Angelic-looking teenage heartthrob (AL) with his road manager (RM) took to the south for a breath of fresh air. While having beers at a high-end 24/7 restobar, AL was eyeballing an extra-good looking guy (EG) opposite his table in a boisterous chatter with a groupie.
As AL saw EG head for the john, he followed him far from the preying eyes of showbiz. Or so he thought.
Posing right beside EG, AL gave a charming wink. EG winked back in dead malice. But as AL gently held on to EG’s forearm, the latter was quick to say, “Pare hindi katalo, I’m not gay sorry.” End of story.
It turned out EG was a Fil-Am balikbayan whose concept of a gay encounter is very Western, meaning gays are for gays only.
Clue: AL is a hottie matinee idol rumored to be in a “mutual understanding” with an equally hottie teenage star.
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Caveat was privileged to watch the farewell performance of the musical “Obra Ni Juan,” a multi-media theater presentation about Juan Luna.
The production incorporated film clips and footages on the life, nationalist struggle, and tragic love affair of the greatest Filipino painter.
Staged to a bursting capacity for a total of four showings on the same day at SM North Cinema in Quezon City, the said masterwork in the past months has been showcased by Philippine Stagers Foundation (PSF) to critical and box-office acclaim for over 500 times in schools and universities around the country.
According to its playwright, librettist, director and lead actor Vince Tañada, Obra has just successfully concluded its provincial tour in Northern Mindanao including the cities of Surigao, Gingoog, Malaybalay, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
In hindsight, Juan Luna’s controversial life story has been reprised several times over in the present and remote past not only onstage but also on TV, film, and documentary. The present take, however, brought to the ephemeral world by the brilliance of Pipo Cifra’s musical score and Tañada playing the role of Juan Luna himself is far ample distinctively unique from its earlier generic versions.
The musical theater was magical as it transported viewers to the turbulent world of Filipino propagandists in Europe, particularly Madrid, vis-a-vis the raging revolutionary forces back home led by Andres Bonifacio.
In a manner of speaking, it was almost seamless as the actors breathed life and guts out into their songs and dances if not for the theater’s utter lack of high-end contrivances for the scene changes to flow swiftly into the total charm and magic of a Broadway musical. PSF has been bestowed early on a few distinctive awards and nominations from online Broadway World Awards.
Preferring to watch the said musical’s last and fourth run for over two hours each on that same day, Caveat was held spellbound at the way the ensemble was able to sustain its energy in singing and dancing to unmistakable performance peak level. With nary a downbeat or a strained note as if watching them perform fresh as ever for the first time, it was indeed astounding.
When the musical was staged in Ilocos Norte where Juan Luna was born in Badoc, his descendants, according to Tañada, showed up and thanked them profusely for coming out with the material, including the not-so well-known nationalist acts of Juan.
Not much is known that it was due to fit of jealousy that led the gifted painter to shoot dead his wife Paz and mother-in-law Juliana Pardo de Tavera, and wounding his brother-in-law Felix who tried to intervene. The painter was acquitted by the Spanish court due to momentary insanity. The deceased were survived by an only son, Andres Pardo de Tavera-Luna.
No Pardo de Tavera descendant had shown up thus far to watch the production. Watching the tragedy of their progenitors come alive onstage probably does not sit well with them. Or perhaps to this time they have not as yet forgiven Juan, the country’s colossal pride, for the crime of passion that he had committed? Or for some other well-founded reasons that only them were privy to in those times?