Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Revisited plays comprised the Set E of The Virgin Labfest XI. Aptly chosen, the plays revolved around the theme "revisit", as the stories tackled relationships in the past and how these affect our decisions in the present.
Raymund Reyes's "Ang Naghihingalo" focused on sibling relationships and how "the past" made it difficult for the siblings to decide whether or not they would fund the operation of their youngest brother who was in the ICU and was already dying.
Raymund Reyes's "Ang Naghihingalo"

The cast of "Ang Naghihingalo"

Meanwhile, Kevin Tabora's "Ang Naghihingalo" centered on father-daughter relationship and how an "ugly past" could make or break a person.

Kevin Tabora's "Mapagbirong Haplos"
The cast of "Mapagbirong Haplos"

Lastly, Eljay Deldoc's "Ang Goldfish ni Prof. Dimaandal" --- the funniest play, I have seen in the festival so far --- had several layers of revisiting and reexamining "the past": from the murder of Dedels the goldfish, to the high school romantic relationship of the parents of the "suspects", to the way we were taught how to handle and solve a problem "intelligently, logically, and, methodically".

Eljay Deldoc's "Ang Goldfish ni Prof. Dimaandal"

The cast, the writer, and the director of "And Goldfish ni Prof. Dimaandal"

The plays reminded me that while "the past" is crucial in decision making, it is still up to decision makers how the information will be used. (We should not complicate simple things.)

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Theather enthusiasts braved the stormy weather to watch the SET B of Virgin LabFest 11, the blockbuster set that was the quickest to be sold out, probably because of the crowd drawer play by Nick Pichay, "Macho Dancer: A Musical", which opened the next night with a blast.

Yes, this is the big night.

Aside from "Macho Dancer: A Musical", SET B features equally commendable plays, "Huling Huli" about the "sex for fish trade" penned by Herlyn Alegre, and "Ang Nanay kong Ex-NPA" co-authored by Genevieve Asenjo and Em Mendez.

Nick Pichay's crowd drawer play, "Macho Dancer: A Musical"

At first, one would think that "sex and flesh" might be the selling point of the set, with topless sexy men gyrating on stage (Macho Dancer) and actors and actresses insinuating sexual acts (Huling Huli) of poverty and rebellion.

Herlyn Alegre's "Huling Huli"

The cast of "Huling Huli" with its director, Lawrence Fajardo

The power of the plays lies in their irony: the depressing state of our country is found between the comic lines in the play.

Genevieve Asejo's and Em Mendez' "Ang Nanay Kong Ex-NPA"

The cast with the writers and directors

The stories remind us not to judge people. Each has his own story of survival for the ones he or she loves. We all have, even the macho dancers, the sex workers, or the rebels.

VLF SET B is definitely worth your money.

Theater Review: Tanghalang Pilipino's "MABINING MANDIRIGMA": A Big Party On Stage

Mabining Mandirigma ticket and pamphlet
In a nutshell, Tanghalang Pilipino's Mabining Mandirigma is an intelligent and inspiring historical/biographical variety show on stage (think of ASAP 2015) about the life of Apolinario Mabini. It combines a big, colorful party, a fliptop battle, a showchoir performance, a fashion show, an opera concert, an acoustic gig, and everything except boring. It is so entertaining that you want to jump on stage and "party" with the cast!
Mabining Mandirigma is a steampunk musical. Honestly, I didn't know what steampunk musical was! What I realized, though, was it's the ideal type of play to watch on a stormy Sunday afternoon, with all the vibrancy and upbeat rhythm dominating the theater.
The play casts a female actor, Delphine Buencamino, as the lead, playing Tata Pole, proving that talent knows no gender. Her confrontation scene with Emilio Aguinaldo, and her monologues were intense.

Apart from the female lead, everyone did really great. Tanghalang Pilipino's young actors, whom I've been seeing in previous plays, truly impressed me. Special praise to the exquisite singing of Arman Ferrer who played Emilio Aguinaldo. I had goosebumps whenever he sings. I became an instant fan!

The awesome cast of "Mabining Mandirigma"
Some of the cast after the show
More than the genre and the casting, though, the best aspect of the play for me is its message. Mabini lived a life of integrity. He loved his country more than himself. I never expected to cry, literally, when the cast sang "Mahalin mo ang Pilipinas nang higit sa iyong sarili". It affirmed my belief that our lives should be lived not for ourselves, but for others. Live for the greater good of all.

My college classmate and friend, EJ Pepito's among the cast!

Congratulations to the entire production team, the cast, and the crew of Mabining Mandirigma. To its director, Sir Chris Millado, you deserve a standing ovation --- and I deserve a selfie with you.
Selfie with the director, Mr. Chris Millado

(Catch their remaining shows! Tickets are available on line, at Ticketworld outlets, or at CCP. Those with Virgin Labfest XI tickets will get 50% discount. Never miss this!)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Theater Review: The Virgin Labfest XI: Sariwa - Set A

The Virgin Labfest XI tarpaulin outside CCP
I commend the combination and sequencing that VLF did for the plays in SET A.
It started with a story of crime and deception in Layeta Bucoy's "Uod, Butete, at si Myrna", followed by Job Pagsibigan's time travel story of scientists in "When Sam Meets Jo", and ended with Maynard Manansala's teacher-student romance story in "Dalawang Gabi".
The set promises that the audience will leave the theater laughing and highly entertained, despite the sensitivy (and "heaviness") of the social issues tackled in the first play.

Audience should watch for the superb acting in "Uod, Butete, at si Myrna", particularly, that of the actor who played Uod; the funny dialogues between the time-traveling characters in "When Sam Meets Jo"; and the memorable hugot lines in "Dalawang Gabi", and how the lead actress delivers these in comical way. (I particularly like the lines "Wala pa ba ang pizza? Nalipasan na ako ng gutom...Pa-cancel na please. Paasa ka, eh!" delivered by Meann Espinosa in "Dalawang Gabi").
Layeta Bucoy's "Uod, Butete, at si Myrna"
Job Pagsibigan's "When Sam Met Jo"

Maynard Manansala's "Dalawang Gabi"