Growing up watching DC and Marvel cartoons on television was one of my favorite pastime and when I ran into the words of Peter Parker and Aunt May’s—I am reminded of how the newest venture of Ballet Philippines’ ‘Manhid: The Pinoy Superhero Musical’, opening on February 20 and closes the country’s premiere dance company’s 45th season, too.
In a nation that is run by corrupt officials and the people slowly pushed into a sea of polluted agendas, this musical return from its original production, after more than two decades, performed at the University of the Philippines with Eraserheads featured as composers and performers back in 1992.
Peter Parker’s words in the Spider-Man movie, though American in its tone, the universality of its message hold true to the Filipino audience, “Not everyone is meant to make a difference. But for me, the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option.”
Kanakan-Balintagos a.k.a. Aureus Solito, a multi-awarded film director was the main author of this masterpiece together with TV and stage composer Vincent de Jesus, the co-composer of the musical set in waking up the senses of the Filipinos, particularly the youth.
Also, another stirring statement from the Spider-Man film, the one uttered by Aunt May, “Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer. I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.”
‘Manhid’ is about a new generation of Filipino superheroes redefined for today’s times. It is set in an alternate, present-day Philippines where EDSA revolution failed, but converged heroes and villains with superpowers along with people sick with Kamanhiran (Apathy, in English).
It is a battle of two groups of superheroes—the Maragtas headed by tabloid writer Bantugan Buenaventura with lady activist named Lam-ang Panganiban against the Tulisan led by General Apolaki Regalado, who is employed by Mamalahim-ma, a demonic Minister of Humanity who seeks to enslave the Filipino generation with an epidemic of Kamanhiran.
To make the production more appealing to the current theatergoers—the younger generation—it has assembled the geniuses of Solito, the former artistic director of UP TROPA, a theater organization in collaboration with the current artistic director of Ballet Philippines—Paul Alexander Morales as the show’s director and choreographer, Alden Lugnasin as co-choreographer, Francis de Veyra as musical director, Zard Eguia as set designer, Victor Ursabia as costume designer, Roman Cruz as lighting designer, and Radioactive Sago Project provides the live band.
However, for a meal, its main course are the cast members. Sandino Martin, a best actor awardee at Cinema One Originals for his role in ‘Esprit de Corps’ is the lead character named Bantugan. His alternate is BP’s apprentice—Mark Anthony Grantos. Lam-Ang’s character is shared by Teetin Villanueva, a recent UP Diliman theater arts graduate with Tanghalang Pilipino’s actor’s company member—Regina De Vera. Other cast members include Gold Villar, Kim Molina, Jean Judith Javier, KL Dizon, Ronah Rostata, Fredison Lo, Ricardo Magno, JV Ibeste, and Mayen Estanero.
BP dancers sharing center stage are Jean Marc Cordero, Katherine Trofeo, Richardson Yadao, Earl John Arisola, Cyril Aran Fallar, Emmanuelle Guillermo, Timothy Paul Cabrera, Rita Angela Winder, Denise Parungao, Kazier Policarpio, Ma. Celine Dofitas, Victor Maguad, and Erl Emmanuel Sorilla.
The musical will have a three-weekend run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater on February 20-22, February 27-March 1, and March 6-8.
For more information about the show, visit its official website or contact its dedicated line at (632) 551-1003; for tickets, call CCP Box Office at (632) 832-3704 or call Ticketworld at (632) 891-9999.