Monday, January 25, 2016

Sinag Maynila films shine on this April 2016

5 Independent filmmakers present films that promote women empowerment for Sinag Maynila 2016.

CEO and founder Wilson Tieng says the films this year explore various facets of womanhood in line with 2nd Avenue's thrust. Tieng is further challenged by the filmfest's success last year. He's proud to have participated in almost 40 filmfests worldwide.

Festival Director Brillante Mendoza adds the collaboration resulted in stories that reflect the Filipino culture. Mendoza emphasizes that they do not intend to compete with mainstream movies; they just want to provide alternatives.

Here are this year's entries:

1. Expressway by Ato Bautista 

- all about Ben in his retirement mission with newbie Morris in a big criminal syndicate. This unexpectedly turns out to be a journey of self-healing and ultimate redemption.

2. Lila by Gino M. Santos

- a cautionary tale for emo millenials!;p It focuses on a girl at the brink of self-destruction. Instead of being able to renew her spirit in the house she moved into, a diary of an old tenant haunts her further.

3. Mrs by Adolf Alix, Jr.

- Talk about unshakeable uncertainty! 70-year-old Virginia who lives in a house directly on top of an earthquake fault line desperately tries to juggle the sad realities of life and death.

4. TPO (Temporary Protection Order) by Joselito Altarejos 

- Teresa, a battered wife, shows how complicated complaining could get as she attempts to obtain relief from her unbearable circumstances by filing a Temporary Protection Order against her abusive husband.

5. Dyamper by Mes De Guzman

- when sin gets habitual and even more complicated! 3 friends jump at the back of rice delivery trucks along Dalton Pass to steal goods and earn at the wet market. One of them accidentally gets a pack of drugs in one of the trucks. This "blessing in disguise" threatens to hasten their journey into the afterlife.

The 2nd Sinag Maynila Film Festival will run from April 21 to 26.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Nostalgia with The CompanY

Last Friday, the group who sang "lullabies" for me each night in the 90s (we used to have a non-stop tape player near our bed) had a nostalgic concert at the Music Museum.

Known for their string of mellow hits, the CompanY is an offshoot of the Ateneo Glee Club in the 80s. 

I was lucky to barge into one of their rehearsals :))

Versatile soprano/alto Annie Quintos recalls after grad, they just had withdrawal symptoms of not being able to rehearse that often together. So they decided to come together on Fridays to have that rush & sing. 

Moy Ortiz, their youngest kabarkada, was still in school at that time.

Superb in a capella, The Company is proud to share their humble beginnings. With 12 founding members, they started with an 8-song repertoire in a family restaurant.

They became premier backup singers for several decades because they were all triple threats. 
The harder the pieces, the more the audience liked it. They were like a theater ensemble unheard of at that time.

Although there were times when the audience wasn't so receptive, they had fans who helped & inspired them to trudge on.

In 1990, they got their first record deal "Minsan Pa" thru Louie Reyes & Cesar dela Fuente. Formerly engrossed in a capella & jazz, the project gave them their first try at pop music for a wider audience.

Moy Ortiz discovered his music writing skills when no one would volunteer to compose original music for them for their album.

I think it was just Manifest destiny. After 5yrs of paying our dues. We had our share of intrigues & struggles. It's a good thing when you're in your early 20s & trying to make a name for yourself. It's good to have these things because it builds character

Their first single in their first album (and my fave) "Everlasting Love" was such a hit; people thought it was sung by a foreign group. They were challenged to come up with more hits.

The CompanY seems to know the secret formula as their success was followed by "Now that I found you", "Muntik na Kita Minahal" & "Pakisabi na lang"-- songs that even kids nowadays sing in the shower. 

Their secret isn't much of a secret says Moy.

This applies in any life journey. You have to put in the time and the work, the dedication, the passion. It helps if you have a vision; and for our group it helped that we have a spiritual side.

Since then, The Company has been coming up with albums annually. They now have 24 albums & they try to keep on trying new things. Recently, tenor OJ Mariano joined the group after a successful run with soprano Sweet Plantado in Rak of Aegis. 

Sweet shares

I think we have the same level of commitment when it comes to the group. We need to do something else also to grow & learn so when you go back to the group, you bring something new.

Acclaimed composer Ryan Cayabyab has always supported the group. He stresses that a string of hit songs promotes the musicians' staying power.

If you have a string of songs, it's like a friend. If people like one, "let's listen to the others!" You also have to be active in the industry. As long as you're there, they won't forget you.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

In the Name of True Independence

Tanghalang Pilipino commemorated Apolinario Mabini's secquicentennial birth with "Mabining Mandirigma"-- a daring steampunk musicale last July. 

