The Kundiman Party is one stage production that deserves a rerun. The cultural-political-drama written by Floy Quintos and directed by Dexter Santos is timely after the national midterm elections.
The said play that was staged in the summer of last year, is one of Santos’s best plays along with Angry Christ (2017) and Ang Nawalang Kapatid (2014) and Orosman at Zafira (2008).
Despite the exclusion of some of the former cast membersy, having Nonie Buencamino onboard as Sen. Juancho Valderama (replacing Teroy Guzman) and him being with his real-life partner–Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino as Maestra Adela is already a theater treat.
The Second Run is indeed Fun.
It’s fun because of the four ‘Titas’ and the dynamics of their relationships.
Mitoy Sta. Ana’s production design from Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theatre may have some minor changes, but the familiarity of Maestra Adela’s home is still intact.
Who would ever think the three women friends of Maestra Adela–Frances Makil-Ignacio, Stella Cañete-Mendoza, and Missy Maramara as Mayen, Helen and Mitch, respectively, would click and fit perfectly in the private life of a reclusive voice teacher? Their bond and their personalities are perfect caricatures of women with different set of truths.
Makil-Ignacio perfectly fits as the fiercest among the three female friends, while Cañete-Mendoza as the motherly and neutralizer, and Maramara as the socialite but still the wackiest for she channels that ‘young vibe’ in her as her defense mechanism.
Quintos managed to retain the fun parts as well as the heavy stuff. It worked well in painting how the three women have remained strong amid a situation that they were all shocked to occur in the home of Maestra Adela.
In these challenging times, these three women are our ideal company we can wish for. They are all strong in their respective rights. A newcomer Gabriel Paguirigan as Ludwig, Maestra’s accompanist and veritable sidekick has his own moments. He’s a comic relief. His debut onstage as an actor is sweet and remarkable.
Centenera-Buencamino personifies Kundiman.
Due to Maestra Adela’s decision to isolate herself from the political scene or her refusal to be identified by the present generation or simply live a quiet life by teaching Kundiman, it was Bobby Valderama portrayed by Boo Gabunada who exposes the woman and her art to the online world.
Adela personifies Kundiman, forgotten probably or neglected for too long by some Filipinos. It is like song for the motherland. The rest of the Filipino people have probably heard the music but has taken it for granted instead. The scene where Adela had her breakdown was a wakeup call for the citizens to be alert and have a sober mind just as described in Scriptures (1 Peter 5:8-9). However, Gabunada who replaced Kalil Almonte (Bobby in the first run) lacked depth in assuming the pivotal role of a rebel son.
Though the story took the audience to where it was envisioned by Quintos, Gabunada provided a weak interpretation of his character, maybe because it was his first time to perform with an audience and in an intimate venue?
That scene where Antoinette (Miah Canton in a flawless voice), his girlfriend serenaded him with a Kundiman song titled Bituing Marikit; it could have been a tender and romantic one. His eyes weren’t gazing on her and it sent a different emotion instead. The scene with Almonte and Teetin Villanueva was ecstatic when I last saw it.
Thankfully, Centenera-Buencamino maintains such commanding presence even with the disruptive acting he (Gabunada) was channeling onstage. Not too sure if he was channeling his Emman character from Ang Huling El Bimbo to the The Kundiman Party of Maestra Adela.
Blood is Thicker than Water?
The ancient and famous English proverb that means that familial bonds will always be stronger than the bonds of friendship or love–is evident between Bobby and his father, the senator. Though the conclusion of the play was subject for the audience’s interpretation, Gabunada’s Bobby is mysterious and unpredictable and at times exhausting.
But at the end of the play, what matters the most was what Bobby has started.
Nonie Buencamino as the loving father of Bobby made a stirring performance just like when Guzman had the role in summer of 2018. Like Shamaine, he was there onstage making the most of his brief but needed appearance. It will forever remind everyone how good he is as an actor.
As a member of the audience, Juancho spoke with authority, but with much love and understanding for his son. It was tough love. Going through the motions of that crucial scene between Bobby and the Senator, a line rang loudly into my consciousness that no matter how the latter was perceived wrongly; Bobby fears the inevitable that he’s turning like his father, somehow. Though not entirely, but he mimics him, unknowingly.
The confrontation scene was essential. It defines who Bobby is and it leads Maestra Adela to a path she has been longing for the longest time.
