Friday, December 29, 2017

My Yearend Roundup: The BEST of PHILIPPINE THEATER 2017

December 29, 2017

For the year 2017, I had seen and written about 53 theater productions: 15 musicals, 21 full-length plays, and 17 one-act plays. I missed a lot of productions in Ateneo because of schedule conflicts and especially the bad traffic in that area.

I will list here what I feel were the best among those theater shows I have seen and written about for 2017. (My 2016 list was posted HEREMy 2015 list was posted HERE.)


(My Full Review)

Music by: Pipo Cifra
Written and Directed by: Vincent Tanada

In an inventive and bold twist of storytelling genius, Atty. Vince Tanada brings us inside the disturbed psyche of Juan Luna as he argued within himself about key decisions and events of his life, both celebratory and tragic.  While this potentially controversial two-in-one characterization style (the genteel artist vs. the volatile cad) can cause confusion for the viewers at first, this novel approach also made us gain a unique understanding of the artist and his state of mind. I marveled at how Atty. Tanada was able to create such an imaginative manner of telling what could have been a straightforward dry history lesson.

Other Notable Productions:

Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (My Review)
Aurelio Sedisyoso (My Review)
Tagu-taguan, Nasaan ang Buwan (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Vincent Tanada, Patrick Libao, Cindy Liper and Adelle Ibarrientos-Lim (Obra ni Juan); Arman Ferrer, Aicelle Santos and Shiela Valderama-Martinez (Maynila); David Ezra, Norby David and Hazel Maranan (Aurelio Sedisyoso): Roi Calilong and Joan Bugcat (Tagu-taguan); Upeng Galang Fernandez (A Game of Trolls)


(My Full Review)

Book by: Dennis Kelly based on a novel by Roald Dahl
Music and Lyrics by: Tim Minchin
Director: Bobby Garcia

The heart and soul of the whole show was Telesa Marie "Esang" De Torres who played Matilda.  So impressive was her snappy Hermione-Granger sounding British accent with which she flawlessly delivered the longest lines while narrating four parts of her story. When we hear her sing her solo songs "Naughty" or "Quiet", it was transcendent of any initial expectations for a child performer her age in her first lead role in a major production. The beautiful stage design depicting Matilda's favorite library is immediately arresting in its size and play with colors, as designed by Faust Peneyra. Director Bobby Garcia, as always, never fails to wow the audience with how he staged the shadow play storytellling and the telekinetic special effects. 

Other Notable Productions:

Newsies (My Review)
Kinky Boots (My Review)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (My Review)

*** Foreign Touring Production: The Sound of Music (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Esang de Torres, Cris Villonco, Joaquin Valdez, Carla Guevara-Laforteza and Jaime Wilson (Matilda), Gian Magdangal, Danielle Chopin, Jef Flores and Daniel Drilon (Newsies); Nyoy Volante (Kinky Boots); Reb Atadero (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang): Caisa Borromeo (Hair): Carla Guevara-Laforteza (Spamalot), Noel Rayos and Franco Laurel (A Christmas Carol 2017); Janelle Visagie (The Sound of Music)


A. One-Act:

Best: LOOB
(My Full Review)

Written by: Patrick Libao
Directed by: Vincent Tanada

The performance of Gerald Magallanes as the ballet boy Mika was bold and graceful in the course of his painful self-discovery, literally baring himself body and soul on that stage. His intensity was matched step by step by Arian Golondrina, who amazed everyone with her fluid versatility as she seamlessly transitioned into multiple characters, even dropping a few lines in Russian. A thunderous standing ovation greeted this mesmerizing play when it ended, all truly deserved!

Other Notable Productions:

Pilipinas Kong Mahal with All the Overcoat (My Review)
Si Dr. Dolly Dalisay at ang mga Ladybugs (My Review)
Ang Mga Puyong (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Gerald Magallanes and Arian Golondrina (Loob), Fitz Bitana and Anthony Falcon (Plipinas), Dolly de Leon and Celeste Legaspi (Dr. Dolly), Reynald Santos and Ahmed Maulana (Puyong) Gie Onida (Birdcage), Ricci Chan and John Lapuz (Hindi Ako si Darna), Katie Bradshaw and Epi Quizon (Beheld), Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap (Carol)

B. Full-Length: Original Filipino Material or Filipino Adaptation:

(My Full Review)

Written by: Floy Quintos
Directed by: Dexter M. Santos

This new Quintos - Santos collaboration is inspired by the real life story of Alfonso Ossorio, a Filipino artist who painted on a wall in the sanctuary of a chapel in Victorias, Negros Occidental in 1950. The creation of this mural, called "Angry Christ," was the source of much turmoil and controversy for Ossorio, but it eventually became a high point of his career as an artist, and the work he will be remembered for in the land of his birth. For a second consecutive time this year, Nelsito Gomez is playing an artist with a controversial painting about Jesus Christ against popular conventions of religious art. 

