Rachel Alejandro at EPIC
Edmonton welcomed an OPM (Original Pilipino Music) idol in an intimate gathering last October 14. on a spectacular evening that will be etched into the hearts of its Filipino community forever. Rachel Alejandro, the multi-talented Filipino singer, actress, and entrepreneur, graced the stage at the Edmonton Philippine International Centre (EPIC) in what was her debut in Edmonton and the first concert by a major artist in EPIC. The show was produced and organized by Edina Bannawel, Susan Tichkowky, Evelyn Bannawel and Michelle Costan Damogo. Kudos to this group from Lloydminster for having their concert in Edmonton, and at EPIC.
The eldest daughter of ‘70s hitmaker and “Kilabot ng Kolehiyala” (Heartthrob of College Girls) Hajji Alejandro, Rachel entered the world of showbiz at the age of 12, as a host on the popular TV show "That's Entertainment." At age 15, she recorded her first album which produced several hit songs like "Mr. Kupido", "K.S.P. (Kulang Sa Pansin)" and "Kay Tagal." Her musical career just soared, with albums achieving gold and platinum status, delivering more hit songs like “Babalik-Balikan”, “Paalam Na”, among others. Due to these hit songs, she was given the moniker of “Queen of Heartbreak Songs”. She has also been awarded the Awit Award for Best Performance by a Female Recording Artist, the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Foundation Award for Best Female Singer/Entertainer, and at the Golden Stag International Song Festival in Romania, Best Interpretation of a Romanian song.
In addition to her music career, Rachel has also made a mark as an actress, appearing in television series, films and stage productions. Among her acting credits are The Broken Marriage Vow, Quezon’s Game, Ang Larawan (The Portrait). On stage, she performed in Xanadu, Rent, Avenue Q, Rock of Ages. Her ability to excel both in music and acting demonstrates her multifaceted talent.
Now based in New York with her husband, she has rekindled her desire to establish herself in the US entertainment scene, a dream she put on hold many years ago. She shares, “In early 2022, I began auditioning for and getting cast in a few U.S.-based films and commercials. Things were just starting to come together when we were hit by yet another challenge: Union actors went on strike, just as I joined the Screen Actors’ Guild. Many days, it feels a lot like two steps forward, one step back, that I’m not going anywhere as an actor. But what keeps me going are the happy faces of the audiences I perform for. I have visited dozens of cities around the US and Canada in the past year and a half doing concerts. I’ve learned so much and made lasting friendships with the “kababayans”(Filipino countrymen) I’ve met on this very extended tour.”
Rachel Alejandro's concert was an emotional homecoming for many, bringing back fond memories triggered by popular songs rendered in her angelic voice. Her connection with the audience was palpable, as she engaged in heartfelt conversations between songs and shared personal anecdotes. In our interview, she shared “I learned the trade from my father, Hajji Alejandro, who many consider to be a legend. He was the one who taught me how to create a highly entertaining show, and what songs best suit my vocal style and strengths. But it was the Philippines’ Concert King Martin Nievera who taught me how to connect with an audience, how to talk to them and keep them engaged.” At the end of the night, Rachel had everyone dancing and having a great time.
But personally, the icing on the cake of the concert was Rachel’s message and plea at the end of the show , “For people in Edmonton, please keep supporting original Filipino music, and Filipino concerts right here in EPIC. Kasi sana, ito na ang umpisa, at tuloy tuloy na.”
EPIC plays a vital role in serving as a hub for Filipino arts, music, dance, and community events, providing a space where people can connect with their roots and celebrate their cultural heritage. The venue's significance extends beyond the entertainment it provides; it's a symbol of unity and belonging for the Filipino community in Edmonton.
So a toast to you, Rachel Alejandro, not only for a night of fond memories, good music and merriment, but for emphasizing the significance of EPIC, a Filipino community centre. Bravo!
* This article was published in the October 2023 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.
** Do you know of a Filipino, or of Filipino-descent, artist/creative, or an art and culture event that should be featured? Send a message to PhilippineArtsCouncil@gmail.com
Rachel Alejandro Concert Gallery
c/o Bravo Studio