’70s stars reunite for gigs; James Ingram in Manila

/ 07:20 PM January 28, 2012

Every year, Inquirer Entertainment helps readers pick a show for that special day, by asking the concert artists to talk about their gigs… and romance.

‘Loving in the ’70s’


Jacqui Magno, Louie Reyes, Pat Castillo, Ding Mercado, Eugene Villaluz, Ray An Fuentes; February 10 and 11, 8:30 p.m. Music Museum

How did you spend your first Valentine date, who was your date and what was memorable about it?

Jacqui Magno (JM): Due to my senior “monuments,” I don’t recall a very memorable Valentine date, because I always have a show. Also, the past is a forgotten affair. I’m sure Valentine’s this year will be quite memorable!

Pat Castillo (PC): I never actually had a Valentine date; I was always performing.

Louie Reyes (LR): I married my one and only boyfriend, Cesar de la Fuente, founder of the original New Minstrels – where Ding, Eugene and I came from. So the whole time of our courtship, we were group mates! And because we were entertainers, Valentine’s Day was always a concert day. We were never alone.

Eugene Villaluz (EV): My first Valentine date was in first year college. I was a cast member of the first production of “West Side Story” being staged by Sta. Isabel College. My date was also in the cast and what was memorable was that the date was so casual since we had just finished rehearsals. We just ate in a fast food chain. Simple joys of youth!

Ray An Fuentes (RF): I’m 57; I can’t remember that far back, I’m afraid.

Tell us about your most unique experience on Valentine’s Day.

JM: My unique Valentine’s Day has yet to happen!


PC: I can’t recall.

LR: It happened in a New Minstrels concert. Cesar and I were already married. I was feeling weird while singing my solo number, “My Funny Valentine.” Soon after, my suspicions were confirmed – I was pregnant with our second son! Looking back, I was just amazed that nothing went wrong with the pregnancy, despite all the choreography, rehearsals and hectic schedule!

EV: The New Minstrels used to spend Valentine’s Day hopping from one show to another.  There was a time we had three performances – an afternoon wedding reception at Manila Polo Club and two evening shows at the Roxas Boulevard strip. No time for romantic dates, it was all work!

RF: The time I spent with the woman I love – my wife. I had spent many Valentine’s Days with other women, but nothing beats being with the one you truly love.

Is Valentine’s Day overrated?

JM: Since people tend to take daily affairs for granted, we do need a special day to remind us that love is all there is.

PC: I think it’s a special day. It gives me time to pause and think of all the people I failed to show kindness, affection and love to. So I try my best to at least spend time with my loved ones. The rest of the year is mostly spent making a living, so yes, we do need special times like Christmas, New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day to take a break from our busyness and savor the love around us.

LR: Everyone knows what love stands for – for most of us it’s a quick fix, feel-good pill that can erase all pain and sorrow. I have nothing against its yearly observance, but it must not be just a one-day celebration. As the last line of “My Funny Valentine” says, “Each day is Valentine’s Day.” How true, isn’t it ?

EV: Showing your affection to a loved one shouldn’t be expressed only on one day every year. As the song goes, “Each day is Valentine’s Day.” I don’t consider it overrated, though Filipinos are really romantic and sentimental by nature. Even in music, we go crazy over love songs.

RF: I don’t really agree to having just a day in a year to tell your loved one how special he/she is. Every opportunity I have, I want to tell my loved one that she is special to me.

What is the most uniquely written love song for you and why?

JM: I have a lot of favorite love songs and they all seem to be equal in standing. But to choose just one, I’d pick “The Very Thought of You” because of its spiritual connotation.

PC: Gee, all the most famous songs, with or without words, were written because of love – experienced, gained or lost. And I can’t recall at the moment any one of them standing out.

LR: “Me and You” because my husband wrote it with the brilliant composer/guitarist Eddie Munji.

EV: “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” by Michel Legrand. The lyrics say it all: “Through all of my life/Summer, winter, spring and fall of my life/All I ever will recall of my life/Is all of my life with you.”

RF: There’s a song called “When God Ran” and it’s about the prodigal son … Disrespecting your father the way the prodigal son did would have caused the townsfolk to stone him. Coming home didn’t change the fact that he was still guilty. But the father ran and embraced him in a gesture of forgiveness. It also shows the father’s unconditional love in that he restored all the privileges accorded to a son—as if he never sinned at all. This is my story and this is my song—how God our Father has shown His love for me in spite of all the wrong I have done. And to restore me to full rights as His beloved son tops it all. I have decided to give my life to Him as my way of saying “thank you.”

Why should we watch your concert?

JM: Because it’s fun, filled with lighthearted repartees and it features six great talents in one show.

PC: Because we come from an era when music was written in its most simple form, when singers and musicians were challenged to be more creative. This concert allows the audience to re-experience those years and look back over their shoulders and realize, “Hey, look at me. I am as good as anyone here. I belong with these group of achievers!”

LR: Because we are doing it for you while we still can.

EV: This is a rare occasion when members of the two premier groups of the ’70s, The New Minstrels and Circus Band, will join forces to reminisce what it was like to fall in love in those years. Those who lived that era will hear the soundtrack of their lives.

RF: I can’t be more excited to be on the same stage with these amazing performers. They have no so-called “titles,” but they’re  some of the Philippines’ best – bar none. One person who found out about this show and wrote me said that, unlike the new crop of performers nowadays who are “packaged,” Jacqui, Pat, Louie, Eugene and Ding are seasoned. I can’t wait to sing with them.

‘James Ingram: Live in Manila’ February 17, 8 p.m. Smart Araneta Coliseum

What was your most unique and unforgettable romantic relationship?
met my wife when she was 5 and I was 7 years old. We were friends first. We got married when she turned 20 and I was 22. We now have six children and one grandchild. My most memorable romantic moment was when I took my wife to Paris for the first time. We had dinner on a private boat and explored the whole city!

Is Valentine’s Day overrated or does it deserve its special observance?

Valentine’s Day is for lovers everywhere on this planet. We can always use a little more love in the world. Every day offers us the chance to right a wrong, or simply to say, “I love you and you are so appreciated.”

How do you keep your love life interesting and exciting?

I try 100 ways and more to keep my wife happy, interested and loved.

What is the most uniquely written love song for you and why?

I come from the Quincy Jones school of music and that means that melody is everything. One of the most beautiful songs ever written is “Just Once.” It started my career.

The last time you performed here was 10 years back. What will make your concert romantically special this time?

I’m going to sing all of my hits, and my first performance is the day after my birthday. I’m honored to celebrate my birthday with Manila. It’s been far too long since I had the opportunity to perform for all my Filipino fans. That in itself makes my performance oh-so-special. Come and see!

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TAGS: Ding Mercado, Entertainment, Eugene Villaluz, Jacqui Magno, James Ingram, Louie Reyes, Music, Pat Castillo, Ray An Fuentes, Valentine’s Day
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