Regine Velasquez in Dubai – exclusive interview

We speak to the Philippines' best-selling artist ever ahead of Dubai gig

She is, quite simply, the biggest in the business. With more than eight million records sold, Regine Velasquez is officially the best-selling artist the Philippines has ever produced, the voice behinds scores of hits which have been reverberating from radios for more than 25 years.

Affectionately dubbed ‘Asia’s Songbird’, Velasquez boasts an exceptional voice, which helped her first find fame winning the 1989 Asia Pacific Singing Contest in Hong Kong. Established as a star in her own right with hit albums throughout the ’90s, Velasquez, now 43, moved into acting and philanthropy and remains a natural treasure of the country’s music scene, and has gone to collaborate with Western stars including Paul Anka, David Hasselhoff, 98 Degrees, Alicia Keys, Brian McKnight, Mandy Moore and Ronan Keating.

In 2010 she married long term partner, pop star and TV personality Ogie Alcasid, and the pair will be performing together once more in Dubai when they take to the stage at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday March 27. Ahead of the gig Time Out’s Rodelito Mamuad caught ‘Asia’s Songbird’ on the phone as she was waiting at the departures gate in Manila.

How’s ‘Asia’s songbird’?
I’m okay and very excited to see my Dubai fans for the second time. It’s our flight tonight!

Your last concert in Dubai, with your better-half Ogie was February 2010. What do you miss in the city?
We haven’t been back for a while in Dubai so we’re really excited to see our kababayan (compatriot). We miss entertaining and making them happy, that’s why we’re again here.

Your Dubai fans are excited to see you again in a concert here, what do they expect from you in the show?
I really don’t know what they expect from us, but we have prepared a lot of beautiful songs for them and hopefully they will enjoy the show.

You’ve enjoyed a successful career for many years, what is the secret to remaining relevant?
There’s nothing – you need a lot of perseverance in order to make it in showbiz specially in the music industry.

Of all your many achievements, what are your proudest memories?
You know I always say that the greatest achievement that I have is sending my siblings to school and letting them finish their studies because of singing. There’s nothing more than that.

How do you and Ogie manage your time as a celebrity couple? Do you ever wish for more privacy?
I sometimes wish for that but it’s really a part of our job. Something has to give and that’s normal in the industry. Having privacy is just a small thing for me. What’s important is, you are making people happy when they see you perform. It’s really exciting!

How has your professional life changed since becoming a mother?
As of now, my job is no longer my major priority. My main concern now is my family, my son and my husband. I think that’s just natural to a woman if she’s already a mother: her priorities change.

You have collaborated with many international stars, such as Alicia Keys, who impressed and inspired you most?
There are only a few international artists that I worked with, so I may say all of them impressed and inspired me a lot. I feel very blessed that I was given the opportunity to be working with them because not all are given the chance. Actually, working with other artists is always inspiring for me. Working with them gives me the chance to be acquainted with them, know how they started, and what is the reason they are here in this business. So I am always actually inspired with people that I work with.

Is the Filipino music scene in a strong place today? What can be done to help artists crossover to achieve success across the globe?
It’s just okay [at the moment], though nowadays Filipino artists are struggling because of the competition that they have with foreign artists. But, we are doing our best to entertain our fellow Filipinos all over the world. OPM [Original Filipino Music] is still here and we have a lot of new breed of songwriters and singers. We can help them by supporting them and by patronizing and enjoying our own music. We need to teach our kababayan compatriots to love our own music. I observe that Filipinos, especially the youth, would rather watch foreign concerts than a local one. But there’s nothing wrong with that though, it’s that just local artists like us should also be given the chance to hear out what we are offering, as our music is really beautiful and original.

How long do you think you can keep it up, touring the world and playing music professionally?
Actually, I haven’t been touring recently. I am not avoiding it but I am just minimizing because of my son Nathaniel. I seldom accept shows out of the country, especially if it takes many days unlike in Dubai that we can go home right away after the show. But if there are long tours where I can bring my son then I accept them because what I am doing is for his future. Also, as long as I have fans that are supporting and loving my music, I will never get tired of sharing it to them.
Regine Velasquez-Alcasid and Ogie Alcasid perform at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday March 27. Tickets, Dhs110-295, from www.timeouttickets.com.

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