Better Days, Better Dessa

Apr 13, 2007
Dessa is known as the Asia's Divette, the petite diva with a powerful voice. She has also earned the title Front Act Queen—she has performed as front act for world-famous singers like Patti Austin, Color Me Badd, Denise Williams, Brian Adams, Mike Francis, to name a few.

She just wanted to take a breather from her busy sked, but little did Dessa know that her decision to go to U.S. in May of 2004 will give her life a 360-degree turn.

"Three weeks lang ang plano ko mag-stay sa US. Bakasyon lang talaga. Hanggang nagpapa-extend na lang ako ng nagpapa-extend ng stay ko. And finally, I decided to call na Tito Boy to break to him the good news. Eh, inaraw-araw naman kasi ako ng Papa ko, hanggang sa nabuntis na ako, nagpakasal, and decided to live there na," Dessa relates.

The country's Power House Diva fell in love with Jay Inoue, and married him. She said, "Nanonood na siya ng shows ko before. And kilala rin pala siya ni Tito Boy [Abunda] who was my manager then. So, we had so many common friends."

About Jay. Tell us something about Jay. What does he do?

"Noon, he was into computers. Ngayon, he's into computer designing. And now, nagtayo kami ng maliit lang na production namin. Kami-kami lang where my husband acts as the executive producer. So, basically, 'yung business din namin tackles 'yung mga business centers ng lahat ng hotels in Las Vegas, na siya ang nag-aayos at nag-aasikaso called Killing Solutions. Puro computers pa rin ang iniikutan ng lahat."

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Do they already have kids?

"I gave birth to a healthy baby boy noong February 25, 2005, si Jay Matthew. Kasama ko siya umuwi here now, dahil may work pa si Papa sa U.S. This is my second time to come home to the Philippines. I'm a green card holder na. And so far, I like my life in the US now."

Her first love. Dessa admitted that she misses singing, "Nararamdaman ko ngang nami-miss ko ang pagkanta, eh. Although when we were there, nung may mga nakaalam naman na nandun na nga ako, may mga offers naman na dumating sa akin to do gigs everywhere.

"Kinuha ko na rin 'yung opportunity that was presented to me. Parang doon, mas naa-appreciate ako ng ibang mga tao. Like one time, nag-perform ako in a black community, mga rappers kasama ko. Nagulat sila sa akin dahil I belted out a medley of songs. Nanibago sila dahil noon lang 'ata narinig 'yung ginawa kong medley.

"May mga offers na ako in Las Vegas pero ewan ko, lagi na lang nauudlot. But I'm not losing hope. Sa Aladdin dapat ako, pero hindi ko na alam kung ano na ang nangyari dun. Kaya may plano rin kami na tumira sa Las Vegas for a while [they are currently based in Los Angeles].

Then she stumbled upon this place in San Francisco, Ichiban-The Library, where Leonard Obal and other Pinoy artists like Jo Awayan, Miriam Pantig, and Bobby Solis play.

"Nung una, special shows lang, eh. Nag-drop by lang kami doon nung nasa San Francisco kami. Nung marinig na nila ako kumanta, and nalaman nila na I'm a recording artist in the Philippines, after ko na mag-jam-jam lang, they offered me na nga a contract, kung puwedeng maging regular performer ako sa place na 'yon. Sa akin, wala namang problema. Biruin mo, namasyal lang kami, I got hired pa."

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But somewhere along the way came the hitches and glitches.

"Tinanggap ko naman. Okay naman noong una, eh. Kaya lang later on, meron lang akong mga hindi nagustuhan with the way they are working out things. Something to do with my papers being legal. Eh, merong mga butas somewhere."

Dessa and her family already planned for the transfer from L.A. to San Francisco. They, in fact, paid for the rent already when things went awry. She added, "We sought the help of a lawyer naman and he adviced us naman na huwag na lang naming ituloy ang plan namin na i-sue them para na rin hindi maging abala sa pag-aayos ko ng papers ko.

"Actually, nung una ko pa lang salang doon, marami na akong naririnig na unsavory remarks about my employers. Hindi ko naman pinakinggan. Hindi ako naniwala. Kasi, mababait naman sila, eh. Eh, wala naman ako experience sa mga ganong set-up.

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"So, nawala 'yun. Good thing naman, dahil napanood naman ako ng marami while I was in Ichiban-The Library, word got around na nandun nga ako so may mga kumukuha naman sa akin to do corporate shows, iba-ibang gigs sa iba-ibang lugar.

"Tapos, may mga producers na rin na humihingi ng mga demo tapes ko for future plans in recording there. Kaya ako, whatever comes my way there, tina-try ko lahat. Kung may auditions, sige, audition din ako. And that's where I realized na na-miss ko talaga ang singing at gusto ko pa rin talagang kumanta."

Homecoming. And Dessa came home, with baby Jay Matthew in tow.

She went back to the place where in the not-so-distant past, became her singing playground, Pulse Disco—on Pasay Road in Makati—where she joined "Sound like Your Favorite Star."

She dropped by at The Library in Malate. And Andrew 'Mamu' de Real, upon seeing her, offered Dessa to do even just a one night stint. So last April 10, 2007, once again, Dessa belted out songs to the delight of the regulars and guests of The Library.

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And guess who we saw doing a duet with Boy Abunda's baby onstage? Someone who once came too close for comfort to Dessa's heart, Rannie Raymundo.

"I invited Lloyd Umali to watch me. I didn't know he would bring Rannie along. Wala lang. We're friends anyway."

They did "Separate Lives" and did that imply something about putting an end to their past? Dessa quickly answered, "Naku, masaya na kami pareho. Huwag na lagyan ng kulay."

Back in the U.S. By now, Dessa's back into her new home in the US as a hands-on wife and mother by day and a divette in her own right at some nights.

"I came home para ayusin ko rin 'yung papers ng older kid ko [a daughter by a former relationship, ten-year-old Kiana Noshka]. I want her to go na rin to the U.S. para doon na siya mag-aral at magkasama na rin kami."

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With the father's consent?

"We have not seen him for the longest time."

When she gets back to San Francisco, the Asia's Divette will be busy preparing for a special show on June 30, 2007 at the Herbst Theater in Van Ness Avenue, dubbed as "Dessa: It's About Time."

It was a breeze to see Dessa in the flesh once again, and a delight to hear her unique and distinct voice and style. She still is the belter we came to adore when she rose to fame with her rendition of "Better Days."

Nothing has changed. But like some wine, she got all the more better! And while she's not dishing out songs in a microphone, it's the dishes in her sink that she attends to.

"Ako ngayon, housewife, may business, read that as raket on the side. Distributor ako ng mga scented candles sa lugar namin at minsan dine-demostrate ko pa ang paggawa."

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Indeed, better days are on the horizon for the better Dessa.

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Dessa is known as the Asia's Divette, the petite diva with a powerful voice. She has also earned the title Front Act Queen—she has performed as front act for world-famous singers like Patti Austin, Color Me Badd, Denise Williams, Brian Adams, Mike Francis, to name a few.
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