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Showing posts from 2004

Ballet Philippines is getting to the pointe in its 35th season

Getting to the pointe 
By Walter Ang
November 2004 (not published)
submitted to Unwind Magazine

We can't all afford to travel or have enough guts to jump out of a plane with a parachute, but it's not so hard to inject a little more fun into life. For example, one can always try new cuisines or explore new ways to have a good time ? like, oh say, watching something we wouldn't normally watch.

After I'd been broken into the world of ballet, I realized it's not such a bore. It's not that expensive to get tickets and it's definitely not difficult to understand. What's there to have a headache about anyway? These people aren't talking in a strange foreign language. Movement, choreography and body language are as universal as Coca-Cola.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a fanatic who quivers with excitement when I hear about another upcoming production of a flying boy who doesn't want to grow up or a princess who turns into a bird with a long neck. H…

Tanghalang Pilipino's "Ang Romansa ni Magno Rubio" (The Romance of Magno Rubio)

Ruby of a Rubio 
By Walter Ang
October 2004

In these days of instant communication, who hasn't heard of LDRs? Cutting across continents, cultures and, sometimes, common sense, Long Distance Relationships have become part and parcel of the Filipino life of immigration and overseas contractual work.

Tangahalang Pilipino's staging of "Ang Romansa ni Magno Rubio" speaks of this phenomenon (among other things) though the connecting medium is not the internet nor cellphones. Instead, the correspondence between Magno Rubio and his sweetheart Clarabelle blossoms from the pen-pal section of a movie magazine and unfolds over the course of several years.

The audience gets to see how Magno, a Filipino migrant farm worker in Depression-era California, attempts to woo the object of his affection (a girl in Arkansas he has never met, save for a lone photograph and lock of hair). It is this search for love that takes place in American playwright Lonnie Carter's adaptation of blac…

Asian Youth Orchestra in Manila

Asian Youth Orchestra in Manila 
By Walter Ang
Sept. 8, 2004
Philippine Daily Inquirer

I'm one of the very few people I know who can mess up singing the Alphabet Song. This is probably why, after announcing to friends that I would be watching the Asian Youth Orchestra, I was met with a multitude of eyebrows rising to the heavens.

I smiled, asked them to tug their eyebrows back into place and defended myself.

"Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I can't appreciate music," I said. So on a muggy Wednesday evening, I made a beeline to the Manuel Conde Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines to catch the orchestra's second day performance in Manila.

Coming together
The Asian Youth Orchestra is an annual six-week undertaking. Musicians from all over the region (namely China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) audition to win spots in the orchestra. Those who are chosen go throug…

Women and war onstage: Lysistrata and Trojan Women

Women and War Onstage 
By Walter Ang
September 2004

THOSE born in the first half of September fall under Virgo, a zodiac sign associated with deities such as the Egyptian goddess Isis or the Greek goddess Demeter. Perhaps it is Virgo's cosmic influence this month that has spurred two theater companies to stage productions that feature quite opposite renderings of the same theme from ancient Greek drama: women and war.

First is Aristophanes' comedy "Lysistrata," revived by the University of the Philippines' Dulaang U.P. For a company that thinks nothing of full frontal nudity, director Ameil Lenoardia has staged a surprisingly restrained and straightforward version of this sex satire.

In the English run, Missy Maramara injects Lysistrata (whose name means "breaker of the army") with an almost masculine authority as she leads the Athenian women to hold a sex strike to force their husbands to end the Peloponnesian war. The energetic cast attempt to stick to…

Tanghalang Ateneo's "An Enemy of the the People"

The Enemy Wears Floral Prints 
By Walter Ang
July 12, 2004
Philippine Daily Inquirer

When Dr. Thomas Stockmann discovers that the waters from the spa of his native town are poisoned, he urges the town officials to close down the resort. When the citizens realize such a decision could drive them into economic ruin, the doctor becomes "An Enemy of the People."

I drank coffee to prepare for this play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. I wanted to make sure I could stay awake as I expected a drab, dark, brooding production. I assumed the characters would wear black turtlenecks and round spectacles while dishing out kilometric discourse on sociopolitcs. This is an Ibsen play, after all!

In Tanghalang Ateneo's staging, I realized I should have drank piƱa colada instead when I was led to my seat by a torch-carrying usher dressed in a loud red Hawaiian shirt. In quite an ingenious move, director Ricky Abad and production designer Gino Gonzales take off from the resort discusse…

Arrow menswear CEO Ian Ross impressed with Manila mall traffic

Straight as an arrow 
By Walter Ang
June 18, 2004
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"I'm impressed with the phenomenal traffic. It's outstanding!" said the head of a worldwide menswear label when he visited the Philippines for the first time. Human traffic inside malls, that is.

Clearly, Philippine mall culture has delighted Ian Ross, president and CEO of Arrow, a brand known for its menswear that's sold in more than 90 countries. Ross recently undertook a Southeast Asian inspection tour of Arrow stores including countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. The Philippines was the last stop before he returned to headquarters in New York City.

The Philippine market is relatively new for Arrow in Asia, with countries like Thailand starting operations way back in 1974. However, Pinoy men have proven their mettle when it comes to metrosexual fashion sensibilities that match the rest of Asia. Arrow's growth has been steadily increasing since it opened its first stor…

Flipping around with Ballet Philippines

Flipping around 
By Walter Ang
Feb. 02, 2004
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Audiences interested in dance but who balk at the prospect of sitting through the classical form of ballet should make a beeline for Ballet Philippines' "Neo Filipino" this February. BP ends its 34th season with its annual showcase of experimental works and new choreography, this time titled, "Flip."

So none of the usual ballerinas in tutus or men in white tights for this show, unless it's tongue-in-cheek or under the guise of "deconstruction." Instead, the stage becomes a venue for fresh material or re-workings of existing choreography, interspersed with other art forms and media like video and computer graphics.

BP artistic director Denisa Reyes, who aims to "turn things around" by pushing her choreographers "to go further with exploration and experimentation," acknowledges that the term "Flip" is used in the US as a derogatory term for Filipinos.…