Other Notable Productions:

Ang Pag-uusig (My Review)
Sakuntala (My Review)
Ang Buhay ni Galileo (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Nelsito Gomez and Kalil Almonte (Angry Christ), JV Ibesate, Jonathan Tad Tadioan, Doray Dayao and Antonette Go (Ang Pag-uusig), Vincent Kevin Pajara (Sakuntala), Bodjie Pascua, John Moran and Noel Comia Jr. (Ang Buhay ni Galileo), Leo Rialp and Issa Litton (Mga Ama, Mga Anak), Boo Gabunada (Bagong Cristo), Juliene Mendoza (Eurydice), Angeli Bayani, Jackie Lou Blanco and Cherry Pie Picache (Buwan at Baril)


(My Full Review)

Written by: John Pielmeyer
Directed by: Bart Guingona

Even if Pinky Amador may physically seem too young to play a strict jaded Mother Superior, she convinces us that she was one by the sheer gravelly grit of her voice as she delivered her world-weary lines which dripped with bitterness. Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo never missed a beat as the chain-smoking doctor. Her psychiatrist was frank and straightforward, yet caring and empathetic. That chest-beating scene is simply so potent.  As Agnes, Becca Coates reminded me of the raw talent exuded by a young Monique Wilson. Her look and her voice were angelic and innocent, yet she made us feel Agnes' fractured psyche.

Other Notable Productions:

My Name is Asher Lev (My Review)
W;t (My Review)
Prelude to Macbeth (My Review)

Notable Performances:

Becca Coates, Pinky Amador and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (Agnes of God); Nel Gomez (Asher Lev); Tami Monsod (W;t); Mikkie-Volante and Bart Guingona (Blackbird);  Giannina Ocampo, Caisa Borromeo, Tami Monsod and Joshua Spafford (In the Next Room); Michael Williams, Roselyn Perez and Cherie Gil (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike); Jernice Matunan (Prelude to Macbeth)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Recap of UPMAS Homecoming 2017: UPCM 1992 WALAN9 KA2LAD: Emotional and Exuberant!

December 23, 2017

Our UP College of Medicine Class 1992 had been beset with unity problems within our five years in the college, and perhaps even afterwards.  Planning for this year's UP Medical Alumni Homecoming as Silver Jubilarians was certainly a formidable task for our fractured class to undertake. Fortunately, our class (and UPMAS) had our President, Dr. Mary Rose Pe-Yan (Mayos to us), who had the drive, determination and passion to make sure our Class will unite and will deliver our very best in this important yearly UPMAS activity.


Together with her trusted friends and co-chairs Maybelle Ongkiko-Cagayan and Alnette Tan, Mayos organized the team who would help her realize her grand vision for the homecoming. Alnette and Jojo Lo for the Finance Committee; Cherry Bello-Bucu for Publicity; Rosanna Leveriza for the Registration; Jubert Benedicto, Teresa Gloria-Cruz, Anna Ong-Lim for the Scientific Post-Grad; Paul Pasco for the Webinars; Saldy Villanueva for the UPMAS Golf Open; Cecilia Lim for the Mass and Parade; JJ Cruz for the Physical Arrangements; Maybelle and Alnette for the Homecoming Ball; Jun Ruiz for the Yearbook and Magazine; Raymund Millan for the Class Directory and Guada Natividad-Villanueva for the Class 92 Family Day. I still do not know how she did it, but Mayos was really actively involved in ALL of these committees. Aileen Apolinario-Dualan is Mayos' VP in UPMAS and was our vital liaison with the Golden Jubilarians, especially since her father Dr. Napoleon Apolinario is the President of Class 1967.

