Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Review: Ghost the musical in Manila

                Lately, I’ve been fond of watching theater musicals, thanks to my sister’s free tickets. Just recently, we watched the play “Ghost,” lead by Christian Bautista and the comeback kid Cris Villonco. I have never watched the 1990 film starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, although I am familiar with that famous pottery scene, and of course the eternal theme song “Unchained Melody”.

                I was expecting that we would just be watching the doubles of the two actors, since Bautista and Villonco are too famous for a 3 PM show. But lo and behold, when the curtain was raised, it was Villonco in her jumper suit acting as the visual artist Molly. Bautista subsequently appeared as Sam, Molly’s boyfriend, together with theater actor Hans Eckstein as their friend, Karl.  

                At first, the scene among the three actors was a bit off for me. They were speaking English as if they’re American actors, which did not make me comfortable. Nevertheless, I commend Villonco and Eckstein for maintaining their ‘twang’ throughout the play.

                Looking at the set-up, one can say that it is not a big-budgeted musical. The house that Molly and Sam bought as their love nest and workshop for Molly’s craft reminded me of a mausoleum. Still, the space offered opportunities for the production to play with flexibility and tricks in simulating scenes. I was impressed with the transition of the scenes through the changes in lighting, choreography and visual effects. It was a pity that some of the props did not gave such positive effect. The pottery scene was horrendous. Sam seemed to be awkward with positioning himself behind Molly while the latter is busy with her pottery, as the chair they were sitting on was enough for just one person.  It seemed that the awkwardness was reflected on Bautista’s face while he was singing Unchained Melody. Additionally, I was expecting a sensual spinning of the pottery wheel to add to the drama of the scene and of the song. But no. Molly appeared to be exerting much effort to make it appear that she was working on something like a clay vase. Later on, my father told us that he noticed that there was a plug in the pottery wheel and it was not used. Truly a pity.

                Likewise, there were scenes wherein Sam gained power to remotely move things even if he is a ghost. One scene involved him moving a can of soda. But something happened with the nylon cord of the can that a dancer was tangled with it. Although it was not as disastrous, the incident manifested a flaw in the production.

                Ima Castro as Oda Mae, the ‘clairvoyant’ who helped Sam communicate with Molly, stole the show. Castro’s Oda Mae sang perfectly and her energy reinvigorates the otherwise sleeper presentation. Of course, Villonco is a great singer too. She sang flawlessly, pouring her emotions into every song, yet composed. I was converted into a fan. Eckstein did very well with his supporting role. He was effective as an antagonist. As for Bautista, all I can say is that his acting is better onstage than on TV.

                Overall, I can say that the Ghost the musical staging in Manila is greatly entertaining if you don’t expect much from it. Or maybe I should not watch a musical at 3 PM.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Like the sunflowers

For some people, sunflowers symbolize the end of a four-year toil. Its blossoming signals the beginning of a different journey, of a new chapter. This year's sunflowers are special to me, as much as to the recent graduates of UP Diliman. Like the graduating students, I see these beautiful creatures of nature as a welcome to the new stage that I will be going through in my life and the end of a four-year journey. Their majestic display is just in time to celebrate a chance to a new beginning and greater opportunities. 

Like the sunflowers, I hope that my next job will blossom into something splendid and memorable. Like the sunflowers, whose cultivation may take an effort, I pray that this new point in my life will present to me worthy challenges and opportunities that will let me grow as a strong and smart woman. Like the sunflowers, which I wait in anxious anticipation every year, I hope that this new chapter will be wholeheartedly welcomed by the people I love and that they will support me towards my journey into full bloom.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Long-awaited summer vacation

Summer vacation, you will soon be mine!
I have long waited for you. In less than two weeks time, we will meet again. I have so many plans when I see you. I know we will enjoy each other's company. :)

Photo credits:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Being Jack-of-all-trades

Jack of all trades, master of none.”

I first learned that quote from a college friend. I cannot forget that line because I am quite affected by it. Truly, I have interest in a number of things. I cannot imagine myself focusing on one thing in my lifetime. Even if I focus on one thing, for example, a hobby, my mind constantly travels and thinks of things that I can also do. Since I began working, I have been fond of reading blog posts about investing, entrepreneurship and personal finance. Right now, I am fond of reading recipe books and cooking new dishes. When I woke up at the right side of the bed, I browse blogs on designing and graphic arts. When I feel inspired, I delve myself into writing and reading some writing manuals. Just recently, I got myself into researching more about indoor planting and subsistence farming. Those are apart from what I really do, which is translation and reading on international affairs. I can identify with Leonardo Da Vinci and Jose Rizal – the difference is they were good in all things they did.

This condition made me a bit miserable. A professor once told a story about this Anthropology scholar, who later in life became a geography scholar. This person was criticized and his credibility was somehow attacked. Some people say that to truly know your passion – or maybe your place in this world – one should only focus on one thing. So that would mean that I have to shut out my other interests and just focus on one. But that would make life more boring, isn’t it?

So one day I decided to subscribe to the motto that is “misery loves company”. I searched on the internet if having multiple interests is normal and if it is ok. I found numerous articles about people having multiple passions and interests and they are maximizing it. I was happy. After all, I am not an outcast. However, our time on earth is very limited to be really good in the areas of your interest. Thus, time management is essential, and that is what Adam Singer of Future Buzz was trying to tell. For Singer, to be able to succeed in your multiple interests, you have to allot enough time for them, and work all day, if possible, to hone them. He emphasized that even though it is tough, one has to remove other things that does not help with succeeding in your multiple interests, e.g. the TV and simple chores like mailing a bill.

