Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Eugene Domingo is one of the country’s most popular actresses nowadays and it cannot be denied that she has legions of fans. But in Bona, the latest production of Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), Eugene Domingo tackles the title role that brings her to the other side of the fence: that of a fan and an obsessed one at that. Knowing that she has legions of fans who would want to watch her perform live on stage, there is no doubt that Bona will be a huge hit. I was very fortunate to be among the audience who saw the preview performance of this play that was held over at the PETA Theater Center.

PETA’s Bona is a stage adaptation of the film directed by National Artist for Film and PETA founding member Lino Brocka. The film featured Nora Aunor at the title role alongside Philip Salvador as the actor Gardo, who is the object of Bona’s affection. In the stage adaptation directed by Soxie Topacio and written by Layeta Bucoy, Edgar Allan Guzman plays the role of the actor, now named Gino Sanchez who is a contestant in a reality talent search on television. This season of PETA, its 45th, has a theme that examines film through theater performances and Bona tackles exactly that. Both Eugene and Edgar won best acting awards during last year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival.

Olive Nieto, Edgar Allan Guzman, Eugene Domingo, Joey Paras, Gabs Santos
and Juliene Mendoza

I haven’t seen the film which this play was adapted from so I had no idea how the story would unfold. I didn’t have any prior knowledge so I didn’t fall into the mindset of continually comparing this stage adaptation and the film version while the performance was going on. Bona felt like the role was really written with Eugene in mind. Probably, she just took over the role and put her stamp in it. The first act really demonstrated the usually brilliant although sometimes a bit predictable Eugene Domingo type of acting, complete with unexpected adlibs that brought the house down. But it was during the second act, when everything goes horribly wrong for Bona that I saw a very different Eugene. She was no longer Eugene but on stage was only Bona spiraling down without any hope for salvation. Meanwhile, Edgar Allan Guzman somewhat spoofed himself at the beginning, showing the cheesiness that is inherent in television nowadays. He displayed bad, melodramatic acting as a contestant of a reality talent search which made it really absurd for Bona to become obsessed with him in the first place. His character wasn’t as well rounded compared to that of Bona and it’s almost impossible to upstage Eugene Domingo.

Edgar Allan Guzman

The end got me really disturbed and I did have to shift at my seat continuously. Such was my discomfort with what was happening to Bona as her plight became more and more desperate because of her obsession with Gino. Thank goodness that theater does have curtain calls after the show. Whatever tragic circumstances befell the characters during the course of the play no longer apply as the actors come out unscathed when they do their bows. Seeing Eugene Domingo on stage is a rare opportunity that people should seize. While she had her start in theater, her theatrical performances had been rare ever since she made it big in the industry. So I am grateful to PETA for giving me the opportunity to be among the first to see Bona.

Bona also stars Phil Noble, Joey Paras, Raffy Tejada, Jef Henson-Dee, She Maala, Olive Nieto, Jason Barcial, Junevir Tabor, Dudz Teraña, Juliene Mendoza, BJ Forbes, Gabs Santos and Anna Luna. Bona will run up to Sepember 23, 2012 at the PETA Theater Center. Tickets are available at and For more information, contact 725-6244, (0917) 576-5400, (0916) 309-0707 or e-mail

Pianist Dingdong Fiel performs in benefit concert

August 31, 2012, 6:30 PM
Grand Hall, UST Museum
University of Sto. Tomas

Heliodoro “Dingdong” Fiel II, piano

Franz Schubert
     Moments Musicaux No. 1 in C major, D 780 (Op. 94)
     Moments Musicaux No. 2 in A flat major, D 780 (Op. 94)
     Moments Musicaux No. 3 in F minor, D 780 (Op. 94)
Frédéric Chopin
     Prelude No. 10 in C sharp minor, Op. 28 The Moth
     Prelude No. 15 in D flat major, Op. 28 Raindrop
     Prelude No. 18 in F minor, Op. 28 Suicide
Domenico Scarlatti
     Sonata in C major, K. 159
     Sonata in G major, K. 13
Sergei Rachmaninoff
     Moment Musicaux No. 3 in B minor, Op. 16
     Moment Musicaux No. 4 in E minor, Op. 16
Claude Debussy
     Préludes Book 2 No. 6 General Lavine, L 123
     Préludes Book 2 No. 12 Feux d'artifice, L 123

The last time I saw pianist and friend Heliodoro “Dingdong” Fiel II perform a classical piece was during a violinist friend’s graduation recital some months ago. He was the pianist who accompanied the recitalist during the first part of the recital. Since then, I saw him once again as the pianist at Upstart Productions’ staging of Forbidden Broadway with him playing theater music instead. Now, the time has come for me to see him go back to his classical roots with Musical Moments, a benefit concert happening this August 31, 2012 at 6:30 PM at the Grand Hall of the UST Museum for the victims of Habagat.

