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Notes and Reviews
LAST UPDATED: JUNE 4, 2007

GMA Pinoy TV Stars: A Big Hit at Phil-US Expo '07

Martin Nievera livens up the new Planet Hollywood

Dingdong & Jessa "That Thing Called Love"

Barbie rocks Los Angeles with a revelation

Martin & Pops concert - Still making beautiful music together!!!

Triumphant Nora Aunor Concert in Boston!

Review of Bayanihan Dance Company

Pops and Martin together again. . . On Stage

Martin & Pops - the magic lives on

The Other Side of Sarah Geronimo: A wild Success!

Viva Vina, The Other Concert Queen!

Pops, Regine and Jose Mari Chan wow concertgoers

Trias cashes in on instant stardom, but not all can

"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

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GMA Pinoy TV Stars: A Big Hit At Phil-US Expo 07!
GMA Pinoy TV

The votes are in: GMA PINOY TV stars DENNIS TRILLO, GLADYS GUEVARRA, and ARA MINA were a spectacular hit at the PHIL-US EXPO ‘07! If you missed them at the expo, get filled-in on what happened through the pictures below. For those who were lucky enough to be there, I invite you to take a few moments to reminisce...

Kapuso stars Dennis Trillo of Super Twins and SOP, Gladys “Chuchay” Guevarra of Magic Kamison and Eat Bulaga, and Ara Mina of Bubble Gang and Lupin graced the two day festivities of the Phil-US Expo ‘07 at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center at Raritan Center, Edison, New Jersey on May 27 to 28, 2007.

The GMA Pinoy TV stars performed before a jam-packed, standing-room-only, multi-cultural audience. Their individual spot numbers were not only show-stoppers but spectacles that electrified the already enthusiastic audience.

Gladys brought the house down and rocked the convention center with her impeccable comic antics proving that she is the sexiest diva comedienne of this generation. As Chuchay, the funny yet charming character we all loved in Eat Bulaga, she was so hilarious and hysterically funny that she left the audience rolling with laughter.

Dennis rendered several songs from his self-titled debut album like All Out of Love, Lumilipad, and Love Is All That Matters validating his newest moniker as the “Crush ng Bayan.” Everybody loves this soft spoken debonair. His appeal left fans breathless that parents of young ladies unabashedly asked him to be their son-in law.

Ara’s rendition of Ay Ay Ay Pag-ibig and her version of Hawak Kamay made the crowd scream and sway.

The festival, aimed at celebrating and promoting the great Philippine culture while creating an ideal networking event for businesses, was a combination of exposition, trade, and entertainment.

PHIL-US EXPO ‘07 was brought to you by Topnotch Electronics and GMA Pinoy TV. And, if you thought the thousands of people who attended the PHIL-US EXPO ‘07 this past Memorial Day weekend was big, wait until next year. Plans are already set in motion to leave an even bigger impression! For more Phil-US Expo ‘07 photos, visit www.joshandowitt.com.

Dennis Trillo, 1st Time In The U.S.A

With the end of Super Twins, Dennis Trillo is taking advantage of the brief reprieve from his busy schedule to go to the US. He will have some shows there courtesy of the GMA Pinoy TV. Dennis promised that he will take advantage of the opportunity to go around New York and enjoy the sights.

“Unang-una kong gagawin pagdating ko ng America ay hahalik ako sa lupa tapos magpapa- picture ako. Kasi talagang pangarap kong makapunta doon,” according to Dennis.


Martin Nievera Livens Up the New Planet Hollywood
by: Steve Tuminello (lasvegasatitsbest.com/Showseen)

Monday night at The Palms hotel on the break in "The Lounge", I had the pleasure of meeting Martin Nievera and Celia Geronimo through my friend Gabriel "Santana" Falcon, percussionist with Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns. We were invited to see "Martin Live" the show at the Planet Hollywood in the Miracle Mile.

I learned than Martin Nievera is a big star in the Philippines and the large Fillipino presence in the audience was a testimony to his popularity in his native country.

Martin opened strong with his 9 piece power band with many familiar faces. Three of the Fat City Horns players Nathan Tenouye on trombone, Danny Falcone on trumpet and Gerry Merra on saxaphone. Gabriel Falcon on percussion and vocals, Mundo Juillerat on guitar, George Bryant on drums, Ricardo "Cocho" Arbe on second keyboards, Adrian Garcia on bass and Musical Director/keyboards, Lorenzo "Lorrie" Ilustre.

Martin had the audience in the palm of his hand with his quick wit and versatile singing style. He even did some singing impressions like Johnny Mathis. Dave Siefkes, Editor of Las Vegas at its Best, really enjoyed the audience interaction. Martin actually turned the lights up on the audience and had some dialogue interaction with Dave.

Martin, while interacting/interrogating with two Fillipino audience members who had been married for over 17 years was able to develop enough personal information to spontaneously compose an impromptu personalized song for the couple. He is truly amazing with his adlibs between songs. His audience inclusion guarantees that no two shows will ever be the same.

Female Vocalist, Jenevi Bakch came out front from singing backup and was featured while Martin took a brief break. She tours with Wayne Newton when not on stage with Martin Nievera. The show which is only one hour from start to end concluded after a fifteen minute encore tribute to Broadway.

After the show Gabriel Falcon introduced me to two friends that were in the audience. Music producer Steve Arnold and Kathy Rich, daughter of famed drummer Buddy Rich were in the audience with us.

"Martin Live" is definitely a repeat for the staff at Las Vegas at its Best.

Shows at the Steve Wyrick Magic Theater inside The Miracle Mile (formerly Desert Passage) at the new Planet Hollywood start at 5 PM every day but Friday.


Dingdong & Jessa "That Thing called Love"
Review by: Karen De Castro

Stockton, CA - "That Thing Called Love", the first-ever concert of Dingdong Avanzado and Jessa Zaragosa in the United States, was a definite triumph last Saturday, Feb. 10th at the Bob Hope Theater. Being respected solo artists in their own rights, Dingdong and Jessa were in harmony in giving their audience an explosive performance!

