Glam fashion, classic and contemporary hits, a grand and glittering production design, awesome performances, and a glitzy line-up of guests summed up Pops Fernandez’s “Divalicious” concert held at the Araneta Coliseum on December 8.
The Concert Queen’s loyal fans from the US, Middle East, Manila, and nearby provinces trooped to the Big Dome to celebrate their idols’ silver anniversary. Over 34 songs—1980’s retro pieces, R & B numbers, hits of Madonna, Motown, Bacharach—comprised the repertoire of Pops.
She also performed the acoustic version of her own singles “Just Say You Love Me,” “Don’t Say Goodbye,” and “Kaya Pala.”
A must-see part is the performance of Pops with Sharon Cuneta and Gary Valenciano, respectively. Sharing the concert stage with the Megastar and Mr. Pure Energy is a first for the Concert Queen.
Sharon and Pops, who were both discovered by Tito Sotto, sang “Say A Little Prayer,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love,” “Make It Easy On Yourself,” and “That’s What friends Are For,” while making adlibs about their heartaches and friendship. The medley number was both touching and entertaining.
The “You’re My Everything” duet of Gary V. and Pops was fused with a passionate flamengo dance. After their powerful number, Pops asked her partner, “Bakit ngayon lang tayo nagkasama sa stage?” Gary quipped, “E, kasi kapag Concert Queen ka, syempre may Concert King ka. E, ako Mr. Pure Energy lang.” The crowd roared with laughter.
Pops also gave the audience a glimpse of her much raved about concert series in the US with Kuh Ledesma this year. The two rendered a Motown medley.
To show her versatility, the Concert Queen shared the stage with Jay-R and Kris Lawrence. The three wards of talent manager Arnold Vegafria delighted the younger crowd by singing Sean Kingston’s and Jojo’s versions of “Beautiful Girls.”
The other talents of Pops’s manager—Iya Villania, Cheska Garcia, Bianca King, Patrick Garcia, Luis Alandy, Jeffrey Hidalgo, Doug Kramer, Marco Alcaraz, and John Prats—were also given roles in the show.
Of course, the Concert Queen’s 25 years in showbiz will not be complete without mentioning the name of her ex-husband and Concert King, Martin Nievera. The latter had a show at the SM Mall of Asia that same night.
The portion she dubbed as “Duets No More” featured all-time duet favorites— “Almost Paradise, Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You,” “With You, I’m Born Again,” and “Maybe”—which she and Martin sang during their Penthouse Live! days. Pops exclaimed, “Kaya naman pala, e, [kantahin mag-isa].”
Fashionistas also flocked the big event to see the 15 costume changes and variations of Pipay, how some showbiz friends call the host-actress-performer. Some portions of the concert had fashion show segments—with models Isabel Roces, Ornusa Cadness, Nicolette Bell, Valerie Santos, Raya Manaquil, to name a few—parading the creations of local designers Rajo Laurel, Frederick Peralta, Randy Ortiz, Mitch Dulce, Maxi Cinco, Derric Hibaler, Dennis Celestial, Avel Bacudio, Ivarluski Aseron, Joey Samson, Puey Quinones, Janes Reyes, Lyle Ybañez, and Patrice Ramos-Diaz.
Of course, the concert of Maria Cielito Lucban Fernandez, Pops’s real name, in showbiz, was star-studded. The Barretto sisters were there. The Gomez family also came. Ruffa Gutierrez, Vina Morales, and Dawn Zulueta were spotted. Mother Lily Monteverde and daughter Roselle were also present. And her boyfriend Jomari Yllana was seated right at the middle of the front row.
There were also cry moments for the Concert Queen. Though she described her concert as a “party,” she couldn’t prevent her tears from falling when she sang “Dito,” a song she dedicated to her dad, the late Eddie Fernandez; when she performed Jim Brickman’s “The Gift” with her “heroes” Ram and Robin; and when she rendered Karen Carpenter’s “A Song For You,” which she dedicated to the fans and the people she worked with,” and Grace Jones’s “What I Did for Love,” which she sang for her mom Dulce Lukban.
For the encore, she had an upbeat number of songs from the ‘80s to present. This time, even the passive crowd in the patron area was already dancing with her.
All throughout, Pops was bursting with energy, in top form, and undoubtedly, is still the reigning Concert Queen. The show started late, but it was definitely worth the one-hour wait.
KAREN A. PAGSOLINGAN
Philippine Entertainment Portal