How seeing her mother Winnie get directed by Behn Cervantes in UP lured Tami Monsod into theater

April 22, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Tami Monsod is playing Vivian Bearing in Twin Bill Theater's ongoing production of Margaret Edson's "Wit," a play about a university professor's assessment of her relationships, or lack thereof, as she faces imminent death.

Previously adapted into a made-for-TV movie starring Emma Thompson, the one-act play won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Twin Bill's production is directed by Steven Conde, who also helmed "My Name is Asher Lev" and "Once Upon a Mattress" this year.

Similar to her character, Monsod also teaches (theater to high school students at International School Manila) and has a master's degree.

But unlike Vivian, Monsod fosters meaningful connections with other people. "In the past and present, I've had many beautiful relationships," she says.

Starved for stories

The lure of theater came from "wanting to see stories happen in real time," she says. "I …

Staged readings of play on immigrant Filipino boy and his wrestling fantasies in LA libraries

April 20, 2017

LOS ANGELES - A play about a young Filipino immigrant and his wrestling fantasies will have free staged readings in different Los Angeles libraries in May.

Victor Maog's "Tot: The Untold, Yet Spectacular Story of (a Filipino) Hulk Hogan" follows Tot as he leaves Martial Law-era Philippines and reunites with his parents in San Francisco after a decade of separation. He copes with loneliness in his new surroundings by imagining wrestling scenarios.

The play will be presented by theater group Artists at Play (AAP) at Los Angeles Public Library branches Mar Vista (May 8), West Los Angeles (May 13), and Malabar (May 18).

The staged-readings of "Tot" are part of the library's "LA Made" program, a cultural series featuring free music, dance, theater, and discussions with local entertainers at libraries throughout the c…

Exhibition to launch first directory of Filipino-American artists

April 19, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - A directory of Filipino-American visual artists will be launched on May 13 at Was Gallery with a month-long exhibition.

The Fil/Am Artist Directory features 22 artists from across the United States and Canada and includes artwork, artist biographical information and interviews.

Artist Janna Añonuevo Langholz conceived the project in 2015. "I started the directory because I was surprised by the absence of Filipino artists in the art history canon and in contemporary art news," she says.

She'd been taking a master's degree in photography at Southern Methodist University in Texas that year. "In graduate school, I had difficulty finding information about other Filipino and Fil-Am artists."

Langholz, whose mother hails from Laguna, also wanted to provide a way for Fil-Am artists to connect with each other. "As well as a resour…

Filipino food and mythological creatures in Toronto kids’ play ‘Kaldero’

April 13, 2017

TORONTO, Ontario -- "Kaldero," a unique children's play will go on tour starting April 26 and throughout May to celebrate Asian Heritage Month.

Staged by Carlos Bulosan Theatre, "It's a fun, fast moving show that celebrates the richness of Filipino culture through music, dance and shadow play. It's relatable and accessible to everyone!" says the group's artistic director Leon Aureus.

This play was specifically developed for young audiences "to celebrate culture and family, to encourage youth to honor their roots and to find their inner strength."

Land of Mahiwaga

In the play, Caleb refuses to eat Filipino food because he's afraid the kids at school will make fun of him.

His hunger triggers a magic kaldero (cooking pot) to pull him into the mysterious land of Mahiwaga, home of fantastic creatures like the tricks…

UP College of Music’s 'Putri Anak' reimagines the 'komedya'

April 8, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

University of the Philippines College of Music is staging "Putri Anak," a new komedya about a celestial maiden who, while attempting to reunite with her sisters, helps two arrogant warriors battle the sun-eating sea serpent Bakunawa.

The production is part of the college's centennial celebration dubbed "Sandaang Taon ng Himig at Tinig: Pagpupugay ng UP Kolehiyo ng Musika," and is coproduced by the UP Center for International Studies.

Directed by Jina Umali, the play has a libretto by Enrique Villasis and Christian "Juan Ekis" Vallez.

