Close Encounters of the ‘Shady’ Kind with Randy Santiago

The author with Randy Santiago. | photographs by Rogelio Constantino for the Daily Tribune

Randy Gerard Santiago. That is his name on his Facebook account, with the record jacket design of his hit Babaero album on the cover photo. It’s a name given to him by his parents, filmmaker Pablo Santiago and actress Cielito Legaspi-Santiago (both deceased), who went on having three more sons Rowell, Reily and Raymart, as well as two daughters Rhea and Resciel.

Before Randy became the multihyphenate that he is now — singer, actor, comedian, TV host, director, producer and entrepreneur — he first fell in love with music. So, he joined some musical groups, starting in grade school with the La Salle Green Hills Choir, then Kundirana in high school and then De La Salle University Chorale in college.

While studying at DLSU, taking up Liberal Arts and Commerce, Randy and I were classmates in LIA-COM 24. We were also oftentimes seatmates in our first year in college. He was the quiet type but very hard-working, helpful student. He often made me laugh for I was shy and effeminate, but he readily accepted me for what I am.

Till this day, I vividly remember my parents met through Randy’s father’s film outfit, with my dad working as an actor and my mom being a niece of director Felicing Constantino. They eventually eloped!

I also can’t forget the time Randy supported me when I joined — and won — Jeanne Young’s Spin-A-Win game show on RPN 9 (circa ’70s). He continued giving moral support when I joined GMA7’s Student Canteen’s “IQ 7: Battle of Campus Brains,” a spin-off quiz segment of the top noontime show of that era.

After college, Randy entered showbiz while I joined government service. I now fondly recall attending the premiere night of his first movie, Taray and Teroy (1988), opposite Maricel Soriano. I proceeded to a restaurant in Quezon City, where he was waiting for me, and later he proudly introduced me to everyone there, including his movie’s producer Lily Monteverde of Regal Films.

Years had passed and still Randy, or “Mr. Shades” as he’s called for always wearing dark glasses, has not changed. He remains humble, friendly, faithful and strong. The chapel in La Salle Green Hills has been a witness to his inner strength as it was the place where the wake for his mom was held in 2014. This was followed by the passing of his son Ryan, who, at 24, succumbed to a four-year battle with multiple sclerosis in 2017.

“It’s still painful,” admitted Randy. When he was around Ryan’s age of passing, he started working as an assistant director of his own father, the late Pablo Santiago. “It’s hard when you lose somebody very special to you. It’s hard to think and hard to lose a child.”

All through those losses, music has been one of his means for coping. After all, he’s a singer and performer who remains true to his craft and mission of entertaining his audience with tremendous enthusiasm.

Gino Padilla and Randy Santiago.

Randy once again takes center stage in a concert, titled EYE CON, next Friday, 12 April, at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. He will have as special guests his career contemporaries and good friends Pops Fernandez, Gino Padilla and Juan Miguel Salvador. Randy, Gino and Juan Miguel recorded in 1986 “You’ve Got the Power,” the theme song for the youth-oriented action-comedy flick, Ninja Kids

POPS Fernandez

Randy’s other special guests in EYE CON include younger colleagues Rachel Alejandro and Nina, with today’s new breed of singing contest champions JM Yosures, Khimo, Lyka Estrella, JM dela Cerna, Marielle Montellano, Jezza Quiogue, LA Santos and Calista.  The country’s premiere pop band Six Part Invention will also perform in the concert.

EYE CON’s stage direction is by Jay Klio Bermudez and musical direction by Rey Cantong. For tickets, call Private Eyes at 0966-0041807 and 0950-6237569, or email @[email protected].