Local Bay Area talents: Arnel Rosanes, Maria Bordon and Felix De Castro, wowed and excited the crowd as each opened for Dingdong and Jessa. This set the mood for everybody eager to see the real life married couple for the first time.

Truly a Valentine treat, love was in the air as the concert chronicled the couple's love story through their favorite love songs and selected hit singles. Every one from all walks of life enjoyed the repertoire of music offered by the couple. Women swooned over Dingdong as he serenaded everybody with a medley of his classic chart toppers. And the men were surely all eyes on Jessa each time she was on stage. But together, they were more impressive. All the people were moved on their feet by Dingdong and Jessa with their electifying band, backup singers and dancers several times during the night.

It was very inspiring to see such a young couple share so much love for each other that reflects in each and every performance. This was more evident and amusing as the audienced laughed at their antics and delightful banter because of their special guest, Ms. Rachel Alejandro. Needless to say, Rachel and Dingdong had a bit of history together. And so the audience were excited to see how all three on stage will play out. After Rachel entertained the crowd with her special numbers, out came Jessa to join her with a medley of duets. Such a great vision to see both lovely, beautiful ladies, wearing exquisite gowns up on stage. As the old saying goes, "If you have it, flaunt it"...both of them most definitely have it. The audience anticipated Rachel and Jessa would try to outshine each other until another secret surprise guest showed up and captivated everybody. All three performers gave their Stockton fans a night to remember.

The highlight of the night was the duet of song featured in their album, "Laging Ikaw". This 'historic' album features the couple singing duet songs popularized as solo numbers, including "Basta't Kasama Kita" (originally sung solo by Dingdong), "Sa Aking Puso", and "Laging Ikaw, the carrier single. It was the first time that a married couple has recorded a full album composed of entirely duet performances. The CDs available at the lobby of Bob Hope Theater were immediately sold out after the concert.

You'll have another chance to see the most romantic yet hilarious and entertaining concert of the year "That Thing Called Love" produced by All Event Planners at The Alex Theater in Glendale, Ca on Feb. 24th. And back in the Bay Area in Vallejo, Ca produced by Phenomal Productions on Mar. 18 which also celebrates Dingdong and Jessa's 6th Wedding Anniversary.

For more information, visit www.alleventplanners.com or call (209) 640-1708.


Barbie rocks Los Angeles with a revelation
by Joseph De Veyra
Balita, Feb. 12, 2007

LOS ANGELES—“How many people are onstage right now?” pop star Barbie Almalbis asked the crowd midway through her concert on Feb. 3 at Celebrity Centre International in Hollywood. The crowd answered “four” because simple mathematics revealed that it was the obvious reply. However it was wrong. “We’re five…one of them is in my womb,” she corrected. As a result, the crowd applauded in utter delight.

In fact, in an exclusive backstage interview with this writer, the rock icon said she had to sit down during some of the songs because she is three months pregnant.

So what is she doing before her performance? “Just hanging out with Martin,” she said with a gentle smile. Almalbis and her hubby, Martin Honasan (son of former Senator Gringo Honasan) married in May of 2006. Her love for her husband was evident even during her set. Right before singing her love song “Just a Smile,” Almalbis spieled out: “I really didn’t know [whom] I was writing this song for when I wrote it but now I do.”

She also had nothing praise for Glenn Jacinto, producer of the show. “I like what he’s doing. Since he was with a band [The Teeth] before, he knows how to take care of artists,” she said. Almalbis revealed that Jacinto’s vision is to bring the great bands from the Philippines to perform for the Filipino American community.

During the concert, she was sporting a plaid coat that exuded both simplicity and maturity. She even told this writer the reason behind the getup: “Ang lamig dito eh!”

Her bandmates: keyboardist Adrian Morales, bassist Richard Ramos and drummer Franklin Benitez complemented her to perfection. There was no particular instrument that overpowered the other, this is a testament to the intense harmony of their music. In fact, one notable song they performed was “High” (originally sang by The Speaks) wherein Benitez sang the male vocal part of the song with Almalbis.

Almalbis also sang her monster hits like “Tabing Ilog,” and “Torpe.” Another highlight of the show was when she said: “Ito galing kina Ely.” She was referring to Ely Buendia of the Eraserheads before she sang her version of the band’s monster hit “Overdrive.”

After her last song, she was about to say goodbye when the crowd roared “more!” Well, she treated her audience to a bonus performance of “Goodnight.” It was here that Almalbis displayed her musical spontaneity. At the end of the song, she suddenly pointed to a little girl in the front row and said: “This one’s for you.” She suddenly sang the lyrics of the “Alphabet” and “Lullaby” to the tune of “Goodnight.” She then ended it with the words “Jesus loves me yes I know.” It was definitely melancholic and spiritual at the same time.

Almalbis is definitely a breath of fresh air in the Philippine music scene. Her guitar skills and sincere lyrics are often eclectic that it becomes a form of musical therapy. Now, as she embarks on another chapter in her career, Almalbis only becomes more endearing onstage with her trademark of fusing religion with rock.

Almalbis will be performing on Feb. 17 at Club Hide, 280 7th street, San Francisco, CA 94103. The tour is presented by GJ Media. For more information, please call (323) 842-0883 or visit www.barbiealmalbis.net.

(E-mail author at joedev187@yahoo.com)


Martin and Pops Concert
Still making beautiful music together!!!
by Nomar Hernandez

The crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena last Sept. 23, 2006 were not disappointed. Everyone enjoyed and certainly got their money's worth. Fans came from up north in New Hampshire and as far south as Atlantic City and Washington,D.C. They went home ecstatic! Many of the concert goers were seeing Martin and Pops for the first time on stage and they were treated to a great performance of Filipino entertainers never seen in New England before.

The question in everyone's mind was Pop's question to Martin at the start of the show "Martin, nagsisisi ka na ba?" (Martin, are you already regretting). Everyone responded "Yes". One of the male admirers of Pops replied "Kung ako si Martin, babalikan ko si Pops" (If I were Martin, I would go back to Pops).

Well, it is a stage show, almost a fairy tale and for more than two hours, the crowd was allowed to make believe, fantasize their favorite singers as a couple "Together Again" on stage.

