Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez filled the Mall of Asia Arena to overflowing for two straight nights as she staged her 30th Anniversary concert R3.0. The capacity crowd on each night was treated to different set lists, guest artists, and costume changes—the equivalent of staging two different concerts on two consecutive nights! And while meticulous planning and preparation, a back-to-basics approach to voice care, and vocal excellence all contributed to the success of Regine’s first major solo concert since her 25th anniversary show Silver, it was her faith that sealed the deal.
Backstage, post-prayer, pre-opening.
“I have to admit that after that concert, I was never the same again. I didn’t only lose my voice, I lost my confidence. Inside, I was thinking maybe I lost it,” Regine backtracked, addressing the audience on R3.0’s first night regarding her last big concert that had to be restaged. “I have been so scared of this concert dahil hindi ko alam kung saan ko pupulutin ang confidence ko. When you lose your confidence, it is different. But maybe that’s the whole point—I’m trying to find my confidence but maybe I’m not supposed to. All I have to do is have faith.” She goes on to recite her life verse Philippians 4:13, “I can do this through Christ who gives me strength.”
As the arena was filled with applause and shouts of love, she declared: “Tonight, I am going to enjoy with all of you!”
REGINE WAS CHEERED ON THROUGH HER VULNERABLE AND VICTORIOUS MOMENTS
Whether it was through shrieks and applause or phone lights and group singing, fans and well-wishers surely knew the way to Regine Velasquez’s heart.
R3.0 was lit!
Former Preview editor Chica Villarta observed during R3.0’s Saturday run that the crowd cheered the most whenever Regine would hit the high notes—and especially now that her voice is producing a rounder, more textured sound. “[The fans applauded] to cheer her on and because they were happy to be reassured that she's still the best as what she does,” Chica remarks.
Observe how the audience applauded Regine through every high note of the 1990 single "Narito Ako" and how she held back her tears while singing "You Are My Song."
'90s kids and movie fans had a blast seeing Regine reunite with her DoReMi co-stars Donna Cruz and Mikee Cojuangco onstage. What the audience thought was only a mother and son duet of “I Can”—Nate’s musical inclinations were clearly on display—turned out to be a moment as cinematic as its maiden 1996 edition. As Mikee and Donna walked centerstage and sang the movie’s theme with Regine in the same arrangement as in the film, the entire Arena sang along, fighting back happy tears.
This "Do Re Mi" reunion with three women and a kid onstage is exactly how the 1996 film ended. I’m not crying! You’re crying!
THE TWO-HOUR SPECTACLE WAS ITS OWN FASHION SHOW
From her feathered opera coat during the Call Me/Hot Stuff opening medley and the blush dress she wore while singing “I Can” to her diagonal magenta mini and yellow finale gown, Regine wore only local designers during both concert nights. It is a tradition she’s upheld since the late Louie Mamengo dressed her up in the late '80s.
Regine started strong in a feathered Cocoy Lizaso.
Throughout her career, the country’s most prominent designers—Rajo Laurel, Cary Santiago, and Inno Sotto come to mind—and those currently on her speed dial (Martin Bautista, Cocoy Lizaso, Jaz Cerezo, and Cheetah Rivera to name a few) would create looks befitting of a true music royalty.
Singing her very first single “Love Me Again” in all-white Michael Leyva.
Some of these archived looks, along with Tom Ford for Gucci-inspired ripped denim looks from her mid-'90s Asian pop era, made it to the show’s fashion evolution production number. To the tune late '80s pop hit Urong Sulong, some of Regine’s die-hard fans and drag supporters sashayed in DIY couture and actual clothes from the singer’s massive closet.
“Ito po talaga ang awiting nag-confirm na bakla ako,” Regine says of Urong Sulong.
Martin Bautista, true-blue fan and designer of aforementioned magenta number, praises the Songbird for the inspiration she has imparted to the local design community. “Regine has inspired us designers so much. She's always been ahead of her time, with her sartorial choices, even with hair and makeup. There's always something different and original about her!” he says.
She wore Cary Santiago at the show’s Songbird and Songwriter segment.
REGINE GAVE THE FLOOR TO THE NEW QUEENS OF OPM
Regine usually shares the stage with singers she believes in or has mentored in the past. She has shown herself generous to emerging talent by supporting and producing their songs or entire albums. But the recent concert could not have been a more opportune time for her to nominate OPM’s new queens.
One of the most applauded segments of R3.0’s Saturday run was Regine’s duets with the likes of Morisette Amon (Sometime, Somewhere) and Jonalyn Viray (I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing) while the vocal showcase she shared with Sarah Geronimo (“This is her generation. This is her time,” said Regine of the Popstar) during R3.0’s Sunday show was a musical moment for the ages.
This multi-diva production is more a showcase than a showdown.
Author and pop culture enthusiast Raymond Ang attributes Regine’s stellar lineup of successors and multitude of fans to the genuineness of her own success story. Asked about his favorite Regine reinvention, he shares, “I guess what's still the most amazing transformation is her first—how a self-described probinsyana from humble beginnings willed herself to become one of the country's biggest superstars. It's a transformation that has come to embody the Philippine dream for a lot of aspiring singers. It taught a whole country of aspiring singers how to dream big.”
Sarah Geronimo received her first big break in the musical competition “Star for A Night.” Regine hosted the show and mentored Sarah to victory. Their joint performance in R3.0 was a reunion of sorts.
THE SHOW ONLY VALIDATED THAT REGINE IS INDEED REIGNING STILL
Despite reiterating during one of her spiels her shift in priorities, it still comes out that Regine Velasquez’s reign as OPM’s queen has not—and quite possibly, never—come to an end. Not with such a distinctive vocal style, stellar discography, extensive style archive, box-office draw, pop culture appeal, and clear branding. Especially not with batches of new artists privileged to call her “mentor” and generations of fans who instinctively call her “Ate.” Perhaps like what Barbra Streisand is to American music, she can only become more mythic from here on out.
Regine during her tribute to her late father Mang Gerry, one of the concert’s most touching moments.
Raymond, currently on a mission to watch each of local music’s living legends (from Gary Valenciano to Cecile Licad), sought to understand what made each one legendary. “True enough, the R30 concert answered all my questions,” he says of Regine whom he watched at a concert for the very first time. “I left the venue with a clear understanding of why she's become the icon she is, and why she inspires such devoted following 30 years into her career.”
“No one sings like she does,” Chica points out as we exited the MOA Arena on Saturday night. “Singers who can reach insane octaves come in troves nowadays, but the quality of her voice, the "kulot," the "ipit?" These nuances are Regine trademarks absolutely no one could live up to.”
A crown of feathers hovered above the Songbird.
I, on the other hand, could not stop looking at a couple of photos I took of the stage as Regine sang front and center that Saturday night. It was as if a moving image of wind-blown feathers took on the form of a giant crown and hovered over Regine for most of the concert—and rather fittingly.
The symbolisms were not lost on me: a crown for a woman whose first name is a variant of the Latin word for “queen” and feathers for a singer everyone enshrines as Asia’s Songbird. I must have been seeing things through rose-colored glasses, but hey, die-hard believers often do.