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.