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Tomorrow

By: - Columnist
/ 12:10 AM October 18, 2018

My days and nights have been spent parked at home. I remain in my pajamas all day, except for when I pick Nic up from school or head out for meetings.

This is how I prepare for a show: I spend hours listening to the music that I’ll be singing, as well as figuring out how I’ll vocally negotiate each song.

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For the most part, this process has been going smoothly indeed, and tomorrow night, our audience will get to see the fruits of our hard work.

Because this one is a milestone—I mean, 40 isn’t something to sneeze at—we’ve chosen a few people to be our guests in aid of that.

Each of my special guests Simon Bowman, Mark Bautista, Esang de Torres and Nicole Chien has a story, and I’m only too happy to share.

Trust

Simon Bowman is the very first romantic leading man I’ve ever had. And you never ever forget your first.

He was present at my London audition for “Miss Saigon,” which means that he and I met in December of 1988, almost a full 30 years ago. I remember him being very tall and slim with plenty of dark brown curls. I guess Cameron Mackintosh needed to see how Simon and I looked together.

Simon Bowman

We had our  first rehearsal for “Sun and Moon,” a song that required the two of us to be engaged in a fashion that was postcoital, passionate and romantic—things I knew absolutely nothing about at the time. Sensing the aura of anxiety emanating from my mother and me, he took each of us aside and spoke to us. It’s a conversation that I’ve never forgotten.

“Trust me. I’ll take care of you. I will never do anything to betray your trust in me,” he said.

Simon is a jokester, but he is also a sensitive human being who knows only too well the difficulty of having to bare one’s self onstage. To hear that he would take care of me was reassuring. I’ll forever be grateful to him for it.

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Mark-os

Yes, the spelling is intentional, and here’s why.

In 2014, while I was in London as part of the Il Divo tour, I headed to the National Theatre to see “Here Lies Love.” A couple of friends—Gia Macuja and Natalie Mendoza—were in the production, which already was an incentive for me to go.

I also knew of other Filipino performers who were part of the production, one of whom was Mark Bautista playing the role of Ferdinand Marcos.

Mark Bautista

At the exact moment of his entrance, I happened to be standing close by. Jim Ferrer, one of the Pinoy ensemble members, saw me and shoved me even closer. Mark and I locked eyes—he remained in character throughout but sang a little bit to me.

He oozed with so much charm and sex appeal in addition to his acting chops and strong baritone voice. And, he was performing at the National Theatre—something many actors can only dream of.

Thank you, Mark, for saying yes to us!

Prodigy

This isn’t Esang de Torres’ first time to guest in my concert. She is representing two worlds that make me happy: musical theater (she played the title role in Atlantis Productions’ “Matilda”) and my team in “The Voice.” Just seeing her grow reminds me of the very first time I ever met her.

While we were taping the first season of the show, this girl was brought to my dressing room to meet me. I was told that she was a big fan, and that she was talented, having appeared already on “It’s Showtime” as my mini me.

When I first laid eyes on her, she was this tiny girl with big, round eyes, dressed in her school uniform. She started singing “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from “Flower Drum Song,” and I was floored.

Esang de Torres

After she finished, I told her to audition for the next season “The Voice Kids.” Thankfully, she did. She may not have won, but she has gained a lot of fans since then. I pray for nothing but the best for this young, prodigiously talented artist.

Family

And of course, we have Nicole.

Beyond being my daughter, she has a passionate, sincere love for musical theater (she was also cast in “Matilda”). She regularly belts musical hits in our car rides, and asks to listen to cast albums to sleep (right now, “The Band’s Visit” is on repeat). It’s also so much fun performing with her, and I’m curious to see how far she intends to go. All I can do is support her endeavors and encourage her gifts. This is when I’ll be more “Momma” than “Diva.”

“Lea Salonga: The 40th Anniversary Concert” will take place on Oct. 19 and 20 at the PICC Plenary Hall.

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TAGS: Backstory, Esang de Torres, Mark Bautista, Nicole Chien, Simon Bowman
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