Thursday, June 11, 2015

Recap of GAWAD BUHAY 2014: Awards Flood "Rak of Aegis"!

June 11, 2015

Last night, I was a witness to the seventh edition of Gawad Buhay Awards.  This local version of the Tony Awards as PHILSTAGE honors the best performances of the previous theater season among its members. 

Philstage is an umbrella organization of professional performing arts companies in the Philippines, including Ballet Manila, Ballet Philippines, Gantimpala Theater Foundation, Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit, PETA, Repertory Philippines, Tanghalang Pilipino, Trumpets, Actor’s Actors, 9 Works Theatrical and Philippine Opera Company. New among the roster of members are: Resorts World Manila’s Full House Theater Productions (eligible this year), Red Turnip Theater (eligible next year), and the newest company to join, Philippine Ballet Theater.

The show started promptly at 8 pm.   I could hear the show was already starting inside when I was still getting my ticket outside the Little Theater of the CCP. The emcee is the versatile and very funny actor Topper Fabregas. It seems I also missed an opening song number with Topper, Joaquin Valdes, Kim Molina and Red Concepcion (in drag wearing a corset!).

Nikki Gil (smashing in her body-hugging, bright orange gown) and her partner Steven Silva were already handing out the first set of awards.

Female Featured Performance in Classical Dance
Celina Dofitas, “Cinderella” (BP)
Edana Mae Labitoria, “Cinderella” (BP)
Rita Winder, “Cinderella” (BP)

No nomination were cited for Male Featured Performance in Classical Dance.

Male Lead Performance in Classical Dance
Richardson Yadao, “Cinderella” (BP)
EARL JOHN ARISOLA, “Cinderella” (BP)

Denise Parungao

Female Lead Performance in Classical Dance
DENISE PARUNGAO, “Cinderella” (BP)
Monica Gana, “Cinderella” (BP)
Dawna Mangahas, “Nutkraker” (BM)

Philippine Ballet Theater number

Topper came out in a basketball jersey with a huge V in front and the name Tolits at the back. He is wearing one of the costumes from the first nominee for costume design, "Rak of Aegis". He introduced the special number from the newest member of Philstage, the Philippine Ballet Theater, who rendered a dance number.

Liza Magtoto and Margie Moran-Floirendo

Ballet Phils. president Ms. Margie Moran-Floirendo introduced the sole nominee and winner of Outstanding Original Libretto, LIZA MAGTOTO, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta). Ms. Magtoto dedicated her award to her "original Tolits", her Dad. There was no nominee for Outstanding Original Script.  Then, both of them presented the next award.

Outstanding Translation or Adaptation
Virgilio Almario and José Lacaba, “Mga Ama, Mga Anak” (TP)
ROLANDO TINIO, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP) (MY REVIEW)

Topper in his "Scrooge" costume. Unwashed since the run?

Topper came out in a nightgown with nightcap and scraggly beard worn in the next costume nominee, "Scrooge" by Rep. He joked that in true Rep tradition, that costume had not been washed since the show ended its run. 

The next presenters were Joaquin Valdes and Mailes Kanapi. 

Tami Monsod. "I'd like to say something in Filipino, but next year na lang."

Female Featured Performance in a Play
Pinky Amador, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
LIESL BATUCAN, “August: Osage County” (Rep) (MY REVIEW)
Sheila Francisco, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
TAMI MONSOD, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Madeleine Nicolas, “Mga Ama, Mga Anak” (TP)

Male Featured Performance in a Play
Richard Cunanan, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Hans Eckstein, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
YUL SERVO, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
Dido dela Paz, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
Marco Viaña, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)

Bituin Escalante. To her sister Kalila who lost to her, "Sagot ko drinks mo mamaya."

Female Featured Performance in a Musical
BITUIN ESCALANTE, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)  (MY REVIEW)
Kalila Aguilos, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Antoinette Taus, “Grease” (9WT)

Pepe Herrera dedicates his award to his mom who encouraged him to follow his heart. 
I did not catch his performance as Tolits in "Rak", may have to try to catch him in the re-run.

