Virna Lisa was the high-pitched singer of Magkaisa, the emotional theme song of EDSA 1986. Magkaisa has recently made a comeback in the Filipino psyche because of President Cory Aquino’s passing (it was also one of her favorite songs).
This legendary song even became more popular than Virna herself. One major reason is that she didn’t pursue a musical career.
So where is she now?
Here’s what I found in the net (published by Positive News Media on September 5, 2007):
The song not the singer
By Ben Cal
VIRGINIA, U.S.A., Sept. 5 (PNA)
This fits the description of Ms Virna Lisa, the Filipino-American singer who popularized the song “Magkaisa” in the post EDSA people-power revolt in 1986, but who faded away into obscurity.
Many do not know that Virna Lisa Loberiza is an American citizen although her parents are both Filipinos. Virna acquired her U.S. citizenship because she was born in New York.
Her song “Magkaisa” has captivated millions of freedom- loving Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad which could have catapulted her to stardom, but she prefers to remain in the background and chose to become a social worker where her heart belongs.
By all probability, not too many Filipinos -– young and old — could make an instant recall the name of the then 20-year old Virna Lisa 21 years after she sang “Magkaisa” that became a gold record despite being an obscure singer.
Many would ask where is that singer Virna Lisa? Well, she works as consultant for social security for the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States, caring for the disabled.
She said she loves her work being a social worker the past 12 years.
“I’ve always been a social worker ever since,” she added.
She is married to Snowden Mananzan, a Filipino banker who is the vice president of United Commercial Bank in New York. They got married in California in 1990 and have three children, Jaco, 15, Toby, 13, and only girl whom they named Frankie, 8.
She finished her studies in the Philippines at St. Paul’s College, Adamson University and later at the University of Sto. Tomás where she took up architecture but never graduated because she was a “Green Card” holder.
Lisa’s father, Joey Loberiza, was formerly connected with Toyota Tamaraw, and her mother is the former movie actress Aura Aurea.
The Philippines News Agency had an exclusive interview with Virna at the elegant residence of Ms Emily Dearing, a Filipino nurse, living in the State of Virginia.
The interview was arranged by Jun Pedery, a former US Navy serviceman and retired employee of Boeing Corporation, the world’s largest aircraft maker based in Washington, DC.
Now, 41, but still possesses that stunning Filipino beauty, Lisa recalled how her singing talent was discovered by actor-comedian-composer Tito Sotto after the historic people-power uprising that toppled the 20-year Marcos regime.
“Everything happened so fast,” Liza recalled.
She said she was singing the song “Bridges” during an event in Adamson University in Manila when she was spotted by Sotto who was fascinated by her sweet voice.
“My discovery by Sotto was by chance,” she said.
Without much ado, Sotto asked her to sing a newly composed song entitled “Magkaisa,” composed by Sotto, Ernie dela Peña, and Homer Flores.
Liza said Sotto invited her to sing in the daily noon show “Eat Bulaga” where she sang on television for the first time.
When she was asked to sing “Magkaisa” she was only given a few hours to practice the song. A few hours later “I found myself inside the studio for the formal recording.”
“I did not sign any contract. I just sang,” Lisa said.
Lisa said she did not get paid for singing “Magkaisa” though it earned lots of money.
“That’s one of the reasons why I did not stay in the business because I didn’t understand it well. I don’t think I will do well in it, and you know may be my heart is in the social work that is why I stay in the social work,” Lisa added.
Had she pursued a singing career, would she attain fame in the likes of Lea Salonga and other top Filipino singers? Lisa humbly said: “I don’t know but maybe God has other plans for me.”
In 1994, Lisa was invited by then President Fidel V. Ramos to sing during the 8th anniversary celebration of EDSA People-Power where she sang again “Magkaisa.” (PNA)
Right after President Cory Aquino’s funeral mass at the historic Spanish-era Manila Cathedral, several people and dignitaries still remained at the church to finish the program. Many singers sang patriotic and other songs connected to the late president. One of the songs stood out from the rest. It was Magkaisa (Unite), the theme song of the People Power Revolution of 1986. Over the years, this song has emotionally moved many a patriotic Filipino.
Magkaisa was sung by ABS-CBN talent Sarah Gerónimo after the funeral mass. It was an excellent rendition to say the least. She even almost sounded like Virna.
But who is the better singer for Magkaisa: Virna or Sarah? You be the judge… click here (ALAS FILIPINAS) to watch Sarah Gerónimo’s fabulous rendition. You can also listen to the original version by clicking on my Spanish website’s Magkaisa widget found at left column (at the bottommost part, just below Seguidores).