Second Official Class Meeting July 20, 2014
(photo credit: Mayos Pe-Yan)

The first call for our homecoming came five years ago when we hosted the Pabidahan talent show for UPCM 87 during their homecoming. There had been organizational meetings held as early as 2014 usually held in the house of Lia Cruz, getting more and more regular as D-Day drew nearer. The Class Viber group began on August 26, 2015 by Marlo Nievera during the benefit Lea Salonga concert for the building of a new BSLR. This Viber group, together with the older FB group, definitely sparked more excitement for the reunion in all of us. The very catchy theme "Walang Katulad" (stylized as "Walan9 Ka2lad") was a brainchild of (now Atty.) Hans Cagayan and was rendered in its final form by Ernest Caritativo

Formal Photoshoot for Magazine: October 1, 2017
(photo credit: Jun Ruiz)

I can only talk about the Yearbook Committee since I was part of that group of obsessive-compulsive individuals (like me, haha!) The first call for formal photos with Sablay was issued on May 2016. Our own Viber group for the Yearbook Committee began in July 19, 2016, when things were already getting more serious and hectic with all the pictures and articles coming in. Our first actual meeting as a committee was at Mayos' residence in New Manila last February 3, 2017. The contract with Yearbook Philippines (c/o Randolph Lamzon) was signed by Mayos and witnessed by our editor-in-chief Jun Ruiz last June 16, 2017. The formal photoshoot for the Health and Lifestyle Magazine was held last October 1, 2017 at the UP College of Medicine building. As is typical with us med students, the finalization of this yearbook also went down the wire in terms of deadlines with some classmates submitting photos as late as November.

Classmates Reunion in Virginia Beach: May 29, 2016
(photo credit: James Almirante)

This year, our US batchmates got a headstart on us local folk in terms of reunions. They had a reunion at Felix Tiongco's residence in Virginia Beach on Memorial Day weekend May 29, 2016, where many had their sablay pictures taken.  There was a more formal reunion in Albany, NY for the UPMASA Annual Grand Convention from July 11-14, 2017 which had 22 UPCM 92 attendees including five speakers: Mike Nolledo, Chat Dizon-Baron, Dodo Banzon, Pip Padilla and Mayos Pe-Yan. This occasion was also the world-premiere of the very catchy class homecoming song "Walang Katulad" written by Liza Ilag-Alviar, and first recorded by our "choir" last March 2017.

Classmates Attend UPMASA AGC 2017 in Albany: July 2017
(photo credit: Philip Padilla)

The formal Launch of the Homecoming 2017 happened last January 18, 2017 at the beautiful Museum of History of Ideas along Padre Faura. Attending this event made me realize more than ever that this reunion was going to be something big, special and worthwhile. After the Launch ceremony was held the first free Webinar with the topic about HPV Infection. By the end of 2017, there would be 51 Webinars, which were streamed online once, twice or three times a week every week through out the year. Many Class 92 batch mates served as speakers, reactors or moderators in this impressive series of various interesting topics in almost all medical specialties. 

At the Launch: January 18, 2017
(photo credit: Melflor Atienza)

There had been several dance practices patiently conducted by Maybelle, Alnette and our professional choreographers (the three founders of Whiplash -- sisters Lisa Chingcuanco, Tintin Limhap and Cecille Martinez) for a series of Sunday afternoons since September 2017 at the Sunshine Place, a recreation center for senior citizens (not that we are) along Jupiter St. The theme of our dance was "Sexy ang 92!" with songs like "Sexy Back," "I'm Too Sexy," "Kiss," "Sex Bomb" and "Sexy and I Know It". I think today was the first day we really saw as close to the real number of people who were going to dance. Many people were only learning the steps for the very first time and it was exciting.

First Dance Practice at Sunshine Place: September 24, 2017 
(photo credit: Alnette Tan)

DECEMBER 15, 2017

Homecoming Week started last December 15, 2017 with the Golf Tournament held at the Ayala Greenfield Gold and Leisure Club in Calamba, Laguna. The main organizer of this event for our class is the dynamic husband and wife duo of Saldy and Guada Villanueva. This event also included a Meet and Greet with our fellow celebrators this year, the Golden Jubilarians Class 1967. I was not able to attend this event so I could not say more about it aside from it being well-attended and successful. I did learn later that a 17-year old female golfer won the big prize. Orville Ocampo emceed the golf tournament and the awarding ceremonies. That night, a post-tournament party for our '92 batchmates was hosted by the Villanuevas at their residence.

