Lea Salonga compares professionalism of teen stars then and now: "It just seems to be a different culture, it just seems to be a very different showbiz..."

Filipina actress and international Broadway star Lea Salonga remembers working hard on production numbers with her co-That’s Entertainment members. "It was competition, it was friendly camaraderie," she says, but observes that it’s different these days. "Now, it’s either your manager or your publicist jockeying for position as to who gets the most... Paistaran, e."


Para kay Lea Salonga, isang paghamon ang ginawang pagpili sa kanya ng R&B and Soul legend na si James Ingram para maging guest sa concert nito.

Magkakaroon ng dalawang gabing concert ang American singer na nagpasikat ng awiting "Just Once," sa Smart Araneta Coliseum sa Pebrero 17 at sa Waterfront Hotel sa Cebu sa Pebrero 18.

Naisipan ng producer ng concert na si Joed Serrano na bigyan ng local guest artist si Ingram, at si Lea nga ang agad na pinili ng black singer, mula sa listahan ng mahuhusay na local artists na ibinigay ni Joed.

Sa contract signing presscon na ibinigay ni Joed para kay Lea sa Shangri-La Edsa Hotel nung Miyerkules, Pebrero 8, tinanong ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) ang international Broadway actress kung ano ang pakiramdam na siya agad ang pinili ng Grammy-award winning singer.

"I’m thinking that maybe Patti Austin put in a good word for me," natatawang sagot ng singer-actress kaharap ang PEP at iba pang miyembro ng press.

"Maybe, ’no? Kasi naging ka-back-to-back ko na rin si Ms. Patti dun sa States."

Sina Ingram at Patti Austin ang mga boses sa classic R&B duets na "How Do You Keep The Music Playing" at "Baby, Come To Me."

"Back to Mr. Ingram, it feels good. Flattery will get you somewhere," pagpapatuloy ng 40-year-old former Miss Saigon star.

"And it makes me feel good na, here’s an artist na napakataas ng respeto ko sa kanya, na mismong pumili sa akin from a list of performers to guest with him in his concert here in the Philippines.

"Siyempre, pag merong artist na talagang nirerespeto ko, who considers me a colleague or a peer or as worthy, I guess, to share the stage with them, it makes me feel good.

"But it’s also challenging. Kasi I can be very competitive and I’m not the type of artist na luluhod sa paanan ng kahit na sino.

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"I’m the type na, ’Ok... you picked me, I will show you why you made the right decision.’

"I’m that kind of performer. I can be feisty but not bitchy feisty. Just feisty," nakangiting sabi pa ni Lea.

Papatunayan daw ni Lea sa concerts na gagawin nila ni Ingram sa Araneta at sa Waterfront na hindi ito nagkamali sa pagpili sa kanya bilang guest.

Pero kung matatapos na raw ang spot niya sa concert ng R&B singer, mas gugustuhin niya raw na manood at i-enjoy na lang ang pakikinig sa mga awitin nito.

"I don’t know how much preparation I’ll be doing. I’ll probably be like backstage watching the concert," nangingiting sabi ni Lea.

Sobrang fan daw kasi siya ni Ingram na kinalakhan niya ang mga kanta.

ISSUE WITH FILIPINO ARTISTS. Pero dahil sa pagiging guest artist ni Lea sa concert ni James, ginawan tuloy ng isyu na tila mas sinusuportahan niya ang foreign artists kaysa sa mga local singers na may Valentine shows din.

"You know what, I’d like to think of it this way.

"I am good enough to compete with anybody in the world.

"And you pit me up against somebody like him, you put me in a show with him, I am not going to be a shrinking violet and get intimidated by it.

"And it’s an opportunity for me to step up. Because this is somebody I respect, this is somebody who has sold millions and millions of records, this is the guy who’s won Grammys.

"This is somebody who is amazing, and I wanna have the opportunity to perform with somebody who is, in my mind, amazing."

Wala rin naman daw nag-alok sa kanya ng concert habang nandito siya sa Pilipinas, kundi si Joed lang.

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"And since I’m available and since they’re the only ones who asked, I figured, ’Why not, choc-nut?’

"My birthday’s coming up, I have a trip coming up. I’m gonna do this and have fun."

