‘Sweeney Todd,’ a rather pleasant musical experience

“Sweeney Todd” would have been a perfect musical for the Halloween. But it lacked the gore and grit, and messiness, I was hoping to see. Or maybe that’s just the horror freak in me expecting for a blood bath.

I did enjoy the impeccable singing of the cast which I think is the strength of the Manila production of the play. The clear vocals almost sound like they are pre-recorded. That’s how good it was.

Jett Pangan, though failing to project the tormented mad man character of the demon barber, showed off his effortless singing. “Prince Ballad” Gerald Santos’ sweet voice was a perfect fit for the love-struck character of Anthony Hope. Nyoy Volante as the hilarious Adolfo Pirelli was a joy to watch. I also liked listening to Baritone Andrew Fernando’s deep voice playing Judge Turpin.

Lea Salonga as Mrs. Lovett was, as expected, spectacular. I’ve always been a big fan of Lea so I was ecstatic to get to finally see her live and revel in her lovely voice. I thought her quirky characterization of Mrs. Lovett was spot on. Loved the Cockney accent, too.  

“Sweeney Todd” is about murder and cannibalism but the musical was anything but dark. It was however a showcase of world class talent – of Pinoys who sing damn well and I for one, certainly can’t get enough of that!

 

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Green Minded Peeps: Zero Waste Advocates

For lunch, I would normally bring with me a container as I buy food from Jollijeep, a kind of a food cart, in Makati. If I see someone doing the same, I can’t help but smile, stopping myself from giving the person a hug. The vendors appreciate this effort and as a reward, I sometimes get a free banana! Yey!

Of course I also refuse the paper bag and use my own tote bag. Disposables made from paper is considered a lesser evil because it is compostable, but it’s still evil as it’s made from dead trees (gasp)! And its production entails the use of a lot of water. Reusables is still the best option.

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My reusable starter kit.

I bought coffee from 7-11 and used my own cup instead of paper cup. The cashier wished more people would do the same. Well, the good news is, awareness about the issue of single-use plastic and pollution is growing, together with individuals and organizations promoting the zero waste movement.

Robin Lewis of Japan co-founded MyMizu, a water refill app that points you to places where you can refill your bottle for free. So cool! Good-bye bottled water. Those evil bottled water companies are shaking, haha!

Still in Japan, Akira Sakano, heads the Zero Waste Academy in Kamikatsu where garbage is segregated into 45 categories!

Low Impact Filipina, Angel Mata, a teacher raises awareness about the low purchase, low waste, and low impact lifestyle through her blog.

Zero waste shops are popping up like the Wala Usik: Tiangge + Kapehan in Bacolod offering local, natural, or package free options.

We do have to make corporations accountable for the waste problem caused by their plastic packaging but our individual actions contribute to the solution, too. Consumer pressure can drive business directions. And our individual choices can mean one less trash to deal with.

The Youth in Action

Greta Thunberg, today’s face of the climate movement, is angry. And we should be furious with her because those in power dilly dally in addressing this very complicated problem we now call as climate emergency.

Admittedly, change, a systemic one at that, would take time. But that’s something we’re running out of. And this should move us all into action. To be honest, this blatant disregard and apathy from the government and corporations is frustrating. So I’ve decided to draw encouragement from empowered individuals and young people giving their all, making their voices heard, and fighting for their future and their now.

The Global Climate Strike gained a lot of support worldwide and the Philippines, despite being one of the countries with least greenhouse gas emission, joined this national mobilization for climate action. Jefferson Estela, founder of Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines outlined the demands of the group during a dialogue with Climate Change Commission on September 18, 2019. This include the phase out of coal and other fossil fuels, transition to renewable energy, and declaration of climate emergency in the country, among others.

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#IAmHampasLupa together with Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines had a dialogue with Secretary Emmanuel M. De Guzman, Atty. Efren Bascos, and Ludwig O. Federigan of the Climate Change Commission PH. The discussion revolved around the campaign for ecological agriculture and #DietforClimate, and the Climate Strike.

Foundation University in Dumaguete hosted the event “Entrepreneurship and My Future” focusing on social innovation on September 20. During the event, MakeSense, a community of citizens, social entrepreneurs, and organizations working for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, facilitated a start-up creation workshop for students in the city.

