August 15, 2022 | 00:00
MANILA, Philippines – The recent US concert tour of The Hitmakers – Hajji Alejandro, Rey Valera, Nonoy Zuñiga and Marco Sison – and Pops concert queen Fernandez has allowed them to get to know each other better and bond.
However, an unfortunate and unexpected thing happened during the tour, when Hajji and Nonoy suffered from mild COVID illness, along with half of the production that was with them.
“We had to reschedule a weekend in Las Vegas (Nevada), which was pushed back because we had to self-quarantine,” Hajji revealed. “We had to follow the protocol so we were isolated for a week in our respective rooms.
“But all the shows were sold out and everyone was happy. We got to know Pops better while we were on tour. She is really very professional. No wonder, so far she is still the ‘queen’.
Pops admitted she felt the jitters performing with The Hitmakers for the first time and in the United States at the moment. “I know them,” she shared. “I have already spoken to them. My previous expectations of them, I kept to myself.
“It’s so easy to get along with them. It’s so easy to work with them. You will find no problem being with them. They are all so funny.
The most endearing thing about The Hitmakers is their professionalism throughout the tour. Pops said that Hajji acted as the leader of the group, when it came to lining up songs from their repertoire and arranging everything for the show.
“He’s strict when it comes to time,” Pops said of Hajji. “Someone has to do it. Nonoy is the one who is really calm, while Marco was the one who was constantly followed by his fans everywhere we went, with kisses to match. Rey is really so calm. At first I thought that he was suplado. But once he’s there, he’ll put you at ease.
The Hitmakers were surprised that Pops was very down to earth throughout their tour. “She doesn’t have any airs usually seen in other performers,” Hajji said. “Pops is queen, not just in her performance. Even in his ways.
Rey’s initial impression of Pops was superseded. “When you go on tour, that’s when you’ll know a person’s true attitude. The four of us have been together for a long time. Even if our heads are not cold, we understand each other.
“I was waiting for Pops to really show her real attitude. She has patience. A very long chain of patience. She’s very professional. That’s why she can really join us at any time. We can do a concert tour again We don’t mind doing it again with Pops.
Marco noted that Pops’ sense of humor surprised most of them. “Out of the blue, Pops is going to crack a joke. Besides being fit for a queen and very beautiful, I love her sense of humor. She is very professional in every sense of the word. She is very fast. Magaan to be with her.
Pops had nothing but kind words for The Hitmakers. “In every production, perfection does not exist,” she said. “You have to be open to a lot of unexpected situations.”
“The Hitmakers are all professionals. They know how to adapt. They know how to deal with the problem. When your baggage has not boarded your flight, there is nothing you can do but wait. They really waited for their bags and our show was scheduled for the same evening,” she added.
Hajji couldn’t be more grateful for the warm welcome from Filipinos in the United States when The Hitmakers performed with Pops. “We have witnessed Filipinos’ love for Original Filipino Music (OPM) again. The support, you can’t go wrong with your fellow Filipinos. You will feel their enthusiasm, support and love.
The band was supposed to perform in Lake Tahoe (Nevada), Chicago (Illinois) and Honolulu (Hawaii), but they decided to keep those venues for next year’s tour. Most likely, Texas, Mississippi and even Canada will be added to their 2023 itinerary.
Meanwhile, Four Kings and a Queen will be presented at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World Manila on August 26-27. Hajji announced that the Manila shows will be improved, with some additional songs added, while other songs will be removed.
“Dagdag-bawas,” Hajji said smiling. “When it’s a casino, you’re only allowed to play for two hours. When you don’t regulate the performances of these artists, the show will last three days and two nights. It’s only for spiels.
“Given a window of time, we manage to fit everything in. Thus, we choose the best songs for our repertoire. The ones we did in the United States, we will stage them in Newport.