Monday, December 31, 2012


We just wrapped up our annual family Kris Kringle revelations - a goofy, rambunctious family tradition that we've managed to observe over the years despite the extended family wrangling and the general drifting apart  of once-close relatives.

I don't think of myself as an overly-sentimental man, but maybe because I'm getting on, I suppose I'm beginning to see family in a different light.

It's easy to take them for granted, especially when one is busy chasing one's ambitions.

But at the end of the day, being surrounded by material possessions - the trophies of success - one finds oneself still empty and unsatisfied.

And yet, one funny, laughter-filled day with my parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and my favorite dog somehow makes me happier than any flashy sports car or new addition to my various hoards of beautiful things.

I don't spend a whole lot of time with the folks nor my siblings, for various reasons. And I realize my reasons, at the end of the day, have little value.

Work is important. But family even more so.

I think that shall be my first resolution and epiphany for this new year.

I wonder what yours will be.

While you think about it, a good and prosperous 2013 to you and yours.

And may you cherish things of real value.

Like family.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Yeah, so this is Christmas.

And where there's Christmas, there's namamasko.

I know it's been said that Christmas has become commercialized. Well, color me red and call me Rudolph's nose.

I'm not here to discuss how Santa has upstaged Jesus in this year-end celebration. Nor how Christmas has become less a religious holiday celebrating the birth of the Christian savior, and more of a secular bacchanal: an excuse for merriment and gift-giving.

And before we speak of gifts and the merriment they bring, watch the video below:

Coming off from the video's basic premise, I ask you now: can money - and the material goods it can bring - spread happiness, then?

On one of the message boards I frequent, I got called an asshole for posting that the reason I never gave my multi-millionaire business colleague/frenemy anything for the holidays - ever - is because I came up with my First Equation of Holiday Gift-Giving, as follows:

What do you give the man who has everything?

Give him the one thing he doesn't have.

Which is: nothing.

The berater's point was that gift-giving was not a matter of things; rather, it was the thought behind those things.

I countered with my Second Equation of Holiday Gift-Giving:

They say it's the thought that counts.

So I thought of giving you a present.

That's what counts, right?

Of course, things quickly went south from there, but my innate orneriness aside, the social chastisement I got gave me room for pause.

Am I really a Scrooge?

But no, said the Gollum to my Smeagol. We's helps so many peoples every year, precious. We's gives them loans they never pay back, yesss. They's always asssksss uss for help, precious, allllwaysssss usssss. And they always says the same things, always the same problems, even if it isn't Christmas, all-year round they askssss, precious, they asksss and askssss and askkksssss ussssss.

Aherm. Aherm.

So what really counts? I give even if it's against my good will. Is that worse than not giving at all?

I also don't like to think I'm Smaug hoarding gold, but I've definitely put the kibosh on the many subtle and not-so-subtle requests for Yuletide "assistance" thus far.

Maybe I am a Scrooge.

Or just bah, humbugging.

Happy holigays, anyway.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


"I have 
no mouth,
and I
-Harlan Ellison

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

And Just Like That

...we spiral once again into the dumps. Getting to be a holiday tradition, this.

Clear triggers :  Lu's departure for the cold climes of Canada is confirmed, and irrevocable. We greet the New Year with her absence - a yawning void which I doubt very much will be filled.

My sadness aside, her leave creates new and unpleasant repercussions for my home life.

Not to go into too much detail, but let's say my days of more or less peaceful solitude may soon be over.

And in my dotage, I'm not one who greets change enthusiastically nor kindly.

It also doesn't help that I've once again become a cast member of Contagion. I'm looking at you, Mara, who valiantly suppressed your hacking cough during Rama, Hari redux, but barked like Bonnie Tyler's dog all throughout intermission.


Friday, December 7, 2012

A Magic Carpet Ride

In the continuing saga of Culture Vulturing, Mara and I went to see the opening night of Atlantis Productions' Disney's Aladdin: The New Stage Musical. It was a brand-new, Asian premiere staging of the successful Disney animated feature, expanded with new songs and a few storyline tweaks.

Essaying the title role was PBB's Tom Rodriguez, in his first theater outing, with chanteuse K-la Rivera (who I often confuse with Karylle) playing Jasmine.

I had high hopes for this production, expecting a rousing, rollicking time. I eagerly anticipated an expanded musical version of the tale of the young street rat from Agrabah overcoming poverty and adversity through a combination of sheer luck and street-smart pluck. And I was ready to hum new melodies, ones as self-consciously campy as Prince Ali and as soaring as A Whole New World.

