Sessionistas. When I think about that name, what comes to mind is uninhibited laughing with friends, singing either very sappy love songs or party-party ones with a bunch of crazy people, dishing out love advices that we all cull from our (not so) young lives. I think of true friendship in a world that can both be cruel and deceiving, of seven individuals becoming one in serving music, of family, of belongingness, of what it truly means to have one’s back.
It all started in 2009 when one of ASAP’s creative directors, Dido Camara, thought of pooling singers from different musical genres in one production number. It was initially called “Pwesto”, and it had me singing bossa nova, Richard Poon doing big band, Duncan Ramos grooving R&B, Nina being our soulful belter, Aiza Seguerra and Juris and Chin of then MYMP taking care of the stripped down acoustic.
I remember our first Sundays together. ASAP put all of us in one big dressing room, and for the first few months we were all a bit shy. Duncan, presumably coming from a late gig, would always be napping on the couch with his signature cap covering his eyes. We girls kinda all kept to ourselves until everyone’s discovery that we were more or less cut from the same makukulit, minsan-may-topak cloth. Richard’s kind of kulit was of the big brother, I will wrestle and pin you down to the floor till you surrender type. He makes the most delicious sawsawan and is the one you’d like to spend many a food trips with. Aiza would always be strumming and singing on his guitar, and has actually emerged to be the group’s informal leader, being the most outspoken and eloquent of us all. Juris is our Baby Lola, haha, at times being super manang-ish and other times squealing like a child. I don’t remember which persona outdoes the other. Nina was the quiet one almost always secluded in her own little corner, and Chin - I remember him being just everywhere in his headband and dark eyeliner.
We were like-minded creative souls that found a television nest to go home to. We would eat out after ASAP, watch each other’s gigs, jam in the dressing room while waiting. There was even a time we all catched a film screening in UP and ate fishballs, haha. Eventually, our friendship grew, blossomed, and became apparent onstage. From being on the 2:45pm slot, the show moved us up to Gap 1, performing live between 12:30 and 1pm. The TV-viewing audiences loved us! We couldn’t believe our luck because then that meant we’ll be able to go home early! Haha, kidding! But seriously, being a part of the Sessionistas is one of the greatest blessings of my life. That same year, ASAP Live produced a show for us at the Araneta, and that in turn, preceded out of town concerts and tours abroad.
It continued for six years, with some changes in the group members in between. Nina and Duncan dropped out, Nyoy Volante, Princess Velasco, and Kean Cipriano joined in. At the early part of this year ASAP maintained five, and just recently, Aiza had to step down. It makes me so incredibly sentimental, but only God knows when we will all get to share the stage together again.
I have often said that this year, 2015, is a gamechanger for most of us sessionistas. Aiza continues to impress the public with her acting, and now runs Kitchen Queen (best twice-cooked adobo in the world!!) with wife, Liza. We are batch mates in this new, wonderful world of marriage. <3 Juris and Princess are both new moms, and we couldn’t be happier for them and their husbands for the incredible gifts that God has blessed them with. Princess is a successful entrepreneur now, too. She owns Nail Files in SM Bicutan and holds partnerships in restaurants Qubiertos Kapitolyo and Backyard The Grove. Kean is a successful actor and entrepreneur in addition to his being the Callalily frontman. His restaurant Concho’s Sisig in Marikina, has just turned a year-old. Richard continues to crooner-dominate in his genre, happily married to the love of his life, Maricar. They both run a successful blog, www.relationshipmatters.ph. Nyoy has always been the kiti-kiti of the group, juggling musical theater, businesses, shows, and now television acting, too. He’s set to tie the knot with his incredibly talented fianceé, Mikkie, next year. We don’t get to see Duncan and Nina and Chin that much, but in the live performing circuit, they are very much still active and in-demand.
Through these many life changes, we have remained friends. Through heartbreaks, weddings, family celebrations, business endeavors, we saw each other through. We have all become irreplaceable parts of each other, and I believe that we, as a group, have also somehow become an irreplaceable part of you.
Thank you for all of those Sundays that you sang along with us. Thank you for allowing us to share who we really are, with you. Thank you for loving and supporting the ASAP Sessionistas, all these years.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, thank you, ASAP, for giving us each other.