the delight of discovering teen sensation Billie Eilish, and more.

Was there a time you lacked freedom?

I started really young. I was 14 when I won ‘Bagong Kampeon.’ So I was always being told what to do, what to sing, how to speak, how to dress up. Everything spoon-fed. When I was growing up, I was kind of struggling with having the freedom to sing what I like, wear the clothes I like…meron din akong ganyan. My parents were also strict, but just the right amount. Ayaw nila mapariwara ako because there was a chance that could happen. Eventually I was given a chance to do what I wanted when I turned 19. The ’19:90’ album, that was my concept. My wonderful manager, Ronnie Henares, he made it a reality for me.

How do you take care of your voice?

After giving birth I had such a hard time singing because when you’re a woman you have hormones to deal with and it affects the voice. Emotionally too it affects us. I just had to remember that it’s a muscle, that if you keep using it, then it will be okay. The more you use it, the more it becomes powerful. Look at Tony Bennett and Tita Pilita Corrales. Experience has a lot to do with it also. Sometimes because of my acid reflux it’s a bit difficult but I just ignore it. So the key is to just keep on singing. My husband tells me I can lie low but not stop singing. This is God’s gift to me and I’m supposed to share it.

With newer and younger singers around, how do you stay relevant?

Kanta lang ako nang kanta. That’s who I am. Before I would do movies, and I loved that! I also did some soaps. It was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot. But I am a singer first and foremost. So when I returned to ABS-CBN that’s all I wanted to do. I told the bosses I just wanted to sing. I’m happy to be in this great musical variety show ‘ASAP.’ Every week I get to sing and see my friends. You have a hunger to experience more, and there are still a lot I haven’t dueted with. It’s very exciting for me every week. My voice is returning since I’ve been using it a lot. I think that’s how you stay relevant. Just always be passionate with whatever it is that you do. People will see passion.

Have you achieved your goals since returning to ABS-CBN?

When I came back I had a lot of expectations but I’m not the type to over-expect. I was just really happy to be part of ‘ASAP’ because a lot of my friends are there. Before that, I was having a hard time singing. You all know the story. Now that I’ve been using it, it’s getting easier. Yung hindi na naghahanap ng oras. Dati kasi maarte siya. Kailangan i-warm up. Now even if I just woke up I actually have a voice. Although kailangan pa batakin, but I’m good. These two years I’ve been with ABS-CBN, I’ve been so blessed. I was able to work with people that otherwise would have been impossible to work with, like Vice Ganda, Ate Sharon, and Sarah Geronimo in a full concert. You all know that I’m the biggest fan of Sharon. Vice has been my friend for a long time. I’ve known him since payatot pa siya. I had my last concert with Sarah last February. If the pandemic didn’t happen I would have done a lot more concerts because ang dami ko pang hindi nakakatrabaho. I work with them at ‘ASAP’ but iba pa rin ang concert. That’s how you get to know one another because lagi kayo magkikita. I haven’t had back-to-back concerts with Gary V, KZ Tandingan, Yeng Constantino, Angeline Quinto, Kyla, Moira dela Torre…still so many. I’m still excited because there are so many possibilities.

What scares you these days?

When I was younger, mas wala akong kinatatakutan. Diba ganoon kapag bata ka? You feel invincible. We think we can do anything and everything. Kaya yung mga kanta ko noon hindi ko pina-practice pero sige lang banat lang ako ng banat. As you get older pala, you get insecure. Of course you’re not the same anymore. My voice is not the same. My body doesn’t feel the same. I just have to accept what I have become. I’ve worked so hard, more than 30 years I’ve been in this business, so I should be a little bit proud of myself. Meron din naman akong na-achieve. My biggest achievement is still being able to help my family. Fears will always be there. When I was worrying during the pandemic, my husband would say, ‘Si God nga gave animals the ability to hunt and feed themselves. Ikaw pa? Tayo pang mga tao? We are the most precious creation of God. Why wouldn’t he provide for us?’

Any remaining career goals?

I have been so blessed that everything I prayed for, I was able to get. Although for some of my prayers I had to wait, hindi kaagad sinasagot but eventually binibigay din sa akin. Wala na talaga akong mahihiling pa. I’m more thankful to our Lord for giving me this wonderful talent which made me help my family, entertain people and be an inspiration. That’s the best thing I’ve experienced in my life – to be an inspiration for young people. Right now it no longer matters to me if sikat ka pa ba or significant. What’s important is to inspire other singers, that if Regine can do it, so can they. But if we can dream big – and I know it’s far-off – given the chance I’d love to work with Barbra Streisand and Christina Aguilera.

What music got you through 2020?

Billie Eilish. Nate taught me because he’s a big fan. Ang galing galing pala niya. How old is she, 65? Parang ang dami na niyang experience kung makapagsulat siya. Parang aping-api siya. I think she’s brilliant. I just recently discovered her music. It became my bonding with Nate to listen to her. Mataas yung musicality niya eh for a nine-year-old. Now he’s listening to classical. I’ve also been on YouTube looking for artists. I was researching for the concert. I know that he’s been there but I discovered Ben Platt, and my gosh!

How did you explain the pandemic to your son Nate?

When the lockdown started we tried to explain to him what’s happening. But I didn’t expect him to understand, because I myself do not. In a way I’m glad that he doesn’t understand how serious it is. He just knows there’s no school so he’s happy. But lately he’s been feeling the blues because he hasn’t seen his friends and cousins. Halos kasi every Sunday pre-pandemic we had dinner at the house with the cousins. Although they do online gaming, iba pa rin ang personal interaction. We were a little worried. I guess we just have to devote more time for him. Sometimes we take it for granted since we’re just at home. He’s 9 and he’s becoming more aware and realizing that life is not the same.

With you and your husband both singers, is it always like a musical at home?

Every day at home is like a comedy show actually. Yung naaasar na ako sa kanya pero hindi ko makuhang magalit kasi nakakatawa talaga ang asawa ko. But I love it when he sits down on his piano, plays his songs and biglang magbabago yung arrangement. It’s amazing how he would come up with these melodies and suddenly it’s a song. He’d tell me he’s writing it for me but after two months you hear Erik Santos singing it. So sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m not. He’s a generous person you see, he just gives away his songs.

How do you keep the flame in your marriage burning?

I likened this ‘Freedom’ concert to my relationship in that I’m asking my audience to lower their expectations so I can still surprise them. Same thing with marriage. You need those little surprises to make the relationship work and exciting. Last year we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. He is still all I need. I love having him around. This pandemic I know it’s normal for couples to argue because you’re stuck at home. We’ve had our share of arguments but it’s all part of it. I’m happy to say we passed that test with flying colors. I’ve learned so much about my husband this past year. I’m sure he also discovered a lot about my character. So you just grow grow together. How? Spending time together, talking honestly, telling your spouse exactly how you feel but in a manner na mahinahon at wala kang sinusumbat. And humor is very important.

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