What strikes me most about his article was his advice about ignoring other people who tells you that you should focus on one thing. It reminds me of an office colleague who criticizes another colleague for having too many interests. The critic thinks that the multiple-interest colleague will never achieve anything significant if he continues on with his multiple passions.

I understand that there is a common belief that if you don’t focus on one, you will never accomplish anything. But as Singer says, it’s all about balance and correct management.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at RWM: A Review

Last December 29, my family and I watched the theater musical “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” at the Newport Performing Arts theater in Resorts World. Thanks to my sister’s free tickets, we were able to add some glitz to our holiday celebration.

When my sister asked us if we were willing to avail of her free tickets and watch Cinderella, I was a bit hesitant. What will you get out of watching that same old children’s story? Also, watching a theater musical requires someone to be presentable at the venue, which takes a lot of effort from me. :p When the day of the showing arrived, my father was even asking us if he still needed to come. In sum, our hopes were not high. We did not expect to be amazed.

When we arrived at Newport, we learned that Christian Bautista and Karylle Tatlonghari would not be leading the cast. Although we know that the alternates can of course hold a candle to the two mentioned, we were a bit disappointed. We set ourselves to the huge theater, which I found enthralling.  The red curtain at the stage reminded me of the movie ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.

The show started with the introduction of the cast through the gigantic TV screens placed at both sides of the stage. I was delighted to see the names of Pinky Marquez, as Cinderella’s stepmother, and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, as the Fairy Godmother. As far as I know, both are fine theater actresses. And true enough, they did not disappoint. For me, the two were the most outstanding of the cast. Their singing prowess, diction and accent were very much fitting to the strong characters they portrayed.

The alternates for Bautista and Tatlonghari were young theater actors. Justine Peña portrayed Cinderella, and Fred Lo was Prince Christopher. For a person who is not into theater musicals, both actors were virtually unheard of. When their faces were displayed on the giant TV screens, I could not remind myself of any show where I had seen them. Nevertheless, the starring couple were really good actors. Lo was charming and gave a princely vibe (not the negative though). He was a great singer too, with a voice that was similar with Bautista. Peña reminded me of a Disney princess. Her speaking voice was so sweet, it made me feel that I am watching a Disney movie. Her singing was, I can say, perfect! I was converted into a fan of both thespians.

Apart from the actors and the great acting, the set and the props were beyond amazing. The high-technology, enormous, LED screen that served as the background seemed to transport the audience to the place that it portrayed. The stairways, the fireplace and Cinderella’s carriage did not let themselves be left behind. The cherry on top of the pie was Cinderella’s costume change. The audience was distracted by this firework and voila, Cinderella’s attire suddenly change from the peasant costume to the ball gown in the blink of an eye.  

Cinderella, being a musical, is a chockfull of melodious and dreamy songs. My favorites are “Ten Minutes Ago” and “Do I love you because you’re beautiful”.

The show ended with a curtain call and a surprise appearance from Christian Bautista, which of course elicited a loud applause from the audience. Thanks to Cinderella, I am glad to say that I ended 2013 with a bang.

Friday, January 3, 2014

On the 4th day of 2014*

Tomorrow will be my fourth anniversary in the institution where I work. Last year, I promised myself not to reach the fourth year of my employment in this organization. Why? I was thinking that four years is too long to stay in one company. But no. I stayed, and maybe it’s time to graduate.

What did I do for these four long years? Everything seemed to be just so fast. Like a snap. How come I did not notice that time is fleeting? Have I improved myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? Or did I just spend my time watching re-runs of The Voice?

Looking back on the professional aspect, I mentally listed the failures and accomplishments of the past four years. I learned that along with the failures, such as flunking a life-changing exam and not being able to pass any scholarship that I applied for, I gained the courage to take risks, and I think that it was much better than not having taken them at all. Surely I was frustrated and distraught. It took me almost a year to recover and bring back the positivity I have with life.

As for accomplishments, I am glad to have gotten back to school and pursue my desire to delve deeper into history, politics and international affairs. Although I do not know how exactly I will end up with this degree, I take pride in pursuing what I really like and funding myself to finish this academic endeavor.

Of course, I improved a mile in the use of Spanish (well, according to my standards), as it is the language we use in the office. Compared to my speaking, writing and comprehension skills when I started working, my Spanish is now acceptable. Haha However, I grew complacent and was taking this experience of developing my skills for granted. I just thought that given those four years, maybe I should have been comparable to a native speaker. Maybe it’s high time to hit some books and do a repaso. As one language teacher said: “If you don’t use it, you lose it”.

In those four years, I also got to know more people and made new friends. I was able to widen my network, although I wish to have made it larger. I somehow developed some confidence to talk to people and share my ideas and opinions with them, without the fear of being judged.  

Likewise, I got to meet famous people, which I never imagined of meeting before. I once had a conversation with a colleague. We agreed that when we were in highschool, never in our wildest dreams did it occur to us that we would be attending functions and get to meet high-level personalities.  Seeing them in person inspired me to be like them someday (not the corrupt ones though).

As you see, there were little regrets amid the achievements. There were realities amid uncertainties. C’est la vie. But I have to move on. 2014 will be great.

*My first entry for the 500words/day challenge