Regine rocks at 53

Five years after Regine Velasquez first signed up with ABS-CBN in October 2018, the singer/TV host/actress still couldn’t forget the “very overwhelming” welcome she got from the network’s bosses and employees.

Nagulat ako (I was surprised), that was wonderful,” she said, recalling the thunderous cheers and rounds of applause she got while walking into the lobby of the ELJ Building until she reached the venue of the contract-signing ceremony.

Later that day, she was given a tribute during a media conference announcing that she had become a certified Kapamilya.

Less than two years later, though, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and, soon after, the network’s franchise was not renewed by Congress. Velasquez was among the ABS-CBN artists who appeared in shows shown on other platforms.

“In life, minsan kailangan lang nating maramdaman na hindi maganda (sometimes we really need to feel something that’s not good) to appreciate where we are or what we have,” she said during the recent mediacon for her contract renewal.

“I guess at that time, mas lalo ko talagang na-appreciate ang mga Kapamilya (I appreciated more our Kapamilya), especially ang mga bosses natin (our bosses), kasi talagang ipinaglalaban nila (because they really fought for us).”

Aside from performing in the Sunday-afternoon musical program, ASAP Natin ’To, Velasquez has also become one of the regular hosts of morning talk show Magandang Buhay, alongside show pioneers Jolina Magdangal and Melai Cantiveros.

Parang hindi kami nagtatrabaho,” she said, laughing. “Ang big deal para sa amin is our lunch. May pa-fiesta parati. Magkukuwentuhan kami, catching up. (It’s as if we’re not working. Having lunch together is a big deal for us, like there’s always a fiesta. We then talk).”

37 years in showbiz

Velasquez, who sports the title Asia’s Songbird, sees her stellar 37-year career, including its ups and down, as an “exciting” journey. Though many would protest, she has graciously maintained in previous interviews that, as she put it, “it’s no longer my time.”

“We are all given special moments in this industry and in this lifetime. Pag nakuha mo na ’yun (When you get it), then be happy, be proud of that moment. Memorize that moment. Kasi sandali lang ’yun e. (Because it won’t last long). Other people will also have their moment. It cannot just be you,” she said.

The veteran singer confessed to feeling “happy” when her younger colleagues ask her for advice, and she usually reminds them of the saying that the show must go on. “Because the audience don’t know what’s happening to you and they don’t really need to. So you just keep showing up. I hope I’m able to say that to them enough.”

Velasquez herself continues to show up. At 53, she’s raring to rock in her latest solo concert, Regine Rocks, happening today, 25 November, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Her setlist is made entirely of rock songs by classic acts such as Lez Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Queen and Rolling Stones.

“I needed to research on the songs,” she pointed out. “And I realized, they were young kids when they were writing these songs, maybe a little bit drunk, or rebellious, and they wanted to be heard. So these songs were created because they wanted to be heard.”

“It’s pretty exciting,” she said of trying out new music beyond her standard repertoire of power ballads and pop songs. “I never thought I could actually sing a rock song. Bagay pala sa ’kin maging rocker. Inaaral ko ang headbanging. Nahihilo ako! (Being a rocker suits me. I’m trying to learn headbanging. I get dizzy!)”

But, “It’s one of the most exciting concerts I’ll be doing, only because it’s so different from what I usually do.”