Male Featured Performance in a Musical
PEPE HERRERA, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)  (MY REVIEW)
Jerald Napoles, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Myke Salomon, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Juliene Mendoza, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Micko Laurente, “Kleptomaniacs” (TP)

A scene from "Sinta" by Dulaang Sibol

Next up was the presentation of the first Natatanging Gawad Buhay award, which is a lifetime achievement award. Before that, an excerpt from one of the awardee's works by his brainchild Dulaang Sibol, the musical "Sinta", was presented. 

Sir Onofre Pagsanghan, with Paul Dumol behind him

The first awardee was introduced and extolled by prominent playwright Paul Dumol. He is Mr. ONOFRE PAGSANGHAN, fondly called "Pagsi" by his students. Mr. Pagsi was very articulate, delivering his well-worded speech confidently without a script, calling himself a "very happy old man."

Nicco Manalo and group present a number from TP's "Kleptomaniacs" (MY REVIEW) (VIDEO)

Topper in his "La Revolucion Filipina" costume. For more audience impact. It worked!

Topper next came out on the stage practically naked with only a loin cloth and pencil-drawn abs on. This was from the nominated costume collection from the Ballet Philippine opus, "La Revolucion Filipina." 

The next presenters were Richard Cunanan and Shiela Francisco.

Carissa Adea

Female Lead Performance in Modern Dance
Dawna Mangahas, “Shutter” [from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads”] (BM)
Monica Gana, “Duet” [from “Art of Dance”] (BP)
Kris-Belle Paclibar-Mamangun, “Salome” [from “The Blue Moon Series”] (BP)
CARISSA ADEA, “Songs of the Wayfarer” [from “The Blue Moon Series”] (BP)
Jessa Balote, “Sari’t Bahag” [from “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika: An OPM Festival”] (BM)

Richardson Yadao

Male Lead Performance in Modern Dance
Elpidio Magat, “Shutter” [from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads”] (BM)
Earl John Arisola, “Duet” [from “Art of Dance”] (BP)
Rudy de Dios, “Aramica” [from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads”] (BM)
Jean Marc Cordero, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)
RICHARDSON YADAO, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

No nominations were cited for Male and Female Featured Performance in Modern Dance.

Outstanding Choreography for a Dance Production
BAM DAMIAN, “Aramica” [from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads”] (BM)
Denisa Reyes, “Muybridge Frames” [from “Art of Dance”] (BP)
Bam Damian, “After Whom” [from “The Blue Moon Series”] (BP)
Alice Reyes, “Bungkos Suite” [from “The Blue Moon Series”] (BP)
Agnes Locsin, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

The cast of Kanser @ 35: The Musical

Following these awards, there was an operatic song number by the cast of the upcoming revival show from Gantimpala Theater Foundation, "Kanser @ 35: The Musical" featuring members of Viva Voce

Topper in his Full Gallop garb. He fit into Cherie Gil's costume?

Topper came back out wearing a black suit with a flowery shawl around him. This was a costume by Rajo Laurel from the third costume nominee "Full Gallop". He mentioned that he is different from Neil Patrick Harris because he is not paid for this gig, and that he only had one dresser with him. 

Karla Gutierrez from the Philippine Opera Company sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" to accompany the "In Memoriam" slideshow for departed members of the Philippine theater community. This list included young actor Aaron Ching and director Kokoy Jimenez.

Toots Tolentino (and his red shoes!) and Leloi Arcete

The next presenters were publicists Sir Toots Tolentino and Leloi Arcete to acknowledge their invaluable contributions to the theater world.

Happy Constantino and Myke Salomon

Outstanding Sound Design
Jethro Joaquin, “Noises Off” (Rep)
Jethro Joaquin, “Wait Until Dark” (Rep)
Bart Guingona, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)
Ryan Cayabyab (remastered by David Theo), “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

Outstanding Lighting Design
John Batalla, “Wait Until Dark” (Rep)
Katsch Catoy, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Martin Esteva, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)
Bart Guingona, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)
KATSCH CATOY, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

Ballet Philippines number

A beautifully haunting and athletic modern dance excerpt from "After Whom" followed performed by Ballet Philippines followed. 

Topper in his "Priscilla" costume. In his own words, he looked like a "green p*n*s"!