The show started with a nationalistic theme-a video presentation promoting Philippine Tourism featuring 24 of the biggest artists/singers in the Philippines-"Biyahe Tayo". This set the mood for what was to follow.

A young Filipino-American, Anthony Salazar, opened the show, with his magic- He is a magician and master illusionist and entertained the audience with his awesome magic, never seen performed by a Filipino before. He has opened for numerous mainstream performers. We were truly proud of him!

By this time, the crowd was really energized for the main feature of the evening! Mr. Lorrie Ilustre, Musical Director, and eleven of his Las Vegas band of chosen musicians, played the overture, congas and bongos beating, putting the audience on their feet. Finally, Martin and Pops appeared with their opening numbers, Pops so stunning in her beautiful gown and Martin, as always, witty and funny. After their opening numbers, Martin and Pops greeted the audience and started teasing each other and then Pop's question "Nagsisisi ka na ba, Martin" which Martin found ways to avoid answering!

Martin had a special guest, Jenevi Bakch, a stunning Korean-American, who performs regularly in Las Vegas with artists like Wayne Newton. She entertained and delighted the audience with her alluring voice and dance movements.

The show proceeded flawlessly. Martin and Pops, through video clips of their Penthouse Live where their romance started, added nostalgia to the evening's performance. One could see Martin's "baby face" but Pops was already an eye-catcher at such a young age!

The repertoire was a generous mix of Filipino medley and mainstream hits, just what the crowd expected and requested. Pop's medley of Filipino songs including George Canseco's hits was well received. During her fast and dance numbers, Pops revealed that she is also a "Disco Queen", moving and dancing like a Diva. Martin did an outstanding rendition of some Broadway musicals which earned a standing ovation. Martin and Pops showed much rapport to their fans-entertaining to their utmost and showing professionalism and sincerity throughout the evening.

To answer the proverbial question "Martin, nagsisisi ka na ba?" During the last few minutes of the concert, following Pops off stage singing the tune "I just had the time of my life", Martin in full view of the four thousand in attendance and as viewed in the large screen, embraced Pops and shed some tears. We all have our own answer to that!

Martin and Pops- after all these years-are still making beautiful music together. But stay tuned, because per public demand, they may have more shows together.

Nomar Hernandez was the producer of the Martin and Pops Concert "Together Again…on Stage" at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Sept. 23, 2006. Comments may be sent to olelemar@hotmail.com

This article previously appeared in The Filipino Express.


Triumphant Nora Aunor concert in Boston!
by Gretheline Bolandrina Gretheline@aol.com

The Superstar Nora Aunor... Live in concert!

Weston, MA: It was an evening that brought husbands and wives together, an evening that bridged generational and cultural gaps, where Filipino grandmothers reminisced, with their Americanized grandkids beside them. An evening that elicited tears, laughter and shouts of joy from the audience -- and an evening when the superstar herself, sang live for her loyal fans. "But what a voice" as self-confessed Noranian, Ben R. Manzano of Randolph, MA states, "although embarrassed, Nora was and still is my idol."

Yes, Nora Aunor's first Boston visit was the extravaganza that it promised to be, a superstar event, so to speak. Filipino Talent, LLC, made that night's show at the Casey Theater possible. Western Union leads the list of event sponsors.

The Superstar still shines. She opened with People/Sometimes. La Aunor effortlessly crooned through a repertoire of medleys of Hits, Movie theme songs and Disco.

Singer/ Comedienne Fe de los Reyes gave the night riveting moments during what seemed like unscripted and perhaps truly they were, excerpts from her "Amerikana *Made in the Philippines" act. There was de los Reyes, aglow amidst loud jeers as she switched from funny girl to Broadway singer, and pranced across the stage then breaking into a choreographed dance. De los Reyes brought the show more of a cabaret feel and still had the audience in stitches due to her onstage banter. De los Reyes was very funny and spontaneous. The crowd offered thunderous applause during her humorous routines, and when she starts singing, one forgets that she wasn't the main star of the show. She bellows and she draws wild applause from the crowd. She almost got away with upstaging the Superstar!

Once the Superstar was back on stage, the heels came off. Literally, she kicked off her shoes. Her size 3 feet barely visible on stage, her barely 5 feet height making her seem like a child, truly a Cinderella. Shoeless in Boston! It's noted that "she's comfortable barefoot," and she delivered a message of humility, her humble beginnings. She rendered a serenely beautiful "Kapantay ay Langit." The audience's focus back on her, what they came for -- her voice, those deep, sad penetrating eyes, one of the greatest Filipino female artists. Her mere presence and sound, soothing as she sang "Saan ka man naroroon" doesn't seem to have been affected much by her legal battles in California.

Though I've never ever heard her sing live before, and much of what I expected is based on what I've read about her, I felt that early on the show, she seemed to fall short of her full potential. I don't even know if she had any signature songs. But the evening was full of "parade of hits" and the very Filipino medleys. She did have a very stirring performance of "Ikaw", a bouncy Manila Sound rendition. Then with numerous (almost to a fault) audience participation, (one by one they came, to sing, almost sing and recite or to hug her) in what was called "regional medleys", turning the concert into a pseudo singing contest, the superstar shone brightly. And the audience went along, politely. Amazed at how many dialects, La Aunor can sing to. She seems to sing at a steady even keel. Where she belts out, it appears effortless. She sounds great and she delivered, getting stronger and bolder. And best of all, she connected with her audience. It helped that she had a live band and talented back up singers (Luz Maurillo, Melissa Rodis and Riandra Bhoge).

Kirstie Mae Urgasan opened the show and though she apparently pleased the crowd, the 11 year old's choice of songs were grating at times. She would have had better showing if her songs were age appropriate.

When Aunor was on stage, and most importantly, when she was singing and surrounded by her adoring fans, she was mesmerizing. Her rendition of "Greatest Performance" sung as her closing was poignant, emotionally archaic, considering it comes from an entertainer who has spent many years in the spotlight be it personal or professional.

Alas, there was no encore, as the concertgoers rushed to line up at the CD sales table to purchase CDs and have their copies signed by the Superstar.

