Anna Puno: Queen of Valentine Shows
While other people get their “high” from something or something else (as the Beatles songs put it, I get high when I see you go by, my oh my…I get high with a little help from my friends), Anna Puno gets hers from producing concerts. That means she has been constantly and unfailingly “high” since the early ‘80s when she started in the highly-competitive business.
“I never had a flop,” Anna told Funfare with undeniable pride. “My shows are always sold-out.”
Anna is the head of Starmedia Entertainment which she described as “a proudly Filipino, multi-faceted business focused on the entertainment industry with a global approach to the advancement of the performing arts.” Anna is kept very busy, especially during the Love Month, no wonder she has been declared, hands-down, The Queen of Valentine Shows.
“Okey lang naman if they call me that,” smiled Anna who is one of the eight children of Gonzalo Co whose family is the manufacturer/distributor of Green Cross Alcohol and Zonrox. Beyond that, Anna was mum. (A single mom, Anna has two children: Janine, 28; and Adrian, 21.)
Four of the shows that Anna’s Starmedia company is producing this Love Month
This month alone, Starmedia (founded in 2004) is producing several Valentine shows not only here but also abroad:
• #paMORE (with Martin Nievera, Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez and Erik Santos), Feb. 10 at the Mall Of Asia (MOA);
• Ai Love U (Ai-Ai delas Alas with Piolo Pascual as special guest), Feb. 14 at Palacio De Maynila (as associate);
• Timeless OPM (Rico J. Puno, Imelda Papin, Rey Valera and Claire dela Fuente), Feb. 14 at the Newport Performing Arts Theatre of Resorts World Manila (RWM, as associate);
• The OPM Hitmakers (Rico, Rey, Marco Sison and Hajji Alejandro), Feb. 17 at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City; and
• The OPM Hitmakers US Tour (April 12 in Lemoore, California; April 13/14 in Sacramento, CA; April 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada; April 22 in Atlantic City, New Jersey; April 27 in San Diego, CA; and April 29 in Anaheim, CA).
“We are an international company based in Manila, the USA, Canada and the Middle East,” stressed Anna, the most prolific concert producer (of local artists). “We uphold our vision of providing quality Filipino entertainment to the international community.”
After graduating with a B.S. Nutrition degree from St. Paul’s Manila, Anna worked as the secretary of Rico J. Puno who was the head of KAMPI (an association of Filipino singers in the ‘80s).
“I was exposed to a lot of artists,” related Anna (related to Rico by affinity). “I learned the craft of producing shows from Rico. KAMPI was then active in producing shows. Rico has a very good heart. At that time, sikat na sikat siya; he could fill up the Folk Arts Theater (FAT). That was the first time I experienced getting a ‘high’ watching the SRO crowds applauding and giving Rico a standing ovation.”
Up to now, Anna includes Rico in her shows not only as a gesture of gratitude but because Rico is still a hitmaker like his contemporaries.
“He’s a best-seller, especially in casinos na talagang napupuno niya palagi,” shared Anna who counted the likes of Lani Misalucha and Martin Nievera among the other best-sellers. “They have several hits so they have a ready market, unlike the millennial singers who have only one hit at hindi na nasundan.”
Of course, according to Anna, another perennial hitmaker is Gary Valenciano (photo) who has his own Valentine show called Gary V — Love in Motion on Feb. 14 at the grand ballroom of Shangri-La Fort, featuring the AMP Band with special guests Jona and Gary’s daughter Kiana, with Gary’s son Paolo as stage director. (For tickets, call Ticketworld at 891-9999, +63-9175399584 or +63-9270836739.)
Admittedly, the business is full of people with crab mentality, especially (some) producers abroad.
“It’s very risky producing shows abroad,” rued Anna. “Kapag successful ka, some people try to put you down, sisiraan ka. But I am used to it. I just ignore them. Dini-deadma ko na lang.”
Still and all, as long as she gets “high” producing shows, Anna swore that she would stay in the business…forever?
“Yes,” Anna was firm. “I intend to keep on producing even if I am aware that longevity in the business is not guaranteed.”
That’s why she has ventured into other businesses: Doon Thai & Asian Fusion Cuisine, Residencia de Santo Pio Dormitory and Santo Pio Self-Service Laundry Shop, all located in the vicinity of De La Salle University.
“You must have something to fall back on,” said Anna.
Anna with Solenn Heussaff (and Benjamin Alves) who shot an episode of her GMA show Taste Buddies at Anna’s Doon Thai & Asian; and (right) with Lani Misalucha and husband Nolie