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Showing posts from 2008

Review of Tanghalang Pilipino's 'Golden Child'

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Review of Golden Child
By Walter Ang
December 2008 to February 2009 issue
Asian Dragon Magazine

In David Henry Hwang's "Golden Child," Chinese-American Andrew is visited by the ghost of his grandmother Ahn when he grapples with the dilemma of soon becoming a father, a notion he rejects. To help him accept and take responsibility for his soon-to-be-born child from his third wife, Ahn insists on telling Andrew the story of her own father, Eng Tieng-Bin.

Tess Jamias, the actress playing "ghost grandmother Ahn," transforms into "young Ahn," while Art Acuna, the actor playing Andrew, becomes Eng. The story thus takes us to when Ahn was still a little girl living in Fookien (Fujian), China in the early 1900s. Her father Eng returns home to his three wives after several years of doing business in the Philippines. Having been exposed to the "outside" world, he brings back a fascination with Western ideas such as individualism and Christianity. His id…

Benjamin Pimentel: A writer's sense of mission

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A writer's sense of mission 
By Walter Ang
November 24, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Currently showing at the intimate Tanghalang Huseng Batute of the Cultural Center of the Philippines is "Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street," a play adapted by Rody Vera from the novel by Benjamin Pimentel, which recently won the Juan C. Laya Award for Fiction in the 2008 National Book Awards.

Staged by Tanghalang Pilipino, "Gerilya" tells the stories of a group of Filipino World War II veterans as they wait for the full benefits promised to them and, at the same time, as they wait for their "long-distance call from heaven."

Directed by Chris Millado, the play features a powerhouse cast that includes Tommy Abuel and Bembol Roco alternating in the role of Fidel and Lou Veloso and Bodjie Pascua alternating in the role of Ciriaco, just two of the several characters who reminisce about their days in the war, the women they've loved, and the families they've left behind…

Akari lamps and light switches for Pinoy homes

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http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/lifestyle/lifestyle/view/20081119- 172977/Shining-in-Shenzhen
Shining in Shenzhen 
Text and photos by Walter Ang
November 19, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Akari brand of lighting and electrical products, despite using the Japanese term for "bright light," is actually a completely Filipino creation. It was introduced to the Philippine market in 2002 by Carlson Philippines, a company founded by Carlos Tiu that started out as an importer of electrical and lighting items from Japan.

Akari first distributed energy-saving lamps and switches, eventually adding rechargeable batteries, flashlights, and cords to its range of products. Carlos' eldest son Christopher is at the helm these days as CEO and he invited Inquirer Lifestyle to visit their manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China.

"Although we outsource the manufacturing of our products to a large-scale production base, we do all of the designs and technical specifications," sa…

Even kids get to enjoy photo workshops at KidsAhoy

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Even kids get to enjoy photo workshops 
By Walter Ang
Nov. 3, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Renowned broadcast journalist Howie Severino did something for his son's sixth birthday that most parents wouldn't usually have done. Severino and his wife, Ipat, curated an exhibit of photos taken by their son Alon.

"We wanted to do something different for his birthday and photography is something that almost everyone can relate to," he says. "Of course, we were quite proud of him, but the pictures are less a testament to any budding talent than a commentary on the democratizing power of technology. It's really seeing the world through the eyes of a child and photography is just the medium"

Severino waxes enthusiastic about the possibilities that are now available for children as far as photography is concerned. "Kids can takes pictures because they can these days. When I was a kid, cameras were big, expensive, shot on film, and off limits to kids," he…

Cory's life now a musical

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Cory's life now a musical 
By Walter Ang
Nov. 3, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

While a musical and a concert have already been made about a former Philippine First Lady (the East West Players theater company of California staged "Imelda: A New Musical" in 2005 while David Byrne and Norman "Fatboy Slim" Cook devised a "song-cycle" titled "Here Lies Love," staged in Adelaide in 2006), no one has yet made a theatrical production that focuses on our country's first female President. Until now.

