, AUGUST 27,
CONVERSATIONS With Ricky Lo - In this exclusive phone Conversation, el simpatico Latino ‘sing-ger’ talks about Los Filipinos who are dear to him and his thoughts about probably his most popular song, To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before

I love talking to Julio Iglesias, not so much face-to-face but on the phone which we have been doing every now and then especially when he has a concert coming up or a new album to promote.

This time, it’s his “1” double album, released locally by Ivory Music, with 38 of his songs including probably the most popular one, To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before.

Years back, I was poring over the list of best-sellers at Borders (which has closed shop since then, huhuhu!!!) in Hollywood when my celfone rang. I said, “Who’s this?” The voice at the other end of the line answered cheerfully, “It’s Julio, Ricky. Julio Iglesias!” I was rattled and I panicked not because he called me by my nickname con amor but because he himself called. I had forgotten that I was doing a phone interview with him.

Two years ago, when I was also in Los Angeles for a Hollywood junket, same thing happened. Julio himself called the phone at the L’Ermitage Hotel and, as usual, engaged me in a breezy, free-wheeling and delightful conversation, calling me by my nickname and making me feel as if we’ve been friends for a long time (because he did address me as “Mi amigo”), as if, well you know, I’m on a rubbing-elbow level with him (I’m not, definitely!).

Trivia: Julio and his wife never fail to send me a Christmas card every year for decades now, with only their children shown on the card and their names signed (I guess) by Julio himself, that’s why I’ve been able to monitor how the children have been growing through the years. (Last card sent in December last year published with this story somewhere.)

On our latest phone chat, done via Skype (he never lost his cool and sense of humor even when the system was going wrong), he sounded enthusiastic as much about his “1” album as he was about the Philippines, reminding me that his ex-wife, Isabel Presyler (photo), is from the Philippines and their sons Enrique (photo at right) and Julio Jr. are half-Filipino.

I told Julio that during one of my stays at Four Seasons Beverly Hills, I bumped into Enrique and his girlfriend Anna Kournikova at the driveway.

“Did you say ‘Hi!’ to him?” Julio asked.

Hmmmmm, I did not, I dared not, because I didn’t want to intrude into his privacy.

“You should have talked to him,” protested Julio. “Enrique is a nice guy, like Julio Jr. They are simpatico like Filipinos because they have Filipino blood.”

Okay, next time.

This was how our phone Conversation went last month:

Hello, Julio?

“Hello, mi amigo Ricky. How are you?”

I’m okay. How are you, Julio? Como estas?

“Muy tambien. Gracias!”

Nice to hear that.

“Can you hear me clearly, Ricky?” (Sound of Skype being adjusted) “Can you hear me clearly now?”

Yes, I can.

“Good. Estoy hablo Tagalog correctamente. I speak Tagalog perfectly.”

Hablo Español tambien, un poquito.

“Oh, you speak a little Spanish.”

Trying to, hehehe! Julio, let’s talk about your latest album. Why did you call it “1”?

“I didn’t call the album ‘1.’ It was the company that called it ‘1.’ But first, I have to tell you how excited I am to say ‘Hi!’ to the Filipino people. You know, I love the country for so many years. I’ve been there so many times and I have incredible memories about the country.”

And I know that you have several friends in the Philippines, among them Jorge Araneta and his wife Stella Marquez de Araneta.

“Of course! Jorge and Stella are my dear friends. They are like my brother and sister.” (He pronounced Jorge’s name as “Jor-ge.” —RFL)

Back to the album. Why did it take you three years to finish the album?

“Because at that time, I was busy doing many things together aside from singing (He pronounced it “sing-ging.” —RFL). Every time I had a little free time, I would go to the studio, which is just in my house, and I worked on this album. I listened to my songs in the ‘70s and I thought they didn’t sound so well so I decided to record them again, with new vocals and new music and…well, I’m here now. At first, I did it for my children. But the company liked it and then released it in Latin America and it became No. 1 for two years. Then the company decided to release it from Finland to Manila.”

One of the songs on the album is called All Of You, your duet with Lea Salonga. How was it working with Lea?

“You know, I love the voices of the Filipino artists. Sharon Cuneta, Lea Salonga and many others…Incredible singers! (Again, pronounced “sing-gers.” —RFL) Filipinas, you know, is a country with an incredible attitude toward music. Los Filipinos have a natural attitude for arts. Lea is one of them — incredible voice, incredible talent!”

You yourself are an incredible artist. Very durable, too. You have been in the business for 44 years. How do you do it? What do you think keeps you in the business in spite of the fact that so many other artists just come and go, and never stay?

“I think it has to do with the relationship between the artist and the people. Tambien, everything is about passion. I keep my passion stronger than ever. I don’t take anything for granted. Like now, I take this interview seriously; I don’t take it for granted. It’s a privilege. After you, I’m talking to a journalist in China, then in South Africa and then in India. I’m grateful for this opportunity. It’s my way of connecting to people all over the world and to thank them. I know that without the people I won’t be where I am now.”

You look as sexy as ever. How do you sustain that sex appeal?

(Laughs and laughs) “Muchas gracias, mi amigo! You know, it’s because the relationship between my friends and my heart is in good shape. I am a disciplined person. I want to look good because I don’t want to disappoint the people; I want the people to understand that I am taking care of myself until the end…for them. I continue to learn and learn.”

I’m glad that you included To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before. I wonder, to how many women have you dedicated the song?

“Hahahahaha! It’s true that I love women. It’s a true story and I cannot deny it. You know, at the same time that I loved them I also respected them. For many, many, many issues…aesthetics, generosity and maternity…you know, I cannot compare the strength of a woman to the strength of a man. When a woman delivers a baby, she’s the strongest creature on earth. I believe that women are as powerful as, if not more powerful than, men. In your country, Filipinas, you have had two women presidents (Cory Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo). That’s what I mean when I say that women are as powerful as men.”

You handle women very well and very beautifully, and people admire you for that. How do you do it?

(Can’t stop laughing) “Hahahahahahaha! You know, it’s more the legend than the reality. I’m just being polite; I’m just being myself. You know, we’re talking about seduction and me being a champion of something. No, mi amigo, I’m not a champion of anything. It’s all about love and passion, passion and passion, and I think that’s what touches women. That’s my concern every day — how to touch women. (I think he casts that disarming Latin charm not only on women but on men as well. — RFL) When I go onstage, I deliver the music and I’m excited like crazy because I love to sing. And by the way, I want to go back to the Philippines because I love your country. Jorge and Stella should get me back to the (Araneta) Coliseum.”

The Araneta Coliseum has been renovated. It’s as good as new.

“I know, I know! Jorge has made not only the coliseum beautiful but everything else around it.”

By the way, Julio. If you were to court a lady with one of your songs what would it be?

“Oh, it’s so difficult to choose just one song, you know. If you’re asking me an absolute answer to so many different situations, it’s so difficult. But I will say that I am somebody who sings from the heart, from mi corazon, so if ever I will sing a song straight from mi corazon.”

I will let you have the last word, Julio.

“All I want to say to all the Filipino people, men and women, from the North to the South, from Aparri to Jolo and all the beautiful places in those 7,000-plus islands where I spent so many times in my life, thank you so much for allowing me to come back any time. Give my love and kisses to them.”

Oh, one more standard question. How do you want people, especially Los Filipinos, to remember you — as a lover, as a singer, as a father, as a husband or whatever?

“Hahahahaha! First, I don’t want to think about that because it sounds like I’m already over when I’m still very active. I want to tell everybody that I will continue singing (sing-ging) to them. Yes, I want people to remember me with love.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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