MANILA, FEBRUARY 14, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Bibsy M. Carballo (Martin Nievera and Sharon Cuneta click superbly.) When it was announced that Megastar Sharon Cuneta and Concert King Martin Nievera would finally hold a concert together, we swear hearing people gasp in the recesses of our imagination! After all, these are the superstars of the live concert scene coming together after three decades in a Valentine offering. Recent happenings in their professional lives have added flavor to the package.

Meeting with Martin solo (Sharon came a few days later) meant we had him blabbering non-stop for hours as only he can do best, completely forgetting (as he is wont to) that some pronouncements should be off the record, and baring his heart and soul to a handful of privileged listeners.

Martin and Gary Valenciano, strangely enough after 30 years, clearly remain the reigning monarchs in this music kingdom. No one comes close. Which is why it was genius (and God) that got them to forget past differences and do a project called AS-1 which had been drawing crowds here and abroad.

And now Sharon and Martin have this Once in a Lifetime concert produced by Viva Concerts & Events and Mega Productions, Inc., which was first staged at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night to start the Valentine season rolling. Waterfront Lahug Hotel in Cebu confirmed a repeat of the concert on Valentine’s Day itself, Feb. 14, with more to follow.

The Sharon-Martin pairing is one that millions all over the world had hankered for, but took so long to happen. Sharon herself has noted, “Martin has been a friend for a long, long time. He is the ninong of my daughter Miel. I’ve always thought that there are a lot of similarities in the way Martin and I sing, I just do not know why we never had a show together or why we never recorded a duet. We seem to like the same songs and we even recorded them solo like Ikaw, which I did first and which he later recorded. There is also The Promise. We have our own versions. Now we will do the duet at the concert.”

It comes as no surprise that it took Viva’s Vic del Rosario to bring them together, as he has done for so many musical, magical pairings and aggrupations in the past. It has also helped that both artists are now connected with Viva, although Martin has stayed with ABS-CBN and Sharon moved to TV5.

For the benefit of those who are going to watch the Cebu concert, both Sharon and Martin will sing their biggest hits To Love Again, Say That You Love Me, Now That You’re Gone, and the duets they have done but never really recorded. And of course, they need to perform the title song composed by Vehnee Saturno, for which Martin wrote the lyrics. This song will be included in an album marking Sharon’s return to Viva as a recording star.

Sharon’s professional life started in 1978 with Mr. DJ which started a long list of hit songs that led to her being proclaimed the Megastar. She conquered the box-office with Maging Sino Ka Man, Kahit Konting Pagtingin, Bituing Walang Ningning, among others; The Sharon Cuneta Show on television, as well as concerts, recordings and celebrity endorsements.

Martin’s break came with Vehnee’s composition Be My Lady. Then followed by one hit after another — Each Day With You, You Are My Song, Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin, Forever, Ikaw Ang Aking Pangarap, etc.; conquered TV with Penthouse Live and Martin After Dark; and became the Concert King after one blockbuster concert after another.

In reviewing Sharon’s Mega 30 concert celebrating her 30th anniversary in show business, Jennifer Cuaycong wrote: “What would Sharon’s concert be without Martin Nievera? Bridging the melodies of Ikaw... dedicated to Sen. Francis Pangilinan, ‘the man who gave me forever,’ and Nievera’s Ikaw Ang Aking Pangarap, theme song (of) Lobo, Cuneta and Nievera proved once more the infallibility of their duet styles.”

Even earlier in 2001, when Sharon celebrated her 25th anniversary from Mr. DJ (composed by Rey Valera, recorded for Tito Sotto, then president of Vicor Music Corporation) at age 12 to the teleserye Magkapatid, where she played sister to Judy Ann Santos, Sharon took charge of inviting her guests for the two-night affair, one of whom was Martin. When she texted Martin, he adjusted his schedule which even involved moving a concert date abroad, and said yes to the invitation.

During that concert, Leah Salterio who covered the event remembered Martin and Sharon doing a medley of George Canseco, Willy Cruz, and Rey Valera like Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan, Mahawi Man ang Ulap, Kung Kailangan Mo Ako and others. She wrote of how Martin would fill in the gap unscripted while Sharon was changing her costume during which he sang Josh Groban’s You’re Still You. During still another costume change, Martin returned to entertain the audience by spoofing himself and singing like his dad Bert Nievera and dancing like Gary V. It was obvious that Martin didn’t even need to sing to hold the audience’s attention.

But Martin isn’t always the joker he is so good at playing. At times, in intimate sessions with a handful, he allows us a glimpse at his private hurts. At about the time Sharon made her move from ABS-CBN to TV5, Martin was also presented an offer. He was being given anything he wanted and it was tempting. But something was wrong somewhere, he felt. He went to the bosses at ABS, told them of the TV5 offer. “What should I do?” Martin recalled asking. “Instead, they were honest enough to say they had nothing for me now,” and proceeded to give him pointers on what to ask for.

Martin was perplexed and thought about what everyone told him. At 50 years old and with 30 years in show business, what was left for him but to jump ship and start anew. “If I were a businessman, I would have chosen TV5. But I just didn’t have it in me. I didn’t listen. I asked myself, where do I want to be, as opposed to where should I be.”

Martin’s mind wandered to the time ABS reopened after the Marcoses left. There were two shows that started the network — Not so Late Night with Edu and Martin and Pops Together. He even wrote the theme song of the reopening of the station ABS-CBN, It’s Great To See You Again. He liked the people at ABS, knew everyone, was comfortable there. It was family to him, and he told himself, one does not leave family. So he went to his bosses and told them, “I just need to hear ‘Don’t go’ from you. And they said, ‘Don’t go.’”

Was he crazy for passing up a great opportunity? He recalled once more what he and Sharon had talked about loyalty being non-existent in the entertainment sector. He was certain Sharon had a difficult time deciding to leave ABS where she had spent many years. But he felt he belonged to Channel 2. Despite the fact that he never had any contract all through the three decades, and only got one recently through the representation of Boss Vic.

Now that these two great performers have finally come together, many are likely to conjecture, what makes them superbly click with one another? The Megastar who seems to have reached her every goal, and the Concert King with his still unfulfilled dreams — what do they have in common? Their friends can quickly answer that they share an immense passion for their craft and will stop at nothing to attain perfection.

Both are now as busy if not busier than they’ve ever been before. Last year, Martin topbilled What Love Is at the Big Dome with Sarah Geronimo in February, took the show to major cities around the country, did two nights at Resorts World Manila, and did All for One at the Araneta with Side A last November. Sharon was in New Zealand some weeks back. Martin performed in Ireland for the first time. Once in a Lifetime caps one of Martin’s most successful years, at the same time, marks Sharon returns to the local concert stage after nearly two years of absence.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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