I have my voice,” gushed Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, panting ever so slightly after powering through a high-impact opening production that saw her rocking to the songs “Call Me” and “Hot Stuff,” during the first of her “R3.0” concert’s two nights at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
There was a sense of relief in the way those words were said because almost five years ago, on that same stage, she didn’t.
In 2012, Regine had to cut short her 25th anniversary concert, “Silver,” because a viral illness ravaged her voice.
Until then, her voice was the one part of her she knew she could always depend on. But for the first time in her life, it betrayed her.
It was a moment that shook her to the core—one whose effects lingered in her psyche in the years that followed.
Losing her voice was one thing; losing her confidence was another. “I was never the same,” admitted the singer, who has also been dealing with acid reflux, which rendered her strapping instrument mercurial.
Maybe it was God’s way of teaching her a lesson, Regine surmised, and of reminding her that she had already proven a lot and need not outsing herself anymore.
This time, she faced the packed audience—not as someone on a mission—but as someone just happy to still be doing the thing she loves most.
And it showed throughout her two-and-a-half hour set, which included some of her career-defining hits, new songs, intimate duets and showstopping group numbers.
“You’ve Made Me Stronger” elicited a fun, resounding sing-along. In a medley of “Bluer than Blue,” “You Were There” and “Fallin’,” she tempered her singing and let the beauty of her tone work its magic.
Together with Ogie Alcasid, the 47-year-old diva sang some of her husband’s compositions that became theme songs of her past movies—“Hanggang Ngayon,” “Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw” and “Pangarap Ko ang Ibigin Ka.”
Bedlam erupted when, much to everyone’s surprise, she and her son, Nate, were joined onstage by Mikee Cojuangco and Donna Cruz to recreate an iconic 1990s pop-culture moment with the singing of “I Can,” from the movie “Do Re Mi.”
Fans cheered, squealed and jumped from their seats with every soaring note hit and sustained during an electrifying vocal throwdown, which had Regine dishing out torch ballads with Jona, Angeline Quinto, Aicelle Santos, Julie Anne San Jose and Morissette Amon.
In one of the night’s most poignant moments, Regine dedicated “You Are My Song” to the crowd, which returned the favor by lighting up their phones and waving them aloft as they sang along.
She turned emotional in her heartfelt tribute to her late father, Gerry Velasquez, with whom she sang “You’ll Never Know” via old images of him displayed onscreen.
Meanwhile, midway through a mashup of “First Man in My Life” (a new song) and “Leader of the Band,” Regine stopped, buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
But more than the music, “R3.0” turned out to be a night of introspection and profession of strengthened faith.
“I’m trying to find my self-confidence. But maybe I’m not supposed to, because all I have to do is have faith that I can do this—I can do this through Christ, who gives me the strength,” stressed Regine, who delivered a heartfelt rendition of the worship song, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail).”
While she didn’t unleash those stratospheric notes with the same fearlessness or abandon, her power and resonance remained largely untouched. The slight rasp in her upper belts, on the other hand, added a new texture to her sound.
But perhaps more crucially, her performances seemed to carry more emotional weight and vulnerability, as in the newly arranged version of “Go the Distance,” which earned her the night’s many standing ovations from her devoted fans.