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Notes and Reviews

"Trial By Water" Ma-Yi Theater Review

AEGIS, they came and they conquered and it was worth the money

Love ko si Koy! Camile Velasco's NY media lunch

Tell Me, about Joey Albert

Get Intimate: Patricia Javier

Re-learning OPM with Hajji and Rachel Alejandro

Side A Rocked New Jersey!!!

Aegis Band, April Boy Regino entertained Guam

Pinoy classic Rockers rocked the Kiss Club

Diva 2 Diva at Harrah's Lake Tahoe - a certified hit!

An Evening with Dessa

Vegas Comes to Strathmore: Misalucha & The Society of Seven

The Leyte Dance Theater ……. A Knockout Performance

Megastar Sharon Cuneta brings her best to Atlantic City!

Red hot Pops and Regine set Atlantic City ablaze!

Lynn Sherman: Beyond the swing element

Society of Seven, Lani Misalucha Continue to Enthrall Audiences

Rica Peralejo at the San Jose Sheraton: Encore! What you see is what you get, and then some...

Lea and I, under the "Orange Colored Sky"

Fil-Am wins Best Director Award at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival

Freestyle NYC concert review

Parokya ni Edgar storms into New York City!

The Greatest Hitmakers in NJ: a great reminiscence

Been There Done That But Give Us Some More! The APO Strikes Again Spring Concert Tour!

Greatest Hitmakers rock San Francisco


"Trial By Water" Ma-Yi Theater Review
by Luis Pedron of

"Trial By Water"
Written by: Qui Nguyen
Directed by: John Gould Rubin
Ma-Yi Theater Company
Jorge Ortoll, Executive Director
Ralph B Pena, Artistic Director
in Association with Queens Theater in the Park

Starring: Arthur Acuna, Genevieve DeVeyra, Dinh Q Doan, Jojo Gonzalez, Karen Tsen Lee, Timothy McCown Reynolds and Jessica Chandlee Smith

March 14 - April 9, 2006
The Culture Project
45 Bleecker Street (at Lafayette St) NYC 10012

"Trial By Water" climaxes with a gut wrenching ending.... left me on the edge of my seat...

I know Ma-Yi always comes up with superb theatrical treats. But I was suprised with the ante that was set by this play. High energy, very visceral and contemporary. In spite of the play set in circa 1988, the play plays to the now to us who experience our journey enroute to our immigrant life here in our "paradise" which is America.

A lot of us had to deal with the hardships of the past to live in the now. But the characters in "Trial by Water" had to face the inhumanity of what haunted them in the ship that supposedly was their salvation. It became a sea of silent death eating into their flesh, into their soul.

Brothers Hung (Dinh Q Doan) who was 15 and Huy, horny at 13 (was intriguingly played by actress Genevieve DeVeyra) were sent on this voyage by their parents to live a better life in America. (Both actors deserve their nominations for an Obie. Mark my word.) The stage set was rows and rows of wooden planks resembling the bottom of the ship. Like the gut of a whale they are stuck there to live in the safety of the crowd. Not to be noticed - to blend in. Reminded by their parents to ration their food and not to talk to strangers. That was their golden rule to surive the supposed one week trip. The one week became weeks and weeks and weeks... they were hungry, tired and Huy horny and tired... Hung, the only practicing Buddhist in the family, to survive recourses to drinking and eating his own excrement. The food they brought is depleted. Now they need to deal. A certain element surrounds them like a shark. Tien (Arthur Acuna), an adult who confesses to know their father acts as their guardian angel/devil. He saves Hung a couple of times from attackers. Inspite of that his intentions are questionable, intriguingly at time he seems sincere. Hung still would not eat anything. Tien offers raw fish (?) for their nourishment... the brothers decline.

Amidst all of this the spirit of the memory of the brothers' parents would visit them. Eerily played by Jojo Gonzalez (Father - Khue) and Karen Tsen Lee (Mother - Pham), they remind the siblings to ration their food, not to talk to strangers. The mother tells them to be patient... things will happen bit by bit... it will take time...

The brothers are a contrast in virtue: older brother Hung is negative but patient, younger brother Huy is optimistic but impatient. They were each other's yin and yang up to a point. They would lose each other's trust and faith. They would succumb to temptation and to the sheep like devil of man called Tien. Stuck in a ship of wolves, it was Noah's ark without Noah. It was zoolike without a zoo keeper. The animals were left to fend for themselves. Sadly, surivival of the fittest.

The acting brought me emotions... feelings I did not expect to reach. I was mesmerized by the depth of their understanding of this piece. An immigration experience ficticious as this was written, I hoped no one will ever experience, but it did happen. (

The lighting dim as it may be, spotlit the actors at significant times in the play.

Sound design highlighted by screeching sound of whales, waves contrasting with the motors running sounding like the bowels of hell. The costume design simple but symbolic. The use of puppetry was intriguing and essential. Kudos to writer Qui Nguyen and director John Gould Rubin who in cooperation with the Ma - Yi Theater Company brought such a high caliber presentation, I highly recommend to everyone. It's a must see!

"Trial By Water" is visceral, intriguing and hypnotic. The play climaxes with such a high note of a gut wrenching experience that you will talk about for years. It left me literally breathless for awhile, speechless.......... but oh so satisfied...

Luis Pedron is an actor and an award winning filmmaker based in NYC. He is the publisher of the website: which supports the community, entertainment and empowerment. Email:

AEGIS, they came and they conquered and it was worth the money
By Marisse Panlilio of MPE

Yes, they came and they conquered. Who would have thought. I must admit I was introduced to this group only twice via TFC, not familiar with any of their songs/hits, I hesistantly obliged to spend my Saturday evening with 16 of my friends. What a pleasant surprise. Boy did they deliver.

What's in a name? A lot! The name Aegis is synonymous to the masses - madlang people - colloquial term. Their songs are heartwarming, social conscious songs that reach the depths of the Pinoys inner emotions.

