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Regine Velasquez returns to the movie screen


Yours eternally, Chona
A year after signing up to continue her multimedia career with ABS-CBN, Regine Velasquez forges her jolting comeback as a movie star. At 49, she is “reigning still” and a long line-up of projects is currently being unfurled. Years after filming a foiled indie film project, Mrs. Alcasid dazzles as this year’s toast of Cinema One Originals film festival. She is playing the role of a mourning widow turned crazed KPop fan in Yours Truly, Shirley. While Regine’s name is a legendary force in the music business, her foray to acting is nothing short of critical accolades and commercial successes.

The 2019 Cinema One Originals fest is scheduled from November 7 to November 17. While it isn’t difficult to crack why Regine’s participation ignited such a huge interest, and it’s no longer a mystery how she became Asia’s Songbird and a pop culture icon – it is very important to highlight that Regine’s intergalactic career trajectory isn’t exactly because all the stars in the sky aligned to her favor. In fact, the universe spoiled her supposed first major solo concert success when it was postponed because a foreign act was scheduled on the same date. She may have been skyrocketed to stratospheric triumph as the country’s longest singing sensation; hers wasn’t exactly an overnight feat. And it is a storied fact that isn’t really an enigma to decipher. Her career was taking off on the same historical period when the country’s fate was being decided with the collapse of a strongman rule. The economic stability was in downward spiral, and just like every commodity beyond the basics could not be easily prioritized, her elemental success needed to take slow steps. Just as how Regina Encarnacion A. Velasquez waited to be 14 years of age to qualify for a major singing contest on Philippine television.

Champion at 14
When she was proclaimed Grand Champion on Ang Bagong Kampeon in 1984, she had to wait two years before her first single was even released. She couldn’t even be presented as “Chona” as someone with that name had already been introduced as the country’s answer to both Olivia Newton John and Sheena Easton. She could’ve been them, but she’s already three years too late. Alas, the precocious Chona couldn’t be sold right away. Albeit commercially unsuccessful, she still persevered and would carry on promoting that one song to her name practically in every venue and event available. This is before she was even given a national TV guesting stint as an up and coming singer, notwithstanding settling for a late-night broadcast. Her re-discoverer, talent manager Ronnie Henares, didn’t exactly see her on the telly – he just happened to be in the studio all-mesmerized while she was unsuspectingly rehearsing. And finally, three years since winning the contest, she recorded a full-scale “self-titled” album under the then fledgling Viva Records. “Regine” would sell 20,000 units, enough for an equivalent of a Gold Record award 3 years later.

From Amateurs to selling 8 million records
While Ang Bagong Kampeon was the first televised singing contest Regine joined in, at 6 years old, little Chona was the third placer in The Tita Betty’s Children (radio) Show singing the kundiman torch classic “Buhat.”

Selling her “Iconic” twinbilled concert recently prompted  Regine to sing her own oral history where SHE would attest that Sharon was one her strongest influences, fact is - she would first win her first major singing contest with Nora's version of the kundiman torch classic Buhat (over The Tita Betty's Children [radio] Show, third-placer in 1976).  She would carry on with the same song to win various amateur contests, including the famed BULPRISA contest as a high school student. The last singing championship of her career would be the Asia Pacific Singing contest where it would be seemingly the first time she showed off her worldclass vocal calisthenics belting Broadway tunes in biblical proportions.

Musical influences and forging her own
As she became a teenager, she would alternately shift her "repertoire" between Didith Reyes, Eva Eugenio, and Tillie Moreno. Regine's earliest musical influences had been deeply entrenched to torch and kundiman up until her very first album. At that time, Sharon has already emerged from being a 12-year old singing sweetheart with “Mr DJ” to becoming the Megastar whose church wedding befitted both of a royalty and a fairy tale, and coming from massive movie hits after hits.
Also, while it seemed anachronistic to consider Mariah Carey as her greatest influence, the latter’s musical style would shape Regine’s later range and vocal artistry.

In “Nineteen 90" she broke out of her mould and "created" the sound she's now known for. As markets proved to be bipolar in nature, and to even test her reach further, she returned to her roots in Tagala Talaga, all-Tagalog cover renditions a year later. Then finally,  Regine took the regionals and sold a whopping 1.5 million copies with her 6th  and first international album (Listen Without Prejudice, although it would only sell 100,000 copies locally ).

Just like a superstar
To promote the first single off her debut album, Regine was featured in her first ever movie screen appearance in the forgettable comedy, “The Untouchable Family” in 1988. On the same year, she would star in another comedy, a double-feature, in Pik Pak Boom. Two years later, yet another cameo role was in the offing in another comedy. It seemed her path to transition wasn’t exactly energetic enough to take things to higher level.

Having  won the grand title in the Asia Pacific contest, and later taking over the role of Maria Clara in the musical stage adaptation of Noli Me Tangere, Regine’s golden opportunity would come knocking for the second time as another discoverer would see her perform – this time, it was Viva Films’ Vic Del Rosario. Right there and then, she was offered to take on the lead role of the remake of a remake (Wanted Perfect Mother, Brocka’s first film, was a reimagining of The Sound of Music). 

As history unfolds  and the hands of time finally pushing her to the top, both Regine’s music and movie careers would go hand in hand upwards the pinnacle. She would be recognized as both a critically acclaimed and highly successful box office actress, as her power pop stardom peaked, expanded, and thrived.

And just like her idols - Sharon, Nora, Kuh Ledesma, Mariah, and Barbra – she’s now up where they are now, and she remains followed, emulated, and adored.


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