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Superstar in Japan

By Ronald Constantino

SUPERSTAR – At long last, this columnist met Marlene de la Peña, who made it really big in Japan’s highly competitive entertainment field. Dear friend and colleague Aster Amoyo arranged the luncheon-interview at Annabel’s QC.

Marlene Dela Pena

Aster says Marlene (Japanese call her “Marene” as they have a hard time pronouncing the letter “L”) Superstar, with more than 30 albums, countless TV shows, commercials, concerts and a few movies to her name. Another friend who frequents Japan confirmed her Superstar status, billboard TV-radio and newspaper features announcing whatever shows she has.

Modest and soft-spoken, Marlene says she is proudest and happiest when so-called “Japayukis” thank her for elevating the status of Filipino entertainers in Japan.

A jazz icon, Marlene’s two favorites are the late Ella Fitzgerald and Barbra Streisand, whose concerts she watched in the US and Japan.

MANILA CONCERT – Ms. De la Peña’s in town for a week or so to mount a concert billed “Threesome” on June 30 at the Ballroom of Fairmont Makati. Joining her are two noted Japanese artists, guitarist Jiro Yoshida and pianist Makoto Kuriya.

Yoshida has worked with Cindi Lauper, Sting, and Barbra Streisand. He was chosen as United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador for various humanitarian endeavors. Makoto has performed with Donald Byrd, James Moody, and Chuck Mangione. Produced by Brightstage Productions.

Attending the concert are some of the country’s VIPs.

“Threesome” will be mounted in February next year at the Carnegie Hall in New York.

BUSY, BUSY – The following day after “Threesome,” Marlene will fly back to Tokyo, where she has to fulfill many engagements all over Japan.

Also, her two teenage children, a boy and a girl are waiting. Marlene and her American husband are already divorced, but they “try” to remain in amicable terms.

Why “try”? Marlene laughs, “I think he regrets losing me.”

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