"Cory: The Musical," a production based on the life of former president Corazon "Cory" Aquino, was conceived by Lourdes "Bing" Pimentel (wife of Senator Aquilino Pimentel), a self-taught composer who has produced and composed musicals such as "Nasaan si Hesus," "Huwag Pumayag sa Dagdag Bawas," and "Pagibig sa Bayan."

To say Mrs. Aquino's life has been trying is an understatement. She is kn…

Sarah Geronimo rocks on

Sarah Geronimo rocks on 
By Walter Ang
November to December 2008 issue
You Magazine

Sarah Geronimo enters the photo studio with Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" clasped between her hands. As she settles into her make-up chair, she raves about the book. "It's great! It's really different," she says about the overnight sensation story of a mortal girl and her vampire boyfriend. Sarah shares that she loves getting caught up in a good book. "You become part of another world. It's a great feeling."

For a few hours this cloudy Friday afternoon, Sarah shares bits of her own not-so-little world. She's not unfamiliar with the concept of being an overnight sensation herself. Five years ago, at the age of 14, Sarah won a televised singing contest that bagged her a cool million pesos and landed her a ten-year recording contract with Viva Records.

Since then, she's racked up a long list of achievements that most girls her age can only dream about. H…

Ballet Philippines' 'La Revolucion' is poignant and powerful

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'La Revolucion' is poignant and powerful
By Walter Ang
September 25, 2008
Pep.ph
http://www.pep.ph/guide/arts-and-culture/2629/pep-review-la-revolucion-is-poignant-and-powerful

What is most interesting in Ballet Philippines' staging of La Revolucion Filipina is choreographer Agnes Locsin's entrancing dance vocabulary.

Audiences used to classical ballet will not find the usual poses and movements in this showcase of earthy and visceral emotion and strength.

Instead of the usual arms and legs extended to create a 'longer line,' Locsin has her dancers in bent, crooked and contorted choreography and it looks different, yet wonderful. She imbues her dancers with a unique grace and texture.

Some theater fans may remember shades of this kind of choreography from Trumpet's "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" and SK Entertainment's "Rama at Sita," two musicals that featured Locsin's choreography.

This different approach is appropriate i…

Art Theater Clinique's 'Pinter Plays' is disturbing and exciting

'Pinter Plays'--disturbing and exciting
By Walter Ang
September 22, 2008

The Art Theater Clinique of Far Eastern University (FEU) presents an edgy, disturbing, and, ultimately, exciting production in its staging of "Pinter Plays." In this "devised theater performance," director J. Victor Villareal has selected scenes from three plays written by Harold Pinter, namely, "The Lover," "The Collection," and "The Homecoming," and does the directorial equivalent of hurling them into a blender and macerating them into a strange and intriguing show.

The intimate FEU Arts Studio where the production is staged sets a claustrophobic tone with its low ceilings. The acting area, deliberately placed under a low-hanging beam (even lower than the ceiling), creates a heightened sense of dread. Dribbles and spatters of red paint on the cyclorama panels and stage floor signal anxiety and foreboding.

Wikipedia notes that Pinter's works "ofte…

Apo Hiking Society: Four decades in the performing arts

Apo Hiking Society: Four decades in the performing arts 
By Walter Ang
September 15, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Apo Hiking Society, one of the country's leading music icons, will kick-off a year-long celebration marking their 40th year in the music scene with a pre-anniversary concert titled "Apo of the Philippines" on September 20, 8:00 PM, at the Araneta Coliseum.

The concert will celebrate 39 years of lasting friendship among Danny Javier, Boboy Garrovillo, and Jim Paredes as well as the music that they have shared with Filipinos since their group's inception when they were still in college (which was then known as the Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society).

