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‘Kasarisarian’ LGBTQIA community cultural event slated in Lucena City on July 21-26

To “elevate the discussion about LGBTQIA Pride”, QZN Bahaghari and Guni-Guri Collective are hosting the 2018 iteration of “Kasarisarian” a cultural event, from July 21 to 26 in Lucena City.

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To “elevate the discussion about LGBTQIA Pride”, QZN Bahaghari and Guni-Guri Collective are hosting the 2018 iteration of “Kasarisarian” a cultural event, from July 21 to 26 at the ESPASYO ART GALLERY, Quezon Avenue corner Trinidad Street, Lucena City in the Quezon Province.

Particularly for this year’s event, “we’re trying to elevate the discussion and the perspective on the current situation of the LGBTQIA people in the country,” said Aaron Bonette, co-organizer of the event. “We want to make Kasarisarian 2 a non-hierarchal exhibition invested in grassroots community organizing, and focused on radical queer narratives, visioning and politics. This means that the curated works will tackle and represent queer lives and struggles based on the current and past experiences of LGBTQIA people that are skeptic – from the looming commercialized cooptation of Pride to the glitter industrial complex to the failed political myth of equality through law, violence against LGBTQIA people and class hierarchy.”

The event will feature 15 artists based in the Quezon Province and two artists based in the Netherlands, including: Lans Lans, Elvira Bvlgari, Aaron Bonette, Syeril Powsa, Catsoup, John Van Vallesterol, Annita Remoroza, Aann Reynales, Jaymar Valdoria, Alliza Beth, Joma Importante, Skimmi Shimmi, Beatriz Rogas, France dela Paz, and Brian van Niehoff. Documentaries from Outrage Magazine’s #KaraniwangLGBT series will also be shown; as will Sunugin ang Aparador by Gio Potes, and Mark & Lenny by Gio Potes.

Outrage Magazine launches #KaraniwangLGBT

Bonette added that the annual Pride month celebration has just ended, and yet – over 20 years since the first such gathering in Metro Manila “the LGBTQIA movement does and spends more on branding rather than coalition building, with the mainstream LGBTQIA movement focusing on soliciting funds from corporation to run our cause; it’s almost like our rights have been bought, paid for and sold to the highest bidder no matter how anti-worker or neoliberal policy upholder that corporation is.”

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In this sense, “the metaphor of being ‘treated like a piece of meat’ is valid, as if our bodies and identities are there to be exploited in the free market of commodification and oppression.”

Bonette said that they are cognizant that “corporate money also do some good for the community”, but that awareness is needed so LGBTQIA people also recognize that “there is something antithetical about a movement for equality and justice funded by the forces in the world that is also most responsible for widespread economic and social inequality.”

In the end, “we’d like to use this event as a venue to ask LGBTQIA people: What’s the future ahead of us? When our community is not yet united as a social movement that addresses the issues facing the most marginalized LGBTQIA people, with those fighting against systemic poverty, are we really making any progress? Or has the LGBTQIA movement, our movement, already hijacked by power elites advocating for their own interests?”

“Kasarisarian” is a term coined from: “Kasarian” which means gender, and (2) “Sari-Sari” for variety and diversity. It aims to provide queer (and straight) artists a non-commercial and an uncompromising space to tackle and explore various queer narratives, identities and politics.

This is a free event (yes, there’s no admission fee); though it is open for donations (during the event). Door will open at 1:00PM on July 21 and the program will start at exactly 6:00PM with a welcome reception, followed by the Artist Talk, film screening and cultural performances. This will run until July 26.

For more information, head to Guni-Guri Collective; or contact Aaron Bonette at aarnmssbntt@gmail.com or 0995-085-3664.

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CAREDIVAS slated for special run from June 24-July 30

PETA and OWWA present a special run of CAREDIVAS – AN ORIGINAL PINOY MUSICAL that pays tribute to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the present-day heroes of the country with performances beginning June 24 until July 30 at The PETA Theater Center.