This year, after the success of Heneral Luna (the general who remained faithful to their cause til the very end) on the big screen, it will have a rerun at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

In this production, Director Chris Millado engaged contemporary aesthetics & music with historical figures like Mabini & other characters during his time. This is a history lesson meant for millenials and the selfie generation.

Picking up from June 12, 1898 when Mabini first joined the revolution, it showcases his public life in Aguinaldo's government as the 1st adviser.  Tiongson says Mabini conceptualized the entire ideology of the revolution, the day to day workings of it, and the structure of the future republic.

As a surprise, Mabini is portrayed by acclaimed female thespian, Delphine Buencamino.

Playwright Nicanor Tiongson is delighted that it's not only Mabini that's being performed by a female. He takes pride in gender-free casting for theater.

Director Chris Millado agrees that it's actually an Asian theater tradition that refined characters are played by females-- intellectuals, refined gentlemen, and educated men.

Toym Imao is also excited as this is his first set design in theater. He put together different symbols of the Philippine revolution with current experience. 

"Mabining Mandirigma" will run from Feb 19- March 13 in CCP.

Will we still see stars in the future?

That's what PETA will answer this season.

After its success with Rak of Aegis, PETA kicks of 2016 with another groovy jukebox musical "3 Stars & a Sun." 

PETA Arts Zone Director Marichu Belarmino says it's a genre that young people are familiar with because of the Hunger Games. 

The story happens inside a storm dome, an intimidating metal set with a futuristic feel.

It's a dystopic play that reminds Filipinos to vote wisely come election time to avoid the possibility of a bleak future. It's a cautionary tale; what we do now matters to what we will be like.

Wired up with the hits of the late Francis Magalona, it's pegged to be shown before his death anniversary.

Director Nor Domingo says: "If he can sing about problems a hundred years ago in the 90s, he can still be singing that 90 years from now."
Choreographed by Delphine Buencamino, "3 Stars and a Sun" will run from Feb 4 to March 6 at the PETA Theater in Quezon City.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Welcome Home Queen P!

As we welcome home Ms Universe Pia Wurtzbach, I can't help but reminisce how time flies.

I can't help but recall how happily paos she was when I talked to her after successfully clinching the Bb Pilipinas Universe title last March. Her body was tired but her heart was fluttering high and mighty.

Pia admitted she was more relaxed on her third attempt. She said she learned not to overthink things.

The first time I joined, I was so serious. I was so worried about how I was gonna place. I felt like I was like a front runner in a way. I worked for TV before & that put extra pressure.

Spot the champion: Pia with her co-candidates on her 2nd attempt in Bb Pilipinas 

Despite having gone through all the pageant training of the winners of 2013, the second time around wasn't as lucrative for Pia as the first. She admits having gone thru her own version of "eat, pray, love."

I went thru an eat, pray, love kind of thing. So I ate. I went home to my family. When that kind of thing happens to you, it makes your faith stronger.

Pia says her family, friends & supporters all contribute to her happy demeanor. (Although when she competed in Ms Universe she secluded herself from others and prayed the rosary daily in her condo.) She also engages in daring activities like travelling & anti-gravity yoga. 

When you go upside down, you think  you're going to fall. But floor is just a few inches from your head. It's a matter of perception; it's good that your blood rushes to your head & some of the pressure inside gets released.

She loves looking at old photos of her crowning moment.

I look at the photos and I see myself happy. I think I said "Oh my God" around a hundred times

And patience paid off for her in the end. <3

Thursday, January 21, 2016

LKNA boldly faces off Star Wars this 2016

Three directors including Mark Meily and Chris Martinez present Bob Ong's "Lumayo Ka nga sa Akin" this January. It's a trilogy rolling comedy, action, horror and drama into one. 

Meily says this format suits the modern attention span. With their background in advertising, the three directors hit the spot

Meily's episode 1 "Bala sa Bala, Kamao sa Kamao, Satsat sa Satsat" features veteran comedians Benjie Paras and Candy Pangilinan.

I must say they unexpectedly look good together as a love team! An unlikely survivor of a massacre after his church wedding (Paras) falls in love with a famous actress (Pangilinan) who unwittingly leads him to the drug lord who caused all the trouble. P for power!:)

The second episode "Shake, Shaker, Shakest" features award-winning actress Maricel Soriano after her break from the silver screen.

It's a haunted house tale reminiscent of Soriano's horror films in the past. I hope they include Manilyn Reynes and Tina Paner next time :p

Meanwhile, Martinez handles episode 3, a soap-opera parody entitled "Asawa ni Marie"  

It's a hilarious love quadrangle story involving the poor farmgirl Marie played by Cristine Reyes. 

Martinez shares he disciplined himself to wrap up the story in 40mins. He is hopeful that in this format "We have more variety in terms of stories coz we have a lot of stories to tell."

Lumayo Ka Nga sa Akin is still showing in local cinemas.