JAYA & MS. ELIZABETH RAMSEYManila, June 22, 2003 by Ann Montemar-Oriondo (Star) I had two good reasons to want to watch Jaya with Ms. Elizabeth Ramsey, the concert presented by PAGCOR at the Manila Pavilion Hotel’s Coral Ballroom last June 19. First was that – as a long-time fan of the kooky Elizabeth Ramsey – I so wanted to finally watch her perform live. Second was that – knowing how well Jaya has done in the entertainment scene and because I had never watched her perform live as well – I wanted to see how she measures up to her mom... or should I say, how her mom measures up to her?

Off I went to the Pavilion and got more than I bargained for. The next two hours became an entertaining study of contrasting styles – Jaya mesmerizing us with her powerful yet smooth vocal prowess, Elizabeth Ramsey with her ribald – yet strangely enough – endearing humor.

Come to think of it, I do not recall any mother and daughter team performing in a concert together as Jaya and Elizabeth did. More than Jaya’s high-octane singing (actually, she performs ballads just as skillfully) and Elizabeth’s tornado of a presence, the show was one rousing celebration of the eternal bond and love between mothers and daughters.

Jaya and Elizabeth have both admitted in interviews that they did go through some sort of estrangement during Jaya’s growing-up years, with Jaya even running away from home. Well, if they did, it was not apparent at all in the show. Or if they actually did have a gap, mom and daughter have obviously let bygones be bygones and come to understand and appreciate each other more. Their fondness for each other was right there for the audience to see.

You could tell this by the way Jaya giggled and built up the excitement leading to her mom’s appearance (Elizabeth went onstage 45 minutes after Jaya began singing). And you could tell this in Elizabeth’s self-deprecating jokes in which she related how people would tease her about having produced a daughter as beautiful as Jaya when, as Elizabeth had joked early on, she herself was so ugly, the doctor had slapped Elizabeth’s mom and not her when Elizabeth was born!

It was one touching moment when Elizabeth told the audience in her thick Visayan accent, "Salamat naman at kahit papaano ay dinalaw niyo kaming mag-ina." She revealed that performing with her daughter for the first time was a "prideful" moment for her. Seeing how Jaya has turned out, you do feel happy for Elizabeth.

The mixed group of spectators ranging from teenagers to senior citizens clearly enjoyed Jaya’s repertoire (prepared with musical director Mark Lopez) that ranged from ’70’s disco and Michael Jackson hits to OPM’s like Ogie Alcasid compositions and her very own chart-toppers. Jaya’s rendition of Wency Cornejo’s Habang May Buhay is by far the most moving I have heard.

Jaya was backed up by the ever-reliable The Opera which includes Zebedee Zuñiga, Nonoy’s brother. To those who watched him for the first time as I did, Zebedee was a revelation. (I can’t wait for his upcoming album!)

In the same vein, we were awed by Elizabeth Ramsey’s stamina and hyperkinetic moves. Of course, now that she’s 72 (yes, 72!) Elizabeth’s voice is naturally not as powerful as it was during her prime. So it would be difficult to match her up with Jaya on this one. But Elizabeth can still hold her own whether crooning old favorites or belting out a song with her daughter, with whom she did a bravura performance of the disco hit Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. I was disappointed though, that Elizabeth did not perform Tina Turner’s Proud Mary , which I once saw her do on a TV show.

So physically fit – and shapely! – was Elizabeth Ramsey that night that the man behind me kept gushing, "Seventy-two na yan, ha!" Actually, save for her gap teeth (which, if you think about it, is not even a "liability" – just ask Lauren Hutton), there’s nothing in her that would qualify Elizabeth as ugly at all. The fact that she managed to pull off her jokes based on the premise that she was "ugly" speaks much about the comic’s self-confidence.

Jaya was also in good form, good enough to pull off wearing backless, form-fitting, cleavage-bearing gowns. She is actually more attractive in person than on TV.

Jaya may have been the better singer to the audience, but her mom was the better dancer and ad-libber (after receiving a bouquet at show’s end, Elizabeth feigned flirting with the man who presented it to her, then dropped the flower – complete with a dismayado expression – when he turned away to leave).

And who was the better over-all performer?

Paging PAGCOR! You simply must present a repeat of this concert! That way, more people can watch the show to know the answer to that question.

But if you ask me, all I can say is that as far as the concert went, the whole was much greater than the sum of its mother-and-daughter parts.

Still don’t get it?

Paging PAGCOR! Paging PAGCOR!

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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