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Martin’s magical moment

By LEAH C. SALTERIO

Las Vegas-based Martin Nievera got a big surprise during his birthday dinner last month, organized by his partner, Katrina Ojeda, with whom he has a four-month-old son, Santino. Of course, Martin shares the special date with his twin sister, Vicky, who was also there in the party. The gathering saw his dad Bert Nievera and mom Conchita Razon together for the first time after so many years. Both his parents happened to be in Las Vegas at the same time last month.

"The party was a shocker for me," Martin happily shares. "To see my dad and mom together after so many years of pain and tears was a magical moment for me and Vicky. It was the best thing that happened in the surprise party, the best birthday gift ever for both Vicky and I."

Also present in the dinner were the entire Society of Seven with their families, "American Idol" finalist Jasmine Trias (who fills in temporarily for Lani Misalucha performing with Society of Seven at Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas), Martin’s Las Vegas producer and agent, his friends from church and golf buddies.

"I was so stressed out that week because of all the problems we were facing for my opening night," Martin recalls. "But when I got to the venue for the dinner with baby bag over my shoulder, I was really surprised."

Martin formally started his latest Las Vegas stint last February 26. He performs at 5 p.m. everyday except Fridays at the Steve Wyrick Theater in the dessert passage of Planet Hollywood Hotel (formerly Aladdin). His contract runs for one year. He did a special preview of his performances which started on Valentine’s night.

"Steve Wyrick, the owner of the theater, is a gifted magician and needed a Sinatra-kind of act before his two shows," Martin grants. "Thanks to the faith of one of his investors, a Filipino named Gene Gamalinda and the high recommendation of a concert producer and friend, Ivee Fresnoza. I have been given this awesome chance. It could have gone to any singer here, Filipino or non-Filipino. But it was given to me. I want to make the best of it and bring home some much-needed Pinoy pride. I need to give this opportunity on the Las Vegas strip my best effort, which means more sacrifice on my part."

Four years ago, Martin had conquered Las Vegas when he headlined a successful series off The Strip at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. His latest venture saw "Mr. Las Vegas" himself, Wayne Newton and his entire family in the audience. An esteemed Las Vegas icon whose contemporaries include Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra, Wayne continues to perform at The Strip. He initiated two standing ovations toward the end of Martin’s show. They later saw each other in a restaurant where Martin was having his autograph session and they posed for a couple of shots.

Wayne told Martin, "I thought you were amazing. If you do every night what you did tonight, I think you will be the singer to watch out for in Las Vegas." Wayne even told Martin’s featured singer, Jenevi Bakch, "Martin is beyond great."

"Some singers wait a lifetime to have someone as big as Wayne Newton sitting in center row," Martin says. "It only took me 24 years, that’s why I’m truly blessed."

Even after his Las Vegas stint ends next year, Martin cannot exactly confirm if he will return to Manila for good or stay longer in the US.

"First of all, I have never announced I would stay anywhere for good," he points out. "There is no ‘for good’ in my world. A performer can never plan for anything permanent because anything ‘for good’ or ‘permanent’ doesn’t exist in my world.

"My home is the Philippines. My home away from home, for now, is Las Vegas. My oneyear contract will keep me busy here for the meantime. Santino, too. Now, the price of my decisions has been raised by one son. Before, I only had family in the Philippines, with Robin and Ram. Now, I have Santino and have to plan my time equally. If and when Robin and Ram decide to further their studies or seek work here in the States, I will be ready for them."

Robin and Ram are his grown-up children from his previous marriage with Pops Fernandez.

Lately, Martin confesses to being a couch potato and, just like all homesick Filipinos abroad, he has turned to The Filipino Channel (TFC) for updates about the country, especially when it comes to showbiz. At night, he turns his TV set to "real soft," so he can wake up to "Magandang Umaga Pilipinas," with Julius Babao and Tintin Bersola.

"I am so homesick," Martin laments. "I miss all those I love back home. Now, I can totally relate to all TFC subscribers around the world. I find myself stuck to TFC everyday. I get ready for work with Boy Abunda’s ‘Homeboy’ and Willie’s ‘Wowowee.’ Then I end my week crying and screaming with ‘ASAP’ and ‘The Buzz.’

"I think I have become a Johnny Manahan wannabe. From my brown leather couch, I am always cheering and steering ‘ASAP’ and ‘The Buzz.’ I am actually screaming at the TV like an idiot. Can you picture that? I am constantly telling the hosts on ‘ASAP’ to ‘wrap up’ or ‘reverb’ when the singers have none. ‘Break for commercial!,’ when the interviews on ‘The Buzz’ are too long. I will scream ‘Oh my God! Oh my God! No Way!’ Or ‘What? I don’t believe it.’ Or ‘Wow, Kris is looking more beautiful than ever.’

"Sometimes, Santino watches with me. He loves Cristy Fermin. I do, too. I guess I am this way whenever I watch TFC, not because I know it all but because I am a team player and I want my brothers and sisters at ABS-CBN to always shine."

Martin insists he is not in Las Vegas to get away from the Philippines, but to satisfy a life-long dream and conquer this latest opportunity that came his way. After all, not every local entertainer is given a chance to perform in Las Vegas and make it big there, too.

"I am still very much in love with the Philippines," Martin says. "But I have always been a firm believer that dreams can come true and that if you dream it, you can do it."

source link : PhilStar
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