For some years now, I’ve been a regular visitor at the UST Conservatory of Music to attend masterclasses, watch concerts and recitals, and basically hanging out with friends who study there. And Dingdong is one of the many pianists whom I’ve gotten to know during that time. He is known around the Conservatory of Music as one of the prized students of former dean Prof. Erlinda Fule and also a student of Prof. Dieter Arens who was in the country earlier this year. In a less serious note, he is also known as well for his signature hairstyle.

Like what I’ve said, it’s been some time since I saw him in a solo performance with a purely classical repertoire. So not only will I have the chance to see him play pieces by noted composers like  Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Domenico Scarlatti, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Claude Debussy, the concert in itself is a fund raiser to help victims of the heavy rains that plagued the country a couple of weeks ago.

Ticket price:

For inquiries:
UST Conservatory of Music (Otep or Nomo) 731-4022

Monday, August 27, 2012

Krizza Neri's Listening Session

Krizza Neri

I have to say right off the bat that I am not really keen on watching reality singing/talent competitions on television. While I occasionally check out the actual competition every now and then, I don’t normally follow and root for certain contestants throughout the show. But when the show is over and the winner (and in some cases, other finalists) comes up with a record, that’s when I normally take notice. So while I may have heard a bit of Krizza Neri’s stint and eventual victory over at Protégé: The Battle For The Big Break, it’s only very recently when she released her album entitled Krizza that I really had the time to listen to her.

Most talent competition winners carry in them the burden of coming up with a debut record that will not only satisfy the fan base that they’ve established during the competition but also the regular music listener/consumer who don’t really follow the said talent competitions. Thankfully for Krizza, her mentor during the competition, THE Aiza Seguerra took her under her wing and produced her album under her own label Black Bird Music. Aiza brought with her an arsenal of noted composers like Ryan Cayabyab, Ogie Alcasid Nyoy Volante among others, arranger Ria Osorio, and musicians like the strings section of ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra (still credited as FILharmoniKA in the album) enabling Krizza to stand out with her own, distinct sound that stands apart from anyone else in the market.

The songs included in the album along with the arrangements were done neither to please the listeners nor to meet their preconceived notions regarding female vocalists especially the belters. Instead, the whole album was crafted show who Krizza really is as an artist. Her vocals stand out as she opted for a more textured and restrained delivery, seamlessly shifting from one register to another like in the Lani Matta-Macaraeg penned Dahil Sa Iyo. One of the standout tracks for me is Don’t Be Too Nice by Jude Thaddeus Gitamandoc with the relaxing and organic sound featuring live instruments that included a string quartet. Ria Osorio did all the arrangements except for the carrier single Ba’t Di Ko Ba Nasabi, the bonus track which is also the theme from the television series, The Good Daughter. This song stood out as its sound didn’t fit the overall mood and feel that Osorio has done throughout the album. I guess that this has been released previously even before the production of the album began. Hence, it was included as a bonus track.

My only minor issue with the album is that it needed more cheerfulness and happiness. The album's lyric sheet had photos of her smiling very happily and I wish I could’ve heard a track or two that reflected that level of happiness. Recently, she also had a listening session/party at GMA 7 where I personally saw that fun, spirited and often feisty personality which I wish had the chance to be heard in the album. I hope that she gets to showcase this more upbeat side of her with her sophomore album.

Krizza Neri regularly performs at GMA’s Sunday noontime show Party Pilipinas. She will also be a guest at Aiza Seguerra’s upcoming concert this September 28, 2012. Special thanks to MediaNationInc., Sumo Sam, Black Bird Music and GMA 7 who presented Krizza’s listening session/party.


1. Look My Way
2. No More You and Me
3. Dahil Sa Iyo
4. French Fries and Coke
5. Don’t Be Too Much
6. Kung Malalaman Mo
7. Narda
8. If I Could/Wind Beneath My Wings
9. Could Have Been
10. Bakit Ka Lumayo
11. Ba’t Di Ko Nasabi

Sunday, August 26, 2012

X Class concert celebrates Christian Bautista’s 10th year in show business

October 6 & 7, 2012, 8:00 PM
October 12-14, 2012, 8:00 PM
Meralco Theater
Ortigas Avenue
Pasig City

For five nights this October, Christian Bautista will push boundaries in the concert scene as he mounts a concert celebrating his ten years in the entertainment industry. The concert will be staged at the Meralco Theater this October 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 at 8:00 PM. Concert director Rowell Santiago and music director Louie Ocampo join Christian for this concert entitled X Class.