The audience sang along, laughed with them and was 200% attentive from start to finish. Their repertoire was as diverse as the members themselves. Juliet and Mercy, if you don't already know are sisters from Cagayan De Oro, keyboard player Stella is from Misamis Occidental, drummer Vilma hails from Manila, Weng - bass player is my kababayan from Pampanga and lead guitar player and the only rose among the thorns, Rey is from Leyte.

In spite of their hectic schedule, the energy and stamina Juliet/Bunso exhibited was unbelievable. Hats off to Juliet. I am sure everybody was mesmerized as I was. The show became extemporaneous when members of the audience put in their special requests after the siblings' invite.

Another side of Juliet and Mercy is the gift of comedy. For a small price- in dollars of course (wink) they obliged and sang special requests and at one point Juliet dragged Rey's guitar case center/front of stage for a safe place for their Benjamin's ($'s).

From the roster of songs, the tightness of the band and the versatility of Juliet and Mercy - Halik ng Aegis is one for the books. Walang ere, walang quieme-ieme.

Too bad to those who turned down my invitation. I thought too of our fellow Jerseyites and New Yorkers who in one way or the other did not support this group. "Bakya naman", "Baduy naman", "Pang masa" were some of the comments. In music there is no baduy, no bakya. Music is food for the soul, race, religion, economic status is irrelevant. Music is universal.

The evening turned out to be superbly entertaining- one worth remembering with the Grim Bottle, Ciello's Rhythm, Camile Velasco of American Idol fame as guest performers and the stars of the evening, AEGIS this concert was one worth remembering.

(P.S. - Stella, next time you guys are in town, Cosette and I will take you outlet shopping. You will love it.)

Love Ko si Koy!
Contact: Grethel Bolandrina

Perlas ng Silangan Hosts Media Lunch To Introduce Camile Velasco

Woodside, New York: Nel Castellvi of the Perlas ng Silangan Restaurant and Terry Badiola of CarouselPinoy Entertainment, hosted a media lunch on Sunday, January 29, 2006 to introduce Camile Velasco who's a special guest at the 1st US concert tour of the AEGIS band, triple platinum record awardees from the Philippines.

  • What:
    • Halik ng ... AEGIS First US Concert Tour
  • Who:
    • Camile Velasco: Born in Makati, Philippines in 1985, raised in Hawaii. As American Idol (Season 3) Finalist, performed live for a record 25 million people week-after-week. She has performed on numerous US television shows (Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood), as well as at NASCAR, the NFL Pro Bowl Weekend and other live events. Participated in the 48-city American Idol tour. Was special guest at Martin Nievera's "All You Need is Love (A Brass Kicking Christmas Concert)" at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) at the CCP Complex in Pasay City, Philippines.
    • AEGIS Band composed of Juliet and Mercy Sunot (vocals), Stella Galindo (keyboard), Rey Abenoja (guitar), Rowena Pinpin (bass) and Vilma Goloviogo (drums). Aegis has released seven albums since 2000. They have consistently made the Gold and Platinum marks beginning with Halik, Mahal na Mahal Kita, Awit at Pag-Ibig, Paskong-Pasko and Ating Balikan. They also released a remix collection of Aegis' hits entitled Ating Sayawin.

The Fil-Am Idol: Double mint lady

Wouldn't everything be better if we could just all "love life, seek knowledge and not squander our time?" It's a Pollyanna- way of thinking, I'll grant you that, but if you happen to be Camile Velasco, American Idol (AI) Season Finalist, you might just come up with the same message, too. Consider this, Velasco, 20, is not your typical American, Filipino or Filipino-American girl next door. Though proud of her Filipino heritage she is quick to quip, "I’m also part Irish, part Spanish." She left High School at 16 and got her GED. She first realized she could sing at age 10 with her younger sister of three years. But it was no revelation. She actually thought that it wasn’t a big deal, believing that everybody could sing, since everybody in her family did. She was never encouraged, was never a part of a choir, no piano lessons much less voice lessons. "I learned to play by ear."

And is it quite possible that in this laid back environment in which practically everyone sings a star awaits to shine brightly? How about maybe differently? Sharing lunch with Velasco had me thinking differently. How differently? Let me first describe how she came in, on time, in fact a bit earlier than the scheduled press con at Perlas ng Silangan. No manager, no publicist not even a friend (American style girl power or Pinoy style to act as alalay). Looking almost out of an 80’s movie set, sort of Molly Ringwald back from an Island vacation. The curly hair, silver jewelry, black top with the falling-off-the-shoulder effect but her short nails were painted green, of the Rastafarian origin. The not so tight, hugging jeans are of this day and age, low rise and it becomes her. She describes herself as a normal 20 year old: "I’m just like everybody else." Life before AI was an IHOP restaurant in Maui Mall, which her family owns. With an infectious grin she adds, "everybody is crazy in his or her own right, we’re all put in the world to make the best of it." Admittedly she claims she shops at Vintage clothing shops. Nothing big or fancy, just little things. No wardrobe consultant either. As I struggle to take down notes, the rhythm of her communication continues, not just words but with gestures, eye contact, kindness, a little bit of awe, cheery excitement. She’s an animated conversationalist, a pinoy trait? In her childhood at Haiku, Hawaii, something about her family dotingly calling her "Kengkoy." In parts “keng” and the “koy” but the “koy” stuck. Fans in Manila were quick to adopt this. I saw a black camera bag with the signature red, green, gold strap and matching “love ko si Koy” proclamation. She says, "I love it!" and giggles. Apparently the same Manila-based fans all welcomed her at the airport sporting uniform Rastafarian bracelets. The significance? "To me it represents peace and love." Velasco loves Reggae music but describes her music as urban jazz. Billie Holiday and other artists whose names she rattles off influence her art and music. She stresses she’s "still deciding what to be." She makes us aware of the fact that it takes a good fifty plus songs to get a good 12-song album. "One doesn’t come up with something right away." Asked for a song that she’s most connected to, after much pondering she came up with "Love of my life" by Queen.