The story is based on the Celestial/Sky/Star Maiden tales found across Asia and the Philippines, where the main maiden's wings are hidden from her by a man. Variations include Luzon's Gaygayoma, Kamdali/Kadmali and Taraw versions; the Visayas' Makaya version; and Mindanao's Maiden of the Buhong Sky, Putli Intan (Princess Diamond), and Putri Anak (Prince…

'Ulam (Main Dish)' film on Filipino-American chefs to screen at LA Times Food Bowl

April 8, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- "Ulam (Main Dish)," a documentary featuring Filipino American chefs and restaurateurs by filmmaker Alexandra Cuerdo, will have its first preview screening on May 20 at Million Dollar Theatre.

ULAM from Alexandra Cuerdo on Vimeo.
The screening is part of the Los Angeles Times' Food Bowl, a month-long food festival "celebrating LA's dynamic and influential food scene while promoting awareness about food waste and hunger."

The documentary follows the rise of the Filipino food movement via the chefs crossing over to the center of the American table, said Cuerdo in a statement.

The film includes interviews with Los Angeles' Alvin Cailan (Egglsut, Unit 120, Amboy); spouses Johneric Concordia and Christine Araquel-Concordia (The Park's Finest); Andre Guerrero (The Oinkster, Maximiliano, The Little Bear, Ramen Room); Ch…

Parangal Dance to perform in SF, Hawaii, Italy

April 4, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco-based Parangal Dance Company will perform in San Francisco, Hawaii and Italy this year, the Filipino folk dance group announced.

In April it will perform in Hawaii during the Merrie Monarch Festival at the Edith Kanaka'ole Tennis Stadium (April 19). It will then have performances at Hilo Daijingu Hall (April 20) and at Kalani Resort (April 22).

In addition to performing its current repertoire of dance pieces, the group will premiere several new works.

"Binanog," a courtship dance featuring choreography that mimics the movements of the Philippine eagle, and "Pahampangon," a healing ritual, are from the Panay Bukidnon people from the Visayas region in the Philippines.

The new works will be performed again in June at the annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival; final dates and venues will be announced late…

Filipino-American playwright Boni Alvarez brings aswang to Los Angeles

March 30, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- Boni Alvarez's recent play, "Bloodletting," the plot of which includes the Filipino supernatural entity aswang, proved popular enough with audiences to warrant an extension.

Premiered in October last year and scheduled to originally close in November, the play was extended until January of this year.

"The production was well-received. It surprised me a little," Alvarez admits, believing that it resonated with theatergoers because "there are many points of entry for the audience."

Directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera for Playwright's Arena, the play is about two siblings who travel to the Philippines to spread their father's ashes when the sister discovers her latent powers.

"There were people who loved the mythology, people who are fans of witches of all cultures.  Most of the audience accessed the play thr…

PARC Manila is San Juan's new performance venue

March 25, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Pinagtawanan ako," says Wilmer Guido of his father's reaction when he announced his plan of building a theater. "He thought I was joking."

Guido founded and runs Performing Arts and Recreation Center (PARC) Manila, a repurposed office compound along a side street in San Juan that's now a space for intimate performances.

"The venue's aim is to provide opportunities for artists, to increase performing arts' impact on the youth and to cultivate a culturally competent society," he says.

His father's LED-billboards business was expanding and the 1,600-square-meter compound was about to be sold off. Guido requested that the building and lot be leased to him instead so he could transform it into an arts venue.

"It took a long time for me to convince my father, he's a businessman after all," he says.

This 24-year-old advertising management graduate from De La Salle Universit…

Giannina Ocampo is in Rep's comedy 'In the Next room (or The Vibrator Play)'

March 18, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

During the 1880s, Jose Rizal was studying to be doctor in Europe. Meanwhile, in the USA, doctors were using vibrators to treat women for hysteria (trivia: the word is derived from the Greek word for uterus, hystera).

Repertory Philippines' next play, Sarah Ruhl's comedy "In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)," touches on this (touchy) subject matter.

Giannina Ocampo plays Catherine Givings, who is intrigued by the medical technology her doctor husband uses to treat anxious women and men.

Other women characters in the play are portrayed by Tami Monsod, Caisa Borromeo and Cara Barredo. Joshua Spafford, Hans Eckstein and Jef Flores round out the cast directed by Chris Millado, who will also direct Rep's year-ender musical "Hair."


Ocampo's excited to breathe life into her character. "Catherine's a woman on the verge of finding herself and discovering what's truly important t…