Christian Bautista first found mainstream success via the reality talent competition Star in a Million. While he didn’t win the top prize, he became the show’s most successful non-winner. He has recorded seven studio albums, has penetrated the Asian market, and has acted on stage, at television and in film. And while he started as a singer falling under the Josh Groban mold, his music eventually evolved and showcased his versatility and range. One can appreciate this growth by listening to his first single The Way You Look at Me and then comparing its sound to the more recent one like Unphotographable.

Christian Bautista

During the recent press conference held at Cerchio Restaurant and Lounge, Christian was asked why the concert will be at the Meralco Theater instead of the other venues available for concerts which are considerably bigger. He responded that the chosen venue also serves as homage to his theater roots since he had his first professional performance at the Meralco Theater. He also said that the theater, with all its bells and whistles can achieve things that other venues cannot. He teased that there will be a dash of theater in the concert series with changing sets and utilizing the latest technology. And that there will be slight differences between the five shows so no show will be exactly the same.

In preparation for the concert, Christian has been undergoing some martial arts training in Muay Thai. He said that the concert will feature video clips showing action scenes hence the need for some physical training. He also mentioned zip lines and wires and all other stuff that people should expect at the concert. When asked about his guests for the upcoming concert, he replied that there will be guests but they haven’t announced who they will be since he feels that a concert should not be dependent on the guests. He feels that people should be watching his, or any other artist’s concert, because of the main artist and not the guests.

Christian had to contend with questions not related to the concert as well during the press conference. He got continually pressed about his plans for the future particularly the possibility of him leaving his current network for its rival. He admitted that he is currently at the crossroads in his career and that he is putting his trust in his management, Stages Talents, to work things out for him. He does put a lot of trust in his management which is not surprising since he considers that getting discovered by Carlo Orosa, who now manages him, as his greatest achievement. And it’s because of this discovery that Christian Bautista is now celebrating ten successful years in the entertainment industry.

Ticket prices:
P5000 Orchestra
P4500 Loge
P3000 Blacony

For inquiries:
TicketWorld 891-9999

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MSO III: Music by the Russian Masters

Victor Asuncion with the Manila Symphony Orchestra

Victor Asuncion, piano
Manila Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Molina, conductor

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Francesca da Rimini: Symphonic Fantasy after Dante, Op. 32
Sergei Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 34
Dmitri Shostakovich Symphony No. 9 in E flat major, Op. 70

This concert of the Manila Symphony Orchestra that featured the music of Russian composers was yet another one of the numerous events that got postponed because of the horrible weather that plagued Metro Manila and nearby areas for two weeks. What was supposed to be a two night performance not only got pushed back a week later but it was also reduced into a one night only event. Fortunately, the guest pianist for this concert, Victor Asuncion still hasn’t flown back to the US and was still able to perform at the rescheduled date held at the Santiago Francisco Hall. And most importantly, my schedule allowed me to catch this can’t miss performance featuring the music by some of my favorite Russian composers.

The hellish situation that a lot experienced the week before was very apt for the opening piece of the night which was Francesca da Rimini: Symphonic Fantasy after Dante, Op. 32 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This piece told the tragic tale of Francesca and Paolo who got condemned to the Second Circle in Hell due to their love affair. I found it amazing how recent events could change how I would react to a certain performance. A prime example of that were the whirling passages that were supposed to signify the souls tormented and trapped in this portion of hell. But all the while throughout the performance, I’ve thought of the recent bad weather instead. I am pretty sure that if the concert happened as previously scheduled with the weather being a lot more pleasant, I would’ve thought more of the story of Francesca and her lover Paolo.

Pianist Victor Asuncion

Thankfully, I was more focused when it was time for Victor Asuncion to perform one of the most anticipated pieces for the night: Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 34. I was very pleased to see Victor play a very elegant rendition of this piece. He avoided unnecessary displays of flamboyance and pomposity in the difficult passages which some people could equate to a display of virtuosity. He also didn’t succumb to over dramatizing that could weigh down in sentimentality the very popular Variation 18. Overall, it was a very effortless, refined and again, very elegant rendition of this Rachmaninoff staple. As an encore, he and the orchestra performed a repeat of Variation 18.

