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‘Banwa!’: A Great Collaboration of Om Velasco and Joey Ting

Inspired from Edward Mast’s ‘Jungalbook’ and based on the original novel ‘Jungle Book’ of Nobel Prize winner, Rudyard Kipling—Om Velasco and Joey Ting joined forces to mount ‘Banwa!’ at Senior Social Garden (SSG), University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB), Laguna, from September 25, 26, and 27.

The said play had to add one more evening show at 9pm on Thursday, September 26, just to accommodate the influx of walk-in guests who were all eager to watch the show after a much-talk-of-the-town launch via its mini-parade around the UPLB campus on Thursday, September 19.

Velasco as playwright and Ting as director for 'Banwa!'

Velasco as playwright and Ting as director for ‘Banwa!’

Its simple plot depicts the issues of today—territoriality, culture, folklore, ritual, and laws that bind the resident dwellers. The campus of UPLB is perfect for hosting such unique and exciting theater treat.

The characters in this stage production blend well with the environs that offer a fresher and cleaner air of nature; at nighttime—the insect sounds that hid and are nestled in the forest of Makiling lull the local tourists and its residents in the area. Huge, towering and ancient trees provide a great backdrop for the play that can be imaginary on its stage setup.

According to Velasco, the playwright, who teaches writing and literature at UPLB and currently finishing his MA in Philippine Studies in UP-Diliman, “When we were reading Mast’s adaptation, we wanted to preserve its sincere and straight-forward rendering of Kipling’s novel.

“We were attracted to its complex but subtle depiction of the tensions between the world of the jungle and its characters. But we also wanted to adapt it in such a way that this ‘universal’ jungle—this world constructed by Kipling becomes fully recognizable by our audience. In this attempt, we wanted the audience to identify not just the familiar flora and fauna found in our jungles, but also our own culture and traditions, which we used as wellsprings for our characters.”

Ting’s take, as the director says, “I wanted to show circus’s imperfections. This is the Philippine version.

“We have a pre-conceived idea that circus is supposed to be perfect, precise, sharp, and edgy, complete—just like we see in foreign acts like Cirque Du Soleil.

“Tayo hinihiram lang natin yun. It’s kind of difficult for us to scout real-skilled circus performers. Kaya bakit natin pipilitin? Why don’t we create something unique, something Filipino kagaya ng nakikita natin sa peryahan (carnivals)? The acts we see are ritually-inclinde—performers get to eat chickens. Pa-folkloric… that’s what I wanted to present—the parallelism of folkloric and the dynamics of a circus scene.

Official poster of 'Banwa!'

Official poster of ‘Banwa!’

The evolving concept of Dadaism, contemporary pop art and culture, industrial and machine art installations, stylistic movements, techno-folkloric music combination, and circus-like elements and spectacle using kinetics (body motion), proxemics (interaction with space), and aero-dynamics (concepts of flying and aerial stunts) are major influences of this production.

Homegrown UPLB student-actors comprise its huge number of cast and production staff of ‘Banwa!’ Christian Alfajora, Brylle James Galang, Kristofer Abe Pojas, Mark Salas, and Lester Avan (also a film actor who appeared in the film ‘The Flu’ play multi-dimensional animal characters. Jeremy Dela Cruz provided its movements and choreography onstage.

‘Galema’ premieres on September 30

Jim Fernandez’s ‘Galema: Anak ni Zuma’ found a new home on Philippine television via ABS-CBN’s Kapamilya Gold with Andi Eigenmann as the lead star and will premiere on Monday, September 30.

Box-office and the master storyteller Wenn V. Deramas directs the highly-anticipated teleserye that brings together the original team-up of Eigenmann and former partner in ‘Agua Bendita’—Matteo Guidicelli.

Guidicelli describes his reunion with Eigenmann as, “This time around… nag-mature na talaga kami. Marami na kaming pinagdaanan sa buhay. This time around, this is heavier, more meaningful.”

Eigenmann adds, “I’m excited to be working again with Matteo.”

Part of the cast are Meg Imperial, Sunshine Cruz, Sheryl Cruz, Carlos Morales, Divina Valencia, Lito Legaspi, and introducing the tall, daunting hunk—Derick Hubalde as the green creature—Zuma.

For updates on ‘Galema: Anak ni Zuma’—like its facebook page and follow its twitter account.

The Power of Aiza and Charice in One Concert

Two of the country’s well-loved and self-confessed lesbian-artists—Aiza Seguerra and Charice Pempengco are going to storm Smart Araneta Coliseum today, September 28, 8pm with special guests Gloc9 and Abra in their concert together, titled—‘Power of Two: The Unbreakable Tour’.

Aiza Seguerra and Charice Pempengco in 'Power of Two: The Unbreakable Tour'.

Aiza Seguerra and Charice Pempengco in ‘Power of Two: The Unbreakable Tour’.

Seguerra, a former child star who made waves via Eat Bulaga’s ‘Little Miss Philippines’ and Pempengco, on the other hand, got noticed via ‘Little Big Star’, a talent show in the Philippines loosely-patterned after American Idol, and she placed third in the finals.

Both made history in their respective solo concerts held last year—Seguerra with her ‘Bente Singko’ while Pempengco with her a ten-city tour across Asia in order to promote the official release of her studio album, ‘Infinity’—together they share the stage with their expected repertoire of songs.

The concert musical directors are Ria Villena-Osorio and Troy Laureta. It is brought to you by Wilbros and eTalEnt Talent and Entertainment.

Ticket prices are at Php3,500 for VIP, Php3,000 for Patron, Php2,500 for Lower Box, Php1,500 for Upper Box A, and Php750 for Upper Box B. To purchase tickets online, visit TicketNet or contact (632) 911-5555.