Kuh Ledesma (shown on left above) replaced Regine Velasquez in the June 27 concert of Charice held at the SMX Convention Center. Asia's Songbird reportedly had fever for the past two days.

Photo: Noel Orsal

Charice Pempengco has just completed her first major concert in the Philippines dubbed Charice: The Concert Begins. However, Regine Velasquez was unable to attend the June 27 concert held at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. Halfway through the concert, the young singer announced that Asia's Songbird was down with fever.

"Matagal ko na pong pangarap ang maka-duet si Regine Velasquez pero sad to say po, nagkasakit po siya. Na-ospital po siya kaya hindi siya nakapunta dito," explained the 17-year-old singer. Her announcement was met with mixed reactions from the crowd, prompting her to say, "Kayo naman po, mas lalo n'yo akong pinakaba. Nanghinayang po ako kasi sa lahat ng idols ko dito sa Philippines, si Ms. Regine Velasquez pa lang po ang hindi ko nakaka-duet.

"Siyempre po, masaya pa rin ako. Na-surprise pa rin ako kasi di ko po akalain na dadating ang isa sa pinakamahalaga sa akin. Ladies and gentlemen, the original diva: Ms. Kuh Ledesma."

Kuh stepped onstage and immediately held hands with the young girl. "Magandang gabi sa inyong lahat. Nandito ako ngayon sa first concert ng ating youngest diva. Palakpakan po natin si Charice dahil binibigyan niya ng pride ang ating bayan. Charice, we love everything that you are doing, and keep working hard. Keep making all of us proud and we will all be praying for you."

Kuh said that they practiced their duet at the last minute and she was impressed at how fast Charice learned the song. They then wowed the audience with their rendition of "Anak.

In her spiel, Kuh mentioned that Regine has been down with fever for the past two days.

MICHAEL JACKSON TRIBUTE. Another highlight of the concert was when Charice paid tribute to the late King of Pop. Wearing an all-black ensemble and a glove on her right hand, Charice moonwalked on stage and showed off some fancy footwork as she performed "Billie Jean."

After her dance number, she became pensive and solemnly told the crowd: "Yesterday morning, na-shock po tayo sa malungkot na balita. Nawala na po ang legendary pop singer na si Michael Jackson. Two weeks na lang po, kasama ko na sana siya onstage. Ipe-perform sana namin yung 'Billie Jean.' Pero kinuha na siya ni God. Tayo pong lahat ay nagpapasalamat sa kanya and we have all been touched by his dreams. MJ this is for you."

She then proceeded to sing another MJ song: "You Are Not Alone."

The This is It concert series of Michael Jackson was to have taken place at the O2 Arena in London starting July 13.