Monday, February 28, 2011


n. the interaction of one personality with another; sympathetic understanding; rapport.

Last Feb. 28 to Mar. 02, the 3rd year ABMA students made waves by holding the first-ever external exhibit in the history of Media Arts. Ice Adriano, Michael Brion, Michael Manansala, Krizia Parungao and Lawrence Virina rolled up their sleeves, dusted their hands and whipped up a storm by showcasing their impressive works in digital and film photography, animation, video production and graphic design at The Enterprise Center in Makati City. I was fortunate enough to see the opening of the exhibit, which they called "Timeless", and I am impressed with what they came up with after months of planning and hard work. They all looked sharp and held themselves professionally whenever someone would approach them and ask about their work. They've grown up so quickly, and witnessing that growth is something I will truly never forget. I'm sure they will excel in whatever field they choose to get into after they graduate.

Left to Right: Lawrence Virina, Krizia Parungao, Michael Brion, Mr. Jepster Togle, Ms. Felma Tria (AB Mass Communication
and Media Arts Chairperson), Michael Manansala, and Ice Adriano. Photo taken by Sachiko Miyazawa.

Another thing I'm proud of is my Digital Photography class comprised of the 2nd year Media Arts students. I brought them to Makati to cover the Timeless exhibit opening, and I think they did a pretty good job. Everything was documented, even the dust on the floor. They worked systematically and in sync with each other. That's what I like about this batch - they have this bond that manifests when they need to work together as a group, even if they're not one whole barkada. And when they start getting serious, they transform into a force to be reckoned with (even with the excessive amounts of "kamanyakan" some of them seem to exude).

Digital Photography class, 2nd semester, AY2010-11. Photo taken by Michael Manansala.

So what do these two groups have in common? Yep. Chemistry.

Good job, guys. ;)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Curtain Call: Rent 2011 (3rd Run)

I first heard about Rent a few years ago from a student who kept on singing the first few lines of "Seasons of Love". I was a bit annoyed at first - imagine hearing the phrase "525,600 minutes" over and over - but it all changed when I actually heard the song in its entirety. Next thing I knew, I had all of the songs in my iPod and watched the movie version three times. So when I got the invite from the 9 Works Theatrical PR, I almost fell off my chair.

Rent, the brainchild of the late Jonathan Larson, is a story about a group of friends living in New York, going through different life struggles such as drug addiction, homosexuality, homelessness, and career decisions that can probably influence and change their lives, and the lives of the people around them. The play is directed by Robbie Guevara (The Wedding Singer, A Fiddler on the Roof) and stars Gian Magdangal as Roger Davis, an HIV-positive songwriter/musician; Sheree Bautista (alternating with Ciara Sotto) as Mimi Marquez, a sexy dancer with HIV; Fredison Lo as Mark Cohen, an independent filmmaker; OJ Mariano as Tom Collins, a philosophy teacher; Job Bautista as Angel Dummot Schunard, a gay street musician who is HIV positive; Mian Dimacali (alternating with Carla Guevara-Laforteza) as Maureen Johnson, a performance artist; Jenny Villegas as Joanne Jefferson, a lawyer who is also Maureen's lover; and Lorenz Martinez as Benjamin Coffin III, former roommate to Roger, Mark and Tom, who becomes a landlord. Peachy Atilano, Harold Cruz, Johann dela Fuente, Pam Imperial, Gary Junsay, Anna Santamaria, Alys Serdenia, and Mark Tayag complete the ensemble.

To be completely honest, I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did. After seeing and hearing countless upon countless of western songs being butchered on TV, I was slightly afraid that Rent might turn out the same way so it was a big load of my chest when it didn't. The moment Mark Cohen started singing onstage, my doubts were wiped away and when the others chimed in, the play got better and better and better.

Sheree Bautista was a pleasant surprise. From Viva Hot Babe to theater actress, it was like she fit into the Mimi role perfectly (maybe the fact that she's Magdangal's real-life girlfriend helped with the chemistry), although she did look a wee bit awkward on the pole (understandable, since she only did three sessions). She didn't have the best singing voice but I think it's a good thing - I can't quite imagine Mimi sounding like some diva. Her tone was seductive and a bit husky/raspy in all the right moments. In other words, amazing.

Another actress to look out for is Mian Dimacali, who did a wonderful job as the feisty bisexual performer Maureen. "Over the Moon" was a hoot and thoroughly entertaining, and she managed to personify Maureen's spunk and resilience that she even got the audience to "moo" with her. Yes, I mooed once or twice. Never thought I'd moo in a theater.

Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without mentioning the sweetest couple in Rent - Tom and Angel. It doesn't matter if they're gay (I actually saw a comment that "I'll Cover You" would've been so much better if sung by a girl and a boy); there's just something between what those two shared that's so pure and so strong, it just takes my breath away. OJ Mariano and Job Bautista played them so beautifully, it brought tears to my eyes. Especially that scene where Tom was singing the reprise of "I'll Cover You." Heart-wrenching moment there.

Rent is all about its music. I love the entire soundtrack, and that's not very common for me. Each song speaks volumes about a wide range of topics, like desperation (One Song Glory), defiance (We're Not Gonna Pay, Over the Moon), true love (I'll Cover You), pride (Take Me or Leave Me), longing (Without You), and living life to the fullest (Seasons of Love, No Day But Today). I guess this is what really makes this play special - it has something for everybody.

