" The Songbird, My Friend "
By Ernie Duque

From being a grand champion in "Bagong Kampeon," to winning the 
grand prize in an international song festival, and now as a host of "SOP," 
we saw the transformation of Regine Velasquez mainly in her 
appearances on TV. The shy but talented provinciana from Bulacan is 
now acclaimed as Asia's Songbird and the ultimate diva. And as this 
writer confides, Regine has stayed very much the same throughout 
these years.

Most of the people know Regine Velasquez as the superstar singer with 
the Cinderella story. They've seen her on countless magazine covers, 
on the big screen, and on concert stages in the Philippines and 
abroad. To them, she is a celebrity.

To me, she's a friend.

Yes, I have the good fortune of knowing Regine Velasquez as someone 
more than the singer or actress. I know that I am lucky, because not 
everyone gets to know the person behind the superstar singer.
I am one of the privileged few.

I first came to know Regine back in the early '80s when she was just 
starting out in the business. We worked together on countless road 
tours where she is one of the singers and I, a back-up dancer. We 
would often travel to the provinces together to do shows. Even then - 
and despite her shy, simple manner - I could see that she is a 
powerhouse talent. I had no doubt that she would make it big. 
Who she is today has proven that, beyond any doubt, 
Regine Velasquez is truly a star.

One of the reasons that I knew Regine would go far is because she is 
serious about wanting to make it. She is a hard worker. She never 
complains even when rehearsals took too long. And when there were 
rehearsals, she would not stop until she had perfected every note, and
mastered every dance step. She would ride taxis and carry her own 
costumes like the rest of us. People - from musical directors to record
producers, musicians to back-up dancers - loves working with her
because she has no star complex. Even pop diva, Kuh Ledesma, 
who produced Regine's first concert, "Regine ar 17," 
was all praises for her.

Because of this attitude, Regine's rise to fame was quick. It was not 
long before people started to call her a "diva." She is now 
acknowledged as one of the finest female singers in the Philippines, 
and in Asia. She has recorded albums in Hong Kong and even 
did a duet with Bay Watch star David Hasselhoff. 

But if there's one thing that I admire about Regine
( besides her talent, of course ), is the fact that despite all the
fame and fortune that has come her way, she has remained
the simple, down-to-earth person I have always known.

Her simplicity was the first thing that struck me about Regine. 
When I first heard her Cinderella story, I couldn't believe it. 
But yes, it's all true. Regine was born and raised in a small town 
in Bulacan. where she first started joining amateur singing contests. 
Her family was so poor that she had to borrow clothes whenever she 
joins a contest. I remember her telling me once, in the middle of a song, 
she discovered that her borrowed half-slip had fallen to her ankles!

But you just can't put a good singer down. Despite her humble 
beginnings - and the fact that she didn't know much English - Regine 
became the toast of the local music industry. As a dancer (and later, 
a publicist working for the PR agency that handled Regine for 
most of her career), I had the opportunity to get to know her better.
Up close, I was able to observe how she works. I saw how she is 
around her family and how she relates to the people in her immediate 
circle like production assistants and drivers. Most important, I saw 
how she relates to her fans, and it was because of this that 
I came to admire Regine most. More than her talent, or her fame, 
it was how she relates to people that won her my admiration 
and made me a friend ( and fan ) for life.

For instance, though I am officially one of her publicists before, 
Regine never treated me as a paid employee. She treats me as 
a friend. She would always ask after me. She would come to my 
house for dinner, or we would go out to eat. And the thing 
about Regine is that she had no qualms about eating - she would 
eat whatever is served, even if it is dried fish and rice. Sometimes,
she would even eat with her hands! When she has problems, 
or is feeling down (yes, it happens to someone like her too), she 
would call me, and we would chat for hours. And like a true friend, 
she is there for me too when I have problems. Regine is that kind 
of person. Kuh, who did a concert tour with her in the U.S., 
recalls that when she lost her wallet in the dressing room of 
one of the hotels they were performing in, who should knock on 
her door, but Regine? "Makikiramay raw sa pagkawala 
ng wallet ko." ( She was sympathyzing with me for the loss
of my wallet. ) laughs Kuh. What a friends she is!

Most of all, Regine is the kind of person who values the simple 
things in life. For instance, family is important to her. Her family 
is the first to enjoy the financial rewards of Regine's career. Not 
only has she renovated their family home in Bulacan, she bought a 
four-bedroom townhouse for them in Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. 
she sent her brother and sisters to school, and is helping raise her 
nephew and nieces. She has also taken them abroad on vacations, 
especially when she has concert tours abroad. Her generosity is 
legendary, even among friends. She loves giving gifts, 
even with no occasion.

She is also a very trusting person. When someone needs her help, 
she does not hesitate to give it. When her sister Cacai decided that 
she wanted to follow Regine's steps and start her own singing career, 
Regine guested her in her shows and concerts. Now - and as a way 
of paying back the people who helped her get started - Regine has 
put her talent and resources behind former teen heartthrob Gabby 
Eigenmann, who launched his debut album recently. The album, Loving, 
was produced by no less than Regine herself! And she did not only 
produce it; she also helped in the promo of the album by guesting in 
his mall tours. That's Regine - when she decides to give you her 
support, she gives it 100 percent. This woman never does 
anything by halves.

On the other hand, it is Regine's being trusting that sometimes gets 
her into trouble, when unscrupulous people take advantage of her. 
This has happened several times, the latest being the fiasco with the 
US Embassy that resulted in her visa being cancelled for a year. 
However, an investigation later revealed that it was not Regine's 
fault. As a matter of fact, she knew nothing about what happened. 
After she was proven innocent, she was given a new visa. Regine 
recently returned from a triumphant US tour where both Americans
and Pinoys in the US welcomed her excitedly. They just
couldn't get enough of Regine.

Neither can we. And I believe that I speak for most of us when I say 
that we will love Regine for always. As a singer, an actress, a TV 
host, a concert star, or as a friend, she will always be in our 
hearts. I am glad she's my friend.


Copied from .. 
Star Studio Magazine 

A Touching Regine article -
"The Songbird, My Friend"


" It is very strange that the years teach us patience -
that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity 
for waiting." 
   - Elizabeth Taylor


" The best way to find true love
is to let true love find you "

It'll be just like a butterfly-
Never chase it. Instead open up
your hand and show patience..
And it will land right there.

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