"And just to let you know, my wife and I both enjoyed the show" continues Ben Manzano of Randolph. "It may be called bakya by others, but that show is rather different from the others that we had watched before. This is indeed a show where we both enjoyed watching." And spoken like a true "Noranian", we say amen to that.


Review of Bayanihan Dance Company
Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA

by Patricia Aldaba-Lim Yusah

You asked what I thought of the show....

I liked it!

And I get it.
I get why the old standards were condensed.
I get why they introduced new numbers.
I get why they would hybrid two different dances.

That's Entertainment.
Need I say more?

Well, I will, anyway. On to other things. Bayanihan's gig in Worcester (locals call it woos-tah), Massachusetts was a challenging venue. The Mechanics Hall, known as the nation's finest pre-Civil War concert hall is internationally regarded for its superb acoustics. The Hall boasts a celebrity list that includes local son YoYo Ma and others like Itzak Perlman, Mel Torme and Ella Fitzgerald. Last night Bayanihan was not informed of its capabilities. When the rondalla played on - even for a non-cultured ear like mine, I knew basag (cracked) ang sound. They should have just dropped the microphones and let the aural waves do their thing. The singer had the pipes for it- she did not need to amplify. Did I mention this? The place is one of the worlds finest concert halls.

It was nostalgic for me when I first saw the stage at Mechanics Hall. I thought uh-oh, next challenge: no wings, no fly tower, no proscenium. (In 1973, with one more college semester at Assumption, San Lo they let me go w/ Bayanihan if I made a thesis on "theatres of the world" while on the World Tour. During that trip I wrote about the most high fallutin' stages from New York's Lincoln Center to the aging Theatre des Champs Ellyses in Paris to smelly bullrings in Cartagena, Spain. Making do with what venue you were booked in was a Bayanihan area of expertise. Tito Lardy made sure we did it right. Again, they did right last night.

And while they were at it- why not make it a clean slate? Their exits were meticulous and systematic. Their Vinta dancers plus the Singkil Prinsesa perched on bamboos on steroids had to go down steps and through a thick curtain. Not one slip nor did they flinch! They flowed pass those thick drapes as natural as walking through electronic doors. All credit goes to the dancers’ discipline. I am a stickler for details like this- being up in the balcony- I was the inspector-general!

The other unfortunate challenge of the evening was that it was a Monday night. Hard-working Boston-Filipinos do not go out on a work night. Monday at that. So the audience was 90% white bread. You could literally count the Pinoys sprinkled in between all these season ticket holders. It was a curious mix of aging suburbia folks and young hip artistic theatre goers with a curious mind. It would have been a great night for the local Pilipinos to see a new interesting folk dance repertoire (i.e. Tiboli, subli, bakya) and not the inevitable gamut of the same-old, same-old mom and pop Pinoy dance companies do in the US (who btw copy Bayanihans' cookie-cutter program).

Of course, you also want the good old standards and that they did (pandango, tinikling, bangko)- always a crowd pleaser. The costumes, as usual, were fabu! Whispers on the way out of the auditorium were really raves about the stunning garments. Tita Bills, at age 85, did it again. She looked as enduring and enthused as she did in 1973!

It was a mini-reunion to meet with Helen- I shared my recurring nightmare: Me re-joining Bayanihan at this age and weight. The frightful part of the dream was I, frantically waiting at the wings and no one could zip my Jota costume- the gap was 12 inches apart and then I awake. I call out to embrace her and say "Helen, kasya pa ba ang Jota ko?" She answers back "oo, kasya pa rin!" Speaking of waking up from a nightmare, we meet Toffee and Rey Ardiente's son Elmer. Egad. I look at Marijo Castro-Fadrigalan (member 1969-1973), are we that old? Yes, we were because Susie Moya B. introduced us to her daughter too. Oh yeah. We're officially O.L.D.

Bayanihan has pioneered in many ways. When they interpret and stylize our dance culture- you're fodder for the critics' ire. Par for the course. I bought tickets to this show for 2 reasons: to be entertained and to see what was new. I got what I wanted: I had fun and I was updated. From the critics' corner, that's my take.

Patricia Aldaba-Lim Yusah
Bayanihan Member 1969 -1974
Boston, Massachusetts

Bayanihan - The Philippine National folk Dance Company http://www.bayanihannationaldanceco.ph/


Pops and Martin together again. . . On Stage
by Grethel Bolandrina
gretheline@aol.com

Couple reigns supreme on stage at the Mohegan Sun Arena, proves end of marriage did not end singing careers.

Uncasville, CT: Seemed like it was not too long ago when they were together, people wanted to break them up. Now that they've broken up, people want to put them together again. Such is life for the pearl of the orient’s Concert King and Concert Queen. Entertainment royals also dubbed First Class Filipino artists. New England concertgoers are deeply grateful, for Group Ole’s Drs. Ramon and Ching Legarda and Mohegan Sun’s Juliet Dayrit-Dizon and Teryl Ann Santos for making the show possible.

In the Philippines, Martin Nievera and Pops Fernandez have jointly made themselves champions at their singing careers. In the process having gone through friendship, romance, magic, marriage, children, heartbreak, annulment. They however, remained “friends” post break up. Not the quintessential type, from this side of the planet, there seemed to be no stings to the bitterness of the split. None until Connecticut saw a newer, older and more passionate entertainer in Nievera at the massive Mohegan Sun Arena. A sexier, more attractive, very confident Fernandez asked “Nagsisisi ka na? (Are you sorry now)?” Nievera was quick to make a joke by translating “sisi” (sorry) to English “see, see” complete with doing the doublemint looks. This warms up an almost awkward first number. The show was complete with all the makings for success.

The wonderful venue, where else can you play, stay, wine, dine, be pampered and entertained under one roof? To borrow a line from the company’s website, “A world at play and a world to its own, Mohegan Sun.”

There was magic in the air, the opening act, Filipino magician and Atlantic City regular Anthony Salazar who, was, to say the least, entertaining.