The last piece of the night was Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 in E flat major, Op. 70 and this was when I really got to focus on the orchestra and conductor Arturo Molina. In direct contrast to the Tchaikovsky piece where my knowledge regarding the piece was rendered moot due to my mind wandering elsewhere, my fascination with Shostakovich, his works and the story behind them served me very well during the performance. I am not sure if I was the only one smiling when the piccolo started playing during the first movement knowing that this section defied any notion that this particular ninth symphony would be as grand as the other similarly numbered symphonies by other composers. I never felt this level of satisfaction while watching an orchestra perform knowing that I’ve devoted many hours learning about Shostakovich, his works and Russian history as well. The notes that were played by the MSO during the performance didn’t come off as just notes for me but rather more. I felt and imagined how things were back then, when Shostakovich’s works could possibly lead to his doom at the hands of Stalin if he weren't pleased with them. And I thank the MSO for giving me the opportunity to listen to Shostakovich who is right there on top of my favorite composers.

The orchestra also gave another encore and in keeping with the Russian theme, they played the crowd pleaser Sabre Dance from Gayane by Aram Khachaturian. While he is considered Armenian as opposed to Russian, he was still part of the trio of Soviet titan composers alongside Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich. Thus, this concert ended a very tiring week not just for me, but for many others who were still recovering from the previous weeks. I am just glad that music performances are always there to give me that extra energy and the drive to deal with the rough road ahead.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Wizard of Oz

The past few weeks have been awful not just for me but for many others especially those who were hit badly by the floods brought about by the horrible weather. Personally, I longed for something that would enable me to relax, unwind and forget all the worries and cares even for just a couple of hours. That’s why it was such a relief that Repertory PhilippinesThe Wizard of Oz provided exactly what I need at the time. And after the show was over, I felt that I was ready to go back to the real world and face it with more vigor compared to how I felt before the show.

This stage version of The Wizard of Oz is an adaptation of the classic novel by L. Frank Baum about a young girl named Dorothy who was whisked off by a tornado into the magical land of Oz. Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion and they join together to journey down the yellow brick road to Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz so that she can finally go home and that the others get what they wish for. But the Wicked Witch of the West has other plans for Dorothy and her friends. This staging of The Wizard of Oz is the Prince Street Players’ Version with adaptation, book, and lyrics by Jim Eiler, and music by Jim Eiler and Jeanne Bargy. Those expecting the MGM movie version or any other stage adaptations out there may be disappointed at first but once they see the opening sequence projected on the screen and sit through the whole show, they’ll forget about their initial disappointment.

Cara Barredo, Liesl Batucan with other cast members

I doubt that anyone one will be disappointed by the fine performance of the cast. During the press preview that I was able to see at Onstage over at Greenbelt 1, the cast members in that particular performance included Cara Barredo as Dorothy Gale, James Stacey as Scarecrow, Hans Eckstein as Tin Man, Oliver Usison as Lion, Pinky Marquez as the Wicked Witch of the West, Liesl Batucan as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South and Rem Zamora as Secretary to Oz/Uncle Henry. The cast stuck to the classic portrayal of the roles ditching any radical interpretations and provided strong vocals during their song numbers. I think that Pinky Marquez as the Wicked Witch of the West along with the Winged Monkeys could potentially scare the younger kids in the audience but she did have a couple moments that could send these same kids gasping in awe. I was very amused when I realized that Liesl Batucan’s portrayal of Glinda reminded me of cotton candy. Speaking of sweets, the Munchkins’ costumes designed by Raven Ong along with the sets created by Lex Marcos felt like the stage was transformed into a candy store. Rem Zamora performs another role on certain performances which I think could match his unforgettable performance in Bare: A Pop Opera some months ago.

Pinky Marquez, Liesl Batucan and Cara Barredo

The songs in this version of the musical were all very pleasant to the ear, even the songs by the Wicked Witch of the West which was supposed to be menacing. Probably the most memorable song from the show was So Far, So Good, a tune that recurred throughout the musical. And it kept on recurring on my mind even after I’ve left the theater. Some of the songs though didn’t have that much of a recall factor compared to So Far, So Good.

With kids nowadays focusing more on getting more and more engrossed on the online and virtual world, Repertory Philippines specifically REP Children’s Theater (or RCT) and its production of The Wizard of Oz provides a great alternative for kids to be entertained and have fun. It’s an excellent way for them to experience live entertainment with actual interaction that can never be duplicated by the most advanced gadgets in existence. And without knowing it, they are learning valuable life lessons in the whole theater experience.