"You will remember when this is blown over, And everything's all by the way, When I grow older, I will be there at your side, To remind how I still love you I still love you I still love you"

Why Queen, why this song? "My mother loves the song, the voice, lyrics, short and awesome." Mom is the best. Mom is Rennie West originally from Cagayan de Oro whose entertainment background stems from being a screenwriter for Viva Films at some point. Camile excuses herself every now and then to answer her phone, only to murmur a quick "can I call you back? I’m in a meeting." Or to pose for photos with fans, play along with a kid and even join a group "happy birthday" singing for other restaurant patrons. But Velasco's upbeat way of thinking about life has produced an equally upbeat result that doubles her chances for success.

How has the generation of the music video affected this rising star? Set aside the images of fur and pearls, the concept of life as a big party. Velasco saw music videos in a positive light. "Portraying a song in a visual avenue, it’s like portraying oneself as an artist, putting a message."

The result? A very likeable, down-to-earth performer. She did not complain, not even once about being interrupted multiple times for photos and autographs while having lunch. Lunch the Filipino way, I noted that she ate her sinigang with rice unlike my US-born hubby who ate his like regular soup.

Ritchie Siong of Ladera Ranch, California had never been to Perlas ng Silangan before. He was visiting a cousin in New York and happened to come by for lunch. He did the “double mint look” when he caught a glimpse of Velasco. "What a pleasant surprise," he exclaimed. "I’ve seen her on TV, we even voted for her." American Idol not only opened doors for Velasco, it also opened her eyes to the reality of the business. Showing her techniques. Seeing the rough, superficial, "dog-eat-dog" world. But she can’t complain. It has also given her more confidence. (Prior to auditioning she had only been on stage three times!) Life after AI is awesome. She foresees about 3 to 5 years on tour, "I would love to be on the road traveling." Put her anywhere, on stage, behind the scenes, writing. She enjoys performing with live bands. Appreciates the essence, rawness of it. She’s very comfortable jamming.

Call her the double mint lady, not after the ads for the gum of the same name (you know: the singing twins. "Double your pleasure/Double your fun. . . . ") But because she is mint for (both) Filipinos and Americans plus you would have to give her a double look when you can, anyhow. Is she Pinay? Is she AI? She obviously enjoys the best of both worlds, but this is more than a grab for what’s easy to identify with. It's also doing what you’re good at. No matter how you see her, Velasco will always have a second card to play. She has an advantage. The music of her heart and mind. Staying grounded and connected to the world. Continue with her type of music that touches the soul and creates memories and maybe build a bridge through cultures. And if that works, why stop there? Yesterday American Idol, today, the Fil-Am communities of Jersey City. Tomorrow the whole world. Go, Koy!

Click here for more pics!

Tell Me, about Joey Albert
by Grethel Bolandrina

No doubt about it, Joey Albert has a beautiful voice. So do her backup singers Tina and Maya. Oftentimes during the show, though set at an intimate function room at the prestigious Johnson and Wales Inn in Seekonk, Massachusetts, I felt like I was back at the ULTRA (circa 1980’s minus the signature 80’s fashion), with the audience, SRO. The same exact audience who’s ever-so eager to applaud, coddle, and encourage Joey onstage for her courage, effort and awe-inspiring performance. Truly, this cancer-survivor, full time Mom and Gawad Kalinga supporter seems too good to be true. Even her most humble choice of introduction, a one-liner, ladies and gentlemen, Miss Joey Albert.

All’s fine and well including the $50 or $60 ticket price, which even included a full course dinner by the international culinary students of Johnson and Wales University. For those who don't own a Joey Albert compact disc, (she was the first in the Philippines to record on CD!) do all you can to obtain at the very least, the Best of Joey Albert and savor the magic in your own home or car, at your own listening pleasure, the hits that made marks in Manila’s airwaves.

If you’re into contemporary pop infused with just enough touches of jazz, blues, country, mellow, OPM and the calendar girl good looks this is the show for you. Joey leads us to find a place in our hearts. There’s nothing tame or subdued with her music. She did an especially dedicated number, Sandalwood, with the message of sweet perfume; love is born of a broken heart. There’s some truth to life without pain, lift your face up to the rain.

Early in the performance, Joey announced to an excited audience her choice to cover her Manila hits. She did Jose Mari Chan’s I Remember the Boy, her self-written Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin, and dedicated Iisa Pa Lamang to producers Rommel and Elizabeth Arca. There were no vocal nor emotional restraints on her renditions, her songs didn't simply fly, they soared. Joey seemed content to impress the audience with the fact that after all these years, she still has it. Joey’s stage banter with the audience was endearing and never repetitive. "I hope you enjoy this song." "Sing along with me if you know the words to this one.” And sing along, the audience did! Dream song classics, world dance medley, Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, Love Sweet Love, Dancing Queen, and Last Dance.

Tina and Maya added some more elegant harmonizing. Towards the show's conclusion, Joey rose to greater heights as she sang Tell Me. By singing Tell Me, she did not disappoint my expectations for the evening. Alas, I’m a college lass once more, smiling and humming to myself, but my hubby’s hand in mine quickly brought me back to the here and now. The authentic and not canned, vision, voice and heart of the Miss Joey Albert forever playing in my memory as performed on the living stage. Sweet!

Click here for more pics!

Get Intimate: PJ
by Grethel Bolandrina

Patricia Javier wants you to think she's a low IQ performer, someone who couldn’t even pronounce Massachusetts but she enjoys what she does. And most of the time, this well endowed beauty gets hearty laughs at her jokes, all done in the dumb-blonde effect, except that PJ is neither dumb nor blond. She comes with a loaded CV, 16 TV commercial credits, 25 TV credits, 6 TV shows and 10 major movie credits. She is a professional model and a VIVA contract artist. Her first venture into the concert scene was in 2001 for her first solo concert at the Dish Rockwell Power Plant in the Philippines. She’s tagged as “The Sexy Diva of Philippine Cinema.”

PJ’s music is essentially not the background type music for a sunny Sunday morning, reading the paper and sipping your cup of coffee or tea with your slippers on. Even with her born-again proclamation, PJ on the spotlit dance floor and on closer inspection reveals that soothing and precious means intricate and fascinating and a bit naughty.

