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​I keep telling my two-year-old niece Savannah whenever I’m home in Malabuyoc, “Baby, someday you will be the next Miss Universe and the Next Asia’s Songbird!” 

She says, “Yes, Papa Ariel! Mura ko’g si Regine Velasquez. Nindot kaayo.” 

“But who do you want to coach you and do your makeup?” I ask. 

She answers, “Ikaw lang lagi.” 

“I will be very old by then, because I’m already turning forty-two this year, and, plus twenty years or so, I will be in my sixties, baby,” I tell her. 

Savannah assures me and keeps reassuring me that I will be her number one mentor no matter how old I’m going to be. 

Yesterday, we went swimming together, singing our hearts out into the sea. 

I told her, “Baby, let me submerge you neck-deep in the water. I want you to sing ‘I don’t wanna close my eyes. . . .’ I told you, this is how our idol Regine Velasquez was trained by her father when she was a little girl. Come on, baby, scream, now!” 

Our bond is tight and strong and cool because, obviously, we’re both girls, and so we tend to think alike.