She’s long awaited
Sharon Cuneta’s had a full career since her last visit to the isles
It's been almost 20 years since Sharon Cuneta last played Hawaii and that's reason enough to make this Sunday a special one for anyone who follows Philippine pop music. Add Martin Nievera, aka "the Philippines Concert King," as Cuneta's opener at the Stan Sheriff Center, and it shapes up as the biggest Philippine pop concert here since Nievera headlined the Hawaii Convention Center with Regine Velasquez back in 2003.
Sharon Cuneta and Martin Nievera in concert
Place: Stan Sheriff Center, University of Hawaii-Manoa lower campus
Time: 7 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $35 to $75, with $150 VIP tickets that include dinner
Call: 349-8201 or 393-7000, or go online at etickethawaii.com
"I don't know why it took forever, but let's just say that I have been waiting for such a long time to get another opportunity to go there, because I've always loved Hawaii," Cuneta said, calling from the Philippines during rehearsals.
"I just finished a new CD -- I think it was my 30th -- mostly in Filipino, but actually I'm just starting to go back to work after I had my baby, so next year, I'll start doing movies again."
Cuneta's international "Mega Tour 2005" marks her return to work after the birth of her third daughter in 2004. The eldest, from her first marriage years ago, is attending college in Paris. The middle child, her first by Philippine Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, is almost 5.
Cuneta hit it big as a Philippine recording artist at the age of 12 and made her film debut at 15. From then on, she was a megastar in her home country, beloved by her fans but unlucky in love.
"I was very young (when I had my first child), and so she kind of was short-changed in that department because I was making three movies a year, I had to make a life for the two of us after my first marriage broke up. Now I'm happily married and this third child of mine, I really focused on. I've been singing ... something like 27 years and my career has gotten to the point where I can slow down when I have to and then go back and pick up where I left off. It's nice that I have this relationship with my fans that I can do that."
The last time she played Hawaii, Cuneta and her musical director were forced to work with a hastily assembled group of local musicians. This time she's bringing her own full show and looking forward to working with Nievera.
"I love Martin as a performer and as a person. There's a tremendous amount of respect I have for him," she says, adding that he appeared as a guest at her 25th anniversary concert two years ago."
NIEVERA says the feeling is mutual.
"It's important for people to know that it's seldom that Sharon and I share the stage together -- she usually doesn't have anybody open for her -- so this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It's also important to know that it is really going to happen ... and I'm very excited to be coming back home to my little chunk of paradise."
Nievera has been dividing his time between the Philippines and the mainland. Raised in Hawaii by immigrant parents (his father, Roberto Nievera, was a longtime member of the Society of Seven), Nievera wants to show the world that Philippine pop artists can have the same international appeal as Ricky Martin or Enrique Iglesias.
After more than 20 years of success in the Philippines, he describes his current American tour as starting over.
"I could just stay back there (in the Philippines) and live like a king, but it's not what I think a singer's mission should be. A man with a song is great, but a man with a mission is a whole different story. We Filipino artists have been trying to do this for years, and thank God we're blessed with a big population of Filipinos wherever we go ... so it's really important for me to always reinvent myself and make sure more than it's just a song to sing, more than just a paycheck to receive. I really want the Filipinos to be known."