Monday, September 18, 2006

Kissed by a miss called Lea

Lea Salonga, of course, whom I have always admired. At the concert that opened HK Disneyland last year, she was the undisputed star, the only singer in the guest list to have performed in two of Disney's best-loved movies: "Mulan" and "Aladdin."

Going to a Disneyland resort drives home the point that bagging such musical rights ensures Lea a form of immortality distinct from "Miss Saigon." Everywhere you went, you heard the strains of "Reflection" and "A Whole New World" in that unmistakable crystalline voice. Multiply that by the number of Disney theme parks all over the world, the millions of visitors they attract every year, and the fact that these places are designed to outlive all of us, and there you have a star that generations of the world's children will love. And she's Pinay.

But that's not my story. This is. On the night that Lea joined Coco Lee, Jackie Cheung and a gaggle of other Asian celebrities on the red carpet for a lavish reception at the Hollywood Hotel, I found myself jostling for space along the velvet ropes with hundreds of other journalists from all over the world. Many of them swung cameras with fearsome-looking zoom lenses. I must have looked like a schmuck with my tiny office-issued Canon PowerShot A75. My location wasn't exactly super, either, but I was perspiring like crazy, my feet hurt, and damn if I lost my space to another interloper.

The stars came one by one. Screams, cheers, requests to pose and smile shouted in Chinese. Then the announcement came: Miss Lea Salonga! -- with another Asian star whose name I forget now. Lea, in a chic black get-up, went up the dais and said a few words about how proud she was to be a part of Disney and of the fact that many of her fellow Filipino artists were performing in the HK park. Then Goofy got her arm and led her toward the hotel doors.

I seized my chance. "Lea, Philippine Daily Inquirer!" I shouted. She whirled around, smiled, ambled toward me and asked, almost incredulously, "Philippine Daily Inquirer?" No other Filipino media person was with me; my colleagues were everywhere in the tumult. The foreign reporters squeezing me from everywhere barely gave her a glance.

I stammered my introductions, told her it was an honor to meet her, and that I covered theater for the paper. What she said next floored me.

"You're Gibbs? Menchu told me about you!" -- apparently referring to Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, her friend and an equally esteemed theater actress in Manila. I could only manage a witless reply. "I hope what she said was good." (Aargh.) Lea laughed and said Menchu read my reviews.

Other celebrities were streaming by. I asked Lea for a shot, and she said, "Sure." She stepped back and smiled her dazzling smile. Click. It was only later on that I found out I had taken bum photos, courtesy of my shaking hands.

As a final gesture of thanks, I extended my hand for a handshake. Lea took it, leaned over, and buzzed me on the cheek.

That night was the only time I hated taking a bath.


Anonymous said...

Lea is really a sweetheart! Yep, Lea and Menchu are best buddies. And yep, Menchu reads your reviews!

Oliver Oliveros

Pamela Angela said...

gibbs! i loved this post! :D

dandy said...

ohh! how fortunate you are to be kissed by my crush! ipasa mo nga ang kiss ni leas sa akin! hehehe!

gibbs cadiz said...

hey, pamela angela, salamat! dandy, haven't you taken vows of chastity? :)

Tim Yap said...

I am a staunch supporter of the theater and an avid fan of Gibbs Cadiz' commentaries on the matter. We need people like him whose sheer love for the medium translates on the paper, paving the way for a more intelligent and appreciative audience. Now with this blog, we get to see the more "human" side of this revered critic.
Keep it up, Gibbs!

Tim Yap

Maryanne Moll said...

I love Lea Salonga! She's not an international darling for nothing. :)

mitsuru said...

nai- imagine tka padi when you shouted, "Lea, PDI!" LOL

jst cme bck fr nyc. watched her in les miz and got a playbill authgrpd copy for you but since gwa ka na, ill keep it instead, LOL

saw her again the next night after watching the producers,tamang- tama paluwas man cya. took video clips of her & the crazy pinoys. LOL

hw about an autogtraph copy of playbill ni kevin spacey for the misbegotten na lang kya?

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