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Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) partnered for the special run of CAREDIVAS – AN ORIGINAL PINOY MUSICAL that pays tribute to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the present-day heroes of the country with performances beginning June 24 until July 30 at The PETA Theater Center.

CAREDIVAS – a musical drama about five transgender OFWs in Israel who work as caregivers in the morning and transform into drag queen performers at night – premiered in 2011. That year, the musical dominated the Philstage Gawad Buhay! Awards, bagging seven trophies, including Outstanding Musical Direction, Outstanding Musical Production and Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical.

Caregivers, also known as home health or personal care aides, give assistance to people who are sick, injured, mentally or physically disabled, or the elderly and fragile. Their job description includes bathing and bathroom functions, walking and light exercise, plan and prepare meals, feeding, grooming, taking medication, and some housework like making beds and change linens, dusting and vacuuming, laundry and ironing. Caregivers also make and keep appointments with doctors, provide or arrange transportation and serve as a companion for their clients. Caregivers might need to lift clients into the bathtub, cars and into bed, and need strength. They help their clients engage in activities (games, memory books) and most of all, companionship.

CAREDIVAS revolves around the lives of kind and loving Chelsea, often-sarcastic group leader Shai, ditzy Thalia, bubbly Kayla, and the ill-tempered Jonee. While desperate to make ends meet, they also struggle to search for acceptance in a foreign land.

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This time around, giving life to the major roles will be Melvin Lee (Chelsea), Vincent De Jesus and Ron Alfonso (Shai), Dudz Teraña and Jason Barcial (Thalia), Gio Gahol, Jerald Napoles and Ricci Chan (Kayla), Thou Reyes and Phil Noble (Jonee).

Supporting them will be Myke Salomon (Faraj, David, Daniel), Paul Holme and Leo Rialp (Isaac, Moshe, Yaakov, Club owner), Joan Bugcat and Gold Villar (Nonah), Eric Dela Cruz and Dom Miclat-Janssen (Avi, Aryeh, Pulis), Sherry Lara (Sarah, Adara), Eko Baquial and Joseph Madriaga (ensemble).

The artistic team of CAREDIVAS include: Maribel Legarda (director), Liza Magtoto (playwright), Vincent De Jesus (lyricist, composer, arranger, musical director), Leo Abaya (set designer), Jonjon Villareal (lighting designer), John Abul (costume designer), Carlo Pagunaling (assistant costume designer), Carlon Matobato (choreographer) and Gimbey dela Cruz (vocal coach).

CAREDIVAS will play every Friday (8:00PM), Saturday and Sunday (3:00PMand 8:00PM).

The restaging of CAREDIVAS is part of OWWA’s 35th anniversary celebration, “renew(ing its) commitment in promoting and protecting the welfares of OFWs”. Aside from this, OWWA is also “providing social, education and training, workers welfare assistance and reintegration program attuned to the needs of OFWs and their families”.

For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact PETA at (+632) 7256244 or email petatheater@gmail.com; or TicketWorld at 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.





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Getting the LGBT vibe at Laguna’s only MSM venue…

Outrage Magazine heads out of Metro Manila to check out the LGBT scene in Biñan, Laguna via Pepper Haus.

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A hooded guy nodded at us when we got off the car. And then, while I was taking photos of the façade of the venue, that same guy tried to grab the phablet of Josh, a close friend who was with us. Failing to get the gadget, the guy then rushed across the street, where an accomplice of his was waiting on a motorcycle. They immediately sped off.

That was how we were introduced to Pepper Haus, perhaps the ONLY LGBT-specific (though mostly MSM-centric) venue in Biñan, Laguna.

That occurrence may highlight: 1. The pending danger that may meet those who’d visit the place (or how unsafe it may be), or 2) How criminals profile LGBT partygoers as easy prey, so they wait where we gather so they can try to victimize us.

