Though obviously grieving the loss of his father-in-law, Ogie Alcasid managed to put a smile on his face everytime he greeted friends and fans who came to pay their last respects to the late Gerardo "Mang Gerry" Velasquez.
At the Manila Memorial Park in Plaridel, Bulacan, last night, February 5, the singer-songwriter joined his other in-laws in attending to the guests, most of them friends from showbiz.
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) got to speak with Ogie, who gladly agreed to do the interview despite the situation. He even thanked our staff, including those from YES! Magazine and GMA's StarTalk, for visiting.
His wife Regine Velasquez was still at the rehearsal for her upcoming Valentine concert Voices of Love with Martin Nievera, happening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on February 14, and was expected to arrive at the wake sometime past midnight.
When asked how his wife was doing, Ogie said: "Well, si Regine kasi, e, hindi naman maiiwasan na paminsan-minsan, e, napapaiyak, di ba?
"Siyempre, nami-miss niya talaga iyong father niya. Basta nandoon lang ako, I hold her hand, niyayakap ko lang siya."
Although sad and hurting, Ogie says the Songbird is handling her current situation pretty well.
"Si Regine naman, alam naman kasi niya na si Papa is okay na, e, di ba? So, iyong thought na iyon, may joy na rin sa mata niya.
"Siyempre, nami-miss niya iyong father niya, pero it’s one occasion na, dito, nakita ko iyon, na okay na siya kasi okay na si Papa.
"[Nasa kamay na siya ng Diyos], at iyon naman ang ipinagdasal namin na pati iyong pag-iwan niya sa kanila, e, iyong peaceful, hindi na iyong nahirapan.
"And God was very faithful and lubos ang joy and pasasalamat ng asawa ko na ganoon."
MANG GERRY'S PASSING. Ogie also talked about what happened on the afternoon of February 3, at The Medical City in Pasig City, when Mang Gerry was brought to the hospital for what was supposed to be just a "check-up."
"Wala kami. Ang nandoon lang yata si Cacai, if I’m not mistaken."
Cacai, of course, is Cacai Velasquez-Mitra, the second daughter of Mang Gerry, who also became a popular figure in the music industry in the 1990's with her hit "Forever Blue."
"Si Mama was there, pero kumain yata si Mama noon, e.
"So, nag-flatline lang daw si Papa, and then iyon na.
"So, tumawag lang si Cacai kay Regine, ako naman nasa rehearsal, tinawagan naman ako ng asawa ko, so umalis na ako ng rehearsal at nagpunta na akong ospital.
"Lahat na kami nagpunta doon."
REGINE PUSHES THROUGH WITH CONCERT. Despite what happened, both Regine and Ogie returned to work the following day, and attended to the wake only after they were done with their respective rehearsals.
Ogie, of course, is also currently busy preparing for his own Valentine show, Samahang Walang Ka-Valentine, happening at the Music Museum on February 13 and 14.
He explained why his wife chose to push through with her scheduled rehearsals rather than stay at her father's wake.
"Ako, kung i-a-assess ko kung papaano mag-function si Regine, feeling ko iisipin niya, 'Ano kaya ang iisipin ng father ko kung hindi ako sumipot sa rehearsal?'
"Parang maiintindihan naman ni Papa iyon, and, at the same time, nasagutan niya na iyon, e, kailangan niyang puntahan iyon as a professional.
"But, inayos naman naming lahat iyong schedule, at nakakapunta naman kami dito, at siyempre na-e-estima iyong mga bisita."
As for their only child, Nate, who wasn't at the wake last night, Ogie says: "Wala, wala pa siyang…
"Well, sinabi ni Regine sa kanya na, 'Wala na si lolo mo,' pero siyempre, hindi niya pa naiintindihan iyon."
MANG GERRY AS A FATHER. Knowing how close his wife was to her own father, we asked Ogie to describe the kind of relationship that Regine and Mang Gerry had.
"Alam mo, si Mang Gerry kasi alam natin is the father of Regine Velasquez, but he’s also the father of the rest of the family—si Cacai, si Jojo, si Deca, si Diane—and asawa din siya ni Mommy Tessie, so nagampanan niyang lahat iyon, you know, as a good husband and as a father to all.
"Siyempre, ang nakikita natin iyong pagiging tatay niya kay Regine, iyong relationship niya kay Regine, pero he had a relationship with each member of the family.
"And, at the same time, sa lahat ng mga kaibigan ng lahat ng kanyang mga anak.
"Kung makikilala niyo si Papa, makikita niyo, makakausap niyo siya backstage…
"Lagi siyang backstage—very unassuming, very humble... Iyon siya, e, that’s why he was a very proud father, but he wasn’t a stage father. Hindi siya overbearing.
"And alam niya that Regine was a, is a gift, ‘no, to the Filipino.
"Alam niya there was something special about his daughter, that’s why he made sure na alagaan niya iyong anak niya, na bigyan niya ng pagkakataon na matuto, na maging excellent entertainer that she is right now.
"And na-prepare niya, e, di ba? From Regine, the young batang kampeon, Bagong Kampeon, hanggang sa naging artista na siya, at naging manager pa niya si Ronnie Henares.