There was chemistry. Leading individual careers have done nothing to repel the ex-couples’ chemistry in joint performances. The 4000 some crowd of mixed nationalities (majority, Filipino) finds the novelty of having both Fernandez and Nievera together on stage, after however many years, after everything that has happened (the most recent being a media feud re: Fernandez posing for FHM Philippines). It’s bringing back exactly what they used to do. Their song choices were very personal and very passionate. Fernandez regally dressed in what initially appears to be the same low cut Lilac gown on the promotional materials, but no, almost the same exquisite cut but different details. They did songs to fall in love with. “Kiss”, “Sometimes When we Touch”. A Connecticut fan who refused to be identified for this article exclaimed “may pag-asa pa sila!” (they still have hopes), asked to elaborate, she said “for reconciliation.” Alas, Fernandez quickly exits the stage.

There’s the other woman, performer that is. From Las Vegas came Korean native Jenevi Bakch in a yellow embroidered gown who joined Nievera in “Sway”.

Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin, (you are everything to me) was Nievera’s solo and a prelude to Fernandez rejoining him onstage in a sleek black gown showing off skin, very elegantly so. After two kids, she’s got abs to kill for and thank goodness, no rings.

There were Medleys, “Have you ever heard so many medleys in your life?” quips Nievera. The songs ring in your early ‘80’s ears and the visuals are even complete with old Penthouse Live clips. Born Again, Tonight I Celebrate, Never Gonna Give Up, Perfect Combination, Almost Paradise, Long as We Believe, Honesty, You and I. Nievera’s much applauded number . . . Be My Lady, Say That You Love Me (in Spanish) You Are My song (ever heard so many people singing his songs), Forever. Nandito Ako and Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang, OPMs, Fernandez in another elegant gown, off shoulder, glittery blue, quite conservative with an "up" hairdo. She plugs her latest CD (Covers) does one of her favorite songs, something about “till the stars fall off the sky, till there’s no tears left to cry”. She sang Panaginip Lang, Sana Wala ng Wakas, Kailangan Kita. And there were dance medleys, which Fernandez would have done so much justice with had she not been wearing a gown, Locomotion, Finally, Dancing Queen, Walking on Sunshine. Nievera did a Broadway medley and promoted his new yearlong singing contract at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.

There were kids dancing, some even made it on stage. There were fans shaking their hands, taking photos, and tons of them.

They thank the band, the back up vocals, sponsors. The finale aptly was “Time of My Life”. The whole concert was an emotional experience. It was an escape and a release. There’s so much professionalism and respect. And there’s teasing! All in good clean fun. Just ask Emmanuel, a fan who got to share the stage with Fernandez. He was thanking her and he had tears of joy. Fans really did want to see Fernandez and Nievera together, even just on stage, even for just a few hours and from all the clamoring heard, they want them back soon too.

Click for pics from the show!


MARTIN & POPS -the magic lives on
By MIKE QUANE
Filipino Reporter Online Edition
Sept. 29 - Oct 5, 2006

The Philippine “Concert King and Queen” may no longer consort together in the royal bedchamber, but they continue to reign supreme on stage together in their Sept. 23 concert at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

For the second time in six months, Filipino entertainers held court in the massive Connecticut venue, and again a crowd of more than 4,000 wasn’t disappointed.

Pops Fernandez and Martin Nievera said they were responding to fans’ clamor that they reunite in a show and, on the whole, their fandom was right. The two delivered a classy show that was warmly received.

The two superstars, however, avoided talking about their recent feud in the media after Pops posed for the men’s magazine FHM Philippines. “Mabait naman ako, ikaw lang naman ang umaaway sa akin,” was all Pops could say to a tight-lipped Martin.

Despite a tepid entrance and awkward first few minutes, the ex-lovebirds got in gear with their third number, “Sometimes When We Touch,” a duet that got the crowd going. The song brought some nostalgia about the couple’s past from the time they met as co-hosts of “Penthouse Live.”

Previous to that, their “Kiss Medley” duet was distracted by a video presentation showing them hamming it up in promotional photos.

After his lively solo of Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” Martin joined up to sing the Latin standard “Sway” with Las Vegas performer Jenevi Bakch, who seemed to be there mostly for her, ah, physical attributes.

The crowd went wild when Martin sang the Tagalog classics “Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin” and “Ikaw Ang Lahat Sa Akin.”

Pops also heated things up with her rendition of an upbeat medley that included “I Want You Back In My Arms Again.” She displayed her comedic touch trading antics with Emmanuel, a fan she invited onstage, whose over-the-top reactions were almost too hilarious to be true. (Pops assured at a post-concert meet that it was all completely unscripted.)

Martin’s vocal range and funny spiels never fail to mesmerize the audience. He also used the opportunity to promote his new yearlong singing contract at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, a milestone for a Filipino performer.

Later, Pops reemerged on stage in a sparkling form-fitting blue gown that got the audience’s — and Martin’s — attention.

“Are you sorry now?” Pops asked Martin, to everyone’s amusement.

They then performed a duet of “Nandito Ako” and “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang” before Pops took the stage solo with “Flash Dance” and “Dancing Queen.”

Martin later returned for a medley of Broadway standards that may have betrayed some ambitions beyond Las Vegas. The two superstars were ably served by the orchestration of the “Las Vegas All-Stars,” although in their zeal they sometimes drowned out the performers, including Chapter 2, which was impressive as vocal backups.

The finale, “The Time of My Life,” gave the two-hour-plus show a rousing finish. The audience called for an encore, which the two, of course, obliged with some more Filipino favorites.

The night’s opening act, Filipino magician and Atlantic City regular Anthony Salazar, was brief but highly entertaining, knowing what the audience was there for.

Kudos to producers Dr. Ramon and Ching Legarda for again proving to the Mohegan Sun management that Filipino entertainers, especially Martin and Pops, are a winning combination.


The Other Side of Sarah Geronimo’s Concert: A wild success!
by Dawn Manangan
Editor-in-Chief, PJUsa Magazine

From the same producer who brought you last year’s concert hit: “Return of the Champions,” JSCamins Productions once again proved that Filipino concert scene in the Bay Area is still alive and kicking.

With the auspicious business sense of Joey Camins, veteran producer and the brainchild of JSCamins Prod, he strategically marketed the event as the concert of the summer to reckon with, alongside his co-producer Magic Wand Entertainment.