Topper came out wearing a neon green outfit with huge green afro wig from the fourth costume nominee "Priscilla Queen of the Desert."

The next presenters were Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and partner Robie Zialcita.

Red Concepcion. His best role and performance ever!

Male Lead Performance in a Musical
RED CONCEPCION, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)
Joaquin Valdes, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)
Nicco Manalo, “Kleptomaniacs” (TP)
Michael Williams, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)

Kim Molina. She looked genuinely shocked to win. 
I did not get to catch her as Aileen in "Rak", but I marveled at her voice as Viva in "Leading Lady". Hope to catch her in the rerun of "Rak".

Female Lead Performance in a Musical
Aicelle Santos, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Joan Bugcat, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
KIM MOLINA, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Nikki Gil, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)
Tippy Dos Santos, “Grease” (9WT)

Maribel Legarda. "No, Myke Salomon and I are not having an affair."

Outstanding Stage Direction for a Musical
MARIBEL LEGARDA, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Jaime del Mundo, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)
Robbie Guevara, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)

The next presenter was actress Sheenly Gener from Tanghalang Pilipino.

Mio Infante. On creating "ulan" and "baha".

Outstanding Set Design
MIO INFANTE, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Miguel Faustmann, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Miguel Faustmann, “Noises Off” (Rep)
Mio Infante, “The Last 5 Years” (9WT)
Mio Infante, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

Carlo Pagunaling. The most emotional acceptance speech of the night!

Outstanding Costume Design
CARLO PAGUNALING, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Edgar San Diego, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Peta)
Rajo Laurel, “Full Gallop” (My Own Mann Productions/AAI and The Necessary Theatre)
Victor Ursabia, “La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)
Valeen Vicente, “Scrooge” (Rep)

The cast of "Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady" perform

The cast of the recently-concluded hit musical "Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady" by the newest theater company Dalanghita Productions presented an excerpt from their show. I daresay this show will be raking in its own awards next year.

Puppetry and Song number by Teatrong Mulat

A delicate puppet performance from Teatrong Mulat followed. This theater company was the brainchild of the second Natatanging Gawad Buhay awardee,  AMELIA LAPENA BONIFACIO

Ms. Bonifacio, with her former students behind her

She was lovingly introduced by Bibeth Orteza and Dennis Marasigan, who were her students in UP.  Ms. Bonifacio was also still very sharp, delivering her speech without a script. She recounted her encounter with Jim Henson, and how she told him to avoid showing on Sesame Street scenes showing wastage, like throwing pies in the face or breaking plates, since these are against Asian sensitivities. 

Joaquin Valdes and Nikki Gil

An excellent song number, an excerpt from "The Last 5 Years" (MY REVIEW) followed, featuring a pair whom Topper called "the most good-looking couple", Joaquin Valdes and Nikki Gil. (VIDEO)

The next presenters were Eladio Pamaran and May Bayot.

Chris Millado. Thanked both families he had the privilege to direct last year. They put the "FUN" in "DYSFUNCTIONAL."

Outstanding Stage Direction for a Play
CHRIS MILLADO, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
Miguel Faustmann, “Wait Until Dark” (Rep)
Bart Guingona, “Full Gallop” (My Own Mann/AAI)
Chris Millado, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
Bart Guingona, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)

Gio Gahol

Outstanding Choreography for a Play or Musical
Nancy Crowe, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)
Gio Gahol, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Nestee Mamaril Gamilla, “Kleptomaniacs” (TP)

Myke Salomon. Winning for his first gig as Musical Director.

Outstanding Musical Direction
MYKE SALOMON, “Rak of Aegis” (Peta)
Inday Echevarria, “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (Full House)
Joseph Tolentino, “The Last Five Years” (9WT)

Jon Santos, Michael Williams and Red Concepcion sing "True Colors"

The next number was an excerpt from "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" with Jon Santos, Red Concepcion and Michael Williams singing Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" in their drag queen glory. I'd call this the best excerpt performance of the night. (VIDEO)

The next presenters were Sandino Martin, Bart Guingona, and Juilliard-bound TP actress Regina de Vera.