It was, therefore, with gladness that we stepped inside to be surrounded by… yes… people like us.

WHAT’S THERE

According to Dennis Lucero, co-owner of the venue, Pepper Haus was established on June 2012 by Katherine Fajardo. It was only later when Lucero came onboard as a shareholder.

The place is, in a word, simple. Boxy/box-like, it is divided into three “parts” – i.e. 1. A stage is in front; 2. The tables for the guests occupy the entire space between the main door and the stage; and 3. At the right is the bar/kitchen/DJ booth/path to the dressing area for the performers.

There’s nothing fancy about the place – e.g. expect to see monoblocs, and well-used tables, arranged so closely together so that passing through (to go to pee, for instance) can be tricky at times.

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The offerings are somewhat varied; and – this has to be said – priced a la bars in Metro Manila. For instance, nachos sell for P180; lomi for P120; squid balls for P100; crispy pata from P350 to P450; and peanuts for P70.

NOT that people come here for the cuisines; instead, it is (often) to spend time with other LGBT people (friends or not) while enjoying alcohol. And the prices of the drinks are sorta high too – e.g. Emperador from P320 to P420 (depending on freebies). At least the beers are… affordable – e.g. Red Horse from P60 to P120; San Miguel Light for P60; and beer bucket for P350.

Yes, they sell cigarettes for (Marlboro 20s) for P100.

The original bar actually burned in October 2016, taken down by the same fire that started from an adjacent bar. But after 2.5 months, the new bar that is there now came to be.

WHY GO THERE

Now, even if the prices of the goods may be a source of worry for some (note that the present minimum wage in CALABARZON, where Laguna is located, only ranges from P267.00 to P349.50 per day), Pepper Haus is a must-check for various reasons.

First, it IS the only MSM-centric bar in Biñan, Laguna, so if one wants to be surrounded by PLUs, this is the place to go to there.

“Right from the start, we envisioned our bar to be dominated by members of the LGBT community,” Lucero said. This is also why the name of the place is “Pepper Haus”, poking fun at “pepper” or “paminta” in Filipino, which is the same word used in gay lingo to refer to “straight-acting/looking gay men”. “We saw the potential in investing in a place where LGBT members can freely express themselves and socialize with one another,” Lucero added.

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Second, the venue is aware of its role in the cohesively gathering LGBT community members. For instance, to “give back to the LGBT community”, Pepper Haus hosts HIV testing for its customers. Better yet, to help promote safer sex, “we also give out free condoms as a way of reminding everyone to have safer sex at all times,” Lucero said.

Third, Pepper Haus has long become a “community center” of sorts. There are instances when the venue is used to raise funds “for needy LGBT members, especially those who became our regular patrons,” Lucero said.

And then, of course, there’s the fun that can be had while there – e.g. some performers coming all the way from Metro Manila flock to perform; and Laguna’s cuties may be seen to gather here.

WHY AVOID THE PLACE

It goes without saying that this won’t be a place for everyone (no place ever is, hello!). If you’re not from the area and you don’t have a car and commuting isn’t for you, then coming over may be out of the question. If you’re easily scared by risks (READ: the intro to this article) that may be encountered when in a new/strange place, you may have second thoughts coming over. And if you have budget issues, you may not necessarily have fun here, too.

IN CONCLUSION

All the same, though, Pepper Haus is definitely a must-check out venue because – in a world that continues to push LGBT people into the fringes – this is one place at least in Biñan, Laguna where you can let your hair down and may actually be celebrated for it. Pink heaven knows we don’t have enough of those places, so that every one that exists – no matter their limitations – is worth highlighting…

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So head to Biñan, Laguna and find the rainbow explosion at Pepper Haus.

Pepper Haus is located along the National Highway, Biñan, Laguna, five minutes away from McDonalds Olivares. Landmarks: IETI, Yamaha showroom and Olivarez Complex (very near the crossing).