RCT Artistic Director Joy Virata thanks everybody

Right after the preview performance, a surprise number was presented in celebration of RCT’s 20th year anniversary. Current and past cast members from previous RCT shows performed excerpts from past productions to honor Joy Virata, RCT’s artistic director and also the director of The Wizard of Oz. I felt a bit bad that RCT has been in existence for 20 years (and Rep Philippines for 45 years) and it’s only just recently that I got active in watching their shows. But it’s never too late for me to catch up since they still have one more show left for this season.

For those who want to catch The Wizard of Oz, the show runs up to December 16, 2012 at Onstage, Greenbelt 1. For more details and other inquiries, please call 571-6926 or 571-4941 or email or log on to Tickets are also available through TicketWorld at 891-9999 or visit

Jazz trio Baihana holds concert at the Music Museum

August 24, 2012, 7:30 PM
Music Museum
Greenhills Shopping Center
San Juan

     Anna Achacoso
     Krina Cayabyab
     Mel Torre

Baihana, the vocal trio composed of Anna Achacoso, Krina Cayabyab and Mel Torre are regularly seen and heard as back up singers of Sarah Geronimo on the television program Sarah G, Live! This coming August 24, 2012 at 7:30 PM at The Music Museum, these three talented women will grab the spotlight as they showcase their exquisite harmonies in a concert entitled Love, Baihana.

Mel Torre, Krina Cayabyab and Anna Achacoso

I first saw Baihana perform live during my first visit over at Radio Republic and I immediately became a fan when I first heard their first chord. The trio specializes in jazz and bebop repertoire (which means complicated chords with lots of bent notes) and whenever they take on songs from other genres and make them their own, I am always left mesmerized. They’ve also mesmerized the judges at the recent Katindig Jazzfest eventually winning the Best Jazz Band award which gave them the chance to represent the country in the International Jazzfest in Malaysia.

Baihana performing

Several bloggers were invited to catch a preview of Love, Baihana over at The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab. Krina, by the way is the daughter of Ryan Cayabyab. Since I was already familiar with the kind of music that these ladies can make, I got more excited for the others who were there especially those who have never heard them before. The trio performed a handful of songs that included Sunday Morning by Maroon 5, an a cappella version of Zia Quizon’s Ako Na Lang and Krina’s own composition and entry to the Katindig Jazzfest Talk to Me among others. As expected, the trio demonstrated strong vocals with each member capable of singing the lead. But what really captivates me was how they harmonized with such ease although they do those complex jazz chords.

Banjo, Pael and Enzo do a vocal improv

Also in the preview were three young guys Banjo, Pael and Enzo who will be special guests at the concert. The trio does vocal improv based on a single word given by the audience. During the preview, they did vocal improvs from the words serenity and marshmallow. Immediately after the guys finished with marshmallow, Mel couldn’t resist and led Krina and Anna to do a vocal marshmallow improv of their own.

Since this was just a preview, what they showed to us was just a portion of what people should expect from them this coming August 24, 2012. Aside from a bit of dancing that they did during the preview (although very limited since the microphones they used were wired), Mel teased that there will also be a bit of theater/acting at the concert. Beyond that, she and the other two refused to give out spoilers. I guess that one has to find out what the other surprises will be by going over to the Music Museum and see Mel, Krina and Anna strut their stuff in Love, Baihana.

For inquiries:
The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab 637-9840, 914-5055, (0917) 909-6484

Monday, August 20, 2012

Walang Sugat

Walang Sugat cast members

Last week, horrible weather led to the cancellation of classes, suspension of work and the flooding of the whole metro and its nearby areas. The opening night of Tanghalang Pilipino’s Walang Sugat was just one of the many cultural events that got cancelled. The weather eventually improved and although pushed back a week later, the curtains rose at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) and Walang Sugat finally had its opening night. Notable in this sarswela is Carlos Siguion-Reyna’s first foray into directing live theater and also the return of Noemi Manikan-Gomez to the stage after a long hiatus. What interested me most about this production was to see if this work penned by Severino Reyes, current and timely when it premiered 110 years ago, would still hold up in these modern times.

Walang Sugat tells the story of childhood sweethearts Julia (Cris Villonco) and Tenyong (Noel Rayos aletrnating with Antonio Ferrer), and their secret love affair amidst the final salvo of the Philippines’ revolution against Spain. This love is put to the test when Tenyong enlists to join the Philippine forces after his father’s abduction and eventual death while being a prisoner of the Spanish. While Julia waits patiently for her sweetheart’s return from battle, her mother Juana (Noemi Manikan-Gomez) is eager to have her married to Miguel (Nar Cabico), the son of the wealthy Tadeo (Red Nuestro). When news arrive that Tenyong got wounded in battle, Julia resorts to marrying Miguel albeit reluctantly. And on the day of the wedding itself, a wounded Tenyong arrives and asks to be married to Julia as his final wish. What happens next needs to be seen and I am glad that I didn’t read the detailed synopsis since the twist in the end did catch me by surprise.