Her US debut CD, simply titled Genesis aka Patricia Javier, is an intimate-bordering-on-religiously-unnerving album. PJ is an angel in disguise or a fallen angel or something to that effect. After her set opening of “Genie in a Bottle” (complete with sequined bra!), it was clear that her sex appeal remains. That PJ seemed a bit shy, a bit nervous, and wanted so badly to do a good job, is endearing. She is so much prettier in person than in photos. Photos do not do justice to her beauty that exudes an inner shine. She is humble and is very adept with her Tagalog-English jokes. She even commented on how cold New England is (in July?). With men being pulled on stage to dance with PJ, the applause grew somewhat rowdy, but PJ’s smile, not to be mistaken for sheepish glee was impossible not to notice.

This sexy actress turned recording artist turned concert singer was determined to nail every note hard. She danced and roamed all over the function room. Her hips swayed side to side, she gyrated, keeping time with her music, her rhythm like the world's sexiest-ever concert singer. She changed into a tight pair of denim pants and very lacy black top. She did justice to Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why”, did a duet with Producer Rommel Arca (Bakit Ngayon ka Lang)

Though the majority of songs sounded a tad too similar to the original singers to make them memorable, PJ’s deep tone renditions and charming presence made La, La, La, Wind Beneath my Wings and Hiram enjoyable. Even the DJs (DJ Flipnoy of New Haven, CT) like a bunch of seasoned studio musicians were spellbound. They too, hustled with the crowd for an after concert photo op. There was nothing rookie about PJ, even when she opened CDs to sign and pose with a milieu of fans. When she sang, she bared her teeth and went for the jugular. Breathy "Ah-ahs” and scintillating moves etched in the crowd’s mind, male or female, she’s extended her appeal that literally left fans breathless.

"I can’t believe I’m performing in the States," she said half to herself and half to the crowd. Picture her as a child in Antipolo, as she recollected, just content climbing guava trees. "I became closer to God in the States," she mused. People applauded, but not too much.

PJ need not feel herself out as a performer; she has found a comfortable balance. Though she didn’t receive a standing ovation, she did get loud calls for an encore. You could feel her sincere appreciation.

Click here for more pictures! 

Re-learning OPM with Hajji and Rachel Alejandro
by Grethel Bolandrina

At Boston’s John Hancock Hall, I truly learned what OPM is all about. It's hanging out with Pinoys from all over New England, mostly bundled up in winter gear faux fur included, in a crowded standing-room-only entry for a half an hour, waiting for the doors to open and then for the show to start.

Okay, show starts with Newport, Rhode Island’s Abby Heredia and her band. Bunch of fellows, college-look start playing several hip-hop numbers. It's Abby and her band’s debut performance. The music is good but I haven’t managed to sleaze my way into a seat yet, I'm still helping out with CD sales at the lobby. Next thing you know, Dance Philippines takes the stage. Damn, if they don't warm your heart within seconds. They’re big in a cultural sense; they’re garbed beautifully and the dances they performed really make one proud to be Pinoy. There really is so much culture and heritage in our 7,000 plus islands. Okay, they’re not the main show, but no less bold and entertaining. I'm not surprised they’re very popular in the New England area.

Joseph Bolandrina, the evening’s MC does a few intros and gives a plug for Gawad Kalinga. He is decidedly loud and clear but pretty heavy on the Boston accent as he pronounces “Maligayang Pasko.” He’s Fil-Am. He’s not a professional announcer but might as well be one. He's definitely ballsy, and he's got that certain something that makes you feel good all over. A charm.

A video/audio of Hajji and Rachel through the years opens up the show, a trip down memory lane with their song hits. They start with 2 duets “May Minamahal” and “Cuando Cuando”. Hajji woos the crowd with his boyish charm, Rachel on the other hand, is a vision in the bluest of blue Marilyn Monroe inspired outfit. Revealing yet classy. Ripped right out of the pages of Vogue! Hajji exits, and Rachel does her revised hits medley, Home and The Nearness of You. She asks for bottled water and comments on how dry the air in Boston is! Claimed she was walking down Newbury Street earlier for some shopping (giggles from the crowd) and was protective of her throat, was actually worried about what the cold air would do to her voice. Hajji returns and they do a duet of “Our Love is Here to Stay.” From the audience, a few still could not believe that they are watching a father-daughter team! I hear numerous, “they could be husband/wife/lovers!” Rachel exits. Hajji tells a few good-hearted jokes, plays with the audience and sings “Ang Lahat ng Ito ay Para sa'yo,” and “The Way You Look Tonight.” He reminisces how in his heyday in Manila, at the first note of his songs, the audience would all go crazy and asked the Boston crowd to emulate the same. It worked and everyone also had a good laugh. His title’s changed from “Kilabot ng mga Kolehiyala” to “Kilabot nga mga Nanay ng Kolehiyala.” Rachel returns in a regal Filipiniana kimono. The stage backdrop changes into a burst of colorful capiz parols. They sing a duet of Tagalog Christmas medley. Sending everyone into nostalgia, the pasko kind (Philippine Christmas). And the crowd sings along. Hajji exits once again and off comes Rachel’s kimono to reveal a very body hugging, sexy, low back one-piece glittery black gown. I wondered if the audience would remember what she sang or how gorgeous she looked. In any case, she did justice to not only the outfit but to the songs “Who Would Imagine a King” and “All I Want for Christmas.” Hajji joins and both give everyone goose bumps on their take of “The Prayer.” Rachel exits for another outfit change, Hajji engages the audience in an obligatory sing-a-long, then rips into "Panakip Butas" and massive hit "Tag-araw." Suddenly all the “kolehiyalas” were re-born. They were shrieking their heads off, never mind that they are now well into their 50s? All is well with the world and the Pinoys in Boston for that matter.