Of course, the Disney movie was helped immeasurably by the great fortune of having the irrepressible Robin Williams in the role of the wisecracking, madcap Genie. But Atlantis had Aiza Seguerra in the role, and  my curiosity was piqued as to how she would interpret a character so thoroughly owned by Williams.


And so Mara and I braved the daunting stretch of EDSA on a Friday payday, leaving early enough to make it to Meralco Theater with time to spare. Not wanting to cool our heels in Meralco's stale, cold lobby - which only lacked coffins and the baleful glare of standing lamps to become fully-funereal - we repaired to a nearby Chef & Brewer for some pre-show lattés.

Showtime rolled around soon enough and we found ourselves back in Funeraria Quiogue - I'm sorry, the lobby of the Meralco Building. There was a smattering of schoolchildren being herded by a couple of harassed-looking teachers, one else.

Mara and I looked at each other and I kept inspecting our tickets to make sure we had the right date, time, and venue. Having confirmed all three, we loitered around the echoing hall waiting for people to trickle in. And presently they did, but as the 8:00 p.m. showtime ticked closer and closer, the crowd did not grow accordingly.

Eventually the house opened its doors and we filed in, Mara and I as resigned as a Juden couple in line for a one-way trip to Buchenwald. The children, on the other hand, trilled with laughter and excitement, blissfully unaware of what awaited us all once inside the caverns of the Meralco Theater. 


It was early enough for us to plop down for a spell in the kiosk area, where a small excited commotion shortly occurred starring Marvin Agustin.

"I don't recall him being in the cast," I genuinely wondered at Mara.

Mara, who actually dabbles in showbiz, indulgently answered. "He probably just took his twins to see the play."

"He has a twin?" I asked incredulously, visions of gay twincest swimming in my lecherous mind.

"He has twins," Mara corrected.


Well, silly me. I really haven't kept track of the progeny of showbiz people since Sharon popped out the Holy Infant That Was Destined To be Heartbroken By Papa Piolo.


Soon the ushers started making announcements and herded everyone into the gas chambers, errr the main theater area. I hadn't been to Meralco in ages and had to gasp at how spacious it was; a true Cave of Wonders compared to the too-cozy-for-comfort relic that is the CCP.

Mara and I made our way to our seats - front row and very near but not quite center aisle. Those two coveted seats were presently occupied by two young women, whose winsome charms obviously were not enough to convince their beaus to watch the show.

We settled in and I looked back at the vast expanse of pink seats stretching out behind us and seemingly into infinity - all missing an audience. 

"I'm pretty sure these were corporate seats," Mara offered, noticing how crestfallen I was at the lack of butts filling those seats.

"Yes, but where's everyone?" 

"Sometimes people just don't use their tickets," Mara continued. "Even when they've been bought by the office."

I slunk down into my seat, depressed at this new knowledge. Nevertheless, I kept hoping against hope that seven busloads of schoolchildren were just stuck in the Friday traffic, but as the chimes started playing hope started evaporating like a Genie's misty trail.

I was shaken out of my glumness by the blare of the opening number as the curtain rose. Where was the effin' flag ceremony? I'm not a big fan of standing up for the Lupang Hinirang and all but I know you're supposed to play it at the start of any public performance.

Perhaps the Atlantis staff were too morose at the disappointing turnout that in their despair, they totally forgot about honoring the flag and all that jazz.

Anyway, audience or no audience, the show must go on. And go on it did, without the National Anthem.


To the familiar strains of Arabian Nights, three characters riding hobbyhorses made to look like camels galumphed onstage. So...hobbycamels, I guess? Or more like hobbled camels, the way they were clip-clopping across the stage before breaking the fourth wall and dispensing of the clumsy props altogether.

Anyway, on with the story revisions. In this stage version, Aladdin has the aforementioned trio of troubadours - Babkak, Omar, and Kassim - instead of the original annoying pet/sidekick combo of Abu. Once together, their quartet was supposedly known as Al's Bag of Tricks or whatever. But they didn't play Barber's Adagio for Strings, Op.11.