"You know, si Papa made sure na mapunta siya sa isang manager na that would take care, and, you know, eventually kay Cacai na, and then kay Patty [Mayoralgo].
"Kumbaga, inalalayan niya all the way, but he was never... kumbaga, hindi siya nakikialam, iyong gano’n.
"He was just there to support. Iyon ang kahanga-hanga kay Papa, and he did it in the most humble way."
THEIR LAST CONVERSATION. This time, we asked Ogie about his relationship with Mang Gerry, his fondest memories about him.
What was their last conversation like?
"Iyong kahuli-hulihan, that was in Cacai’s house. Sabi ko, 'Pa, masakit ba?' Sabi niya, 'Oo, masakit, e. Masakit.'
"'Tapos, silently, I prayed with him, for him.
"Noong Pasko, nagkausap kami. I prayed with him. Nag-pray kami na okay iyong health niya, kasi, siyempre, noong Pasko malamig, and nagkakaputukan pa noong New Year.
"In my own little way, nakakapag-usap naman kami.
"Ngayon, kung ire-rewind mo ng konti noong medyo may sakit-sakit na siya, nagkakausap din kami.
"Si Papa kasi, ang laman ng conversation niya lagi iyong anak niya, e.
"You can really tell how proud he is of Regine. Hindi lang iyong achievements niya, pero iyong si Regine bilang anak."
REMEMBERING MANG GERRY. At this point, Ogie was already a bit teary-eyed, but he quickly turned up another smile when he remembered a funny encounter he had with Mang Gerry.
"Naalala ko noon... E, kasi ako, hindi kasi ako magaling magkumpuni ng mga bagay-bagay sa bahay.
"Hindi ako handyman, e. E, si Papa, magaling sa ganoon, so naalala ko, nakipagkuntsaba ako sa kanya.
"Sabi ko, ‘Pa, baka pwedeng turuan mo ako, pipinturahan ko iyong bakod, iyong bakal na bakod. Gusto ko sanang pinturahan, e, para naman sabihin ng asawa ko may silbi ako, di ba?'
"Sabi niya, 'O, sige. Ano bang kulay ang gusto mo?' Sabi ko, 'Iyong itim na rin para ano, kasi ang dumi-dumi na, e.' 'O, sige. Bukas turuan kita.'
"Halimbawa, ang usapan namin ala-una, pagdating ko doon piniturahan na niya, tinapos na niya. Parang feeling ko gusto niyang sabihin, 'Huwag ka nang makialam dito, hindi ka naman marunong magpinta, e.'"
Still smiling, Ogie had this to say about his father-in-law: "You know, those little things, ganoon siyang klaseng tao, e. Gagawin niya para tulungan ka kung saan ka mahina.
"And, I remember, noong nagsisimula ako as a singer, marami siyang pointers na binibigay sa akin.
"Sabi niya, 'Hindi, kaya mo iyan. Mapupuno mo iyang Araneta [Coliseum].' Iyong bibigyan ka niya ng hope, di ba, naniniwala siya sa’yo.
"And kung ganoon siya sa akin, ano pa kaya siya kay Regine?
"So, in many, many encounters ko sa kanya, it was always like that.
"'Tapos, nagkukwento rin siya noong kabataan niya—iyong lolo niya, iyong tatay niya, iyong gawain ng tatay niya, iyong mga pamilya niya.
"Napagalaman ko na one of his relatives was iyong sculptor ng isang Nazarene na napakaganda, so talagang ganoon iyong mga kamag-anak ni Papa, magaling ang kamay nila, which wala akong talent sa ganoon."
FATHER-DAUGHTER TANDEM. Noting how good Mang Gerry was with his hands, we told Ogie that he seemed to be very skillful as well in raising children.
Ogie nodded in agreement and said, "Kasi, kung iisipin mo: Ano ba ang naging sikreto noong relationship ni Papa at ni Regine? Paano ba sila naging successful father-daughter team?
"It was love, e, and it was respect for each other. Iyong pagmamahal na iyon, makikita mo talaga, e, kaya ang ganda nilang tingnan through the years.
"At nasuklian iyon ng asawa ko. Iyong pagmamahal na ibinigay sa kanya ng father niya at mother niya, kita mo kung gaano kamahal ni Regine iyong father niya."
Ogie paused and again fought back his tears, but he went on to say through his crackling voice: "Nakaka-touch iyong ganoon, e.
"Kaya pag inisip mo si Papa, maiiyak ka kasi makikita mo kung gaano siya kagandang tao."
MANG GERRY WAS COOL. Finally, we asked Ogie to describe Mang Gerry's demeanor when he was faced with problems or conflicts within the family.
It took him a little while to answer, as if trying to remember if he ever witnessed such an event in the Velasquez household.
"E, si Mang Gerry kasi pinaka-cool na tao iyan, e.
"Sa nakikita ko sa kanya noon, parang ayaw naman niya ng nagaaway. Cool lang lahat.
"Cool siya, e, cool siyang tao. But, at the same time, he was very direct.
"Pag kinakausap niya ako, sinasabi niya sa akin kung ano iyong ayaw niya, kung ano iyong gusto niya, pag kaming dalawa lang."
As a parting shot, Ogie had this to say about his father-in-law, the "leader of the band": "Saludo ako, saludo ako kay Mang Gerry."