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“Entrepreneurship and My Future” at Foundation University, Dumaguete.

In time for the International Coastal Clean-up Day on September 21, Bacolod CORE (Children Optimization for the Revitalization of the Environment), a youth-led group, gathered more than five hundred volunteers at Purok Crossing Otso, Barangay Tangub for a clean-up and waste auditing. Part of the day’s activities was a creative Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) Workshop for kids in the community.

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Operation Kawayan Creative DRRM Workshop with children of Barangay Tangub.

The youth is often branded as selfish and are simply concerned of their social media image. But on the contrary, they are passionate, proactive, and brave. They are hopeful, they are angry, and they use all that energy to make a change.

Eat Veggies and Save the Amazon Forest – Ha?!

Nasusunog or should I say sinusunog ang Amazon forest. Ngunit hindi lang ang tinaguriang lungs of the earth or largest tropical rainforest of the world and biktima. Marami sa ating mga kagubatan ang sinisira dahil sa pagtotroso, pagmimina, at pagsasaka.

Gusto mong tumulong beyond social media? Kumain ng gulay at prutas. Anong connect, you ask. Well, isang dahilan ng pagkasira ng ating mga gubat ang pagsasaka. At huwag ka, ang mga pananim na iyan ay hindi para sa tao – pagkain iyan ng mga baka na pagkarami-rami upang mapunan ang demand for hamburger, corned beef, at iba pang karne.

Kapag nagbawas ka ng pagkonsumo ng karne, malaking tulong na iyan upang di lalong lumala ang deforestation.

Obviously, okay din ito sa kalusugan nang hindi dumagdag sa statistics ng namamatay sa heart attack, stroke, diabetes, at iba pang lifestyle diseases.

Ngunit masarap ang bawal. O kailangan ko ng protein for my muscles. O ayoko ng gulay. Kung gusto, maraming paraan. Kung ayaw, maraming dahilan.

Hindi naman kailangang itakwil ng tuluyan ang karne. Kapag nag-decide kang maging vegan o vegetarian, eh di ayos. Ngunit maski flexitarian (occasional meat-eater) lang, “meatless Mondays,” o sahug-sahog na karne sa ulam, o hinay-hinay sa unli-samgyeup, magandang simula na iyan. Hindi naman siguro isang malaking sakripisyo ito ano.

Kaya’t ano pang hinihintay mo. Mag-#lessismore na! Less karne, more gulay! Nakatulong ka na sa kalikasan, okay pa sa katawan!

Learn more about the campaign here.

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Credit: Greenpeace

Film Rebyu: ‘Parasite’

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Credit: imdb.com

May mga palabas na akala mo pagkaganda-ganda dahil multi-awarded at gusto ng mga kritiko pero hindi pala, pa-artsy-fartsy lang. Mayroong iba na walang awards at deadma sa mga tao pero okay naman. At mayroon namang iyong mga ginawaran na ng parangal at swak na swak pa sa panlasa ng mga manonood – iyong tipong mapapasulat ka ng rebyu.

Enter “Parasite” – Korean film ni Bong Joon-ho na nakatanggap ng Palme d’Or Award sa Cannes Film Festival. Ito ang pinakamataas na gantimpala sa nasabing festival.

Sadyang kahanga-hangang direktor si Joon-ho dahil tulad ng iba niyang obra na “Okja,” “Snowpiercer,” at “The Host,” ang “Parasite” ay hindi lang for entertainment, isa rin itong social commentary sa mga isyu ng mundo – class struggle, in this case.

Kuwento ito ng mahirap at mayamang pamilya without the langit-lupa love angle. Dala ng gipit at kasakiman, gagawin ang lahat ng mga nasa ibaba upang umangat kahit pa sa paraang pananamantala. Matatawa ka at mapapaisip din. Ika nga sa kanta ng Aegis, sa gulong ng buhay, bakit ang mga nasa ilalim ay nasa ilalim pa rin? Samantalang naghahari-harian ang mga walang kahirap-hirap na iniluklok ng pribilehiyo.

“They’re rich but they’re nice,” puna ng isang karakter na agad pinabulaanan ng isa pa, “They’re nice because they’re rich.”

Nakakaaliw at nakakakaba ang pinaghalong comedy at thriller na pelikula. Ang ganda ng plot, pacing, acting, at twist. Definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.

