Right at the NAIA when she arrived with the three other Pussycat Dolls at noon last Monday, Nicole Scherzinger said she was overwhelmed by that “coming home” feeling.
“I felt the warmth as soon as I got off the plane,” recalled Nicole during a one-on-one with Funfare yesterday at the Executive Lounge of Sofitel Hotel (formerly Westin Philippine Plaza) where the Dolls are billeted until Friday when they fly back to the States after their concert at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Concert Grounds tomorrow night.
“Everybody was calling my name and I was so touched,” added Nicole who is half-Filipino (her father is surnamed Valiente, from Batanes), part-Russian and part-Hawaiian. “I felt that I belong here.”
She felt even more so when she saw her face on the huge billboards advertising Clear, the shampoo she’s endorsing.
“Then I saw the commercial on TV and I realized why everybody knew my name,” she sounded amused. “In the commercial, I said, ‘My name is Nicole.’ No wonder, at the airport they were calling, ‘Nicole, Nicole!’ I was teary-eyed.”
The presscon and the photo session, which lasted no longer than 20 minutes, was held at the hotel’s Seven Pecados where Nicole and fellow Pussycat Dolls Melody Thornton, Kimberly Wyatt and Ashley Roberts sat on stools onstage while fielding questions from the press and flashing sweet smiles at the photographers.
Asked why one member, Jessica Sutta, was missing, Nicole explained that Jessica sustained a broken hip during the Dolls’ concert in Australia and had to beg off from their Manila gig and fly back home.
Presented by MTV Philippines and Clear Shampoo, A Clear Doll Domination: Pussycat Dolls Live in Manila is the Dolls’ second time to perform in Manila, the first having been in 2006. Their album, also titled Doll Domination, is released locally by MCA Music, Inc. Nicole recorded Jai Ho a year before it won a Best Song Oscar along with A.R. Rahman who composed it for Slumdog Millionaire which won Best Picture.
“It came as a surprise. I felt honored. I was happy for Rahman and for the Slumdog kids.”
It was Funfare’s third time to interview Nicole. The first was last year in Kuala Lumpur where the Dolls performed at the MTV Music Awards and the second time was two weeks ago in a phone interview from Australia where the Dolls had a concert and I was in Hong Kong for an exclusive interview with Kelly Clarkson, the first American Idol (watch for it in next Sunday’s Conversations with Ricky Lo). Nicole was consistently sweet and friendly during those interviews, looking at you straight in the eye while answering your questions. It was only Nicole who did one-on-ones yesterday.
She has been vocal about her admiration for Lea Salonga whom she first saw in Miss Saigon when she was 15, inspiring Nicole to audition for the megahit Cameron Mackintosh musical. Told that Lea is in the States for a series of shows, Nicole said she would have wanted to meet her idol.
Asked who her other role models (musical influences) are, she named Whitney Houston, Beyoncé Knowles and Shania Twain.
What did she remember from the Dolls’ first visit to the Philippines?
“The warm reception,” smiled Nicole. “I remember getting off the plane and being also greeted by many people. Everybody was smiling at me. I was blown away by the warm reception. The short time that I was here was very emotional. It was something that I waited for all my life — going to the Philippines. I couldn’t forget our show. I think that was the best crowd reaction we ever had. Unbelievable! I was just very proud to be there.”
And what did she tell her fellow Dolls about the Philippines?
“That the Filipinos are so warm.”
Nicole said that most of her relatives are in Hawaii. She has no idea if some are still in the Philippines. She begged off from talking any further about her family.
I asked Nicole, as I did during the first two interviews, if there’s any “friendly” rivalry among the Dolls and her answer was the same, “We are just human, you know. But generally, we are supportive of each other. We are like sisters. We don’t compete with each other; we compliment each other.”
With the Dolls’ tight schedule (they’re either on the road or in the studio recording), does Nicole have time for her love life?
She gave a straight, unblinking answer, “No. But I don’t think I’m missing out on anything because I am surrounded by my family, my friends and my fans, and I love what we are doing.”
But for sure, she does pamper herself every now and then.
“Yesterday afternoon, a few hours after we arrived, I went to the hotel’s Les Spa. I had a massage. It was so soothing and relaxing. My tired muscles were relieved. That’s the way I usually pamper myself.”