The Kundiman Party serves as a vehicle to fully embrace the change that this country has gotten into. Whether good or bad, it succeeded in making hope afloat in a stormy seas.
Also in the cast are Jenny Jamora as she alternates for Maramara as Mitch. Soprano Rica Nepomuceno as Melissa, a professional Kundiman singer who desperately wants to be ‘relevant’ again.
The Party runs on these dates: May 24, 8pm; May 25, 3pm and 8pm; May 26, 3pm and 8pm; May 30, 8pm; May 31, 8pm; June 1, 3pm and 8pm; June 2, 3pm and 8pm. Tickets can be obtained via Ticket2Me.
Photographs courtesy of Evo Joel Contrivida.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Cinema One once again, a pioneer in digital cinema that retains the free spirit and cutting edge in today’s national cinema,” says Grace Javier-Alfonso, chair of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP), as she revealed the list of this year’s set of nominees during the press launch held at 9501 Resto, 14th Floor Bohol Chronicle Lounge of ELJ Building.
Present during the launch were: MPP member Tito Valiente, MPP president Dr. Grace Javier-Alfonso, MPP member Dr. Bien Lumbera, and MPP member Dr. Nicanor Tiongson.
Urian is known to be giving awards to films and its workers with artistic vision without any compromise.
National Artist, Prof. Bien Lumbera sees positive indications regarding the movies they are giving recognitions each year. He breaks the good news of, “The movies are allowing the Filipinos widen the appreciation of geography. The settings are no longer limited to the city and its outskirts, but the entire nation.”
Prof. Lumbera also stresses that his taste in films is no special since it’s been a long time that he has embraced the reality of films as popular form of entertainment. He is standing side by side along with the changes that are occurring.
Gawad Urian lists its nominees:
Best Sound: Albert Michael Idioma and Addiss Tabong (‘Amok’ and ‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Albert Michael Idioma (‘Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’); Albert Michael Idioma and Alex Tomboc (‘Bisperas’); Raffy Magsaysay (‘Boundary’); and Aguila, Junel Valencia, and Mark Locsin (Liberacion).
Best Screenplay: Antoinette Jadaone (‘Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’); Charliebebs Gohetia (The Natural Phenomenon of Madness’); John Bedia (‘Amok’); Bonifacio P. Ilagan (‘Deadline’); Paul Sta. Ana (‘Bisperas’); Rody Vera (‘Niño’); Sari Lluch Dalena and Keith Sicat (‘Ka Oryang’); Alvin Yapan (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); and Chris Martinez (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’).
Best Editing: Keith Sicat (‘Ka Oryang’); Danny Añonuevo (‘Niño’); Ike Veneracion (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Mai Dionisio (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Lawrence Fajardo (‘Amok’); Chuck Gutierrez (‘Busong’); and Leo Valencia and Glenn Ituriaga (‘Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’).
Best Music: Jerrold Tarog (‘Niño’); Waway Linsahay Saway (‘Sakay sa Hangin’); Teresa Barrozo (‘Ka Oryang’); Von de Guzman (‘Amok’); Diwa de Leon (‘Busong’); Christine Muyco and Jema Pamintuan (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’).
Best Cinematography: Neil Daza and Kiri Dalena (‘Ka Oryang’); Albert Banzon (‘Liberacion’); Arvin Viola (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Robert Yniguez (“Bisperas’); Louie Quirino (‘Amok’); Regiben Romana (“Sakay sa Hangin’); Carlo Mendoza (‘Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’); and Louie Quirino (‘Busong’).
Best in Production Design: Maulen Fadul (‘The Natural Phenomenon of Madness’); Rodrigo Ricio (Bisperas); Regiben Romana (‘Sakay sa Hangin’); Reji Regalado (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank ‘); Lawrence Fajardo (‘Amok’); Laida Lim (‘Niño’); Fritz Silorio (‘Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’); and Rodrigo Ricio (‘Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’).
Best Supporting Actress: Angeli Bayani (‘Ka Oryang’); Julia Clarete (‘Bisperas’); Jean Garcia (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Shamaine Buencamino (‘Niño’); and Solenn Husef (‘Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’).
Best Supporting Actor: Bembol Rocco (‘Isda’); Jojit Lorenzo (‘Anatomiya ng Korupsyon’); Marvin Agustin (‘Patikul’); Mark Gil (‘Amok’); John Regala (’Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’); Dido dela Paz (‘Amok’); Art Acuña (’Niño’); Joem Bascom (’Ka Oryang’); Jake Cuenca ‘In The Name of Love’); Garry Lim ‘Amok”); and Ronnie Lazaro (‘Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’).
