Lea sings for the country, not for herself

September 08, 2019
Lea Salonga
Lea Salonga

LEA Salonga sings “We Win As One”, the official theme song for the South- east Asian (SEA) Games 2019, with music by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab and lyrics by Palanca awardee Floy Quinto. Our country is the host of the biennial sporting event, which is now on its 30th year in the ASEAN region.

It will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, with 11 countries competing: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. It will involve 11,000 athletes, 9,000 volunteers, 530 events, 56 sports and 44 venues from Metro Manila, Laguna, Batangas to Clark, Subic and La Union. The last time the country hosted the games was in 2005.

Lea just finished her “Perfect 10” concert at Resorts World and is now a coach in “The Voice Kids”. She’s also in the cast of Atlantis Theatrical’s production of “Sweeney Todd” to be staged in October then it goes to Singapore. She quickly agreed to do the SEA Games project for our country and our athletes.

“I love the song with its message of unity and being a good sport, written by two wonderful,multi-awarded artists who are both good friends of mine,” she says.

This is the second time she sings for a sporting event. The first time was when she performed at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. “But this time, it’s special as our country is going to host the games. That’s when I really have to make sure that every note I sing dapat walang mali, dapat hindi pumapalya, dapat hindi sintunado It’s not just ‘Oh, it’s Lea Salonga singing it,’ but it’s ‘Lea Salonga from the Philippines who is singing it.’ There’s a difference in the mindset, there’s a difference in the execution, even in my mind. So, for me, when I know I’m like, consciously representing the country, there’s a whole different mode of thinking that I kind of just launch into. We all have to represent the country as well and as best as we can. It’s always an honor to do it.”

From the start, the Philippine South East Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) had no other artists in mind to create the theme song except Lea, Ryan and Floy.

“I was excited,” said Ryan, fondly called Mr. C. “I was honored because they asked me.”

The lyrics written by Floy came first and they were the basis for Mr. C’s composition. The Maestro initially wrote a draft piece and demo for 11 singers for the opening ceremonies finale but revised it when he was told that Lea’s participation was confirmed. “I made major adjustments in the structure, arrangement and melody to tailor fit Lea’s voice,” said Mr. C.

The arrangement for the recording was made by noted music director and producer Jimmy Antiporda, to which Mr. C added a layer of orchestral strings and horns. The actual studio recording with Lea was done after only one rehearsal and one take. Mr. C revealed that was possible thanks to Lea’s athlete-level discipline. “I have worked with Lea before and she always comes prepared,” Mr. C said of the Broadway star.  “She always takes good care of her vocal instrument so it is always in tip-top shape.”

The music video of “We Win As One” (produced by Equinox Manila and directed by Shem Hampac) features Lea singing amid the New Clark City as background. The video also shows footage of previous SEA Games highlights. The music video can be viewed at the 2019 SEA Games social media accounts and website. For updates about the 2019 SEA Games, follow their social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram, and visit www.2019 seagames.com