This troublesome trio of troubadours did triple-duty  - not just taking over Abu's role - but as comic reliefs and as a gestalt version of the show's narrator, as well. Imagine Evita's Che being composed of three bumbling, vaguely-Arabic buffoons, and you get the idea. (One of these buffoons was an unrecognizable and unheralded Jamie Wilson, I would discover later. I thought all the while he looked curiously like Rafa DInglasan.)

     Image from here. Photo: Raul Montesa

Other deviations from the animated version include the transformation of Iago, Jafar's screechy sidekick, from a parrot to human (theater veteran Jimmy Marquez).

( Curiously, Atlantis' pre-show website indicated that Iago - and I'm assuming the rest of the animals featured in the original movie - was to be "brought to life by skillful puppeteers." I wonder whether cost or technical issues - or a combination of both - led them to just simply turn the grating-but-personality-filled bird into a feckless human sidekick.)

The villain Jafar (Miss Saigon alumnus Raul Montesa) was sufficiently over-the-top wicked and imposing, not too far from the movie portrayal. In contrast, fellow Saigon alumnus Jun Ofrasio's Sultan was played, not as a childlike-but-jocular old fool, but straight and therefore, boring.

Thankfully, Jasmine remained a misunderstood, misanthropic pill.


At any rate, the true gem of this production was its lead star, Tom Rodriguez. I didn't know this guy from Adam and yet I thought he nailed the part of Aladdin down to a T, from the looks, the body language, and a surprising singing voice that uncannily sounded like Brad Kane (Aladdin's singing voice in the movie version.)

With these gifts, Rodriguez convincingly embodied the title character's wounded innocence and hopeful longing coupled with street-urchin mischievousness. At no point did I think he was an actor playing Aladdin; he was Aladdin.

An impressive feat for a theater neophyte in his first role - a starring one at that. 

Because he's easy on the eyes and an ex-reality show heartthrob, it's easy to dismiss Tom Rodriguez as just another pretty face that got cast primarily on his looks. But if there were any doubts as to the wisdom of his casting, his earnest, captivating performance laid them all to rest, in my humble layman's opinion. 

Indeed, to paraphrase one of his many numbers: 

"If only they'd look closer
Would they see the boy from PBB
They'd find out
There's so much more to me"


K-la, on the other hand, made for a lovely Princess Jasmine. Her voice was clear and strong, but, like Karylle in Rama Hari, she was plagued with a crappy mic that popped and emitted feedback throughout the show. It reminded me of Madonna's mic cutting out in Truth Or Dare , with her demanding in the end to be put on the channel of her backup singers, who suffered no such technical glitches.

     Image from here. Photo: Raul Montesa

Nevertheless, there was genuine chemistry between the two leads, and the spark and sparkle gave the show a much-needed frisson that made up for its less-impressive sections.


As  mentioned earlier, I was curious as to how diminutive Aiza Seguerra (alternating with the heftier Calvin Millado) would tackle the larger-than-life role of The Genie. Cleverly playing to her strengths, Seguerra's interpretation was of a smirking, wish-wielding smart-ass. Think of her acerbic Gary Coleman in Avenue Q, put him in pantaloons and sweeten him a bit, and you have Seguerra's Genie.

     Image from here. Photo: Raul Montesa

Sadly, Aiza's pipes - so tender in her own ballads - simply weren't up to the herculean vocal requirements and the frenetic lyrics of the Genie's numbers, particularly the signature Friend Like Me. Her spirit was huge but her small frame simply could not project enough power in her voice, and she'd skid down to earth on the low notes. 

Contrast that with Tom Rodriguez' strong and confident vocal consistency throughout the show, and it's clear that the upstart in what should be the show's buddy-buddy pairing is the reality-show alumnus.


Because they had done away with the talking animals and thus, a good deal of the magic, I wasn't expecting to see the Magic Carpet anymore. Which only made its surprise appearance in the signature A Whole New World number all the more magical.

Rodriguez, as Prince Ali, steps off a rolling platform depicting the balcony outside Jasmine's boudoir after being rejected by her. She gasps and, as in the movie, he rises out of nowhere. He explains he's standing on a Magic Carpet, and K-la, after some coaxing, steps onto it. 

The platform then rolls away, to reveal the two leads floating way on high.

     Image from here. Photo: Raul Montesa


And there. There was magic - literally in the air.

That, to me, was the high point of the show - no pun intended. I know it was a simple matter of cables and pulleys, but I was so happy to see them on the iconic Magic Carpet, as they sang that beautiful, beautiful duet. 