DECEMBER 19, 2017

The next major activity was the Post- Graduate Course called "Convergence in Divergence," subtitled "Wellness for All." This event was held in the Buenafe Auditorium, on the third floor of Calderon Hall (which I only knew this year was the name of the College of Medicine main building). The emcees were Sandra Dy-Chua and present DOH USec Eric Domingo. Ortho Gar Eufemio started the ball rolling with a lively enumeration of his "Healthy Lifestyle Checklist". Endocrinologist Liza Ilag talked about Pre-Diabetes. Melflor Atienza and Felix Tiongco, both GI specialists, talked about Dyspepsia. 

The first lunch symposium was about asthma by Pulmo Jubert Benedicto. The second lunch symposium was about United Airways, with panelists ENT Tech Gloria, Pedia Infectious Anna Ong-Lim and Pulmo Albert Rafanan. Cardio Giselle Gervacio and Neuro Joey Boiser spoke on the intriguing topic of Bangungut. Cecile Maramba-Lazarte talked about Herbal Medicine, and Irene Baluyut Larkin talked on Health Supplements. In conclusion, audiences got excited when Cyn Ciriaco-Tan and JJ Cruz spoke about derma and plastic surgery in the quest of being Fab at 40 and Beyond. 

Group Photo for "Convergence in Divergence": December 19, 2017
(photo credit: Philip Padilla)

The reunion started for me here. It was exciting to get to speak with classmates I had not spoken with since graduation from med school. It was great to hear my classmates lecture with so much authority about the topics assigned to them. Too bad that I would not be able to listen to all the lectures in full because of my duties with the Yearbook Committee because this was also the day when they were first given out to the class! This was also the first day I was to see the yearbook pages in tablet form.

There would be more bonding and more carousing later that same night at Minokaua on Adriatico St. near the Remedios Circle. Too bad I was not able to go to this activity to report more about it, but photos, videos and first-hand accounts all say it was a very fun event with some classmates like Martin Lansang, Marlon Oclarence and Beth Ng-Hinton showing off their heretofore hidden talents in singing with the live band. Classmates like Lucky Lara and Egay Musngi made their presence felt first during this party. 

DECEMBER 20, 2017

This day started bright and early at the flagpole area in front of the Philippine General Hospital where a giant tent and stage were put up for the big occasion which would include all the celebrating classes this year. The rains brought about by Typhoon Urduja in the past few days cleared up after a slight drizzle earlier this day. The officiating priest of the Homecoming Day Mass was Fr. Larry Tan, SDB and he had the audience paying attention during his lively homily. The mass songs were sung by the UPCM Choir.

We saw our gritty survivor classmate Bong Marfa for the first time here. The breakfast fare was simple Mc Donald's fare but it was the reconnecting and reminiscing conversations that nourished us more. The digital elections for new UPMAS Officers were also held at this time, for which we got either a free UPMAS cap or umbrella for our votes.

Parade Photoshoot at the PGH Oblation: December 21, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

A short program hosted by a couple of dynamic classmates Anthony Cordero and Orville Ocampo prior to the Homecoming Parade. Aside from their quick wit, I was amazed at how they were able to annotate the whole proceedings with names of prominent people in each of the celebrating batches, as well as some interesting trivia about each batch (Due to policy transition issues, UPCM 72 used to be divided into A and B, and there was no UPCM 88.) 

Our batch was the last one to be called for our class photo in front of the stage. Then the parade (guided by our Marshall Joachim Cruz, son of our very own JJ and Tech Cruz) took us to more group photo-ops in front of the Oblation and the giant Christmas tree across it. We saw the lobby of new Qualimed private clinic complex for some more picture taking. Then some more group photos in front of Calderon Hall itself. The parade ended in the Wellness Center where we had lunch (Jollibee fare this time) in noontime humidity. 

After lunch, Pres. Mayos called to order the Annual Business Meeting of the UPMAS, as was the usual schedule of events. She reported on the important matters that transpired within the last year. The winners of the election that morning were also announced. 

By 2 pm, everybody returned to the Wellness Center for the resumption of festivities with the Pabidahan. This is a yearly "Tao Rin Pala"-like talent show tradition hosted by the alumni batch five years junior to the silver class, so that is UPCM Class 97 for our batch. The event was emceed by the jovial president of Class 97, Dr. Maxie Escano. The board of judges included Ms. Ruby Rodriguez of "Eat Bulaga", Dr. Mia Tabunar of UPCM Class 1995 and Dr. Melfred Hernandez UPCM Class 94. Classmates Tina Koa-Malaya and Marirose Cutillar-Alegre showed up to join us this afternoon. 

