The more popular phrase is "sibling rivalry," but that's not the case with balladeer Raymond Lauchengco and stage actress Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo.
As kids, they grew up singing the same songs together. Raymond relates, "Our neighbor used to own a night club [Jimmy's Night Club]. Uso pa mga night club noon, e, our best friend was son of the owner. It was right beside Roxas Boulevard, so after school, when we wanted to play, we'd go there. And, you know, my best friend [would] turn on the lights, the microphones and we would sing..."
They both started in theater—he was 12, she was 15. But a few years later, they would change paths.
One would become a successful recording artist, whose name in the music scene will be immortalized by a hit titled "Farewell." He'd be one of the most popular singers in the '80s, giving life to now-classic pieces like "I Need You Back," "So It's You," and "Saan Darating ang Umaga."
Menchu, on the other hand, would become a prominent figure on stage. The "older sister," as Raymond fondly describes her, would portray the greatest female roles in musical theater—like Maria in West Side Story, Eva Peron in Evita, Fantine in Les Miserables, the Witch in Into the Woods, Guinevere in Camelot, Luisa in The Fantasticks and Johanna in Sweeney Todd.
"I'm very proud of her," says Raymond, sounding in awe of his sister's achievements. "I was very happy to be the brother of the First Lady of Philippine Musical Theater," then with a laugh, he puts emphasis on "the younger brother."
Menchu quips, "He loves to stress that, because I look so much better than him."
Their banter made the press people grin during their press conference held on February 1 at the penthouse of One Beverly Place in Greenhills. But it's just a tiny glimpse of what the two have to offer in their upcoming Valentine show, dubbed Sibling Revelry, which is set to heighten the Valentine fever on February 14 at the Rockwell Tent.
FIRST SHOW TOGETHER. They have done several duets, but never a full-length concert.
Menchu recalls, "My first back-to-back [with him], I only sang one [or] two songs in his past shows, but that's about it. I would only guest. He's the only one who said, 'We should go back to back, so we can talk about that,' and then finally, everything works out for this year, and we're gonna do it."
The title of the show was the idea of Raymond's wife, the lovely and preggy Mia. "It's a nice play on sibling rivalry. My wife has moments, has a beautiful moment... She was also the one who conceptualized my last big band album, all the '80s songs that we make in 'big band...' That is also her idea. So I married a thinker," he says with pride.
Their repertoire will be a fusion of their musical preferences, but Raymond acts the panganay when it comes to their final song selection.
With her eyes smiling, Menchu says, "I'm not allowed. Obscure... I was not allowed, not even allowed to open my mouth and suggest. Every time I open my mouth, I said, 'No, this people know this...' which I was pushing when I guest in his concert two years ago...
"He has a lot to say because if he let me [do it], I'd choose the Broadway songs. I'd pick songs, and everybody's gonna go 'what's that?' Actually, that's my frustration. I want to sing all these beautiful songs, not popular but they're beautiful, and I keep telling everybody, every time I guest in a show, but they're like 'No, you can't sing that song, nobody knows that song.' I go, 'How do people know it, if I don't sing it?'
"I'm not naman gonna pick songs that have no melodies. But there are lots of beautiful songs that I feel should be sung, if I ever had a solo concert it could be that."
And before she can go any further, Raymond interjects, "Come on, let's face it... People hum along, and identify [with] it. So the division of labor in this concert is as such, we are both directing, but she had nothing to do with the music. She is, however, handling all the choreography."
WHAT TO EXPECT. Big band, ballads, and Broadway will complete the dining experience of the guests, who will be treated to a four-course sit-down dinner prepared by Chef Him Uy de Baron. It's perfect for couples or any pair, or for those who are single and plan to celebrate Valentine's with friends or family.
Elaborating on the repertoire, Raymond says, "Nandiyan yung mga upbeat, swinging, bouncy Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Barbra Streisand. When we talk about the ballads, ito yung talagang love songs, na talagang may kurot sa puso. And then, the Broadway—obviously, these are the songs that we grew up listening to, and ended up performing when we are older. So we have beautiful, beautiful West End medley, and we also have another song from the musical Wicked..."
About 50 percent of the show will feature duets, which will highlight their favorite songs from childhood. The Broadway medley will be 11-minutes long, and the rest will be for their solo numbers.
Yes, they'll be singing love songs.
Raymond jokes, "When we sing them, well, it becomes role-playing, I mean, we certainly won't stare at each other...
"Lovingly..." adds Menchu.
The brother continues, "Then end up with a kiss... No, it will be more like role-playing. We'll sing it to the audience."
And aside from the repertoire, one more exciting thing about the event is the fact that it will bring together two of the country's finest performers.
"She's my first singing partner, and finally, we're doing a show!" Raymond exclaims.
For her part, Menchu is also glad that she's finally sharing the same stage with her chaperone and roommate for so many years.
"We know each other so much because we have the same friends. We knew each other's problems that there's no privacy anymore... Raymond and I had never been jealous at each other's success. In fact, I would be the first to push him into success. And we'd be each other's backup."
They will reminisce, share the talents they have honed for so many years, and show the people what "sibling revelry" is all about.