Female Lead Performance in a Play
Baby Barredo, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
CHERIE GIL, “Full Gallop” (My Own Mann/AAI) (MY REVIEW)
Liesl Batucan, “Wait Until Dark” (Rep)
Jennifer Blair-Bianco, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)
Gina Pareño, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)

Male Lead Performance in a Play
Spanky Manikan, “Mga Ama, Mga Anak” (TP)
ROBERT AREVALO, “Mga Ama, Mga Anak” (TP)
Jonathan Tadioan, “Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
David Bianco, “Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)

Winners tonight Kim Molina and Pepe Herrera sing "Mahal Na Mahal Kita"

Three pairs from the long-running musical "Rak of Aegis" took the stage to sing selected songs from the show: Aicelle Santos and Jerald Napoles, Kim Molina and Pepe Herrera (both winners tonight) and finally, Kalila Aguilos and Lorenz Martinez. (VIDEO)

Antonette Taus and Guji Lorenzana

The final set of presenters were Antonette Taus (decked in an immaculate white gown with a deep plunging neckline) and Guji Lorenzana.

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Modern Dance
“ARAMICA” [from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads”] (BM)
“Muybridge Frames” [from “Art of Dance”] (BP)
“After Whom” [from “The Blue Moon Series”] (BP)
“Bungkos Suite” [from “The Blue Moon Series”] (BP)
“La Revolucion Filipina” (BP)

The winning ensemble of AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY 
(Pinky Amador, Sheila Francisco, Richard Cunanan, director Chris Millado, Tami Monsod)

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Play
“Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)
“Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)

The winning ensemble of RAK OF AEGIS. 
Rak is the biggest winner of the night -- winning 11 of its 17 nominations!

Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical
“The Last 5 Years” (9WT)

No nomination was cited for Outstanding Ensemble Performance for Classical Dance

Chris Millado and Audie Gemora thanks the audience.

The show running more than three hours already, longer than "Leading Lady" as Topper wittily put it. Philstage president Audie Gemora hurriedly thanked everyone on and behind the stage for all the services rendered gratis, all for the love of Philippine Theater. 

I left after those "final" words since it was already very late. But it turns out, Topper ran out to remind the gentlemen that the show was not over yet! The final major awards were presented by Bibeth Orteza, Rafa Siguion Reyna, and none other than "Armida Siguion-Reyna" (of course, it was the hilarious Jon Santos dressed in Ms. Armida's trademark "Aawitan Kita" baro't saya!). Too bad I missed out on seeing that last part.

Outstanding Modern Dance Production
“Aramica” [from “Heart2Heart: Ballet & Ballads”] (BM)
“Muybridge Frames” [from “Art of Dance”] (BP)

Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Play
“Full Gallop” (My Own Mann/AAI)
“Pahimakas sa Isang Ahente” (TP)
“Venus in Fur” (AAI/The Necessary Theatre)

Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Musical
“The Last 5 Years” (9WT)

Outstanding Original Musical

There were no nominations cited for Outstanding Original Musical Composition, Outstanding Classical Dance Production, Outstanding Original Play and Outstanding Production for Children. 

Several stage performances were not eligible for awards because they were not staged by Philstage member theater organizations.  I hope university productions, like Dulaang UP or Tanghalang Ateneo, as well as other professional theater groups, like Atlantis or PhilStagers, will also be included in the Philstage roster in the future.

Mabuhay ang Teatrong Pilipino!


  1. oh cool,. didn't know we got our very own version of Tonys.. I'm a big fan of that award show.... it's also nice to see that our Filipino artists are keeping the Philippine theater industry alive... Rak of Aegis is definitely something to look forward to and Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady is probably a great movie in the making.. sayang di naguwi ng solo award si Aicelle (big fan here) but it doesn't matter, Rak of Aegis bagged so many recognition here

  2. Wow Topper wore several costumes that are so unique in style. My favorite is Priscilla. I thought he looked like a tree that's a superhero protecting Mother Nature. :)

  3. Hope the government will provide supports to organizations like this.

  4. Sana, mas lalo pang bigyan ng supporta ang mga stage performers. all we know kasi is to patronize more yung mga nasa film industry.

  5. Congrats to the winners and nominees. I'm sure everybody deserved their awards.

  6. Great to see that our performing artist are being honored by these award giving bodies.