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Beach House: Gathering place for MSM in the south

This is not a fancy place – let that serve as a warning to those expecting “more”. Instead, this is almost like a “tambayan” (place for hanging out) while getting drunk, complete with that karaoke machine. But if in LP, you may want to head here (at least even once) if only to see how LP’s gay scene sort of party.

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Yes, there was a time when pink partying was somewhat centralized – just about everyone knew that to party with the pink crowd, one only had to check one of the multiple venues located in Malate in the city of Manila (particularly along J. Nakpil and Ma. Orosa). But those days are long gone. For good or bad, nowadays, partying in Metro Manila means the need to discover party venues at just about every city within Metro Manila; and the venues differ oh-so-grandly, meaning that partygoers need to adjust to be able to truly enjoy the contexts of these party venues…

This leads us to Beach House (BH), currently the one must-visit venue for so many MSM – if not necessarily LGBT – in Las Pinas.

WHAT’S THERE

BH is – in not so many words – one big inuman (drinking) place that is not similar to Western-influenced dance bars. Here, forget the dance floor; instead, there are just tables after tables where locals gather to spend hours with each other.

There are actually two “sections” for BH – one is the “outside” section, where the seats/tables are mostly wooden, and where there’s no airconditioning. The “inside” venue is enclosed (thus airconditioned, though this doesn’t function as well as it should); and while the place still has wooden furniture, this venue is where some shows (usually standup comedy, or beauty pageants of local clans) take place.

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Both sections have karaoke – inside, you have to go through the comedians first before you can sing (typical of standup comedy bars, though here, some of the jokes are already stale and have already been used in similar venues elsewhere in Metro Manila); while outside, you just have to insert a five-peso coin in the machine, punch the number of the song you want to belt out, and then wait for your turn.

Many here drink as groups – i.e. forget the buckets of six beer bottles since people instead order the per-liter bottle (e.g. one liter of Red Horse costs P100) or long neck bottles of Emperador (P250 per bottle). And I’d say somewhat typical of the drinking venues in, say, Cebu City, many here are to be self-served (e.g. make your own juice).

A friend who goes to the place told me that “wala naman ibang mapupuntahan (there are no other venues we can go to)”, so this place can get quite busy (particularly the outdoor section). So expect to see some cuties… though most partygoers here are dressed-down (e.g. slippers-wearing).

AND WHY GO THERE

If you follow that friend’s logic, then you really don’t have a choice if you wanna party in LP but to go here.

If you wanna check the LP crowd, too, this is a good place to start that.

It helps, of course, that it’s conveniently accessible (right across SM Southmall), so…

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WHY AVOID

This is not a fancy place – let that serve as a warning to those expecting “more”. Instead, this is almost like a “tambayan” (place for hanging out) while getting drunk, complete with that karaoke machine. So that aside from drinking and singing (or listening to others do some wailing), not much can be done here (e.g. dancing).

Even when there are special events (e.g. pageants), these are obviously not on a par with other Metro Manila-organized events – e.g. the airconditioning fails, hosts recycle old skits from other bars, et cetera. So if you’ve no patience for this, you’ve been warned.

IN CONCLUSION

All the same, if in LP, you may want to head here (at least even once) if only to see how LP’s gay scene sort of party. Some are laid back (e.g. you can come as you are, slippers and all), some pretentious (e.g. hear some clubbers belittle those who aren’t “classy enough”, delivered in thick English accent), some couldn’t care less (e.g. there are some who fall asleep drunk on their tables), some are wild (e.g. PDAs happen near the toilet), some are looking for a fight (e.g. fisticuffs right outside the bar), and so on…

This place makes you realize that not too far from “imperial Manila” (i.e. City of Manila, Makati City, Taguig City and Quezon City), it’s a completely different world already. And yes, it’s a world that is worth checking now and then..

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Beach House is located right across SM Southmall (which is along Alabang-Zapote Road).