Paredes is now known more to younger audiences as one of the mentors to a group of singer-hopefuls in the premiere season of reality TV show "Pinoy Dream Academy." Older audiences who grew up with the group will recall that it also hosted several television shows including their own noontime Sunday…

Opera for beginners: 'The Magic Flute'

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Opera for beginners 
By Walter Ang
September 15, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

This September, Filipinos who've always wanted to try watching an opera but were too intimidated will finally have a chance to get their feet (and ears) wet with a one-hour children's version of the fantasy-opera "The Magic Flute" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

"To be honest, even I get bored sometimes when I listen to opera," says director Kokoy Jimenez. With that in mind, he and Karla Gutierrez, the president of the Philippine Opera Company (POC), developed the concept of staging a "colorful, entertaining, and visually interesting" production using black theater, puppets and animation.

"The Magic Flute" tells of Prince Tamino's quest to find the beautiful Pamina, whose image he has fallen in love with. During his search, Tamino gains a sidekick in Papageno, a bird-catcher, and encounters a myriad of weird and unique characters such as the Queen of the Night

Philippines, Japan and Korea stages a 'Tosca,' Asian style

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Tosca, Asian style 
By Walter Ang
Sept. 1, 2008
Pep.ph (http://www. pep. ph/guide/2498/TOSCA,-Asian-style)

The Philippine Educational Theater Association (Peta) recently staged a two-day run of "Asian Tosca," an experimental reworking of the opera classic by Giacomo Puccini.

Puccini's opera is based on a drama by Victorien Sarou and tells the tale of the jealous Floria Tosca and her boyfriend Mario during Napoleon's invasion of Rome. The Chief of Police Scarpia uses Tosca to gain information on the whereabouts of the escaped political prisoner Angelotti, whom Mario has helped.

This production, however, transplants the action to Asia. A collaboration with the Black Tent Theater (BTT) of Japan and the Nottle Theater of Korea, the Manila run of "Asian Tosca" is the current incarnation of a series of revisions and adaptations that have been made by the different theater groups involved.

The first "installment" of this multi-group touring production was…

Gossip Boy makes trouble: Tanghalang Ateneo stages Shakespeare's 'Otelo"

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Gossip Boy makes trouble 
By Walter Ang
September 1, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

In an age when everyone knows what everyone else is doing, it's easy to dismiss rumors since we hear so much of it all the time.

At the same time, TV shows like "Gossip Girl" shows us how easily technology like cellphones and the internet can help "substantiate" a piece of "news" with photo or video proof, image manipulation or video editing notwithstanding

In Tanghalang Ateneo's staging of Shakespeare's "Othello," audiences see how far hearsay can go when word-of-mouth and actual, tangible evidence are the only two things one has to go by.

In this Filipino translation by Rogelio Sicat and Luna Sicat-Cleto ("Otelo: Ang Moro ng Venecia"), director Ricky Abad and assistant director B.J. Crisostomo partners our tragic hero with his antagonist in a guitar-toting gossip-orchestrating Iago.

Iago despises Otelo, a foreign military general living in …

Joanna Ampil joins Stages' 'West Side Story'

We hear you, Joanna 
By Walter Ang
September 2008 issue
Metro Magazine

If Joanna Ampil had a corporate job, she reckons she'd be a workaholic. But because she is an accomplished musical theater actress who's been based in London's West End for the past sixteen years, she describes herself as a "rehearsal-holic."

"I don't want to waste time," she says. "I really look forward to rehearsing, I love it." After flying to Manila, she went straight to rehearsals the following day for her homecoming musical in the Philippines: Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's "West Side Story" produced by Stages, a theater company headed by Audie Gemora.

Joanna comes full circle by being able to finally work with Audie, the actor who inspired her to pursue a life on stage. She had seen him perform in a musical when she was younger. "I remember the way he was dancing. He was so free. That was a turning point for me, I wanted to get into th…

Nonoy Froilan is Still on Pointe

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Still on Pointe 
By Walter Ang
September to November 2008 issue
Metro Him Magazine

Back in the late 60s, Rafael "Nonoy" Froilan joined the University of the East Dance Troupe as a folk dancer. He also studied ballet and jazz dance, eventually joining one of the country's premiere dance companies, Ballet Philippines.

