‘Isang pamilya tayo’

By: - Columnist
/ 12:30 AM December 15, 2016
From left: Joao Constancia, Tristan Ramirez, the author, Russell Reyes, Ford Valencia,  Niel Murillo —PHOTO FROM EUGENE CAILAO

From left: Joao Constancia, Tristan Ramirez, the author, Russell Reyes, Ford Valencia, Niel Murillo —PHOTO FROM EUGENE CAILAO

That time of year has come yet again!

The ABS-CBN Christmas Special took place on Tuesday at Araneta Coliseum, bringing together most of the network’s stable of stars, both veteran and newbie.


Set pieces were still being hoisted or assembled as rehearsals were taking place on the big stage on Monday. Mel Villena’s AMP Big Band was tasked to handle all musical accompaniment duties. The last time we worked together was at the celebration of the Manila Peninsula’s 40th anniversary, blasting out Natalie Cole’s “Orange Colored Sky.” It’s such a treat to work with Tito Mel, as it always is, so I was excited to get to work.

When I arrived at the Big Dome before 6 p.m., there was a big production number already being rehearsed. I spied Darren Espanto and Sarah Geronimo with the G Force. Darren has grown tall and lean, and both his singing and dancing have become more assured and steady. Sarah, as expected, sounded and performed great. But note that this is a rehearsal, and everyone turns it on at the performance.


As I looked around I spied many friends that were also going to perform. People like Sharon Cuneta, Jaya, Nyoy Volante, Radha, Jed Madela, Martin Nievera, Dulce, Billy Crawford, Yeng Constantino, Jonalyn Viray, Klarisse de Guzman, Vina Morales, Janella Salvador, Iñigo Pascual, McNeal “Awra” Briguela, Karla Estrada, Jolina Magdangal, Denise Laurel, Matteo Guidicelli, Angeline Quinto, KZ Tandingan, Morissette Amon, Erik Santos and 4th Impact.

It was great to just hang out with them, have coffee (thanks, Jed) and shoot the breeze. As hectic as this night was going to be, to have a few moments to sit down, laugh and catch up was precious. It made the time fly by faster.

Also present at the rehearsal was the brand-new BoybandPH, composed of Niel Murillo, Russell Reyes, Joao Constancia, Tristan Ramirez and Ford Valencia.

Girls, allow me to say that the photos currently circulating don’t do them justice. They are all incredibly handsome and seem very kind. I sincerely hope that the level of fame they’re currently receiving is handled well, and that no one gets a swollen head as a result of the adulation.

The author (center) with vocal quartet 4th Impact       —PHOTO COURTESY OF LEA SALONGA

The author (center) with vocal quartet 4th Impact —PHOTO COURTESY OF LEA SALONGA

As always, Johnny Manahan was the man at the helm, with Joane Laygo by his side assisting, plus a team of choreographers, assistants and stage managers making sure everyone gets his/her time onstage.

The cool thing about these rehearsals is that most everyone is in the audience watching all the production numbers going on. There are little kids singing and dancing with so much confidence and aplomb, including our “The Voice Kids” champions, Lyca Gairanod, Elha Nympha and Joshua Oliveros.

There are also teenagers straight out of the “Pinoy Big Brother” house, just excited to be there. There are the dependable vets who know the drill so well they can do it in their sleep, as well as the younger stars following in their footsteps. It’s wonderful being able to sit, watch and observe, something we’re not always able to do when we’re backstage.


On Tuesday night, game faces will be on. Screaming fans will fill the coliseum, and adrenaline will be out of control. But this yearly gathering of celestial beings is always fun, no matter how chaotic or crazy it’ll be.

This will be my last performance for 2016, and it’s wonderful that I’ll get to sing with some great talent, and that it’ll be to my brother Gerard Salonga’s arrangement of a touching medley. It’ll be something sweet to do before my little family heads out for a little vacation for the holidays.

Oh, my work year officially ends with a Grand Countdown to 2017 at the Marriott Grand Ballroom at Resorts World Manila. I shall be performing with fellow “TVK” coach Bamboo and comedian Jon Santos. It’ll be a great way to usher in a brand-new year!

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TAGS: ABS-CBN Christmas Special, AMP Big Band, Araneta Coliseum, Mel Villena, Paskong Pinoy, Pinoy Big Brother
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