Rachel returns in what is to be her final outfit for the evening, tight black pants with an ever so faint lilac top that makes her bronze skin glow. It’s semi-off shoulder and cut real deep in front. Needless to say, all eyes were on her! She sang, she danced she did her father proud (and her mom and siblings who traveled all the way from Maryland). The girl can dance! Both acknowledge the show’s sponsors and then did a 10-minute retro dance medley. The intro was most fascinating, showing a very young Hajji and a much, much younger Rachel doing tap dances. What a nice way to top off the evening. But the audience wanted more, and father-daughter obliged with an encore of Isang Awit, Nakapagtataka and Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika! In the Philippines, oldies strongly believe “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” and this talented father daughter team proves that. Hajji’s been in the Philippine music scene for over 25 years and Rachel’s made her own mark. A musical evening with Hajji and Rachel Alejandro in Boston was a very memorable pre-Christmas gift from Filipino Talent, LLC. An officially, certifiably, successful maiden venture. Musical direction is by Patty L. Yusah. From this point of view, life is so sweet and sometimes, it gets sweeter, (with concerts like this) just like honey from a bee and just like apples from a tree.

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Side A Rocked New Jersey!!!

Side A rocked the house last Friday night, December 2nd, at the Landmark Loews Theatre in Jersey City, New Jersey, proving, once again, that it deserves the right to be called the Philippines' premier band.

Side A performed before a jam-packed, standing-room-only, multi-cultural audience, showing that theirs is, clearly, a global sound. The crowd crooned, screamed, swayed and danced to the band's popular hits such as "Hold On", "Di Pa Huli", "Eva Marie", and "Tuloy Pa Rin Ako". Their rendition of international hits including "All I Need", "The Queen Medley - featuring We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, Bohemian Rhapsody" and Depeche Mode's "I Just Can't Get Enough", electrified the already enthusiastic audience.

The crowd could not get enough of Side A's 5 members: Naldy Gonzalez (keyboards, vocals, musical director and arranger), Joey Generoso (lead vocals / acoustic guitar), Joey Benin (bass guitar / vocals), Ernie Severino (drums / vocals), and newest member Leevon Cailao (lead guitar / vocals). Each member had a following of their own, evidenced by the outcry from different groups in the crowd. Little blue lights appeared everywhere, in lieu of the traditional lighters or candles, from a slew of camera phones and digital cameras as the audience tried to capture every moment of the band's performance.

The night started with well-received performances by 3 talented young local Filipinos: Joanne Javier, John P. and Patricia Javier. The evening's excitement continued with a generous raffle drawing: an Apple IPOD Nano from Kwik Mortgage Corp., gift certificates worth $250 and $150 from Diamond Hut International, 2 Magic Mic karaoke units from Top Notch Electronics, and an overnight stay at the Doubletree Club Suites in Jersey City.

The night ended with Side A's encore performance of "Forevermore", It was one spectacular, rockin' evening!!!

Side A came to Jersey City as part of its 10-city U.S. and Canadian winter tour, promoting their newest album "Side A Gig…. All Hits Live!".

"Side A .... Live in Concert" was brought to you by concert producer TIMES 3 INTERNATIONAL (Arlene Isidro, Ely Parico and Sol Canlas), in cooperation with APOAANJ and Three M's A Crowd. Special thanks to our sponsors Kwik Mortgage, Diamond Hut International, Top Notch Electronics, Doubletree Club Suites in Jersey City, Perlas ng Silangan restaurant in Woodside, Queens, Club Roxas Boulevard in Staten Island, Port Jersey, United Home Care and Plaza Travel.

TIMES 3 INTERNATIONAL is a concert producer and event planner. Watch out for our next exciting concerts and events!!!

Sol Canlas / Arlene Isidro / Eli Francisco
Times 3 International, Union, NJ
Phone: 201.779.8060; 908.265.1717; 908.265.1293

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Concert entertains, enlightens
By Lalaine Estella, Bayanihan staff
Guam Pacific Daily News, Nov. 19, 2005
Photos by Ray Calma

Philippine entertainers last weekend brought a packed field house to its feet with free hats and good music.

April Boy Regino, known for his signature baseball cap and crossed-arms pose, brought his popular dance hits and ballads to a Guam stage at the University of Guam field house. He got the crowd really excited when he threw out his trademark baseball caps into the audience.

The Aegis band, led by sisters Juliet and Mercy Sunot, rocked the house, then brought it back down with their powerful songs, most OPM ballads.

The Guam concert was held to benefit Erica's House, in partnership with ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.'s Bantay Bata 163 and the Educational TV Media's Adopt-a-Hometown School Project. The project involves overseas Filipinos assisting in the improvement and quality of education among students in their communities of origin in the Philippines, according to a press release from the foundation.

To get the project off the ground on Guam, Zen Dimalanta of ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. spent a few days on Guam speaking with local groups about the project.

For a donation of $1,200, a complete media package will be delivered to your hometown school, or a school of your choosing. The package includes a TV, DVD player, DVDs of educational TV shows produced by ABS-CBN Foundation, and a teacher training video.

"There are 38,000 public schools throughout the country," Dimalanta said earlier this week. "We have covered 7,000 already, but we still have a long way to go."

The hometown project is just under four years old, Dimalanta says, and was just introduced on Guam. She especially encourages businesses, and social and civic groups to participate.

Juliet Sunot of Aegis. The group got the crowd going wild with their high notes.

Singer Mercy Sunot of Aegis sang a lineup of slow Pinoy rock tunes.

BY: NIKI DOMINGO - Bits N' Pieces Band

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, Sept. 17, 2005, Saturday at the KISS CLUB, was again a Night to remember, to say the least.