So happy, in fact, that I was transported into that magical place that theater sometimes makes possible. I was grinning like a child with stars in his eyes, and the sight of the two - singing beautifully, courageously while suspended 20 feet in the air - made up for the earlier disappointments in the lack of an audience, the iffy changes in the story, and the various other minor letdowns.


The trouble with heights, of course, is it's all downhill from there.

Mara and I could've walked out of the theater after that point with our money's worth and without missing much of anything. But since I already felt sorry for the cast at the low turnout, it was the least we could do to soldier along with them to the end.

Besides, the fact that we were seated up front in a howling wilderness of a theater, and that even in the low light Mara was literally sparkling like a Maharajah's crown, would make our exit about as inconspicuous as a Congressman abusing his pork barrel.

I'm glad we stayed, though, if only for the startled look on Aiza Seguerra's face when she popped up in the orchestra pit right smack in front of us. It was supposed to be a surprise for the audience, but the Genie herself got surprised when she was nearly blinded by the jewels glittering around Mara's neck. The spotlight illuminating Aiza spilled onto the front rows, and the Swarovskis reflected the beams right back at her like little HID headlights. 

According to Mara, at that point even Tom Rodriguez, sitting onstage, seemed spellbound by her scene-stealing bling-bling.

     Image from here. Photo: Raul Montesa

I couldn't tell. I was too busy being transfixed by his bellybutton.

Let's just see that again. For science.


Overall, the magic of Aladdin was tempered by the prosaic requirements of real-life staging. With the sumptuous sets and massive casting of, say, Resorts World's ongoing The King and I , the spectacular tale of a poor young lad swept up by forces into a madcap adventure of grand destiny would've been more magnificent, more splendid, more...magical.

Alas, despite Atlantis' deep pockets (I assume they must be, if they can afford the Disney licensing, not just for Aladdin, but for their previous and upcoming offerings - Beauty and the BeastThe Little MermaidTarzan, and The Addams Family among them - as well), there was no Genie in the bottle to grant these wishes.

Yet the cast and crew of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical - like its namesake - valiantly did their best with what they had. And in the end, while that may not have been enough to make the show a smash, they did deliver two solid hours of fun, entertainment, and yes - magic.

For me, witnessing the first night of Tom Rodriguez' theatrical debut was its own reward. The lad's got looks, presence, and talent, and if there were to be the limits of a Genie's granted wishes, then he's got more than enough.

Look at the skies, for a star is born.

Here's to a whole new world of more stage performances from this guy.

     Image from here. Photo: Raul Montesa

You can still catch Tom Rodriguez' mesmerizing bellybutton in Aladdin: The New Stage Musical's last shows tomorrow, Dec. 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, at 3:00 pm.

Call Ticketworld at 891-9999. Or Google Atlantis Productions' hotline, you lazy bums.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rendezvous With Rama

And Sita, of course.

Having been locked out of good seats before, I learned my lesson well and made a point of purchasing gala night tickets months in advance to the classic Rama Hari, currently being re-staged on a limited run by Ballet Philippines at the CCP

I'd never seen the original with Kuh Ledesma and the two powerhouse Valdezes, Basil and Leo. But because I love Asian Civ and have an especially soft spot for "Magbalik Ka Na, Mahal," this was a must-see.

I was supposed to watch with Mara, one of my TV Girls and most-frequent Arts & Culture consort. But because history - like reincarnation - repeats itself, I wasn't too surprised when she had to cancel the night before the show. I contacted Brandon, who - déja vu - couldn't make it either due to scheduling conflicts, thanks to my super-duper short notice. And Ayen, not one to buck the trend, also proved unavailable. 

And so it was that I quickly went through a roster of possible dates including citybuoy, who never texted me back. Maybe he changed his number, I dunno.

But each and every person I chose, for various reasons, was not destined for the Rama rendezvous.

There were seven possible candidates total, in an epic tale of frantic texting and anticipating - and receiving - regrets. In the end, the only one who confirmed availability on such short notice was the seventh candidate: Miguel. 

My friend, whipping boy, and moocher-of-record.

Coincidentally, Rama is supposed to be the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu.

So there's that.


1:40 PM

"Are you in Manila? Answer quickly."

"I'm in Caylabne. 
Why, anything wrong?'
"I have an extra ticket to Rama Hari 
tonight, 8 pm, CCP. Do you want 
to watch and if so, can you 
make it to Manila in time?"

