Gary Valenciano performed at the Pechanga Resort and Casino Theater.

As part of the Mabuhay Philippines Independence Day at Pechanga Resort and Casino, Gary Valenciano entertained the crowd of die-hard Filipino fans with a 2-hour set, two-day concert event held June 14-15. It was at least five years since he had a concert at Pechanga and he didn’t disappoint. With almost 30 years in the entertainment industry, Mr. “Pure Energy” Gary V. still has the talent and relevancy to cope with the younger generation.

The concert started with his dance hit “Hataw Na” with an updated beat as the people were pumped up with excitement seeing him in person. Then he went straight up to a ballad “Hanggang sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan,” which made the crowd go wild.

He reminisced about how he started in show business and his inspirations. Then he reprised his debut TV appearance in the 1980s with Al Jarreau’s “Love is Real,” excelling in vocal calisthenics and jazz-R&B inflections like he never aged.

Then the concert shifted into a family affair. First it was his daughter, Kiana, who shared the stage with him for the first time singing Christina Aguilera’s hit “Ain’t  No Other Man” then sang solo with Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You.” His older brother Gabriel on keyboard joined her with an acoustic set. Gary kept on gushing on how proud he is as a father and that this is the first and hoping not the last time that his children will share the stage with him.

But one of the highlights of the show was when Gary did a duet with his oldest son Paolo singing his older hits such as “Di Na Natuto” and “Natutulog Ba ang Diyos.” Then they sang a medley of Stevie Wonder’s hits. “Paolo is more into rock songs so it’s new for him to sing some of my songs, sometimes I have to compromise for him also” said Gary.

He also interacted with the audience with wit and attentiveness, exchanging conversations and even taking pictures as he sings with them. He knew that his audience were mainly immigrants who have never been in the Philippines for awhile. He dedicated his balikbayan anthem “Babalik Ka Rin” to them and then joined by his son Gabriel to dance to the tune.

As the show progressed, it became more inspirational as he talked about his battle with diabetes. (A portion of the concert had him eat a banana to stabilize his sugar level.) He also talked about his spirituality and his relationship above. “The energy’s got to come from somewhere else. It’s got to come from God.” Then he went behind the keys to sing a song he wrote 25 years ago but recorded it two decades after called “Even for Awhile.” He then called all of his children to sing a medley that they especially prepared for the night: a mash-up of his two hits “I Will Be Here/When I Hear You Call.” It was an emotional moment as you could feel the fullness of the song that is beyond just singing it. And everyone, even the siblings onstage, were emotional.

As the show was nearing its conclusion, he showed the crowd his ability to still be relevant even with his age as he sang and danced with his son Gabriel to the hits of Usher, LMFAO, and Jay Sean in an upbeat medley. Then he ended the concert with a remix of his inspirational hit “Shout for Joy” as he danced like it was the 90s again.

As an encore, he sang “How Did You Know”, “Tayong Dalawa”, “Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo”, and “Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin” as he showed lock on the hit theme songs of top TV shows and movies. When the intro of “Sana Maulit Muli” started, Pechanga exploded with applause. It was a fitting finale for the total performer and one that will linger for days to come.

Gary Valenciano still has the energy and determination to entertain and remain relevant for as many years to come. With his humbleness and great talent, he still remains as one of the best entertainers in the country and arguably in the world.

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By Mico Roan