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In the Scene

Dragon Mart: Partying a la pobre

If it’s simple tambayan you’re after, this place isn’t bad. Particularly as it gives us all a glimpse of how people (LGBT people included) outside the big, BIG cities congregate to let their hair down…

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Remember the Valkyrie issue? When some transwomen complained because they were barred from the venue because they were supposedly “crossdressing”? And do you remember how the issue sort of divided the LGBT community, with some supporting the complaining because it supposedly represented the issue of accessing establishments/services particularly of transwomen; while others seeing it as nothing but raising a ruckus over the elitist issue of not being able to party/social climb/hobnob with the wealthy/social climbers (packaged as LGBT discrimination)?

If you head out of metropolitan cities and see how local LGBT people party there, one may sort of see the “anti” position on the issue. Because there, they have more urgent issues, such as the abuses experienced by LGBT people at home – e.g. THIS and THIS – or their daily sustenance – e.g. THIS). And when they party at all, they don’t do it in self-proclaimed “exclusive” clubs that charge a regular employee’s salary for two or more days as cover charge. They’re content with doing it in… “common” places. Such as beside a gas station.

Enter the likes of Dragon Mart in General Santos City.

WHAT’S THERE

Dragon Mart is actually a chain of gas stations. So for the one at Arradaza corner Hicban Subdivision Street, General Santos City (where the members of the LGBT community gather now and then), there’s nothing fancy there at all. Instead, what people do is – when you arrive – grab some drinks from inside the convenience store of the gas station, and then bring what you bought to any of the tables right beside the gas pumps.

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The rows of tables are divided into two – closer to the gas pumps are plastic tables and chairs, while (places on an elevated ramp) are wooden benches and wooden tables. The wooden ones are the “classier” ones, if they can considered that; while the plastic ones are the “less classy” ones. Though this segregation is somewhat unnecessary (and may just be based on appearances – e.g. the plastics are well-worn/used, so they appear dirty) since the place is a first-come-first-served basis (meaning, if you arrive earlier, you get to choose where you want to sit).

WHY GO THERE

Perhaps because General Santos City does not have that many party places to go to, many drop by Dragon Mart. But the appeal of the place also include: 1) less (if any) pretentiousness there (e.g. you drink with the tricycle drivers, as well as the yuppies of the city); and 2) the possibilities that can happen there (e.g. buy balot right across the street, and someone is bound to chat with you, get your number, or schedule… whatever.

WHY AVOID THE PLACE

Sans the pretentions, this is not for those who want to be deemed sosyal. This may not be ideal for those who have lung-related health issues, too (the fumes, duh!). And when it rains, the area with the plastic tables/chairs can become oh-so-wet.

IN CONCLUSION

Nonetheless, if it’s simple tambayan you’re after, this place isn’t bad.

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Again particularly as it gives us all a glimpse of how people (LGBT people included) outside the big, BIG cities congregate to let their hair down…

Dragon Mart is at Arradaza corner Hicban Subdivision Street, General Santos City.

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‘Equinox: A Drag|Rave Halloween Ball’ slated on Oct. 28

LGBT artists are coming together to headline ‘Equinox: A Drag|Rave Halloween Ball’ this Oct. 28, 11.59PM at BeLOW in New World Hotel Makati (beside Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City). DJ SweetHeart, SuperStarletXXX and DJ Duo “Boys Can Trance” will headline an event that will also have a mini-drag battle segment, where amateur drag enthusiasts will also perform.

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equinox

LGBT artists are coming together to headline ‘Equinox: A Drag|Rave Halloween Ball’ this Oct. 28, 11.59PM at BeLOW in New World Hotel Makati (beside Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City). DJ SweetHeart, SuperStarletXXX and DJ Duo “Boys Can Trance” will headline an event that will also have a mini-drag battle segment, where amateur drag enthusiasts will also perform.

According to Martin Buen, organizer of the event, “we are taking this opportunity to…immerse rave partygoers to different subcultures through music, artistry, self expression and creativity.”

