By CNN Philippines Life Staff
For two nights, award-winning singer and actress Lea Salonga will grace the stage at the PICC Plenary Hall to celebrate her 40 years in the music industry. “I don’t know that any performer ever thinks that they’re gonna have a career this long,” she says to CNN Philippines senior anchor Pinky Webb.
“It’s a very fickle business; it’s not always kind,” Salonga adds. “I think I was one of the lucky ones that the business has chosen to kind of have around.”
Salonga credits her mom, Ligaya, for her longevity in the business. It was her mom who urged her to audition for her breakthrough role as Kim in “Miss Saigon,” after some prodding by veteran actress Celeste Legaspi. Salonga recalls that she was studying a pre-med course at that time and was ready for a professional work life after university, so she was worried about the repercussions of having to leave her life behind if she gets the role.
“My first reaction was, what about school? What about my life? What about all of this?” she says. “And my mom said, you don’t have the role yet … Audition first and if you get it then we’ll talk.”
Salonga got the role, her mom accompanied her to London as she performed as Kim, and years later, as she is preparing for her 40th anniversary concert, her mom is still ever-present. “She checks my costumes. She checks my dresses [and] if something’s wrong with my costume, she’ll find somebody to scream at,” she says, laughing.
Like her past anniversary concerts, Salonga will be wearing Rajo Laurel as a tradition of sorts. “I made my theater debut with him. We were on the same show, so it’s very fitting that every anniversary, I have to get him.”
The concert, directed by Bobby Garcia and conducted by her brother Gerard Salonga, will feature a repertoire of masterpieces that have catapulted her to the global stage — such as her roles as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” Princess Ying Yaowalak in “The King and I” as well as others that have cemented her place in Philippine culture.
“Lea Salonga — The 40th Anniversary Concert” will be on Oct. 19 and 20, 2018 at the Philippine International Convention Center.