Tall, lithe and talented, he soon became the company's principal danseur. Career highlights include partnering with Dame Margot Fontaine in a performance for then President Ferdinand Marcos and having a show created specifically for him by choreographer Norman Walker. "It was called `Song of a Wayfarer' and it was staged in Germany. That was the only time in my life where I received 24 curtain calls," Nonoy beams.

Despite retiring in 1993 from twenty years of dance, he has never really left the clutches of Terpsichore. He still teaches dance in several ballet schools, conducts master classes for Ballet Philippines, and is a consultant for the…

Lester Pimentel-Ong teaches The Art of Fighting

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The art of fighting 
By Walter Ang
September-November 2008 issue
Asian Dragon Magazine

Imagine a job where all you do all day is asking people to fight with each other. No, it's not being the manager of a boxing ring. Actually, it's a little more complicated than that. Aside from telling them to knock fists with each other, you also have to teach them how to do it while making sure they don't hurt themselves. Oh yes, you'll also need to make them fly on occasion.

All this is what Lester Pimentel-Ong, a freelance TV/movie fight director, does. Having started as a fight coordinator in "a small movie called `Ex-con' years ago," his latest choreography was featured in the recently concluded TV show "Palos," which starred Cesar Montano and Jake Cuenca.

Lester got his mettle as a practitioner of wushu, which, he explains, is actually the generic term for martial arts. "It's what we all used to call kung-fu," he says. His father Ong Chiao …

Tequi exhibit focuses on Perigord episode

Tequi exhibit focuses on Perigord episode 
By Walter Ang
August 25, 208
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Multi-awarded painter and printmaker Ofelia "Ofie" Gelvezon-Tequi was recently featured in the "100 Nudes" fund raising art exhibit of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) for the university's centennial celebrations.

Known for her still lifes and use of symbolism, Tequi admits that she does not usually tackle nudes as a subject matter. For the exhibit, on display were four nude sketches she executed for a class exercise when she took further studies in Rome at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma.

In addition to being included in the exhibit, Tequi was awarded the UPAA Distinguished Alumni Award for Culture and the Arts at the grand homecoming and reunion held in Araneta Coliseum. "It was a surprise for me. I frankly did not expect it," she says. "It's a nice feeling to be validated for what we artists do." Tequi adds, …

Ballet Philippines announces 39th season line-up, new co-artistic directors

New beginnings for dance, courtesy of Ballet Philippines 
By Walter Ang
August 25, 2008
Manila Bulletin

What many people don't know is that Ballet Philippines is a dance company that not only does classical ballet, it also does other forms of dance like neo-classical, jazz, modern jazz, neo-ethnic and even post-modern.

For its 39th season, the line up of productions has been carefully and thoughtfully planned to showcase its dancers' strengths in these different kinds of dance to as many types of audiences there are. This formulation is the initial output of the company's two newly appointed artistic directors Max Luna III and Alan Hineline.

Hineline, an internationally seasoned choreographer and ballet master, was on the faculty of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet as resident choreographer for 11 years. "I am thrilled and honored that the board has chosen the two of us to guide the company and its artists into its next phase," says Hineline. "This is a …

Virginal, indeed: Review of 4th Virgin Labfest 2008

Virginal, indeed 
By Walter Ang
July 14, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

If a play is the fruit of a playwright's labor, then artistic collaborators like directors, actors, set designers and costume designers are the ones who tend and nurture the text into full blossom.

In this year's Virgin Labfest, the artistic collaboration of these different disciplines have produced four main sets of three one-acts that were staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, providing audiences with a veritable fruit orchard of subject matter to watch. A separate set was dedicated to children's plays adapted from published stories while another set featured three plays from last year's fest.

Although this writer was able to interview festival artistic director Rody Vera prior to the fest's opening, no details on staging were provided except for the line-up and synopses for each play. And that is always the fun and excitement of the Labfest, you truly never know what you're go…