The event will also serve as an avenue for promotion of different advocacies, including HIV and SOGIE.

Tickets are pre-sold at P350 (with one free Hennessy VS Cocktail) and can be purchased at SM Ticket Centers at all SM Malls nationwide or online. Tickets will be sold at P400 at the venue on the event date.

Outrage Magazine is a media partner of the event.

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Glimpses of Philippine history… through ballet

Both Ibarra and Simoun showed – for me – how “big” establishments (like the maligned CCP) CAN play a role in cultural promotion; and cultural and/or artistic presentations that may seem elitist can be “amended” so they become “palatable” to the masses. Not that they are perfect; but both succeed in providing glimpses (at times even in more “populist” moves) into the Philippine history through (the supposedly elitist art form of) ballet…

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In 2002, then Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – while delivering a speech during a culture and the arts conference – said:

“Many years ago when the cultural center was built, I told myself if I were president I wouldn’t spend all that money on the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It’s an imposing building not accessible to the masses and its very architecture, its very approach, physical approach is not accessible to the masses. It is forbidding. It is far away. It is not folksy. I said if I had that money I would rather have spent that money on cultural centers all around the country so that we can bring culture to the masses.”

In a way she was right, perhaps exemplified by her cited example, kabuki play in Japan, which she said remains culturally relevant because it is brought to the masses, to the people. By simply having a building – in Arroyo’s case, the Cultural Center of the Philippines – cultural growth may not be attained.

But in a way, too, she’s wrong. Cultural centers – whether it’s CCP (the complex in Manila/Pasay) or some community center in some far-flung area – are important exactly because they’re that: “centers”. More than providing spaces for performances, these are (as the cliché goes) “safe spaces” for (in this case) the culture and the arts. Not having such can be likened to the lack of LGBT centers in the Philippines, so that we don’t even have a safe space we can call our own; and the concept of having a “space” can never be under-estimated…

It is this thought that came to mind when I watched Ballet Philippines’ productions of Ibarra and Simoun – takes on Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Both feature original music by Jed Balsamo, choreography by Paul Alexander Morales, and the live performance of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra – a quintet for Ibarra and the full orchestra under Gerard Salonga for Simoun.

Both Ibarra and Simoun showed – for me – how:

  1. “Big” establishments (like the maligned CCP) CAN play a role in cultural promotion (among others, they have the venue, budget, staff, et cetera); and
  2. Cultural and/or artistic presentations that may seem elitist can be “amended” so they become “palatable” to the masses.
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Not that they are perfect; but both does succeed in providing glimpses (at times even in more “populist” moves) into the Philippine history through (the supposedly elitist art form of) ballet…

ballet-philippines2

Ibarra

Premiered in 2010, Ibarra was based on Noli Me Tangere, which highlights the life of Crisostomo Ibarra, a man striving to make a change in the Spanish-controlled Philippine society that is defined by oppression (from the colonizers, as well as from fellow Filipinos, particularly of the ruling class). Using ballet, it takes an introspective look at the life of Rizal’s hero, who sacrificed his personal happiness for love of country.

Featuring Victor Maguad, Monica Amanda Gana, Jessa Tangalin, Eugene Obille, Ramon Victoria, and Ballet Philippines II, this production of Ibarra is more than commendable for (re)introducing to the viewers through dance the likes of Maria Clara (to date, how society still expects women to behave like); Padre Damaso (he who abused power using much-loved institutions – i.e. Roman Catholic Church); Doña Victorina (social climber extraordinaire); and Sisa (well, we all know her…).