Let me start by saying that my "hat's off" to all the sleepless night and efforts contributed into this Vegas Jamming-Reunion by the organizers comprised of Jess Dungan, Poldy Aranzamendez, Tony Aranzamendez and Dan Bornilla. These bunch of guys, fellow Pinoy classic rockers, from Las Vegas prepared for that event about 3 months in advance and in one night, it's all over. But it goes without saying that it was very rewarding and was a Total Success!! Nides Aranzamendez, Manny Tagalog, Ben Yanto, Jay Husfelt, Jun Caberte, Raymond Ungson and Jun Montemayor, are just few of our PCR eGroup members that made this event a REALITY. This event is supposed to be a Jungle Cats-Bits N Pieces Reunion but it turned out to be a full-blown PCR Reunion-Jam instead because other musicians also attended and performed. The Vegas Jam organizers, the website, all the performers as well as guests who attended this event and more importantly, to the owners of KISS CLUB, Glenn and Nina Alberto for accommodating such an event EN GRATIS, we would like to extend our sincere thanks.

The afternoon started with the Bits N' Pieces Band from Los Angeles, California, playing some disco music like Earth Wind and Fire, VST & Company, to break the ice, so to speak. Led by Jay Husfelt, Jun Caberte, Niki Domingo, William Peñaloza, Ed Samson, Babes Gutierrez and Marifel Husfelt.

It was followed by the reunification of former-members of Jungle Cats band, who played the last time together over 3 decades ago, led by the ever-energetic Raymond Ungson providing the vocals, Danny Bornilla on keyboards, Poldy Aranzamendes on lead guitar, Tony Aranzamendez on bass and Nides Aranzamendez on drums. They played an almost perfect rendition of "PURPLE HAZE" for a start.

Then followed by the BARKADOWS Band from the SF Bay Area, led by Celso Singh, Cesar Llorente, Nelson Guiab and Manny Tagalog. The band played classic music by the Shadows, such songs like Apache, Kon-Tiki, Perfidia, Foot Tapper, Blue Star, Shadoogie, and a Cliff Richard's song called the "Young Ones". It was a great time to remember our good old days in elementary/high school.

The Wonderfools, also from the Bay area, followed. Led by Jun Montemayor on lead, Vince Ungson on keyboards and second lead, Raymond Ungson on bass, and Walter Pennington on drums. They played some great Bee Gees tunes and a few Beatles rendition. At this point, Raymond had to step down, feeling exhausted. He was truly in the groove and sang his heart out. For once, I thought he was a teenager again. He truly rocked!

When Raymond sat down, Sonny Santos-keyboard and Titoy-Bass of the San Fernando band as well as Lucci Salvane jammed-in and performed a popular R&B "Mustang Sally" tune with Ben Yanto and Jess Dungan alternating on vocals. As the jamming gets hotter, Nides Aranzamendez then was substituted by Ewett Bonifacio on the drums when Nides decided to play conga and timbales for a "Soul Sacrifice" popular classic tune by Santana.

They were followed by a Make-Shift Band, made up of different band members. They also played instrumental music by Shadows & Ventures led by Lolo Boy on lead, Art Fajardo on drums, Tony Aranzamendez on bass and Jun Montemayor on rhythm. Later on, Vit Villavicencio, formerly of the Howlers Band, replaced Sonny Santos on keyboard and Randy Avellar of the famous "Society of Seven" sang "Just Once" to the delight of the crowd. Then, Nides Aranzamendez did his incomparable drum-style rendition of Brian Bennett's "LITTLE B", Jess Dungan capped-off their performance to the tune of "Play That Funky Music".

The night was getting heated-up, so the BeatJacks Band also from Vegas played next. This band was represented and led by Jess Dungan on vocals, Tony Aranzamendez on bass, Lucci Salvame on sax/trumpet, Winnie Negoza on keyboards, Bobot Guererro on drums, Esther Dungan as female vocals and Jojo Monroy on lead guitar. This is an upcoming band to watch in Vegas. Actually only a few days, one day jamming, one day of practice, one day of rehearsal and then the BeatJacks started playing at the Kiss Club the Sunday, Monday and Friday before the 17th Jam. They were also joined by Pepito Alcova (IN10CT band) played trumpet & fugel horn. They will be performing at the Ramada Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, a few weeks from now.

Next, was the Bits N' Pieces Band for a second round of Cha-cha, Rhumba, Swing and Solo performances which again lasted for 20 minutes.

Then came Jess Maniquiz and his Pira-piraso Band, which was composed of Rene Molina-bass, Jay Husfelt-drums, Niki Domingo-vocals, Danny Mack-lead and Vit Villavicencio-keyboard. This bands forte was the 60's Beatles and Dave Clark 5 songs. Later joined on percussion by Vaughn Velasco.

Although the time was not enough to accommodate all the rockers present that night it was a night of reminiscing and plain getting together. Majority of all those who were present enjoyed the company of friends and former band mates, some of whom, the last time they saw were from 20 to 30 years ago.

All our members who are now with our Creator, who contributed a great deal in the Pinoy Classic Rock distinct kind of music, were given tribute as the night passed away such as Rey Sanchez, Boy Adan, Eddie Nicolas, Bob McCoy, to name a few.

Jun De Guzman, all the way from Sydney, Australia, who sang "Come Fly with ME" with the Bits N' Pieces Band. Great patience on the directions I gave you going to The KISS CLUB that night. Thanks for coming - until next time.

Jun Roque, formerly of Bad Habits band and who's from Vancouver Canada, called via cell phone, exchanged pleasantries and send congratulations to all the performers that night. Also Roger Jereza from Guam also phoned-in to say send his best wishes to the PCR Vegas Jammers.

Glenn Velasco, Rebby V of the IN10CT Band, Randy Avellar of the Society of Seven fame and a big number of guest performers, that I cannot take account, thank you all for coming into this wonderful event, until our next PCR Jamming-Reunion.

Also in attendance were Benny Hufano (Thunderbirds, Originals), Danny Yuson (Jovials) and many more. Their presence at the event truly promulgate of what the Pinoy classic rockers are all about.

The event was also highlighted as a PCR Fundraiser and spearheaded by Ben Yanto (PCR webcreator), selling the leftover souvenirs from our 1st PCR Reunion in Nov. 2003 at Southern California as well as auctioning the one & only Juan dela Cruz (JDLC) Pagkalas Reunion Concert's t-shirt that was held in Manila last June 11. The PCR raised a total of $150 to be donated to the American Red Cross towards the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

After packing all the equipments, some of the band members who were at the jamming-reunion concert went to Sun Coast Casino to watch the "Elements Band" where Danny Bornilla is the Keyboard and Musical Director. Some went to Barbary Coast to watch the San Fernando Band, where Titoy plays bass and Sonny a keyboard player & musical director, and others went to see the IN10CT band at Orleans club.

