Well-loved Pinoy rock star Rico Blanco will perform at the Rock That Love music festival next month, along with other Filipino performers Parokya ni Edgar, Sponge Cola, MYMP, Karylle and Sitti.

The Valentine’s Day themed event at du Arena on February 13 marks the first time Filipino artists will be performing at the venue, and is expected to be one of the biggest Pinoy entertainment events this year.

tabloid! had a quick chat with the artist who rose to fame with the rock group Rivermaya and later continued to shine as a soloist.

Is there a difference between audiences in the UAE and those in Manila?

People back home have the tendency to take home-grown artists for granted. But when you travel in various parts of the world, and you perform you feel the excitement. It’s quite an experience for me as a performer to play for UAE-based Pinoys — they give you more love and are much more appreciative of Pinoy artists’ performances. It’s a huge blessing for me to be able to bring memories from home, to be like an old friend performing their favourite songs and music.

How many songs and what songs will you be singing at the Rock That Love?

I will be performing a mix of old and new songs, which will include the hits from my time with Rivermaya and from my new album. I will also gladly take in requests during the concert.

It is the first time that Filipino artists will be performing at the du Arena, which usually showcases big Western artists. Your thoughts?

I am thrilled to be one of the Filipinos to be performing for the first time in the du Arena. I share my excitement and a certain sense of pride with our kababayans. It’s a great honour to be sharing Filipino music with Pinoys there, and to be a part of a big celebration of music and other fun activities during the music-fest.

You’ve been to the UAE in the past quite a few times, what do you remember most about your visit?

Wow, I have so many memories, but the most memorable would be about how much the audience appreciates the music from back home. I am excited to experience that again. I have been to Abu Dhabi and Dubai a couple of times and admire both places — such amazing cities. This time I would like to visit Yas Island when I get the chance, and hopefully enjoy Ferrari World and also have a look at the Formula One race track. I’ve seen it before in some commercials, I think it’s a spectacular place. Knowing we would be performing in Yas Island, I thought it would be a good chance to see those places.

Any message to your Pinoy fans in the UAE?

I am very excited to see all of you. I am preparing a special set, which I hope you will enjoy. Bring the entire family, it will be a really, really fun event.