" Woman on Top "


It's control with a capital "C" that's primary on Regine Velasquez's agenda. Directing concerts, producing albums, art-directing videos, even applying her own make-up. Rhea Dumdum had to sprint to keep pace.

She directs her own concerts, produces her own songs and albums, takes charge of her music videos, art directs and styles certain productions (just as she did for her sister, Cacai's album cover shoot), and deftly does her own makeup. Without a doubt, she is a woman in control of her destiny. No, not a spoiled prima donna, but an artist collaborating with her peers.

Now that the first year of the real new millennium is already in full swing and her recording and concert career is pretty much on a roll, Regine Velasquez is not about to fly to Venice and realize her dream romantic getaway. For as of press time, she is still unattached and tightly bound to her work.

As though she was a newcomer in the industry she dominates, she excitedly discloses that she has goals to meet and skills to develop. "I'm aiming to develop my acting. As a performer, I'm more at ease already, I'm more confident and I know what I'm doing (on stage), but lacking pa sa acting. I was not very confident with it before," she admits, and thus explains why she dodged moviemaking when she could. And it showed too. While her 13 pop albums are some of the country's best and her concerts the most breathtaking, her six films are, well, maybe okay. Last year, she teamed up with actor Robin Padilla in the movie star-fan romantic story Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw. This year she's bent on doing two films - "simple, feel-good movies muna," she stresses.

Tireless, innovative and grounded Regine certainly is, and a major tenet in her life is this: everything is a learning experience. "I always think that I can still improve myself, there are always new things to be learned, always another song to experiment on." Basking in adulation is not her virtue: "I still feel embarrassed when they tell me, 'Ang galing mo kumanta'."

Regine's core has hardly changed. She is still about music. However, through the years, she has learned to apply Madonna's secret: Always do something new, something daring.

Almost 15 years ago when she bagged the grand prize in TV's popular singing contest, Ang Bagong Kampeon, Regine was gangly and plain. The 16-year-old voice box from Bulacan had no frills (or probably too much of them) and packaging to herald the tremendous talent in her. "Chona" (her nickname from her real name, Regina) seemed almost without a clue as to how to put herself together.

That was then. Initially just trying to "go along with the fashion" and not meaning to be a trendsetter, Regine is now a sophisticated artist with taste, style, and vision.
When she was just starting, she was simply given songs to sing, or told what projects to do next, or given direction in her concerts. "Before, that was okay since I didn't know much. But now, I like it better, it's more fun because my voice is being heard and I'm more involved."

In R2K, her 1999 upbeat revival album, which she also produced, she relished the freedom given to her, "although there's a danger to that too. It's not all the time that I can do whatever I want. I need an outsider to give comments. That was fun for me pero ang hirap magtrabaho. Tinutukan ako from day one. All the arrangers, I told them what kind of arrangement I wanted."

With her newfound voice, Regine discloses frustrations about the entertainment industry, "Maraming talented na tao and they're not given a chance (to shine)." Good writer, directors, and performers remain untapped because the industry is expanding un-dynamically and since producers now are afraid to place their bets on younger artists. There is just so much at risk; the cost - and especially the taxes - are very high.
"When I started, ang dami ko talagang lounge acts, ang dami talagang producers - mga first-time producers. They were able to do that and they weren't scared," she observes. She points out that nowadays, only well-established producers put up shows, and it's the bankable stars they get like Martin Nievera, Zsa Zsa Padilla and Pops Fernandez.
"I just wish that young, talented singers are given a chance the way I was given a chance before. Really, kasi I was just given a chance," she insists.

All right Regine, we'll take that explanation. Sure, it was a chance that started you out. And you delivered too.