"Yes. It's a holiday. Walang traffic. 
It should just take me an hour."

"Is this a black-tie event or 
can I get away with a suit?"
"It's Rama Hari, not the Queen's Jubilee.
A suit is fine."

"Ok, suit it is."
"Basta we have to leave 
the house by 7 or so, ok?"

"Ok, I'm leaving for Manila now."

5:21 PM

"I hope you're in Manila already."

"I'm in Alabang, SLEX."
"Cutting it a little close, hm? 
We have to be at CCP by 7:30, 
which means we have 
to leave here 7-ish."

"Yes, I'm aware of the call time, dear."

6:41 PM

"Tell me you're home 
and getting dressed."
"The maid ruined my suit. 
I'm looking for another."
"How could you ruin a suit?"

"I dunno, she ironed it and it burned."

"What's that fucking suit made of? 
"Screw the suit, I'm rummaging
for a replacement that'll fit me."
"We have to leave 7-ish, Miguel. 
There is traffic galore."

"I know, Ruddie. Mom's looking to see 
if any of Dad's suits will fit me."
"Just put on a long-sleeved shirt 
and trousers and get here asap. 
I'll just lend you a sports coat. 
Now hurry up."

7:01 PM

"Miko, kapag inabutan tayo ng 
7:30 dito, we are screwed."

"Why don't I meet you there na lang? 
It's CCP Main Theater, di ba? 
The maid is still dusting the suit."
"For what? Fingerprints?"

7:17 PM

"Meet me at CCP lobby. But still don't be late 
bec I have your ticket. I can't leave it with 
anyone there and they won't let 
you in once the show starts."

"Dad's driving me, on the way na."

"Fine but don't make me 
wait in the lobby till 8."

"No I won't"

"Be sure coz once the line 
starts I'm going in."

7:36 PM

"Already here at Vito Cruz."
"K I'm at the Main Lobby 
near the stairs."

"Ok dad's driving me up 
the main entrance."

"Aight just in time."

7:46 PM

"WHERE ARE YOU?! They're letting people in na."


"They said we were  going to have aisle seats!" complained a perfumed matron loudly as she hovered near my elbow.

"What's this? Why don't we have aisle seats?" chimed in one of her amigas, clearly flustered at this outrage.

"But CCP said we were going to be in aisle seats! Can you talk to someone and find out what happened?" sniffed yet a third as her eyes darted sideways at us, who were already seated in the aforementioned aisle seats, as per our ticket assignments.

I leaned back in my seat and smirked at the unfolding scenario.

"Come, come," admonished a mature gentleman as he motioned for the women - apparently his companions - to be seated. "Mamaya na yan, the show's about to start," he barked, a rooster scarcely concealing his impatience and irritation at his hens.

The trio huffed and puffed but reluctantly, disdainfully took their seats further down orchestra left.

I turned to Miko.

"I wish they had the temerity to ask if we would be kind enough to swap seats with them," I whispered. "Just so I could have had the satisfaction of saying 'No.'"


My mind flashed back to Ayen's irritation at a similar occurrence at the start of Lisa Macuja's Carmen last month. It was a free seating affair, but several seats had "Reserved" signs nylon-strapped on them, for VIPs and other special guests of the house. Despite this, a fussy gaggle of matrons ever-so-nonchalantly removed said signs and either randomly placed them elsewhere or worse, hid them under the seats.

Ayen and I watched this boorish display with the disapproval reserved for creationists, holocaust deniers, and opponents of the RH bill. Ayen is the sweetest, gentlest, kindest thing, and in all the years we've worked together I had never seen her lose her temper. She was a soft-spoken epitome of gentility and poise. But the panic and helplessness of the ushers as they tried unsuccessfully to plead with the haughty mesdames to vacate their seats for the real VIPs provided an unwelcome prelude to the main feature that was not entertaining in any way.

My own simmering anger at the switcheroo was fueled not only by the blatant disregard for rules displayed by people who you think should know better. That was bad enough, but their shenanigans resulted in Sen. Miriam Santiago's reserved seat to be moved two seats away from ours, instead of three rows down and, more importantly, away.

Far away.

"Parang mga walang pinag-aralan," Ayen hissed, visibly annoyed.

It was then that our nostrils were assailed by the unmistakable scent - not of Diorella - but mothballs.

Ayen and I spun our heads around looking for the offending party so swiftly you'd think we were channeling Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but guffaw as the odor started blanketing the rows like, well, a moldy pashmina.