Maihahantulad ko ito sa pagsakay sa roller coaster na hindi mo alam kung saan ka dadalhin. Sino ang kakampihan mo? Sino ang bida at kaaway? Sino ang tunay na parasite?

Kuro-kuro dala ng maulang panahon

Madalas maulan o mabagyo ang Agusto, ang aking birth month. Marahil tanda ito ng buhos ng grasya ng kalangitan sa aking pagkasilang. Ngunit ito’y hagulgol ng dalamhati para sa marami, lalo na kung ika’y nasa Metro Manila. Paano’y lalong lumalala ang malala ng kalagayan ng trapiko na kasalanan di umano ng mga pampublikong sasakyan at provincial buses. Dagdag pa diyan ang pagbaha na hindi na pinagtataka ng karamihan dahil epekto ito ng kawalan ng disiplina at pagpapahalaga sa kalikasan, pagkakalat lalo na ng mga plastik, pagputol sa mga puno, at di maayos na pagpaplano ng siyudad.

Normal na ang dating hindi. Ang daluyong ng malalakas na bagyo dahil sa climate change. Isang climate emergency na kung tutuusin. Ngunit walang pakundangan sa patuloy na panggagahaman ang maraming pulitiko’t korporasyon. Ang mga kabataa’y nagra-rally, umaasa ng aksiyon mula sa mga makapangyarihan. At sila’y babansagang rebelde. Papatahimikin. Papatayin. Silang lumalaban para sa kapakanan ng kalikasan.

Sa Hong Kong naman patuloy ang welga bilang pagtutol sa mga panukala ng Tsina, na tila ay may planong sakupin ang buong mundo. Maging ang teritoryo ng Pilipinas ay inaangkin. Kaya’t kagulat-gulat ang pagdami ng mga Chinese National sa bansa. Probinsiya na nga yata tayo ng Tsina na mukhang hindi naman inaalmahan ni Digong.

Sadyang masalimuot ang kalagayan ng pulitika ngayon sa Pilipinas na pinakomplikado pa ng sagutang “dilawan” at “DDS.” Kung kaya’t love life nalang ng mga artista ang pinagtutuunan ng mga mahilig sa tsismis. Samantalang isang buntong hininga na lamang ang magagawa ng marami habang patuloy na magtitiis. Tatanggapin na lang ang realidad ng trapik, ng ulan at bagyo, ng baha, ng patayan, ng mga corrupt – na iraraos nalang sa walang kakupas-kupas na hugot.

 

‘Ang Huling El Bimbo’ – Bittersweet Nostalgia

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There’s something about the 90s fashion of grunge, bulky and oversized clothes. It would make you spin right back to the past when life was, well, simpler. And music from the same period would make you embrace nostalgia even more as the feelings sink deeper through your veins.

This is what I felt when I watched “Ang Huling El Bimbo,” a musical inspired by the songs of the Filipino rock band Eraserheads. The 90s kid in me came to life. I quietly sang along to these all too familiar tunes. It’s a surprise how songs of the past are still retained in memory while I can barely remember the words of current songs on Spotify. Sign of aging? Let’s just admit that music then was much better. I would even dare say that the 90s was the golden era for OPM (Original Pinoy Music).

The first half of the musical was brimming with life and energy relaying the story of carefree college life, friendship, and just plain fun. The revolving stage made seamless transitions between scenes and the beautiful choreography was a feast to the eyes that you won’t know where to look.

And then it gets dark. The song “Ang Huling El Bimbo” itself after all is not rainbows and butterflies. Growing up could mean losing yourself. A social commentary on the war on drugs and the face of poverty in the Philippines became the backdrop of the personal struggles of the characters in the story. That’s how life is. It can be messy.

I liked how the live band gave a fresh take on the songs. Who would have thought “With A Smile,” a song of hope, can be haunting. I also envied the effortless singing of the actors hitting high notes like it’s nothing. And the acting, too, was very natural and believable.

“Ang Huling El Bimbo” brought me back to the 90s. It made me smile. It made me sing. It made me frown in agreement to the wrongs of this world. It made me appreciate Pinoy talent. It made me want to watch more Filipino theater shows. I’ll definitely be coming back for more.