Rea Mae M. Olaran

SHE was once a “small voice”. But after more than three decades of being a performing artist, Lea Salonga has made quite a journey. She had been entertaining audiences in other countries, yet she would always come home and perform for her own people.

In celebration of Miss Saigon’s twentieth year, Lea staged a series of concerts in different cities here in the country, Cebu included, entitled “Lea Salonga... Your songs”.

At 3 p.m. last Saturday, a day before her concert, Miss Lea Salonga held a press conference in Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa in Mactan. What we thought would be a formal and stiff press conference turned out to be light and bubby chitchat.

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Onstage, we see her in different roles. Sometimes, she would be a princess, other times, she would be a warrior. But offstage, she’s also like any of us, except that she is Lea Salonga.

If there is something that people should know about Lea is that she is a very engaging conversationalist. She answered every question thrown at her without any sign of holding back.

Although she just got off from her concert in Bacolod, traces of stress and the “I’m-so-done-with-interviews” attitude cannot be found in her face. As a matter of fact, she even had plans of watching Avatar later that day. Aside from movies, Lea also enjoys online social networking. She’s on Facebook and Twitter, and admits she’s a techie and so is her husband Rob.

On Rob, Nicole and Family Life

It’s amazing to know that Rob had no idea who Lea was when they first met. She said they got introduced by Rob’s cousin who happened to be a dancer in a show where she was in. And it’s even more amazing to know the effort Rob exerted to make their first date perfect. Lea narrated how Rob bought a new sweater, made sure the car was clean and has gas, and had three printed pages of where they could possibly go on their first date. And what’s more, Rob even went on a practice date with a relative of his just to make sure his first date with Lea would be as perfect as it can be.

Lea confessed that she knew Rob was the right guy during their first date. “It was never awkward”, she said. Sometime in 2010 they got together and became engaged nine months after. On the 10th of January 2004, they got married in a Catholic church in California. This interview was done 9th of January 2010 which means the day of her Cebu concert was also the day of their sixth wedding anniversary which is why, according to Lea, the celebration would be done a little later in Hongkong ,and where they could just eat, shop, stroll around and not worry about anything at all.

When asked if she believes in the so-called seven-year-itch, she smiled and said no. Her married life with Rob and their daughter had always been seventh heaven. Despite their differences in nationality and religion, they get along perfectly fine. She said with a smile, “Rob even told me, ‘you know what honey, you’re the only person I can be with 24 hours a day that doesn’t annoy me’”.

Right in the middle of the interview Lea’s mom called with Nicole, Lea’s daughter, asking her to sing the chorus of the song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. When the called ended, she was asked if Nicole, who is three and a half, is going to sing in her concert. She said, “No but if she can get through a whole song already maybe I’ll let her, only if she wants to and she’s ready. I want her to do it for fun and not for public exhibition.” Lea said Nicole looks more like Rob but acts more like her.

On her career

Aside from her concert series “Your Songs”, Lea is also preparing for incoming plays. She is one of those artists who don’t like doing the same things in a row. If this year she’s doing musicals and theatre plays mostly, the next year she wants to do more concerts and the next year she’ll do musical and plays again and so on. You get the picture.

She does plays and concerts. She has the best of both worlds.

She said “What I love about theatre is that it allows me to pretend to be somebody else and play a different character and what I love about concerts is that I get to have fun, put on something really nice and just be who I am.”