The cast singing "La Vie Boheme", one of the livelier songs.


Bottom line - WATCH IT. It's on its final run, so hurry before it's too late. No day but today, right?

Now excuse me while I figure out what to do with those free, one-hour Polecats strip tease lessons I won.

Rent will be shown at the Carlos P. Romulo theater, 4th floor RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City on the following dates:

February 12 to March 6, 2011

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8PM

Saturdays at 3:30PM and Sundays at 4:30PM

Tickets are sold at Php800 to Php2,000 via the 9 Works Theatrical Website.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pet Peeve

I rarely get annoyed to the point where I want to strangle someone with a shoelace, so whenever I do get that murderous urge, it usually means that I'm really, REALLY pissed off.

I'm not the most organized person in the planet. I find comfort in the chaos I create on my desk or my room because I know where to find what. Sure, I usually have bouts of OC-ness and actually clean up, and when that happens, I'm the only one entitled to mess it up again because I'm territorial like that.

My organized chaos was disturbed a couple of days ago and I HATE IT. I don't mind people relocating my things as long as they handle them with care, but noooooooooo. This oaf just had to dump everything everywhere, tearing a couple of important papers and posters and breaking a project in the process. Being in a state of panic is not excuse to treat my stuff like trash. What if I had something fragile there, hmm? To make things worse, I found more papers the next day, just dumped there over my freshly organized table and THEY'RE NOT EVEN MINE. Is being a little more careful too much to ask?

Hay. I've been very irritable lately, and when I'm irritable, I get so nitpick-y and I notice every single thing, and I really have to exert effort not to say something insulting and offensive. I just hope this week will be over soon.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Curtain Call: "Orosman at Zafira"

I'm not that familiar with theater. Sure, I've seen a few plays like Beauty and the Beast, Zsazsa Zaturnnah, and Avenue Q, but those were a bit mainstream. Last Friday (Feb. 4), I got to experience something different at the preview night of Dulaang UP's "Orosman at Zafira" (thanks to Ruth Floresca and Sir Toots), and I must say I really enjoyed it.

Orosman at Zafira cast

"Orosman at Zafira", a play written by Francisco Baltazar, is a story of three kingdoms locked in an endless, vicious battle which starts when Gulnara, the Marruecos' sultan's wife, is found having an affair with the sultan's adopted son Aldervesin. The events following this discovery show the darker and grittier side of love, filled with revenge, despair, hopelessness, greed and bloodshed. But amidst the chaos, the love between Orosman (the Tedenst prince) and Zafira (the Marruecos princess) shines through and gives the audience a sliver of hope that everything will be alright in the end.

Gulnara begging Mahamud (the Marruecos sultan) for mercy, as Zafira looks on.

The sultan's guards restrain Aldervesin after Mahamud sentences him to death.

Zafira, played by Maita Ponce

Orosman (aka Dances with Abs), played by Jay Gonzaga

Star-crossed lovers

There were moments when I got a bit confused as to who the main characters of the story were. The love story between Orosman (Jay Gonzaga) and Zafira (Maita Ponce) was pushed to the sidelines and the play basically revolved around Gulnara's (Jean Judith Javier) treachery and Abdalap's (Roeder CamaƱag) thirst for power and his unrequited love for Zafira. It got better towards the end, though. Oh, and one thing to look out for is Tao Aves' portrayal of Zelima, the narrator. Her voice is so mesmerizing, I think I melted on my seat.

Huge props to director and choreographer Dexter M. Santos for staging such a fantastic production. The energy exuding from the cast particularly during the battle scenes was pretty intense that it made watching them kind of exhausting (and I mean that in a good way). The vibrant costumes and lights were somewhat in contrast with the darkness and angsty theme of the story but I'm not complaining; I don't think I can stand watching this play with the characters wearing drab colors. Plus it made the each tribe stand out from each other. Tuxqs Rutaquio and John Neil Batalla (Production Design and Lighting Design respectively) did a wonderful job.

Of course, this play is not without its flaws. For one, it was too long; I think they could do away with some scenes that were a bit dragging. There were a couple of technical difficulties (like the microphones not working), one of the characters sang off key for the entire song, and the most obvious flaw - the heavy, nosebleed-inducing Tagalog. Okay, maybe it's not a flaw since this is probably how Baltazar wrote this, but I have to admit that I had a hard time understanding the dialogue and some of the songs and I would've been left behind if I hadn't read the synopsis. The only words I could understand were "kasuklam-suklam ang pag-ibig", "pugot", and "mahal."

All in all, I think "Orosman at Zafira" is one of the most spectacular productions I've seen so far. If you're a fan of Baltazar, theater, or pretty lights and dancing guys with incredible abs, then go watch this.

"Orosman at Zafira" will be shown at the Centerstage Theater, 2/F SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City, Manila, Philippines on the following dates:

Feb. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, and 26 at 8PM
Feb. 5, 12, and 19 at 10AM
Feb. 5, 12, 19, and 26 at 3PM

Tickets are sold at Php400 to Php1000.