Friday, August 9, 2013

Coming Back to Manila

I have to start by apologizing that I am long overdue to write, but I have a good reason.  Since my last post, I have moved to Manila and started rehearsals for a new project.  I am working with Gantimpala Theater in Manila on an original musical titled, “Katipunan” which is the story of Andres Bonifacio.  The show is being directed by the legendary Direk Joel Lamangan.  I was cast as Gregoria de Jesus (Oriang), the wife of Bonifacio.  The role is about a strong, rebellious woman who stood up with her husband for what they believe in.  I feel like I can relate a little!

During a rehearsal break
I will start by saying that every project has its ups and downs.  The major up with this project is getting to work with Direk Joel and learning from him.  This show is also an original show, so it’s exciting to be a part of something new and being with that process.  But the downside is that it’s an original show and the creative process can sometimes be quite a long and winding road with a few detours along the way.  But all in all I am learning a lot and excited and honored to be a part of it.

Rehearsals are always interesting with Direk Joel.  He definitely is very strict and disciplined as a director.  Some might take it the wrong way, but for me it pushes me beyond my comfort zone in a good way.  The process is different than any of my previous theater experience, but in this I feel like I am more a part of the creative process.  Direk Joel creates a perfect picture in his mind, he dictates, we make it happen.. I am excited to memorize every experience, savor it so I can share this in the future. There is just so much to learn and so much to share.

The show will be playing later this month and throughout September as a part of a tour around the provinces of Manila.  It’s no surprise as the show is about Andres Bonifacio and will be playing during the celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth.

One of the best things in this new journey is that Adam and I get to stay in Eastwood. Thanks to Kakki. I love that everything is only a 5 minute walk away: coffee, shopping, restaurants, laundry, and even church!  The downside though, is that the rehearsals are located in Luneta at Rizal Park. The drive to the rehearsal venue is long.  My car is still in Cebu so I am taking a taxi to and from rehearsal.  Some nights it’s a struggle just to get a taxi driver to take me back to where I am staying, others demand a surcharge, and then others demand a large tip. This makes me miss Cebu. If the fare is 195, in Cebu you get 5 pesos change, in Manila you give 250, the cab driver still gets mad. But recently I have been sharing the cab with Sandino Martin- the Andres Bonifacio! So all is good.
Having fun during lunch

I wasn’t really looking forward to being long distance from my husband.  We are approaching our one year wedding anniversary (August 21) and didn’t want to be away from each other.  When we were dating, we had to spend almost a year in long distance, so going through it again is not something we look forward to.  But last week he was able to fly here.  He has to go back to Cebu at the end of this week but will come back again soon. 

The reason he has to go back to Cebu is to pick up our new puppy.  We now have a 2 month old American Akita puppy named August.  We are already looking at bringing August to Manila while I am here.  I’m sure I will flood you all with photos very soon!

Another positive is that I am in Manila, which is a better location and access for work.  I enjoy being based in Cebu because that has always been home for me no matter where in the world I am working.  But Cebu has its limitations as a singer and performer.  Most of the time I would fly to Manila for work or appearances so this is making that part a lot easier.  And it allows me to see events that I otherwise wouldn’t see.

Gary V during his show at Teatrino
One of those events was this week when my husband and I were blessed with the opportunity to sit in the front row to watch the first in the series of “Live with Gary” shows with Gary Valenciano at Teatrino in Greenhills.  The show was so amazing and inspiring on so many different levels.  First, there is nothing better than seeing somebody on stage who absolutely loves being there.  There is nothing fake about the show, everyone on that stage is having a good time and as audience members we can’t help but feel the same.  Secondly, the level of musicianship and passion on the stage are second to none.  What better way to spend an evening than listening to Gary sing and have one of the most talented musical directors/arrangers, Mon Faustino, lead the band.  The guest artists were excellent in aka Jam and Julianne.  At this point in his career does Gary really have to do a bar tour?  No, but that’s what makes him Gary V, “Mr. Pure Energy.”  The shows are every Tuesday in August, so make sure you go check it out.

Genesis Family (with Jungee Marcelo and Martin Nievera)
There were so many other great moments that night: sitting at the table with Sir Jungee Marcelo (composer of the Daniel Padilla hit "Na Sayo Na Ang Lahat and many other great songs) and his wife Anna (he promised to write a song for me, I have witnesses!!!), catching up with a lot of old friends that I don’t get to see often (I’m afraid to start naming names because I know I will leave somebody out), and catching up with my Genesis family: Miss Gina, Miss Angeli (who was celebrating her anniversary, this is something that we have in common with the Valencianos as Adam and I were married on his birthday, too),  Miss Marinez, Chuck, the staff, and other artists like Quest (you have to check out his new music video Saludo), Julianne (she’s releasing an album next month), Jericho Rosales (who was glowing now that he’s engaged to Kim Jones), aka Jam (such tight harmonies), and others.

With Tito Ryan Cayabyab
Tonight was another great event, the Philpop 2013 mall tour.  Since we are staying in Eastwood, the concert was literally a 5 minute walk away.  My husband and I enjoyed dinner outside and listened to some of the finalists.  I got to see Tito Ryan Cayabyab again after the show.  The last time I saw him was when I was on the screening panel for Philpop a few months ago.  And this was the first time my husband got to meet Tito Ryan.  It was also great to see Quest there!

Now this next week is the big push to get the show ready to open.  It’s that pressure that every theater company knows.  I think as performers, we are perfectionists and always want “one more rehearsal” to fix this or fix that. The reality of a performer is that the product is never truly done, it can always be better.  But no matter what, I think we all will feel a little more comfortable having our first show done and then then we can enjoy performing this new show for the next 2 months.