Reckon it is – as Sarah Geronimo proves her mettle in her first major solo concert in the U.S. Thousands of adoring fans filled the 3,000 seating occupancy of the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium and gave Sarah her first standing ovation performance in the Bay Area, a feat only Regine Velasquez, Pops Fernandez, Lani Misalucha, Gary Valenciano and Martin Nieverra had achieved in the past.

From her opening upbeat original Filipino danceable tune that includes her hit song “Lumingon Ka Lang,” and “Sa Iyo,” Sarah appeared confident, playful and magnetic in a pink sequined suit. Greeting the obviously delighted audience, she launched into a personal spiel about what the concert means to her, her struggle early on, her milestone achievement in her growing career and her 18th birthday celebration.

Her guests were impressive and clearly abound with talent as well. Opening up is the crooner from the south city of Cebu, Jimmy Marquez, who was this year’s first runner-up for “Search for Star in a Million.” He captured the audience’ attention, particularly when he sang “Gulong ng Palad,” a sentimental ballad, of which he added a soulful rendition of the song. His style is a mixture of pop and ballad and judging from his performance, he sure will have a successful career ahead.

Next up, is Kris Lawrence, the grand champion of “Search for Star in a Million,” and if anything, he just proved that he is. His R&B style was hip, young and at times touching and sexy. He could dance to the groove as well and his looks are as pleasant as his voice.

Mark Bautista was introduced as “Pop Heartthrob of the Philippines” and with thousands of girls agreeing, his monicker was undisputable. His version of “Lonely No More” was in the words of Paris Hilton, “That’s Hot.” He was also moving as he sang standard ballads like “Breathe” among others. His duet with Sarah blended perfectly, sounding like a very seasoned performer.

But the night belongs to the pop princess, Sarah Geronimo. She has truly arrived. The girl, who used to sound like Regine Velasquez, found her true style, which was oh so powerful and distinctly hers. Her repertoire of songs was eclectic and showed her versatility as a performer. This was evident in the medley of classic Filipino songs by Pilita Corales and Sylvia de la Torre, mixed with popular R&B tunes of Beyonce and Fergie. The audience was in rapture as she convincingly bridged the gap of the tunes of two generations.

Paying tribute to her idol Michael Jackson, she did an out-of-the-box performance, moonlight dancing and singing, to the tune of “Man in the Mirror,” “Billy Jean” and “You Were Not Alone.”

She also sang songs culled from her new album: “I Want to Know What Love Is” “Forever is Not Enough” and “If Only.”

The much awaited number of songs from her highly-watched soap series “Bituing Walang Ningning” was a crowd pleaser of the night, giving her two well-deserved standing ovations, as she sing soulfully, “Kung Nasan Ka Man,” and “Sanay Maghintay Ang Walang Hanggan.”

At this point, Sarah was visibly moved as throngs of fans adored her with gifts and flowers. There were 18 young kids who surprised her with stems of red roses as the audience spontaneously sang a birthday song for her.

For her finale, she did the song that started it all, cover of Celine Dion’s “To Love You More,” her winning piece for “Star of the Night” contest.

Sarah Geronimo, singer, budding actress, product endorser, and youth model is now a certified “Concert Princess” of the Philippines. Who knows? The Filipinos today, the world tomorrow!


Viva Vina, The Other Concert Queen!
Filipino Reporter, NY - May19-25, 2006

With all due respect to Pops Fernandez, Vina Morales should be anointed The Other Concert Queen.

The very lovely actress/singer proved Saturday night, the 13th of May at the ornate but shabby Landmark Loew's Jersey Theater in Jersey City that she is the Philippines' definitive female concert artist today, more than all the others—who shall remain nameless—combined.

We went to "Vina in the Fast Lane" without expectations of being enthralled, let alone entertained, not having watched a Vina show before but, from her very first number, it was clear this woman was no miniscule performer.

What a terrific entertainer!

What a versatile performer! Vina did them all, did Britney Spears, Beyonce, J-Lo, Janet Jackson and all others, but she put her own stamp on the borrowed numbers sometimes almost succeeding at making them sound like her very own.

Vina had something for everyone, she hip hopped, rocked, boogied, even cha cha'ed, OPMed. What she could not fit into the tight repertoire, Vina medleyed.

But alas, why did she only skim through her hits? Her Pilipino songs, like "Pangako Sa Iyo", "Kung Magkikita Tayong Muli" and other standards like "Kailangan Kita" and "Kahit Isang Saglit" were lumped under a longish medley making the audience, us specifically, bitin.

However, her compilation of 70s disco hits was a killer. Most concert artists resort to this medley thing but they all sound harried and look spent. Strange, but under Vina's magic pipes and exquisite moves, the medley never sounded more nostalgic and danceable. When Vina launches into "Bonggahan" it doesn't make you think Sampaguita, the originator.

Watching a Vina Morales show is like riding a roller coaster. She brings the audience to peaks and lows with so much ease, in split second shifts, it leaves you, the listener, almost breathless.

She has amazing energy; she almost makes Gary Valenciano look limp. There's a certain athleticism to her numbers but it doesn't rob her sexiness, speaking of which, that clinging white gown she had on, the last of three wardrobe changes, was sensual as sensual could get. Watching her sashay to "Last Dance" in that dangerously low cut attire entertained fears of wardrobe malfunction, which (un)fortunately, did not happen.

The production did Vina a great disservice by backing her up with canned music, a minus one if you will. But if you did not look at the empty orchestra pit, you wouldn't have known she had no live accompaniment. Vina made the audience forget she needed a live band, the true mark of a total entertainer.

Click for more pics from the show!