Until next time, To everyone who in someway contributed for this event, THANKS FOR A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, IT WAS WORTH THE TRAVEL!! GOD BLESS.

Click here for pic! More pics at

Diva 2 Diva at Harrah's Lake Tahoe - a certified hit!
By Elton Lugay

LAKE TAHOE - For the first time since "The Champions" concert in San Francisco last June, a full-packed South Shore Room at Harrah's Lake Tahoe has rendered "Diva 2 Diva: Up Close," a certified Filipino concert box-office hit.

At 7 p.m. on Sept. 17th, the legendary showroom where the likes of Bill Cosby, Liza Minelli had performed was filled up by roughly 800 concertgoers, most of whom just got there from a long and winding drive via CA Highway 50. Though restless, the crowd was full of energy and very kind with their applause to opening acts Sunday Groove and Raymond Ritchie.

A newly-formed band composed of Greg Lorenzana, Carlen Ocampo, Rolazar Aberin, PJ Lopez, Derrick Cagaanan, and Reinee Lingad, Sunday Groove had impressed the audience with their world-class performance - singing familiar '80s and '90s tunes. Lead vocalists Greg and Carlen brought the house down with their powerful duet of Maroon 5's, "This Love."

Raymond Ritchie, award-winning singer and Bay Area homegrown talent, reached the high notes without a miss. Singing a medley of Broadway songs and that of Jekyll and Hyde's "This is the Moment," he delighted the crowd with his best. Some members of the audience gave him a rare standing ovation.

Then the divas' showdown began after a 20-minute intermission. Complete with excellent lighting, superb sound system and Victorian-inspired ball-gown costumes, Kuh Ledesma and ZsaZsa Padilla, two of Philippines unsurpassed artists of their time, enthralled the audience with their opening salvo, a soulful rendition of Madonna's "Vogue."

ZsaZsa would crack jokes about her life with Dolphy from time to time, and the audience just loved her spontaneity in delivering it. Kuh was subdued with her comments on ZsaZsa's stories and had implied respect and love for husbands stressing that "women should be submissive to their men."

The most applauded portions of the show included the Kuh and Zsa-Zsa duet of Mandy Moore's "Only Hope," Zsa-Zsa's debut immortal hit "Hiram" composed by George Canseco and Kuh's "Ako Ay Pilipino." Worth mentioning too are the dazzling costumes and elaborate accessories the divas had worn during the show.

"Diva 2 Diva" has been staged in different venues throughout the Philippines and U.S. for over two years now. Each performance may have, shared the same repertoire and other production arrangements, but the divas always infuse something that would make the concept unique and appealing no matter how many times they would execute it.

Its outstanding production values couldn't have been accomplished without Harrah's Lake Tahoe's support and hands-on assistance. Their belief in Pinoy artists made Pia Pena's (Prime Media Unlimited) work easier. She offered the opportunity to them and they welcome it without a doubt. Pena line produced this concert with Harrah's Lake Tahoe as the executive producer. "This is the first major concert of all-Filipino music stars ever on stage at Lake Tahoe and we are looking forward to a special night of entertainment," said John Koster, president of Harrah's Northern Nevada.

An Evening with Dessa
by Patrick P. Villavert

Richmond Hill, NEW YORK --- Asia's Divette, Dessa's divine voice serenaded the crowd Friday night September 2 at the full-packed Philippine Fiesta Village owned by Fred and Betty Olitan. Special guest comedian Bobby Solis hilariously gratified the crowd by his gayish antics.

Dessa gained international acclaim and recognition as Asia's divette when she won the 1993 Federation International Def Organisation de Festival (FIDOF) held in Russia. In addition to winning the 1998 Saga Yoshinogary Festa held in Japan, Dessa continued on making waves when she won an award in the 1999 Asia Song Festival in Malaysia.

There is no question that this pretty petite divette delivered a very satisfying performance to the evening's high-end New York crowd. This evening with Dessa is certainly out of the ordinary. The attendees were composed of energetic young Fil-Ams driving Benzs and Beamers along with socialites with their own four hundred dollar a night DIs.

Oh, yes -- it was high rollers night. Spotted that evening were John Ynayan, Publisher of Newstar Philippines; Nanding Mendez of Philippine Fiesta, Inc.; Nel & Cherry Castellvi of Perlas Ng Silangan; Santos Sambajon Jr., Billiard's number two in the world; local singers Ariel Arboleda and Bessie Alejandro, Adora & Bruce Penn of BAP Media; Mr & Mrs.Ed Sunico producers of the upcoming shows of APO Hiking Society and Myla Baylon of The Greatest Hitmakers.

The hilarious Bobby Solis almost stole the show with his cabaret-style performance. In the middle of his Drag-Queen performance, Solis dragged producer Bruce Penn to the stage to act as his lover. Penn was a real sport and contributed a great deal to Solis' gay comedy act. The act was so funny that my jaws hurt.

The next day Dessa and Bobby performed at The Gallery in downtown Jersey City, to a well attended audience. This time, the Who's Who in the New Jersey Business Circle were spotted: John de los Santos and wife Shirley, of Citizens Mortgage; Elma Santander of Philippine Bread House; Gene Atendido of Little Quiapo; Ding Andres of Ding's Auto Repair Shop; Elizabeth Motyka Arca of Rhode Island; and last but not the least, the dynamic duo of Group Ole Productions, Drs. Ramon and Ching Legarda and Odie and Dina Maningas of Odina, Inc.

Dessa's repertoire, from light classics, pop, to OPM, and her outstanding performance just proved that she was a master of her craft! Her voice range and versatility confirms her title as Asia's divette! One would wonder where that voice comes from- This petite diva showed immense talent and remarkable showmanship which wooed the audience to the end!

