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 Author  Topic: GREATEST HITS 5 (Rico, Hajji, Nonoy, Marco & Rey): Concert Review
  Cielomar

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MEMORIES and HITS: TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF THE GREATEST HITS 5 IN SYDNEY
by Cielomar L. Chua
June 13, 2005



SYDNEY, AustraliaSydney was in the last days of autumn as we were to witness the return performance of the Philippines’ Greatest Hitmakers. Though the evening weather was cooler than usual, this did not in any way dampen the enthusiasm and support the Australian-Filipino community and friends showed on the 28th of May 2005 at the Hillsong Convention Centre, where “The Return Of The Greatest Hits 5” was held.

The Return Of The Greatest Hits 5 was presented by Angels Entertainment International (Jhune and Liz Angeles) and Manila Sydney Entertainment (Bong David and Tess McBearty) and featured the Philippines’ top male entertainers from the 70’s right through the 90’s: Rico J Puno, Hajji Alejandro, Nonoy Zu�iga, Marco Sison and Rey Valera.

The affirmation was evident in the queues snaking out into the cold evening air from each of the doors leading to the main arena; more crowds also gathered where compact discs and other souvenir items were selling. We were in for a treat as the entertainment value of these stars is magnified five-fold; this was going to be a very special night.

The whole organisation of the event has to be complemented as it was competently run without any hitch like the “Diva 2 Diva” concert prior in December 4, 2004 - from the ticket sales right up to the crowd management, everything went smoothly as planned. This is another crowning accomplishment for the producers showing their dedication and hard work to achieve the utmost to make any event they manage a hassle-free and enjoyable experience for its patrons. This is part and parcel the reason why the concert was such a huge success. Congratulations!

At exactly 7:00pm the concert kicked-off with a well-rehearsed front act personally handpicked by the producers. The five front acts were: the groovy and dynamic Madonna Salva Hart, the exceptional Carlo Gebilagin, the appealing and versatile Mychelle Quintero, the admirable Reggie Daguio and the exquisite Melinda Lidbetter with the energetic Kynnetix dancers. They blasted into the stage with Robbie William’s “Let Us (Me) Entertain You”. This was followed by six more song and dance sequences culminating with Madonna’s up-beat rendition of the Philippines’ Rock ‘n’ Roll queen - Sampaguita’s hit “Bonggahan” with no less than the VIP dancers, Albert, Rochelle and Jasmine adding allure to this rock ‘n’ roll gem. This drew loud applause and appreciation from the audience as they were now excited.

The concert was formally opened by Ms Krystine Valdez who serenaded the audience with the immortal Willy Cruz composition “Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas” with effortless intensity which heralded the arrival of the time-honoured entertainers.

The Greatest Hitmakers appeared on stage garbed in different coloured jackets. It was their remarkable hybrid of inevitable exchange of wordplay, comedic jest, mutual admiration, mass appeal and original songs that served as the keystones of yesteryear hits and noble OPMs that conjure awe. Their presence elicited resounding applause, gut-wrenching laughter, and shouts of appreciation and encouragement and non-stop cheers. We have grown up with these entertainers and they have performed through the years with a disparate range of professionalism. We were on the shoulders of Philippines’ music giants as they have kept the flame of those immortal songs burning against the gathering of so-called mediocre artists and self-righteous hypocrisy towards our very own musical heritage.

They sung a medley of Original Pilipino Music (OPM) hits: from Nonoy Zu�iga's “Magandang Gabi Sa Inyong Lahat” to Hajji Alejandro’s “May Minamahal”, the audience was assured
rolling back-to-back hits!

Marco Sison, the ‘singer for all seasons’ started the first of the solo segments. He began with “Always”, and followed on with “The Way You Look Tonight”. He finished his segment with one of his biggest hits “Make Believe”. Marco is a vision of cool and smooth moves. He possesses a strong, silky voice, which is well suited for handling passionate, easy listening ballads. He sings straight melody, without neither much intonation or any improvisation in his pleasing baritone and the arrangements are more often than not are romantically inclined.

Nonoy Zu�iga, the ever-calm performer followed Marco on stage. With his full, rich tone wrapped around the words of Lou Rawls' “You're Gonna Miss My Loving” we were reminded why we loved him all these years. Then came a string of Willy Cruz compositions: the sentimental “Doon Lang” and the emotional “Kumusta Ka” followed this. He concluded his solo portion with what he said was his mother’s favourite, a sort of lullaby that he grew up with, the ageless “Moon River”.