The Sun shines brightly on Pinoys at Mohegan!
Pops, Regine & Jose Mari Chan wow concertgoers

by Grethel Bolandrina
Gretheline@aol.com

UNCASVILLE, CT—Pops Fernandez and Regine Velasquez have never performed at Mohegan Sun before; neither has Jose Mari Chan. The three artists performed for the first time at Mohegan Sun's nearly packed Arena, April 2nd to a delighted Filipino-American audience. Although the concert wasn't dubbed as Queens on Fire II like the rest of their shows on this US concert tour, it is and it has lots of shades of the Queens on Fire concert as I saw it in Atlantic City last year. From most of the songs to even some of the costumes, it's the same but in a quirky sense, a tad different. Nevertheless, it still is not your typical back-to-back concert where the majority of the show allow both artists to do solo acts. Pops and Regine were together most of the time. They sang 70-percent duets and songs turned into duets. Having Jose Mari Chan was a welcome bonus. The "Filipino Jimmy Webb" sang his original compositions albeit all in English, tickled the crowd's funny bones, did his famous duet with Regine (Please Be Careful With My Heart, recorded 16 years ago!) and stated having a dream come true, that of performing with Pops ("My Girl, My Woman, My Friend," originally recorded with Janet Basco). Now, the Songwriter and the Concert Queen waxed a verbal agreement to work on not just a song but everyone heard the promise of a love song for Pops. Wait, this is getting way ahead. I'd like to share with you my observations at the meet and greet, the day before the show!

The e-mail message I received reads, " Meet and greet on Saturday, April 1, 2006 about 7 PM, very intimate-by invitation only". The buzz was that, the event starts actually around 9ish, so, our happy medium was 8 PM. My husband Joe and I met with Drs. Ramon and Ching Legarda at the hotel waiting area, along with Mrs. Philippine Centennial USA Elizabeth Arca and hubby Rommel, Jose Mari Chan and his lovely wife Mary Ann, Ms. Dina Maningas of Odina8888 Inc., and Regine's parents Mr. and Mrs. Gerry Velasquez. Onwards to the ballroom, smaller in comparison to the Uncas Ballroom we were at for the Concert launch a few months ago, but not any less impressive. Tables laid out in royal blue, drinks flowing from the open bar, an enormous sushi spread, a hot buffet of oriental dishes (noodles and all) plus what seems to be an army of waitresses with trays of various tempting hors d'oeuvres. Jose Mari Chan was introduced and as he entered the room, he quickly disappeared in a sea of excited fans. The intimate gathering swelled into about roughly 300 people! Shortly thereafter, Pops and Regine arrived with their entourage. Amidst what seemed to be a never ending flash of cameras, both found their way to their seats. Knowing how Pops and Regine are two very different performers, I've noticed how very differently both mingled with the meet and greeters. Pops appeared friendlier while Regine was very task oriented. Sign, smile, sign, pose for shots, sign again, smile again, repeat numerous times. Mohegan Sun's Director of Asian Marketing Juliet Dayrit-Dizon welcomed everyone, announced that 99% of tickets are sold out and thanked the whole Filipino-American community for their support. Announcing future Pinoy concerts planned reciprocated by loud approvals from the crowd. Dr. Ramon Legarda of Group Ole also expressed his gratitude to the artists for agreeing to perform together; to Mohegan Sun management for all that they have done and echoed the same appreciation for the Filipino-American community and the press. Considering Pops, Regine and their entourage were up since 2 AM, as I was told and traveled directly from Edmonton, Canada, they were in good spirits. Pops even held a fan's hand, walked side by side with her so their photo could be taken en route to being ushered out of the ballroom to rest for the evening. Teryl Ann Santos, Executive Host of Asian Marketing was a busy bee, checking in on everyone, friendly as can be. The meet and greet set the stage for the concert, a lot of enthusiasm and genuine welcome. Mohegan Sun was primed for the Pinoy performers!

April 2, 2006—the entrance to the Arena by the Casino of the Earth was as close to a fiesta atmosphere as you could get. Friends greeting each other, some lining up at the box office to pick up reserved tickets, others purchasing tickets on the spot. It was about 2:35 PM when the show actually started. Opening song was Cristina Aguillera's "Stronger." Pops and Regine wore the same glittery, skin toned outfit (low cut, short, displaying ample chest and lots of legs) from last year, very Hollywood-ish. I'm seated second row to the left of the stage, between Ezra Aldea, a charming young lady from Groton, CT and an equally charming woman I'll call Millie (she made me promise to maintain her anonymity). Still the same comedic line opening ala ReyCards duet (Pops stated she'd have to be Rey!) Laughter throughout the Arena, which I noticed had extra sections opened (making it more than 99% sold out.) Pops sang and danced to a medley of "Love you baby, Feeling sexy and Baby boy". She did a remake of "You take my breath away" giving what appeared to be sincere smiles and her signature regal curtsy. Quickly establishing rapport with the audience, explaining how the show is about love, how life is good and how life is also how we choose to live it. Millie, to my right, verbalized being a bit disappointed, this being her first Pinoy concert, "why are they singing all English songs?" Ezra on the other hand, a self-confessed Regine fan now excitedly says she likes Pops now too!

Regine comes out in a low cut, fitted apple green gown, singing "Hold me," hitting the highest notes. Pops (in a conservative flowing teal gown) rejoins her and they joke about Regine's nose. Their very special guest, Jose Mari Chan joins them at this time, sings duet, then solo after which Millie smiled and said, "I'm not disappointed anymore!"

They sang "Fever" with the same grit and passion (same glittery tux, short shorts complete with hat and cane to the Kelly sisters' Chicago). There too was the cabaret style of "Oops! I Did It Again" ending with both exposing naked upper bodies a fraction of a second before the lights went out (initially behind heart shaped, high backed chairs). This time, I saw their flesh colored tubes. The cornball-style dancing of Regine and her comic "money collecting spoof" earned a lot of laughs. And a few extra dollars for the children (Sam & Libby!) Ezra gleefully welcomes all of Regine's antics and had her in stitches. Ezra keeps saying "she's sooo cute". Pops did a Tagalog medley "Kaya pala", "Hanggang kalian" (gaano kita kamahal), "Magmula ng magkalayo" (hindi ko kaya) of Mulawin.