For some reason, Class 67 did not show up for their number. So, the show began with Class 77, the Ruby Jubilarians all in red, showed a lot of class as they danced to a bossa nova version of "Rock Baby Rock". Never heard that song slowed down so much, so that it would fit chacha-like dance steps. Our Class 92 showed up full force to dance "Can't Stop the Feeling" with the same choreography as our US classmates performed in Albany earlier this year. Judge Ruby's comment on our performance was how when she judges group numbers like this, she always observed the people at the back row and how they try to cope with the steps of the people in the front. But since there are plants at the back of the dance floor, she'll take that as an excuse for not being able to follow too well. Haha!

"Can't Stop the Feeling" Pabidahan 2017 Winning Number: December 20, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

Class 97 and Class 2002 both had a dance number with practically the same steps to the tune of Inigo Pascual's "Dahil sa Yo". This prompted the judges to call for a pair from both groups to go in front for a dance showdown to the same song. Then Maybelle and Alnette from our batch went and joined in the fun, followed by judge Ms. Ruby who pulled her sister Dra. Sally Gatchalian from Class 77 with her in front. That was a truly awesome moment of the afternoon! Two members of newly graduated Class 2017 (who will eventually host our batch's 50th Jubilee in 25 years) rendered a couple of songs to end the contest proper.

The judges deliberated for a while then were called in to announce the awards. Class 2017 won Most Gutsy (or something like that) for daring to perform with only two members. Class 2002 won Most Resourceful, saying that they were able to copy the number of Class 97 exactly within minutes of their performance. Class 1997 won Third Best Performance. Class 1977 won Best Choreography, Best Director and Second Best Performance. Our Class 1992 won Best in Costume, Best Attendance, Most Cohesive (!) Class, and to top it all, BEST PERFORMANCE! Way to go for our class who never ever won a single TRP ever back in med school (even getting disqualified on our final attempt, haha!) The prize we got was, well, a couple of tubs of biscuits, but hey, we won first place!

Our First Prize Winning Dance Number!
(Video Credit: Irene Baluyut Larkin)

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Buenafe Auditorium rehearsing for our dance numbers for the homecoming the next day. Heinrich Elinzano joined us for the first time here. 

DECEMBER 21, 2017

The whole morning was spent rehearsing our dance numbers on the actual stage itself in the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel. The dance floor was not as wide as the stage like we practiced in Buenafe the day before. There were tables beside the dance floor, so there were parts where we had to snake through between them to make it to our mark on stage barely on time for the final sequence. There were classmates who gave us a pleasant surprise by showing up for the first time that morning, like Earl Mauricio, Blanche Decano-Orpilla and another undaunted fighter of our class, Jun Diokno. After a few run-throughs of both the Sexy dance and the Community Dance, we were let off for lunch and preparation for the formal ceremony this afternoon. 

Before the Final Dance Rehearsals at the Fiesta Pavilion: December 21, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

At 2:30 pm, we were all gathered at the Centennial Hall for the Medallion Ceremony. Our girls were all in elegant gowns in various shades of green, from mint to emerald to forest. Our guys (well mostly) were in black suits with maroon neckties. We all got our medals outside the hall and took our individual formal photos with the medal on already before we entered. The hosts for that event were Mia Nepomuceno-Perez and Faith Bocobo-Balmaseda. All the members of the celebrating classes were called in for their medalling by Dean Agnes Mejia. There were amazingly three members from Class 1952 (65th year) there and about ten or so members of Class 1957 (60th year), aside from Class 1967 (50th year) and our dear Class 1992 (25th year). Richard Casiano made his unexpected appearance in this event. There was an emotional moment when the son of departed classmate Regi de Leon received his medal in his behalf. 

Medal Ceremony: December 21, 2017
(photo credit: Jobert Collantes)

By 6 pm, everyone was gathered in the foyer of the Fiesta Pavilion for the Homecoming Ball. The foyer had blown-up photos of all the celebrating classes for the guests to look at and serve as backgrounds for their group photos. When we finally got to enter the hall and find our seats (and find out for the first time who our seatmates would be), everything looked very grand and glamorous. Once all the people in the lobby had filed into the ballroom, the members of our class were called outside to assemble for our grand entrance. This was the first time we saw classmates like Edna Vianzon, Raymond Evangelista, Mark Fernandez and Thanny Labio join in the festivities. 99 members of Class 1992 were in attendance at the ball that night. While that figure did not break any attendance records, it was way higher than what the "minimum deliverable" expected when planning began.

