How would one feel to be recognized as the best-selling artist in Philippine music history?

To many, having that sort of recognition could ultimately be a dream come true. For others, it could even be considered as the pinnacle of their music career. Yet for a powerhouse figure such as Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, being bestowed with such an honor is something that she can’t fully grasp –– given how heavy its weight places on her shoulders.

“I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it”, she laughs. “During my time, I just kept releasing songs, never really thinking of how it will do in the market. I don’t really like thinking about the numbers, because I’m just happy I’m still here.” 

Yet close to four decades in the industry, Velasquez-Alcasid has become a mainstay on the scene –– retaining a profound and enduring influence on both her loyal fans and fellow artists alike. As a trailblazer in the Philipine music scene, her impact goes far beyond the dominance of her plethora of hits on the charts and radio play, but also with her status as a pop icon who encourages a new generation of artists to push boundaries and explore the limitless possibilities within the realm of music. “The part that I’m most thankful for is being able to inspire other people, including other artists”, she says. “It’s what I really love about my job, and in a way, what I find most rewarding about being in this industry for so long.”

Artists like Sarah Geronimo and Morissette, have openly expressed their admiration for the pop icon, citing the icon’s vocal prowess, stage presence, and impact on the music scene as influential factors that have shaped their own careers. But aside from those aspects, Velasquez-Alcasid notes how she believes that it’s also her own story that resonates with her audience. “It’s part of the whole package. Growing up, my family struggled financially, and there I was joining amateur singing contests, and then all of a sudden –– I made it.  It’s a whole thing that inspires them.”

But aside from her influence on others, another example of her continuing resonance is evident with the success of her Regine Rocks concert series. Not only does it mark a significant highlight at this point of her career, but it serves as a testament to her enduring passion for rock music, a genre that has always been at the core of her artistic identity. 

“I’ve always been a rocker at heart”, the balladeer mentions. In a humorous manner, she even jokes “Maybe in my past life, I used to be a rocker.” Throughout her career, Velasquez has showcased incredible versatility, seamlessly navigating various musical genres, but Regine Rocks allowed her to fully embrace her inner rockstar. 

This concert wasn’t merely a performance; it was a realization of a long-cherished dream, a bold step into uncharted territory that paid off triumphantly. As she puts it, “You always take the risk because you know that at the end of the day, the other side is actually is greater than how you imagined it. Just like this concert, we never thought, not in a million years, that it would actually work.”

To her fortune, the audacious move to headline a full-fledged rock concert paid off and demonstrated Velasquez-Alcasid’s willingness to take risks and push artistic boundaries. The overwhelming positive reception prompted an encore, scheduled for this April ––  underscoring Velasquez’s continued ability to break her own records and reach new levels of fulfillment at this stage in her illustrious career.

As she navigates this phase of her journey, the pop powerhouse finds herself in a position of complete control over her career. While she has always maintained a level of agency throughout her decades-long tenure in the industry, the accumulated knowledge and experience at this juncture empower her to make decisions that align with her artistic vision. Velasquez’s ability to navigate the complexities of the entertainment world while staying true to herself has solidified her status as an influential figure in the global music landscape.

However, amidst the triumphs and newfound autonomy, nature inevitably takes its course, ushering in changes that even the most seasoned artists must confront. Velasquez-Alcasid, despite her vocal prowess, faced the challenges of menopause, a natural phase that brought unexpected transformations to her voice. The singer, known for her pristine vocal range, found herself contending with what she’s described as “a smoker’s voice”, and at times, a profound sense of loss as her once-dependable instrument seemed to elude her. 

“I was literally losing my voice, it didn’t just change –– it just left. So there was nothing I could do about it initially. I got so frustrated, and it was so weird because all my life, my voice was always there. I never had a problem with my voice. Never. It was something that was very reliable for me ever, and then all of a sudden it disappeared”, she explains. 

Though as scary and frustrating as it is, Velasquez-Alcasid approached this experience with a sense of optimism and persistence. Her resilience shone through as she overcame this hurdle through dedicated training and hormone replacement therapy, emerging on the other side with a renewed sense of adaptability –– alongside an acceptance of the changes brought about by the natural progression of life. “Now, it’s just a matter of getting used to it and trying to adapt to how I’m sounding now and how I am able to produce a sound. It’s a lot different from what I’m used to, but at least, I’m grateful that it still exists”, says she.

On reflecting on Velasquez-Alcasid’s enduring impact on the Philippine music scene, it becomes evident that, despite the evolving landscape and personal transformations, her influence remains unwavering. As one of the most iconic Filipino artists of our time, she holds a revered status in the Pop genre –– an example of a living legend who signifies her lasting contribution and positions her as a cornerstone of Filipino entertainment. 

As she continues her dominance on the charts, the airwaves as well as the concert stage, her influence extends beyond her era, leaving an indelible mark that resonates with both current and future generations of music enthusiasts. No matter what other changes the future may hold, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid continues to cement her legacy as an artist who not only defined an era, but one that continues to inspire and captivate audiences across generations.

This story originally appeared in Billboard Philippines’ special Women in Music issue dated March 22, 2024.