Best Actress: Lilia Cuntapay (’Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’); Raquel Villavicencio (‘Bisperas’); Eugene Domingo (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Maja Salvador (‘Thelma’); Opaline Santos (‘The Natural Phenomenon of Madness’); Isabel Lopez (‘Cuchera’); Alessandra de Rossi (‘Ka Oryang’); Fides Cuyugan (‘Niño’); Cherie Pie Picache (‘Isda’); and Diana Zubiri (‘Bahay Bata’).
Best Actor: Bong Cabrera (‘Sa Ilalim ng Tulay’); Tirso Cruz III (‘Bisperas’); Paulo Avelino (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Alfred Vargas (‘Teoriya’); Ronnie Lazaro (‘Boundary’); Raymond Bagatsing (‘Boundary’); TJ Trinidad (‘Deadline’); Martin Escudero (‘Zombadings’); JM de Guzman (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Kean Cipriano (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); and Jess Mendoza (‘The Natural Phenomenon of Madness’).
Best Film: The Natural Phenomenon of Madness (The Grit Project and Outpost Visual Frontier in cooperation with Noel D. Ferrer Production); Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (Cinemalaya, Martinez Rivera Films, Quantum Films and Straight Shooters Media); Busong (Solito Arts Production); Bisperas (Cinemalaya Foundation, Quantum Films and HongKong-Asia Films Financing Forum); Amok (Cinemalaya Foundation, Pelikulaw and Wild Coyote Pictures); Ka Oryang (Cinema One Originals, Kino Arts Production in association with Optima Digital); Niño (Cinemalaya Foundation in cooperation with Handurawan Films); Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (Vim Yapan/Alem Chua Production in cooperation with Big Top Media Productions, Inc., SQ Film Laboratories, Inc., Optima Digital and Far Eastern University); Boundary (Bigtop, Optima Digital, Voyage Studios and Wanderlustproject Films); and Six degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay (Cinema One Originals and Post Manila).
Best Director: Sari Lluch Dalena (‘Ka Oryang’); Lawrence Fajardo (‘Amok’); Benito Bautista (‘Boudary’); Loy Arcenas (‘Niño’); Marlon Rivera (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’); Alvin Yapan (‘Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’); Jeffrey Jeturian (‘Bisperas’); Antoinette Jadaone (‘Six degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay’); and Auraeus Solito (‘Busong’).
Other expected highlights
This year’s Gawad Urian promises to be another celebration of regional, multicultural, multilingual cinema that highlighted Philippine Cinema last year. This is a cutting-edge attempt to encourage and support the indie spirit. Also this year’s Natatanging Gawad Urian will be given to an artist in the film industry for his/her exemplary contribution to the country’s development of filmmaking. National Artists Fernando Poe, Jr., Gerardo de Leon, Lamberto Avellana, and Eddie Romero, Anita Linda, Rosa Rosal, Gloria Romero, Nida Blanca, Dolphy, Eddie Garcia, Pancho Magalona, Mona Lisa, and creative artists like cinematographers, editors, and scriptwriters were the previous recipients of this special award.
Last year, the Urian’s Natatanging Aktor ng Dekada Award has also been given to the paramount actors of every decade. Gina Pareño, Cherry Pie Picache and Coco Martin were honored with the Dekada award for their accomplishments in the first decade of the century. Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Gina Alajar and Philip Salvador took the award in the ‘80s, and Nora and Vilma again received the award in the ‘90s with Richard Gomez.
Also, this year’s venue—the CCP main theatre or Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo—is most appropriate for the prestigious and historic Gawad Urian show. The CCP was built in 1966 to promote and preserve Filipino arts and culture. The main theater is the largest performance venue inside the CCP and can accommodate up to 1,853 people. The hall was built to meet sound requirements of various types of presentations like opera and orchestra performances without further amplification.
The Gawad Urian is given annually since 1977. Its objectives are to examine Filipino films, bolster the interest of the masses and the Philippine film industry, study and celebrate the achievement that will help define the good Filipino film, and cultivate the knowledge and skills that the film medium was designed for, which is to be a medium of communication and expression of our culture according to the standards and conditions of filmmaking in our country.