BY Karen Valeza-Tungol
After 22 years of impersonating his idol, Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez, singer and stand-up comedian Anton Diva will finally have his first major concert titled “Shine XXII AD” on June 15 at the Cuneta Astrodome.
“It’s something I didn’t expect to happen at this time,” said the 41-year-old talent. “Look, I’m already old. Some got their break in their ’20s, at their prime. But me, I’m turning to be a grandma already!”
He doesn’t mind being under Regine’s shadow all these times.
“Whenever I do shows, people expect me to sing her songs. Because where else can you see a gay man, who didn’t have any surgery, sing her songs akin to her voice? So, this Anton-Regine thing, it is for life. When I sing, my timbre will always be of Ate Regine’s. I owe it to her.”
Anton is elated that Regine and close friend Vice Ganda are guest performers in his concert for free. Anton and Vice go way back as stand-up comedians in comedy bars.
“You feel the love. They know it is Teri’s (Onor) first time to produce and that’s what’s good in our industry, big artists are willing to support new producers, new performers. If they really believe in the artists, they won’t think twice in helping out,” he said.
During the Valentine concert of Regine and Vice, Anton made a surprise appearance onstage and sang “Shine” with them. Their performance trended online, to the point Anton had to clear his performance in that show wasn’t scripted.
“Honestly, that was one thing I didn’t expect. It was a big surprise for me. When their interview before the concert came out, I heard Vice saying she wanted me to be there. So I really expected it. But I was told I’m not a guest but they would give me a ticket. I was really shaking when they called me. I was like, ‘Why do I have to sing?’ It was unexpected,” he said.
Despite their friendship, Vice and Anton are still pitted against each other. While Anton started earlier than Vice, the latter earned higher popularity on TV and in the movies.
Anton doesn’t mind at all.
“I’m behind because I’m not yet the one the majority of the audiences like. I realize that Filipinos need somebody that can make us laugh. And Vice is that person.
“I don’t feel sad, I don’t feel jealous because it’s my friend who became famous. That’s really for him. It’s his destiny. Wherever God wants to take me, I’m okay.”
He has only good words for Vice, who has earned himself blockbuster movies and sold-out concerts.
“I’m also a fan of Vice Ganda. We worked together before. She’s really good in entertaining audiences especially in live concert shows. I don’t think she’ll be able to keep doing shows at Araneta if the shows are not worth watching. Sulit na, mahusay pa, so saan pa tayo,” he said.
While Anton is not that visible onscreen, he is open to acting and performing as guest on TV shows.
“If there’s a demand for me, then okay. We have lots of talented actors and actresses, singers yet we lack shows for those kinds of talents. Like them, I also want to try other stuff,” he said.
At his age, Anton can still hit the high notes. He advises young singers to be disciplined for their careers to last.
“Still, I’m just human. I’m not perfect and my voice is not in the best condition all the time. Even other singers fail sometimes.
“But I want to be living proof that if you want something, you have to discipline yourself. If I’ve not been disciplined, I probably can’t sing anymore now. But I take care of my voice.”
Having a steady career and a major concert on the horizon, Anton feels blessed.
“I’m happy. There’s nothing more I could ask for in life. I’m thankful that even if I’m not perfect, the Lord never forsakes me.”
“Shine XXII AD” is produced by Teri Onor Entertainment Services and directed by Peter Serrano, with Mark Lopez as musical director.