We arranged ourselves in order of height starting from tallest, one line for girls and one line for boys. On a cue, we boys escorted whoever was beside us in line through the ballroom on the red carpet to the stage to the tune of our Homecoming Anthem. I had the ever-energetic Alnette Tan on my arm during that entrance. Our formal sablay photos were being shown on the wide screens while we entered. There seemed to be more boys who attended than girls since the last few girls were being escorted by two boys. Jun Diokno joined us onstage as well. When we were all there, we "sang" (okay, lipsynced) Liza Ilag's gift of song to our class, "Walang Katulad."

(video credit: Irene Baluyut Larkin)

After the National Anthem and the UPMAS Hymn rendered by the UPMAS Choir, a very touching invocation was delivered by Cherry Bello-Bucu, text written by Kat Juliano. Shortly after the emcees for the night, Orville Ocampo, Anthony Cordero and Tech Gloria-Cruz, were introduced, the 4-course sit-down dinner (Prawn Mango Pearl Cocktail, Cream of Zucchini and Spinach, Grouper Fillet or Stroganoff of US Beef, Apple Pie with Vanilla) started to be served. After the Welcome Remarks by the Dean, there was a roll call of all the alumni classes for their members to make themselves heard.  

An award were given to Class 1967 for Class of the Year, Dr. Frances Lina Lantion-Ang, UPCM Class 1971 was named Outstanding Educator and Dean Agnes Mejia UPCM Class 1977 was given the Dr. Gloria T. Aragon Illustrious Faculty Award. The Golden Jubilarians then displayed their ballroom dancing prowess to the tune of their batch theme song "Moon River", the same song that won them first place as their TRP presentation. More awards were given after this, to Dr. Regina Pascua- Berba UPCM Class 1987 as Outstanding in Medical Service and Dr. Helen Agustin-De Guzman UPCM Class 1967 as Outstanding in Community Service. 

Admittedly we in Class 1992 were already in a tizzy backstage at that moment preparing for our number which came next. Honestly, what exactly happened after that intro spiel and intro tune of "Versace on the Floor" and the dance number began, I don't know what happened. Everything was happening lightning-speed during the "Sexy Back" part of the girls and the "I'm Too Sexy" part of the guys. Then while the Salsa group (featuring Joseph Yu, Thanny Labio, Jun Ruiz, Irene Baluyut, Giselle Gervacio, Cyn Ciriaco, Lora Garcia and of course, Alnette and Maybelle) was doing their "Kiss" dance, we were all busy back stage changing to our Sexy shirts. 

Then suddenly the strains of "Sex Bomb" came on, and the trio of Kat Juliano, Aileen Apolinario and Cecille Maramba went on stage in their amusing and cute fat suits with glittery two-piece red, green and gold bikinis. Then it was our turn to enter the stage to complement them at the back with a few more verses of the chorus before the finale music came on and we had to rush back to the dance floor part for the final formation. As we feared that morning during rehearsal, the tables in that left side area, with all the photographer and guest taking videos and photos,  made it difficult for us to reach our meeting points for our entrance. Before we knew it, we just had to go directly to our final points and assume the final pose. Everything happened in a flash, a blur. I need to watch a video to see how we actually did. Haha!

Because of the extreme adrenaline rush, I could not concentrate too much to the next awards given to Dr. Susan Pineda-Mercado UPCM Class 1987 for Distinguished Alumna, the Feliciano family for Family of the Year, and Dr. Francisca Tolete-Velcek UPCM Class 1966 for Lifetime Achievement Award. We still had to change to our solid bright colored shirts for the final community dance, which by now I all but forgot already. I got back in time to sing "UP Naming Mahal" which always gives me goosebumps no matter how many times I have sung it. 

We were already waiting in the wings backstage when UPMAS and Class 92 President Mayos Pe-Yan gave her valedictory address. Of course, she acknowledged her organizing committee for a job very much well-done. When every member of the Org Comm was onstage accompanied by thunderous applause, the burst of confetti rained on the whole stage. Mayos then turned over to Ricky Luna of UPCM Class 1993 the reins of the next Homecoming celebration, which they have dubbed "Uwi Na Po" to be held in the posh Okada Manila (an announcement which drew an audible gasp from the audience).