Regine, effortlessly rendered soaring ballads "color me/call me", Mariah Carey's "Butterfly," "My all." The entire show still encompassed many musical genres: rock, pop, dance and OPM. From what I gather, Filipino Americans on this side of the US yearn for more OPM. "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" rendered sensual, exotic and bold as both Regine and Pops were in their red gowns. They did the "Power of Love". The encore had Pops and Regine, still in their red gowns doing a medley of '80s favorites "Gloria," "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," "What Have You Done For Me Lately," "I'm So Excited", "How will I know", "Wanna dance with somebody", "Lucky star", "Borderline", "Holiday", "Chip off my shoulder", "Jump" and "Telephone". Both were in their element, stepping off stage on speakers/partitions to have their photos taken by very eager fans. Silver and gold confetti showered the audience who lingered a bit longer after curtains closed. I thanked the ladies I sat with, promising Ezra I'll send her a copy of my review. I had a photo op with the elegant Consul General Cecil Rebong, the gracious Teryl Ann Santos and the powerhouse of ladies Dr. Ching Legarda of Group Ole and Juliet Dayrit-Dizon who reminded all the concertgoers that the $1000.00 winner will be announced at 6 PM over the entire Mohegan Sun. Looking forward to coming back to Mohegan for another Pinoy concert or sooner to even just to see the world at play and maybe bump into some more "Kababayans".

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS!


'Idol' alters the fame game:
Trias cashes in on instant stardom, but not all can

By John Wilkens
San Diego Union-Tribune, March 27, 2006

It's one thing to look at the TV viewership numbers soaring past 30 million every week and recognize that “American Idol” is a pop-culture juggernaut crushing everything in its sight.

It's another to go out to Sycuan and see the phenomenon in action.

Although singer Jasmine Trias, 19, finished third on "American Idol," she's a winner to her fans. Among them is Ched DeLarosa of Chula Vista, who snagged her autograph during the singer's sold-out concert at Sycuan.

Jasmine Trias was there Friday night, playing the Showcase Theatre. You may remember her from “Idol's” 2004 season as theHawaiian girl who wore a flower in her hair.

She finished third in the competition, more than enough apparently to make her famous. The Showcase Theatre, with tickets $45 each, was sold out.

OK, the place only seats 457 people. And most were Filipino-Americans who adore Trias so much she probably could have come out in sweat pants and a torn T-shirt and sung the Oscar Meyer weiner song and they would have clapped.

A sell-out is a sell-out. Her first one, as she happily told the audience. Twice. “I can't believe it.”

She's probably not the only one. But “American Idol” is so big and so relentless it's altering the landscape of fame.The people on the show really are overnight sensations.

The interesting question, with the program now in its fifth season, is whether they can have lasting, significant careers. “Idol” is a launching pad that casts an enormous shadow, and not everything can grow in the shade.

Kelly Clarkson, who won the first year, already has a couple of Grammys (and enough confidence to not mention “Idol” once when she accepted them), so she looks like she's on her way. But her runner-up that year, Justin Guarini, is famous now mostly as a flop.

Some are carving out niches – a country singer here, a Broadway performer there. Jasmine Trias is learning Tagalog.

That gets spoken in the Philippines, where Trias is huge. Her first album there, released last September, has already gone gold. At McDonald's restaurants in the Philippines, they carried for a while an item on the menu called the Jasmine Trio, which included fries, a strawberry float and a CD single, “Love Ko 'To.”

She was born in Hawaii, but her parents are Filipino, and as soon as she made her first appearance on “Idol,” as a17-year-old high school student, thousands of viewers with ties to the Pacific islands adopted her as one of their own.

They backed her faithfully, a powerful bloc that maddened critics who felt people were voting with their ethnic pride and not their ears. They ranted that Hawaii had an advantage because of the time zones, or claimed its residents had an easier time getting through on phone lines that, in more populated mainland areas, were jammed.

Simon Cowell, the show's notoriously acid-tongued judge, once referred to the controversy when he told Trias after a particularly rocky performance that she'd better hope everyone in Hawaii had five phones. She survived that week anyway, but it wasn't just because of Hawaii.

“We voted for her all the time,” said Priscila Gil, a Chula Vistan who was at the Sycuan show Friday night. “I would tell all my friends, and we would vote 10 times or more every week.”

Michael Cayanan, a San Diegan who was also at the show, said he liked her because “she's putting Filipinos on the map. You don't hear Filipinos on the radio, and she's trying to give it a shot.”

It wasn't just her roots that moved people, though.

“I like everything about her,” said Babie Geske of Rancho San Diego. “Her personality, her looks, her voice. Everything.”

Geske said she has family and friends who send her the singles that have been released in just the Philippines or Hawaii. And she's proud that her four grandchildren “all know who Jasmine is.”

The grandkids weren't at the show – too young. You had to be 18 to get in, which eliminated a huge swath of the “Idol” constituency. Judging by Internet chatter, that bummed out more than a few fans, including one who wondered out loud about a picket line. None materialized.

And if it struck anyone as odd that they were waiting in line to see a singer who herself wouldn't have been allowed in at the time she first became famous, nobody mentioned it.

The crowd instead was dotted with knots of folks in their 40s, 50s and 60s. At the end of the show, when Trias tried to get the audience to dance to one of her upbeat songs, only three people did.

But she expressed respect for her fan base – she was introduced as “Your Filipino-American American Idol” – and she spoke gratefully about having such loyalty behind her as she starts her career.

She sang several Filipino songs, including a love ballad to a 20-year-old audience member who admitted he doesn't understand Tagalog. Many in the audience did, and they giggled at certain lines while he stood there a little awe-struck holding Jasmine's hand.

Unlike some other “Idol” finalists, she didn't try to distance herself from the program. She joked about it in an understated way after the first song, saying, “You may have seen me on that show.”

Understatement doesn't often work in a casino, what with all the lights and bells, and with her standing there in a flagrantly red dress and spiked heels, but people laughed this time.

She introduced a couple of songs with “Idol” references, and her encore was the chorus of “I Will Always Love You,” which she sang during her audition for the show.

The crowd, in turn, acted like it was at an “Idol” taping. They cheered in the middle of songs at the long, theatrical notes. Several said they thought she was singing better now than she ever did on TV.

When it was over, some of the Sycuan regulars went back to the slot machines and card tables. Others headed over for an autograph session with the singer, outside the Pai Gow room.