Regine Velasquez is crying for Lani Misalucha—and she explains why
Regine Velasquez has always known Lani Misalucha as a spirited woman and a self-assured performer. That’s why she couldn’t help but cry while watching her friend’s emotional comeback performance on television, after battling a serious disease.
“Lani is a funny lady who is so full of confidence. She may appear shy, but she’s turned into a beast onstage. So I was crying and crying while watching her, because I could see that she was struggling. And I have never seen her cry like that,” Regine told the Inquirer in a virtual conference for her upcoming Valentine’s Day concert, “Freedom.”
Last October, Lani contracted bacterial meningitis, which resulted in deafness in her right ear. Her husband Noli who had just undergone triple heart bypass surgery, also had the disease.
“I texted her several times. ‘Mare, kumusta ka?,’ I would say. And this was even before she was hospitalized. I have been wanting to talk to her more, but I don’t want to be too pushy. I know her well. I know that she will talk to me once she’s ready,” Regine related. “But we have been keeping in touch through messaging.”
To be a singer and lose the sense of hearing is almost unfathomable. “That’s very important to us,” she stressed. But what really broke her heart was Lani telling her that “singing may no longer be for me.”
“Lani has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. Not only does her voice sound good, she truly is a great singer and performer. She’s hilarious and fun to work with,” she said. “I said, ‘No. That can’t be, Lani.’ I was in denial. I didn’t want to accept that for her.
For now, all she can do is pray for Lani’s healing. “She’s still recovering, but I believe she’s doing better now. I’m hoping I get to talk to her one of these days just so I can tell her that I love her and that I’m here for her if there’s anything she needs,” said
“Lani will always be a great singer. But I know that she feels there’s something missing. I’m going to continue praying for her,” she said. “I’m praying to God that He may heal her totally, so she could perform like how she used to. Only God can heal her, and I know that she has a good relationship with Him.”
Regine has her share of insecurities, too. And she’s starting to feel them more now that she’s 50.
“I was fearless when I was young. You think you’re invincible when you’re young—you can do anything and everything. And I was the same. But as you get older, you get insecure because you’re not the same anymore. Your voice isn’t the same, your body and face aren’t the same. Everything’s not the same,” the OPM icon said.
Her maturing vocals in particular was something she had to get used to. “Back then, I would sometimes sing without practicing—banat lang ako nang banat! But now it’s more finicky. Naghahanap siya ng oras. Maarte na siya, gusto kong sabunutan! You have to warm it up and all,” jested Regine, whose acid reflux also affects her vocals.
“But my voice is in better shape these days. I have a voice after waking up. I have to stretch it up, but it’s there,” she said. “I have to accept what I have become. I have been working hard for 30 years; I should be a little kind to myself.”
Mounted by ABS-CBN Events, “Freedom,” which will be shown on Feb. 14 through KTX.ph, iWantTFC and TFC IPTV, will be directed by Paolo Valenciano and with musical direction by Raul Mitra.
“It has a lot of meaning. Because of the pandemic, we all want to be free: We want to be able to go out and do what we used to do without fear. It’s freedom from fear and anxiety. It’s also about freedom to try something new and sing what I want to sing,” she said of the concert, which will feature a 20-song repertoire that “will take me out of my comfort zone.”
The most challenging part of doing digital concerts, Regine said, is not seeing the audience’s reaction in person. How does one connect to the audience given such limitations?
“At first, I couldn’t imagine what it’s like singing for the people at home. I just have to think that I’m still on an actual stage. I just have to perform and give my usual 100, or even 200 percent, because I don’t see them,” she said. “Your performance level should be higher.”