There were strong performances from all the cast members during the opening night. Cris Villonco did a commendable job in making Julia distinct from Maria Clara from Noli Me Tangere which was the opening show for last season. Cris infused a lot more stubbornness and naughtiness in Julia which wasn’t present at all in Maria Clara. Noel Rayos on the other hand sounded very much like a crooner heard from old vinyl records. I got tempted to close my eyes and just listen to him sing and all the while expecting to hear crackles and pops. I pointed this out to him afterwards and he said that he did aim for that old sound evoking a bygone era. Antonio Ferrer, a classically trained vocalist, plays Tenyong in other performances and I do hope that I will be able to watch him soon to see how he portrays the role.

There were a couple of flirting scenes with corresponding song numbers that made me want to verify if Walang Sugat was indeed written back in the day when people were supposed to be more reserved. The first flirting scene was with Monica, played by the always vocally strong Jenny Villegas, and Lucas, played by the ever dependable Jonathan Tadioan. I had to raise my eyebrows when it was implied what happened after their delightful number. The next flirting scene was the unexpected duet between Juana and Tadeo. While the number was also a delight and the moment for Noemi Manikan-Gomez to show off her vocals, I had to shake my head in disbelief that future in-laws even entertained the notion of hooking up after marrying off their children. I tried my best to imagine how audiences back then reacted to this scene.

Noel Rayos

I admit that Act One was hard to get myself settled into, not just because of the language used which required a lot of effort for me to grasp and understand, but also because the cast looked like they haven’t settled into the performance as well. It felt rough with too many noticeable kinks particularly with the microphones that distracted me a lot throughout the performance. But Act Two ran more smoothly and things got a lot tighter and stronger as the show went on. I also noticed that the music track sounded shallow, muffled at times and lacking in clarity and crispness. This was very evident even during the overture when I focused on the music more, trying to catch themes and leitmotifs that might be heard later. Many times when the chorus was singing exceptionally I found myself thinking if only the backing track was up to par. I found out after the show that the production still used analog tapes from the earlier production of Walang Sugat back in the 90’s. It’s sad to know that a digitally remastered backing track for this doesn’t exist at all which could have brought out the beauty of the music more. Looking at the program, I noticed a trio of composers who contributed songs to this sarswela namely Mike Velarde Jr., Fulgencio Tolentino and Constancio de Guzman. Their contribution came years after the show premiered which I think is an interesting topic in itself: the history of the piece and the revisions made in the material.

Tanghalang Pilipino's Walang Sugat is not much of a visual spectacle if one expects grandiose sets and a production laden with numerous special effects. The minimalist set required the audience to rely heavily on their imagination. Walang Sugat’s main draw is still the material penned by Severino Reyes. It’s remarkable that a piece of work for the theater written more than a century ago still resonated with such relevance in these modern times. The courtship may seem dated, but the struggle to gain freedom and to achieve desires still ring true. And Bayan Ko, a recurring song that was used to end each act, never failed to send shivers down my spine even if I've heard it over and over again.

Walang Sugat has now become a very limited two weekend run due to the unavoidable circumstances that led to the cancellation of its first week. Catch it on its last week this August 24-26, 2012 at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater). I was told that Tanghalang Pilipino has added morning performances to accommodate more people. Call TicketWorld at 891-9999 or text 0917-7500107 for more info.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

USA debuts in the 6th International Silent Film Festival

August 24-27, 2012
Shang Cineplex (Cinema 2), Shangri-La Plaza

August 24, 2012
7:00 PM Metropolis feat. Rubber Inc. (Germany)

August 25, 2012
3:00 PM La Casa de la Troya feat. Sinosikat? and Ignacio Plaza (Spain)
7:00 PM I was Born, but… feat. Tropical Depression (Japan)

August 26, 2012
4:00 PM La Signora delle Camelie feat. Garlic (Italy)
7:00 PM The Heritage of Silent Cinema feat. Max Tesllier & Raymond Red (Art Talk)
7:30 PM Eternity and Pelikula feat. Diwa de Leon (Philippines)

August 27, 2012
7:00 PM Safety Last feat. Radioactive Sago Project (USA)

The International Silent Film Festival, the only silent film festival in Asia continues to grow in its 6th year as it welcomes the participation of the USA through the film Safety Last. This film, along with seven other silent films from the participating countries Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy and the Philippines will be screened at the Shang Cineplex this August 24-27, 2012. As expected and definitely one of the main draws of the festival, music acts will provide live accompaniment to the film screenings. I was very fortunate to experience last year’s edition although I only managed to catch just one day of screening at that time. This year though, I vow to watch all the films considering that the music acts tapped to accompany the films are first rate.

