Last Monday our industry lost one of its most beloved and formidable members, Armida Siguion-Reyna. Many of you know her as the creator of the musical television series “Aawitan Kita,” which featured many singers week after week performing the music of yesteryear.
She is also the mother of film director Carlos Siguion-Reyna and photographer and Town and Country Magazine’s first editor in chief Monique Siguion-Reyna, and grandmother to theater actors Rafa Siguion-Reyna and Cris Villonco. Two of her siblings, Chito Ponce-Enrile and Irma Potenciano were also theater staples.
It came as no surprise therefore that those who knew her and worked with her at one time or another headed to social media to pay tribute to the one known as “Tita Midz” with their stories and experiences of what it was like to actually be around her. And yes, I do have my own.
I appeared in “Aawitan Kita” two times: once when I was around 14 and another at 18, just before I left for “Miss Saigon.” And I remember being terrified and intimidated by her.
She coached me (thankfully, as my Tagalog at the time was atrocious … still is, actually) in the recording studio, going over every single syllable and inflection with a fine-toothed comb.
She was an exacting and demanding taskmaster. If anything was amiss, she had me do a line over and over again until I got it right. The process seemed to take forever. I remember feeling exhausted, and for the first time in my life, singing was actually a challenge.
What I did come away with was how meticulousness in the process of creating something was, at times, necessary, and one needed to be open to learning if one had any hope of improvement.
Four years later, she invited me to sing in “Aawitan” again, after I had told her I would be flying to London to play the lead in a new musical, “Miss Saigon.” This might’ve been one of the last television appearances I made before heading off. Because my Tagalog had improved significantly since that first shaky outing, the recording process this time around was much more enjoyable. And after recording the final song, she asked me to record one of the “Saigon” songs, a cappella,just for her to keep. And so I did.
Over the years, my family and hers have continued to intersect in theater and in friendship, whether working together onstage or in a photo shoot (this extends now to when Nicole got to work with Cris in “Matilda” in 2017), or at someone’s home for dinner or birthday parties. And I thank Tita Midz for many introductions, and for treating me like family.
Rest in peace, you are now with the angels surrounded by the music you loved.
Our sincerest condolences to the family of renowned photographer and good friend Raymund Isaac on the passing of his beloved mother, Elisa; and to the family of keyboardist Jay Agustin on the passing of his darling wife, singer Queenie Agustin. You and yours are all lifted up in prayer. We are thinking of you.
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