Which is probably what it was.

"Ano ba yun!" Ayen exclaimed, trying to stifle a smirk. "Amoy-baul!"

"Okay lang yan," I whispered. "Amoy-lupa na naman yung nagsusuot."

She then finally broke down laughing as she demurely covered her face with a quick krrrrriiiik! of her abaniko.



The PA system came on, with the usual pre-recorded, pre-show messages.

"May we request everyone to turn off their mobile phones, as these may interfere with the signal..."

"...of this aircraft," I segued.

Miguel grinned.

"In case of emergency, please do not panic," the voiceover went on.

"Life jackets are located under your seats or in your armrests," I continued.

Miguel started giggling like a schoolgirl.

"In the unlikely event of a water landing or liquefaction, please do not exit until the CCP has some to a complete stop, or has started sinking into Manila Bay. Do not inflate your egos while still inside the CCP."

Miguel lost it and started shaking in his seat like he was having an epileptic seizure.

"Your life jackets are equipped with a mouth tube. Blow into the tube to massage your ego, or release tube for humility. At night, switch on the lamp in order to see your impending doom. Thank you for choosing the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Mabuhay!"


"There will be a 15-minute intermission," went the voice on the PA system after Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana glissaded their way into the woods and destiny.

"Do you need to pee?" I asked Miguel.

He made an agonized face. "I'm hungry," he moaned.

"You can't go for two hours without stuffing your face?" I scolded him. I stood in the aisle, making way for the three matrons who had been cluck-clucking about the indignity of non-aisle seats. They had gotten up and were waddling out of the row they had been cruelly forced to occupy.

"I'm going to take a leak," I announced. "You stay here and guard our seats."

When I returned, Miguel was grinning like an idiot.


He motioned for me to lean closer.

"The matrons behind us are so stupid," he giggled.


"Because," he went on. "I overheard them complaining why Christian Bautista and Karylle weren't dancing."

Images of Christian Bautista performing arabesques with ZsaZsa Padilla's kid suddenly gave me a migraine.

In a rare fit of understanding, I looked at Miguel, sighed, and said "Well, I'm willing to give those matrons a pass. One, because they weren't after our seats. And two, not everyone is familiar with this particular kind of pop musical/ballet staging."

"But why don't they know that the singers are the vocal avatars of the dancers?"

"Miko, I have no idea," I answered. "But I for one am grateful I don't have to see Christian Bautista in a codpiece doing jetés."

Act 2

The lights started to dim as the orchestra played the overture.

Miguel kept turning his head and looking around.

"What?!" I spat.

He grinned. "I think our matrons got to sit in their aisle seats after all."

Indeed, the Tres Marias had not returned to our row. Perhaps they had banished themselves into the forest, as well, I thought hopefully.


"Miko," I hissed through clenched teeth. "I don't care if they sit in the orchestra pit, as long as they sit far away from us."

Presently, I became vaguely aware of a glimmer of light out of the corner of my eye. I thought for a moment that it was the residual flash of the golden deer that led Rama away.

Then I realized the horrifying, annoying truth.

That white aura wasn't emanating from any Hindu enlightenment; it was Miguel's fucking cell phone.



FUCK!" I snarled.

"It's your messages," he whispered helpfully. "They're only coming in now."

I always think people who text, or, Krishna forbid, answer calls on their cell phones during movies and theater performances deserve to be beaten to death on the spot. It is our dharma, our service to humanity, our duty to all that is right and decent in the universe.

And at that moment, I had half a mind to send Miguel into his next incarnation right there.

For major good karma.


Even without the weight of its historical significance and its artistic pedigree (the trinity of composer Ryan Cayabyab, BP's legendary Alice Reyes, and National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, all present and on stage receiving a standing ovation that night), Rama Hari was sublime. 

And certain sequences were magical, if not divine.

It was a wondrous union of music and motion, a mystical celebration of song and dance.

And like any good adapted work, it made me want to revisit and experience the beauty and scope of the original epic source: the Ramayana.

Watch it if you can.


But in case you can't, here's an animated version that encapsulates the epic tale. It's nowhere near the balletic stage version, but it fleshes out the story well enough :


Rama Hari will run at the CCP from November 30 to December 9, 2012. For inquiries, call Ballet Philippines at 551-1003 and 551-0221 or Ticketworld at 891-9999.

This is a recording.