Lea concert a celebration of mothers’ unconditional love
“Songs from the Stage” had all the key ingredients one would expect from a show by Lea Salonga: impeccable singing, engaging banter and an astute understanding of the material at hand. But as the night wore on, it became increasingly apparent that the concert was more than a mere showcase of musicianship. Perhaps, more importantly, it turned out to be a celebration of a mother’s unconditional love.
“Of all the roles I have portrayed, my favorite right now is that of being a mother,” Lea said from the stage at the Philippine International Convention Center’s Plenary Hall, before introducing her 10-year-old daughter, Nicole, whom the acclaimed singer-actor described as a curious child who loves drawing, dancing and, yes, singing.
“This will sound biased, but she’s really quite amazing,” she added. Nicole looked understandably anxious as she walked toward her mother—giggling, putting her hands over mouth and throwing her head back.
Holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes, Lea and Nicole did a duet on the whimsical “Pure Imagination” (from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”). But despite the nerves, you could readily discern the sweet, pure tone coming out of the child’s mouth.
By the time she delivered a solo performance of “Ring of Keys” (from “Fun Home”), Nicole seemed to have fully settled in. She didn’t just sing—she performed. Every so often, she paused, to emphasize important moments in the song.
Nicole’s eyes constantly wandered, as if gauging the crowd’s reception. Whenever everyone erupted into resounding cheers, her face would light up with excitement. And once the final note was sung, she promptly raised her fist in triumph, much to the audience’s delight.
“That was the best you have performed that song!” said Lea, who watched Nicole with keenness from a stool behind her. “My job requires me to be away a lot… But this one is quite the trouper!”
As she reveled in the precious moment, Lea was reminded of her own mother, Ligaya. Now that she has her own kid, she said, she has developed a deeper appreciation for the things her mom did in raising her and her brother, Gerard, who conducted the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.
Lea saw her mother, who sat in the front row, as a “hero” and “survivor”; a “life-smart and self-made” woman, whose “instinct is such a divine gift.” “I would not be standing here before you today if it was not for her,” she said. “She is the most selfless woman. The devotion my mom has poured onto me and Gerard was more than I could ever give back in 10 lifetimes.”
Then, in one of the program’s most moving portions, Lea paid tribute to her mother, with a song that was most apt for the occasion: “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
While her singing is never not emotionally connected, Lea’s rendition of the Bette Midler classic was easily the night’s most impassioned. Behind her, a montage of old family photos flashed on the screen; before the singer, Ligaya could not help but shed tears.
“She raised us as a single mother. She did it all. She just took care of everything. And while she would complain about things and other people from time to time, she never complained about us,” Lea recalled. “And that is still true today. A mother’s love is unconditional. She made sure we became the best versions of ourselves.”