There are points worth highlighting in this particular production…

  1. There’s the “modernizing” of the telling, so I was reminded of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge (among others) – supporting the argument, if I may, on making a historical piece not only relevant but also accessible to today’s audience. This can be seen starting at the opening sequence – complete with the billing projected (as if on a wide screen) on a red curtain, while the quintet is at the corner of the stage.
    The “telling” doesn’t always work, though – for instance, Ibarra is “broken” into scenes, with details on the scenes projected on the stage (e.g. Scene 1: Alon). Unfortunately, the writings on the wall aren’t always visible, so…
  1. Balsamo’s music was admirable. But, truth be told, the piece that syaed with me was Ave Maria (included in one of the scenes; LSS much!), so…
  2. The costumes didn’t work all the time, too – e.g. wearing a sando and tying a piece of fabric in the hair does not a Sisa make. Don’t get me started on the dullness due to the lack of color… Monotone color palette can be sexy, but Chicago (costume-wise) this isn’t…
  3. The choreography had great moments – for me, the duos (e.g. Interlude: Sisa and Scene 4: Awit) left the most impression. But (maybe it’s my age showing) expect to see the jerky movements of Alden Lugnasin (if you’re into that or not, is your call)…
    And then, of course, there are the… should I say pang-masa (?) moves, as seen in snippets in (among others) Scene 6: Palabas. Getting the audience to laugh out loud, these are interesting injections in a classical form of dance; but whether they work or not, is entirely up to you…
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In the end, of course, it’s still about the story – if we got Rizal’s story as told through ballet. I’d say yes (shaky due to the observations, or not). And this is why Ballet Philippines’ Ibarra a piece that’s worth to be seen, indeed…

ballet-philippines

Simoun

Rizal’s main character did a The Count of Monte Cristo comeback in El Filibusterismo, where the erroneously accused Ibarra returned as Simoun to get revenge. In between, we see the continuing oppression experienced by Filipinos, the “extent” we go to when oppressed (e.g. suicide of Maria Clara – a spoiler, yes, that the lady many want our women to emulate ended in tragedy), the continuing social climbing, and the (saddest of all) lesson for us to be pacifists (more on this later)…

Top-billed by Jean Marc Cordero, Denise Parungao, Rita Angela Winder, Erl Sorilla, Garry Corpuz, and Jemima Reyes, Simoun was a world premier.

Similar to Ibarra, there are also points worth highlighting here…

  1. The “modernized” approach remains the same. And I’d say here, it works better – e.g. the displaying of the scenes NOT at the center, but at one side, makes the wordings more readable.
  2. Balsamo’s music here is more memorable – e.g. I heard people humming the melody after the show, so…
  3. I still have issues with the costume; some of the clothes looked stiff, and at times, there were dancers who’d (constantly) pull their skirts down while dancing, so…
  4. The choreography had great moments, too – e.g. Interlude: Simoun, and even the crowd-pleasers Scene 7: Teatro and Scene 10: Kasal. The solos in Ibarra were more touching for me, though…
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But also similar to Ibarra, the “test” here is if Rizal’s story was understood.

On the one hand, a friend who’s not very familiar with Rizal’s work said, “One has to read before watching this to truly appreciate this.” He did say that there were scenes that touched/affected him greatly…

On the other hand, and at the same time, Scene 11: Akda stays in mind for two reasons: one, the Romeo & Juliet-like scene (e.g. suicide in the face of adversity); and two, Rizal’s pacifist approach to attaining freedom (said to be a source of discord between him and the likes of Andres Bonifacio). To up the ante (re this “argument” to attaining freedom), Simoun even died in the company of a priest who reminded him that “for those who truly wish to change society, one needs but patience, selflessness, love and sacrifice.” The dance between the two was dramatic; but it can’t hide that lesson of pacifism particularly that, at times, blood may have to be shed for freedom (think of Kidapawan massacre, Mendiola massacre, SAF44, et cetera).

Now back to GMA’s argument…

Why settle for not having a center and just brining culture and the arts to the people, when both can be done at the same time. Because surely, to effectively promote culture and the arts, everything that can be used should be used. Think ballet. Think Ballet Philippines; in particular Ibarra and Simoun, and you’d get an inkling of this…

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