The Hitmakers re-grouped after Nonoy’s segment with more jokes to share that was equally well received taking on each other’s lives, both personal and the political, their physical appearances and the fun they were having with this concert series which they have been performing since 2003.

Rey Valera took his turn singing his signature hits, which he also penned. Starting with “Maging Sino Ka Man” he moved on to do a medley of his other hits: “Ayoko Na Sa ‘Yo”, the haunting “Naaalala Ka” to “Pangako Sa ‘Yo”, the audience wanted more. He sang three more hits after this to accommodate the audience’ longing to hear once more these beautiful and lyrical songs.

Hajji Alejandro followed with a stimulating and effervescent segment and showed off his dancing prowess. He started off with the mellow “Tag-Araw, Tag-Ulan” a Filipinised cover of the BeeGees’ hit “Charade”; followed by a lively Motown hits medley: the Temptations“Get Ready”, the Supremes“You Can’t Hurry Love”, to Mary Wells“My Girl (Guy)” and finally the Four Tops“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” the crowd were clapping and were on their feet. He wrapped his segment with the cutesy “Nakapagtataka”.

The nostalgia momentarily came to a halt as the Hitmakers sang and gyrated to the tune of Parokya Ni Edgar’s hit “Mr Suave” and eventually moving on to watch these respected crooners doing their form of Sex Bomb’s spaghetti dance with such aplomb and ease that was punctuated when Nonoy flipped his “leg” upwards to the delight and hush gasps from the crowd. Marco showed them that he has the best and sexy moves while Rico and Rey looked on with envy.

Then it was Rico J Puno, the Total Entertainer’s turn to perform. “Kapalaran” was his opening song, which showed that his vocal chords, raspy and smoky, are still quite in excellent condition. He then crooned Louie Ocampo’s hit “Kahit Isang Saglit” which was made famous by so many notable artists back home the likes of Verni Varga and Zsa Zsa Padilla, just to name a few. Rico followed this with a duet with Ms Krystine Valdez of Ogie Alcasid’s hit “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang”. Rico J capped his solo portion with the song that paved the way for OPM, the novelty hit “The Way We Were/Alaala”. Rico maintained his signature mix of music and slew of green jokes which made the audience stomp their feet and howl with laughter.

The finale was equally remarkable as the Magnificent Five kicked off with Ryan Cayabyab’s multi-awarded song “Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika” followed by “Kumusta Ka”, “Bukas” and “My Love Will See You Through”. Nonoy sang what the crowd has been waiting, the unforgettable “Never Ever Say Goodbye”. We called it a night with the reprise of “Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika” which I completely believed made every Filipino extremely proud.

The Magnificent Five has given us more than what we expected and hoped for – a truly satisfying concert experience that demonstrated their individual staying power and the proof of a remarkable talent. It was a night to relive beautiful memories as we allowed each song to touch our lives as vocalised by these esteemed performers. Their trademark music is the answer to what every eternally romantic Filipino craves for in a song. They transported us back to a time when everything seemed so simple and easy. The evening was a triumph because each performer has his own singular identity and style and their mutual respect and admiration for each other and they are an inspiration to up-and-coming entertainers.

The Hitmakers delivered the entire concert with great flair. They each gave accomplished, thoroughly engaging performances and wholeheartedly embraced the audience. Their chemistry providing an added wish fulfilment that was a vital anchor to the success of the show – it was a
perfect merger.

Though the evening was getting colder outside as it drew on, we were kept warm with the passion, love and company of these great guys inside the auditorium. The Hitmakers’ reward comes from the audience collective recognition of each hit song they sung, the sharp approval and then the roar of laughter for each joke they gave, the sing-along and the thunderous cheers – that is a highly addictive drug which you cannot get on prescription. Tears of laughter matched by tears of memories. My only disappointment… there was not enough time to listen to all their wondrous hits. Maybe next time…

Rico, Hajji, Nonoy, Marco, Rey, and their songs will live with us for as long as there will be people who will remember their songs and hum a note or two. We acknowledge and salute their true contribution to Philippine music and “Thank You” for entertaining us here in Oz. Kay Ganda Talaga Nang Ating Musika! The Greatest Hits 5 was brilliantly entertaining! Well done!


Watch out for these upcoming events in 2006 and don’t miss out on tickets:

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“GARY VALENCIANO” in May 2006 produced by Angels Entertainment International

and

“Star In A Million” in March 2006 produced by Manila Sydney Entertainment.







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