By Pepper Marcelo
One of the most colorful real-life showbiz love stories is the saga of singer-entertainers Regine Velasquez and Ogie Alcasid. The Singer and Songwriter, as the two are sometimes referred to, are two of the most successful artists in Original Pinoy Music history.
Their fans have faithfully followed their careers and had long wished the two would eventually become a couple. But bad timing and Ogie’s unsettled marital status had put off a public announcement of their affair. It was only in the middle of 2007 that the marriage of Ogie to Michelle Van Eimeren was annulled. The closet lovers finally came out in the open to proclaim their love affair. Now comes their nuptial on December 22, which is already being billed as the Wedding of the Year.
The private wedding ceremonies will be held at the exclusive Punta Fuego Resort in Nasugbu, Batangas. The original venue was a beach resort, also in Batangas, but the owners backed out after initially agreeing to host the event. Regine reveals that she took the rejection badly and got depressed for two weeks.
The couple’s close friends in the industry are part of the entourage. President Benigno Aquino III will be one of the secondary sponsors. Regine and Ogie had campaigned for the President in the May presidential elections. Ogie’s ex-wife Michelle, who had remarried in 2009, volunteered to do the floral arrangement, and their two daughters – Leila, 12, and Sarah, 7 – will serve as flower girls.
Regine’s gown, a gift from cosmetic surgeon Vicki Belo, is designed by the US-based well-known Filipina couturier Monique Lhuillier, who dresses many Hollywood stars. Ogie will be wearing a suit designed by Randy Ortiz.
An unlikely couple
Before they met and became close, Regine and Ogie were involved with different partners. An aspiring singer/actor then, Ogie was tapped as one of the hosts for the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Manila in 1974 and assigned to chaperon and assist the contestants. But as fate would have it, Ogie – brown-skinned and standing barely five feet – and Michelle – the blue-eyed, blonde and fair-skinned Miss Australia – immediately hit it off. They eventually tied the knot in 1998.
Despite the physical and cultural divide, Ogie and Michelle led what seemed to be a happy married life in Manila. Michelle tried showbiz, appearing in a few TV shows and movies. But while Ogie was making great headway in his career, their marriage started to falter. In 2003, Michelle decided to go back to Australia with their two daughters. In spite of tell-tale signs of a brewing storm, the couple did not give any indication that their union was encountering rough seas.
Regine, on the other hand, had remained single all her adult life as she was deeply immersed in her career. She was discovered in 1984 when she emerged the first grand champion in the singing contest, Ang Bagong Kampeon. She gained international fame upon winning the Asia Pacific Singing Contest in 1989 and became the first Filipino to do a solo concert at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall in 1991.
Her first taste of showbiz intrigue came in the early ‘90s when she was rumored to have an illicit affair with singer-comedian Janno Gibbs, who was then married to Bing Loyzaga. Not long after the tabloid gossip had died down, Regine got involved with another singer and fellow GMA-7 artist, Ariel Rivera, while the latter was still on with actress Gelli de Belen. (Ariel and Gelli eventually reconciled and married in 1997.) These two episodes earned her the label “home wrecker” from her detractors.
Regine says she did not expect that her friendship with Ogie would develop into a romantic affair. “Hindi ko rin ine-expect!” she said when asked how it all began. “At saka, isa lang naman ang failed relationship ko [referring to Ariel Rivera]. Actually, dalawa pa lang naman sila [Ariel and Ogie]. Actually, it was really unexpected talaga for both of us, especially sa kanya because, you know, he’s married and we were just really friends. . . I never really expected we’ll end up together. But I always thought he’s a wonderful man.”
The secret is out
In Yes! Magazine’s June 2007 issue, Ogie announced what many had long suspected. “I love her, I’m crazy about her,” he said, declaring for the first time in public his feelings for Regine. He admitted that he and Regine had carried on a secret affair for several years while his wife Michelle and children were in Australia and their marital status in limbo pending approval of its annulment.
A month later, during a press conference for Pinoy Pop Superstar Grand Finals, which Regine was hosting at the time, the 40-year-old Asia’s Songbird acknowledged Ogie’s feelings, and proclaimed that she too loved him very much. “This relationship is important to me. This is the only relationship I have and the relationship I will ever have,” she said.
She said she had mixed feelings now that the secret was out. “Happy ako, although hindi halata, dahil at least now it’s out. But at the same time, very scared on what people will say about me. I’m scared I will be judged again.”
Regine also tearfully thanked Ogie for his discreet behavior all the time they were on. “Nagpapasalamat ako kay Ogie for protecting me. Hindi namin mailabas ito dahil napakaraming kailangang protektahan ni Ogie — hindi lang ako kundi pati pamilya niya.”
Michelle by their side
For all what had transpired, Ogie holds his ex-wife in high regard, calling her his “best friend.” Michelle and Regine likewise have become good friends. In November 2009 Ogie and Regine traveled to Australia to attend the wedding of Michelle to Australian businessman Mark Murrow. Regine sang while Ogie played host during the wedding ceremony.
Michelle herself has nothing but kind words for Ogie and Regine. “Alam mo si Regine, talagang ang bait ng tao na ‘yan, and Ogie is so… when he’s with her sobrang saya parang iba ang ugali niya, he’s so happy. So ‘pag sama-sama kaming lahat, parang it’s just nice naman.”
Addressing the engaged couple, Michelle said: “Ogie, Regine, alam ninyo naman yung feelings ko para sa inyong dalawa. I’m just so happy, finally you’re getting married at alam ninyo nandito ako para sa inyo. If ever you need me, we’re here and we wish you every happiness in life, all the best, and mahal ko kayo!”
The lovebirds could not be happier at the turn of events. “At the end of the day, when you’re happy, if you’re okay, then you’re okay,” says the 43-year-old groom-to-be. “It doesn’t matter what people say, you have to do what you have to do with your life. You’ve got to be true to yourself.”