Bobby Solis brought the roof down and rocked the place with his total performance- singer, dancer, comedian- What a Class Act he delivered! Johnny de los Santos was his "Bruce Penn" and like Bruce, Johnny was a total sport and participated and "gave in" to Bobby's whim!!

The final song was "The Prayer" popularized by Andrea Bocelli- Dessa and Bobby rendered that beautiful song with so much emotion that it brought chills in my spine. What an appropriate song to end the evening, where we really need to pray for peace and be as one in these trying times.

Thanks and kudos to Terry Badiola of Carousel Pinoy Entertainment and Planet Philippines, NY edition for bringing Dessa and Bobby and for his vision of bringing pure entertainment and talents to us Pinoys here in the East Coast! Did we hear an encore for the duo? This is the kind of show not to be missed!

Patrick Villavert is the Nightlife & Entertainment columnist of

VEGAS COMES TO STRATHMORE: Misalucha & The Society of Seven
A review by Remé Grefalda

I broke my Saturday routine for this one Show Person, a performer who never left my mind: Lani Misalucha. I had been to her concert in DC some two or three years back (at Lisner, was it?). I thought I caught a glimpse of her name on a poster a few weeks ago. You know how it is when you say to yourself, "Gotta catch that show!" And in the same thought pattern, you know you can't (Gotta get a MimaSitter) nor do you have the luxury to step out for a repeat performance that took your breath away the first time around.

As I am probably one of God's favorite pariahs, posh seats dropped on my scuzzy lap from a friend (now considered "best") who couldn't make it to the performance. Three days before the date, she emailed to say, here, go claim my tickets. I had expected seats on a 2nd balcony where I would need binoculars to watch the dots onstage. Instead (bigtime surprise!), I had the best seats that the theatre offered its VIPs. When God ransacks the universe to get you your heart's tentative desire, he does so with aplomb! Thank you God! Thank you Friend, And Thank you, Robert Dizon of Onstage Productions & Marlon Panlilio DeAusen of Re/Max Pros!

At the Strathmore Music Center in Rockville, Maryland last July 16, Filipinos from Metro DC and from the burbs of Virginia and Maryland were treated to a show Vegas style, with rib-tickling comic routines, imaginative impersonators, lavish costume changes, assorted medley numbers and a Las Vegas conclusion of a roster of patriotic songs that ended with a rousing "America the Beautiful."

The show's opening act was not a front act but introduced to the audience the unbelievable talents of The Society of Seven, an unexpected treat for those of us who will never get to Las Vegas in the next 20 years. The Society opened strongly with "Coming to America." High energy exuded from all seven combined with deft Motown choreography. Then, the Diva stepped onstage to belt out her signature Whitney Houston number a cappella. What followed throughout the evening was Lani Misalucha's soaring renditions and a dazzling feast for the eyes-her changes in gown after gown. What surprised us throughout the evening were the seven zany poco-locos who turned on the charm nonstop and heaped our plates with comedy topped by the group's versatility on an array of instruments (most unique, a Kenny G wafting among the audience with his silky sax rendition sporting a wig of matted cornrow, shoulder length! Was this guy "lipsynching" on his sax or was it the real thing?).

Tony Ruivivar who heads the Society of Seven introduced a short clip of an Ed Sullivan Show probably during the early 60s where the young original SOS gave a rollicking live performance for Sullivan's audience. Was this to remind us that even way back when, they were already celebs? No reminder needed. The new Society of Seven probably enhanced the old group's repertoire. The rest of the 'seven' is comprised of Gary Bautista, Roy Guerzo, Randy Abilar, Wayne Wakai, Bert Sagun and Holu Low. Their exuberance in song, dance and comic routines skyrocketed above par excellence. Gary Bautista delivered a riotous "Twelve Days of Christmas," a visual step-hopping to create space in a lineup to differentiate the 12 separate voices and personas later identified as celebrities from the oldies. Can one survive the same holiday carol without Gary's show stopping madness sneaking into the screen of one's mind? (But--but I came to see Lani Misalucha . . . hold it and stop whining.)

Impersonations punctuated the evening. Elvis Presley, Celine Dion, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Tina Turner and even Wayne Newton. But the act that had the audience rolling in the aisles was the arrival of The Supremes. They sashayed onstage like a trio of debutante sardines, resplendent in their electric blue gowns with Lani Misalucha as Diana Ross sandwiched by two others. When "Diana Ross" stepped forward for her solo, the audience howled at the sight of one elastic-stretched sheath gown hugging two macho Supremes. (But I came to SEE Lani Misalucha! Okay, okay!)

Misalucha struck awe in the audience with her operatic aria "Nessun Dorma." Early on in the show, she risked her image persona when she played the clown during exaggerated impersonations. Her ability to move from one musical genre to another, from the range of ballads to screaming rock 'n' roll to Broadway show stoppers, marks her as one of the few pop artists in our time to possess such an agility of range. My one pang of regret during the Strathmore show was that she didn't sing a few more of her songs and a few less of those that were pleasing to a Vegas tourist crowd. I missed the personal reach of her previous concert where even in a hidden corner of an auditorium, Lani held out her song directly to you, only you.

The title "Asian Nightingale" doesn't come close to include her one distinguishing forte: her ability to segue into an effortless operatic aria as a soprano coloratura. It was during the "Nessun Dorma" that I stopped trying to pigeonhole this talent into any category or label.

Misalucha is an enigma. Her biography points to her family as a musical one; her father, an operatic tenor and her mother a coloratura. What potential, what possibilities in opera did she decide to forego to reign as Las Vegas' newest Diva? One can only guess but one suspends reasons when Misalucha dispenses her talents so generously to a multi-tiered audience. What can one say to explain to a young person who asks, How come she didn't go for the high end of music with such a formidable talent? I don't know. But don't we sometimes wish we could trade our current "must do" careers and break away to follow our bliss?

Without a doubt, Lani Misalucha is following her bliss. Cheers and bouquets, Lani!

The reviewer is the editor of Our Own Voice,