The festival starts with Germany’s Metropolis which will be shown on August 24, 2012 at 7:00 PM. The film was already shown in here before but this will be the first time that the film will be screened along with the additional 20 minute footage that was found in Argentina recently. Accompanying the film will be Rubber, Inc. composed of Malek Lopez and Noel de Brackinghe who will also be supported by the returning Stephan von Bothmer.

Two films will be screened on the next day, August 25, 2012 with Spain’s La Casa de la Troya showing at 3:00 PM. The live music for this film will be provided by Sinosikat? led by the soulful Kat Agarrado along with Spanish live-scorer Ignacio Plaza. The second film, I was Born, but… from Japan will be shown at 7:00 PM featuring the top reggae band Tropical Depression.

On August 26, 2012 at 3:00 PM, Italy’s La Signora delle Camelie along with Garlic composed of Louie Talan, Francis Reyes and Zach Lucero will hope to make the members of the audience cry with this diva movie. At 7:00 PM, an Art Talk about the The Heritage of Silent Cinema takes place featuring French film critic and historian Max Tessier and Filipino filmmaker Raymond Red. Immediately right after, Red’s two silent films, Eternity (Ang Mapagkailanman) and Pelikula will be shown featuring Diwa de Leon who will showcase the hegalong in his live music.

Alan Holst, Cultural Affairs Officer of the US Embassy discusses Safety Last 

On the last day of the festival, August 27, 2012 at 7:00 PM, the USA presents a comedy film Safety Last. Lourd de Veyra and the rest of Radioactive Sago Project are the featured musicians in this screening.

It’s very remarkable that most of the musicians performing this year are very familiar to me. I often see Garlic’s Zach Lucero whenever I drop by over at Radio Republic. In fact Garlic, Kat Agarrado, and Lourd de Veyra were all recent guests at the station. Junji Lerma, guitarist of Radioactive Sago Project was a fellow adjudicator during the first round the Philippine Popular Music Festival. I just find it amazing that I am now experiencing a crossover between OPM acts and a project by embassies and cultural institutions usually associated with classical music acts.

Organizers and musicians for the 6th International Silent Film Festival 

For tickets:
Tickets for the screenings will be distributed by the respective embassies and cultural agencies

Eternity and Pelikula
Hannes 817-0978,

La Casa de la Troya
Nicole 526-1482 loc. 115,

I was Born, But…
811-6155 to 58,

La Signora delle Camelie
892-4531 loc. 143,

Safety Last
Reysa 301-2556/2553,

For other inquiries:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bryan Termulo Bloggers’ Conference

Bryan Termulo

A friend once told me that he wanted to sing Dadalhin, the Bryan Termulo version. At that time, while I remember that I’ve heard the song before, I still had no idea who Bryan Termulo was and couldn’t connect the name with a face. Some time later, I finally saw Bryan when he performed during the 2012 Tambayan OPM Awards. My first impression was that he had some very loud fans who didn’t mind losing their voices as they screamed their lungs out for their idol. Less than two months later, I’ve had the opportunity to meet Bryan Termulo in person during a Bloggers’ Conference held at Moomba Bar & Restaurant.

During the time in between the Tambayan OPM Awards and the Bloggers’ Conference, I managed to catch and take note of Bryan whenever he performed at the Sunday noontime variety show ASAP 2012 with his group Boys are Boys that also include JM de Guzman, Markki Stroem and Alex Castro. But while he currently enjoys regular exposure over at the ABS-CBN, he had his start over at rival station GMA via the talent competition Pinoy Pop Superstar Year 3 where he ended up as the runner up. And things have been on the upswing since he started from there.

He released his debut album, Begin, under BWB Records and Music Production Inc. that included the tracks Bihag and Paano Nangyari. Both of these tracks were featured in the series 100 Days to Heaven which served as the precursor for him to become the Prince of Teleserye Theme Songs. This album eventually won the 2011 Awit Awards Best Album Packaging. Other achievements for Bryan was winning two silver medals in rock and original works, and one bronze in the R&B when he competed at the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) back in 2010. Recently, he was also nominated as New Male Recording Artist of the Year at the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) Star Awards for Music in 2012.