Hindi rin daw dapat na gawan siya ng isyu, dahil ang paniwala niya, kung mahusay ang isang artist, ke Pilipino man o banyaga, papasukin ito ng mga gustong manood ng isang magandang concert.

"I’d like to think that the concert-going public knows well enough what they want. They know what they like, and that’s where they’re gonna go, regardless of what anybody else has to say.

"For me kasi, alam ko kung sino’ng magagaling. Alam ko rin kung sino’ng mga hindi magagaling, whether you’re foreign, whether you’re local.

"I know what can guarantee me a good time. And I will choose the artist—Filipino man siya o foreigner—kung saan alam kong magiging masaya ako.

"Kasi that’s my hard-earned peso. I wanna spend it where I know I can get the most bang for my buck, let’s just put it that way," sabi pa ni Lea.

TEEN STARS, THEN AND NOW. Isa sa mga inimbitahan sa presscon para mag-interview ay si German Moreno, ang mentor nina Lea at Joed mula sa kanilang That’s Entertainment days.

Animo maliit na reunion tuloy ang nangyari dahil napag-usapan at binalikan nila ang mga panahon na nagsisimula pa lang sa showbiz sina Lea at Joed.

Hindi tuloy maiwasan ng dalawang dating teen stars at ni Kuya Germs na ikumpara ang mga batang artista noon, sa mga artista ngayon.

"I think it’s a generational thing," opinion ni Lea.

"When I’m around people from my generation of artists, it’s different.

"There’s this unspoken professionalism in the way people behave, in the way people would prepare for, kunyari big...

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"I’m gonna use That’s... as a very concrete example," biglang singit ni Lea sa show na pinagmulan niya na pinamunuan noon ni Kuya Germs.

"The nice thing about That’s kasi, it’s hati-hati. Like who’s gonna sing this week, who’s gonna sing the following week.

"It’s really among the artists na mag-usap."

Kuwento ni Lea, pakiusapan lang daw at nagkakaintindihan sila kung ano ang mga gagawin nila noon.

At sila-sila lang talaga ang naghahanda ng mga gagawin para sa production numbers sa That’s Entertainment.

"And everybody’s cool with whatever. And usually, it’s within artists, who are barely out of their teens themselves, figuring all this out.

"And now, it’s either your manager or your publicist jockeying for position as to who gets the most... Paistaran, e," pagkumpara ni Lea sa kanila at sa mga batang artista ngayon.

"And for me, as somebody who was trained as a teenager being on That’s without teleprompters, if you’re gonna sing, you’d better know your lyrics by heart.

"Your choreography must be pulidung-pulido," pagmamalaki ni Lea.

FRIENDLY COMPETITION. Noon daw ay mataas ang kumpetisyon ng bawat isa sa That’s Entertainment, pero friendly competition lang ang lahat.

"We don’t even get a dime out of it.

"It was competition, it was friendly camaraderie.

"It was that feeling of... ’I wanna be the effing best on this day!’

"Because my groupmates are depending on me, and I don’t wanna let my kasamahan on my day down," pagbabalik-tanaw pa ni Lea.

Ayon kay Kuya Germs, nagsimula lang sa labing-anim na teenagers ang That’s Entertainment nung 1986, at isa si Lea sa mga orihinal na miyembro.

Habang dumaraan ang mga araw ay dumarami ang mga miyembro ng show, hanggang sa hatiin sila ni Kuya Germs sa grupo.

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Nagkaroon ng Monday Group, Tuesday Group, Wednesday Group, Thursday Group (kinabibilangan ni Lea), at Friday Group.

Tuwing Sabado ay naglalaban-laban ang mga bawat grupo sa pamamagitan ng magagarbong production numbers.

"If there’s anything that I took away from it, it’s that feeling of competition, na walang pikunan, it’s all good-natured and everybody still remained friends," patuloy na kuwento ni Lea.

"That’s something I kinda miss. And that’s something that I’m not really seeing anymore of late.

"It just seems to be a different culture, it just seems to be a very different showbiz from what I remember, growing up in it.

"So, I’d probably be having more of those, ’Do you remember the olden days?’ conversations with people.

"And I’d say...’Yeah, I remember the olden days very well...’

"Back when I was young, things were very different," nasabi na lang ni Lea.


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