And now, Bryan has released his sophomore album entitled Hanggang Ngayon, also released by BWB Records and distributed by Star Records. BWB Records president Raul Leynes is optimistic that this album will surpass the success of Bryan’s debut effort. This album has eight songs: six new, original songs and two previously released cover songs as bonus tracks. Minus one versions of all the songs are also included in the album which will satisfy those who want to fashion themselves as the next Bryan Termulo.

When asked during the bloggers’ conference if Bryan had any hand in choosing the songs for the album, he admitted that he didn’t have any choice. He then quickly pointed out rather playfully that he managed to have his personal touch on the album through the printed lyrics in the accompanying postcards that were done in his handwriting. But he stressed in a more serious way that whenever he is handed out songs to sing, he makes sure that he studies it, then he pours his emotions into it as he draws from past experiences, and therefore stamping his own mark into the tracks hopefully affecting those who would listen to them. He also stressed that it was a conscious decision to have all the songs in Filipino so that it will be unique and will be able to connect more to the Filipino listeners. He does entertain the possibility of being able to penetrate the overseas market. But for now, he wants to firmly establish himself in the Philippine market.

After the arriving at home from the event, I immediately put his album for a few spins to hear from myself the rest of the tracks without any distractions. Bryan did sing a few tracks from the album during the conference but some people there were swooning over him which distracted me a bit from his performance. I noticed that Bryan sticks to the classic ballads, the type that speaks of heartbreak that curiously elicit screams from adoring fans during performances. While he possesses a wide vocal range for a male singer which the songs take full advantage of, he doesn’t resort to vocal gymnastics or overdo passages with unnecessary turns which have been sadly equated with good singing by most of the people here nowadays. But I do feel that he needs to have more texture and variety not just in his vocals but in the tracks as well to avoid sounding monotonous. It would be very interesting to hear him record a mid-tempo track someday. Overall, the material contained in this album doesn’t really push the genre forward but instead delivers the tried and tested ballads, relying on emotional hooks and eventually on the likeability and charisma of Bryan. I think that this has worked to his advantage based on his very passionate and loud fans whom I was told do faithfully follow their idol whenever he does his mall tours.

Speaking of mall tours, I can safely bet that Bryan’s fans have already made plans to support him as he promotes his album during these dates and venues:

August 25, 2012 SM Rosario
August 25, 2012 SM Novaliches
August 26, 2012 SM Bacoor
September 2, 2012 SM Center Las Pinas
September 8, 2012 SM Fairveiw
September 9, 2012 SM Sucat
September 15, 2012 SM Olongapo
September 16, 2012 SM Baliwag
September 22, 2012 SM Naga
September 29, 2012 SM Tarlac

I was pleasantly surprised by the aggressive marketing and promotional push employed by BWB Records in regards to Bryan’s second album. The label, which also manages him, is really pushing him into the spotlight since there is no other new male balladeer out there and the likes of Erik Santos, Christian Bautista, Mark Bautista and their contemporaries are now approaching their tenth year in the industry. And while Bryan, now an endorser of Cetaphil as well, has also delved into acting via his previous stints on All My Life, Wansapanatym and Budoy and also the upcoming series Against All Odds, he is still promoted as a singer first. And while he owes his rise in popularity through his cover of Dadalhin, the song will forever be associated with Regine Velasquez more. So the current heavy promotion of his latest single Hanggang Ngayon serves Bryan very well since it is his own song and will forever be associated with him. This single and album does establish Bryan as an artist who also contributes to the resurgence of original works in the local music industry.

The Bryan Termulo Bloggers’ Conference was presented by BWB Records and Music Production, Inc. in cooperation with LionhearTV, Pinoy Magazine, Cetaphil, BND Hair Gallery by Bing Nogara-Dio, Lifeline and Erase Placenta.

Hanggang Ngayon

1. Lagay ng Puso
2. Nasan Ka Na
3. Kung Maibabalik
4. Nagtatanong Lang
5. Aanhin Pa
6. Hanggang Ngayon
7. Dadalhin
8. Pagdating ng Panahon
9. Lagay ng Puso (Minus One)
10. Nasan Ka Na (Minus One)
11. Kung Maibabalik (Minus One)
12. Nagtatanong Lang (Minus One)
13. Aanhin Pa (Minus One)
14. Hanggang Ngayon (Minus One)
15. Dadalhin (Minus One)
16. Pagdating ng Panahon (Minus One)
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