The final community dance was set to the upbeat tune of Meghan Trainor's "Better When I'm Dancin'".Our batch did our part of the dance for the first two verses and then we were joined by representatives from all the other celebrating batches in attendance that night. What a joyous joyous finale that climaxed in another cloudburst of glittery gold and silver confetti! The members of the Flintstones Band then came back on the stage and led everyone dancing to various songs from all decades until past midnight. At least that is what I think, I was not able to last that long because of sheer (but exuberant) exhaustion.

DECEMBER 22, 2017

The day after the ball and everyone was still giddy in the experience of the past three days. Shared a table with Rico Madlangbayan, Lalang Lopez, and Jojo Almendral. Earlan Bautista and Raymund Millan joined our conversation after a while. It seems we really could not get enough of talking about our past, present and yes, even the future got into the topics. 

Breakfast at Cafe Ilang Ilang, Manila Hotel: December 22, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

We actually got to speak to people we never really got to speak with much during our med school and discovered more about their lives they led and talents we never before knew they possessed. Everyone practically still look the same, give or take a few pounds and strands of hair. The 25th year is really the best reunion to attend in terms of health and energy. The 50th year is still too far ahead to envision as a certainty. Plans for more frequent intermediate reunions are already in the pipeline I believe, while everyone is still reeling from homecoming euphoria.

There was still a family get-together at Makan Makan Asian Food Village inside Ocean Park Manila at lunchtime. Unfortunately, I was not feeling too well after breakfast (felt febrile and dizzy since last night after the ball) so I could not stay longer. As Lalang said at breakfast that morning, the spirit may be willing, but the body may not be up to it anymore. Hehe.

Family Lunch at Makan Makan: December 22, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

Looking back at our tumultuous med school experiences now 25 years later, I would like to believe that ample time had passed and the wounds within our class have already healed. It is clearly time for our class to move on from our past controversies and leave them all behind. In so doing, we become a stronger and more united class than ever before. Consider our class officially reborn this 2017!

Classmate Rod Tanchanco captured this journey from onset to fruition in this beautifully sentimental slideshow of photographs and video:

(video credit: Rod Tanchanco)


Postscript: Dr. Mayos Pe-Yan would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of Dr. Anna Victoria San Pedro, UPCM Class 2017, who served as her assistant during the last four weeks prior to the Homecoming. She designed all the homecoming tarps and was in charge of the AVPs during the Homecoming Day and the UPMAS Awarding Ceremony. She would also like to extend her gratitude to the UPMAS Staff led by Ms. Tess Paragsa and Rucel Bautista for being ever-efficient and dependable during the entire homecoming preparations and events.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Review of TP's LUKOT-LUKOT, BILOG-BILOG: Figuring Finances

December 17, 2017

Gwyneth just received P1,200 from her godparents as an early Christmas present. She decides to use this to pay her college application fee. On her way to St. Anne's University though, she gets tempted to buy a very popular special spaghetti dish in the cafe, a cute green polka dot dress on sale at the boutique, a discounted bus trip to Bicol -- all of which she desired a lot. Will she have enough money to apply at the college of her dreams?

For Tanghalang Pilipino's Christmas offering, they chose to stage a play Eljay Castro Deldoc for young people about managing finances. I have seen three plays written by Deldoc all at the Virgin Labfest. These were the unforgettable "Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala" (MY REVIEW), the hilarious "Ang Goldfish ni Professor Dimaandal" (MY REVIEW), and the outrageous "Pilipinas Kong Mahal with All the Overcoat" (MY REVIEW). I know for a fact that this guy can really communicate with the young people. 

The core of the play is very simple, something school children may in fact whip up themselves when given a topic about saving money. However, in the hands of a Palanca-winning wordsmith like Deldoc, together with the ideas of director Abner Delina, Jr., the plot was elaborated into an engaging full-length play with a lot of millennial humor and imaginative storytelling devices to liven things up. The production design of James Reyes was deceptively simple, but delivered several surprises in the course of the show. 

Blanche Buhia was a cheerful and naive Gwyneth. She may not be able to control her spending, but you know she had a kind heart in her. Eunice Pacia was a loyal and concerned best friend in Jing-jing. Being the younger members of the TP Actor Company, I have seen these two girls mostly in supporting roles. (I missed Buhia's Gawad Buhay nominated lead role in last year's "The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go" also by TP.) Here in "Lukot," the two carried the show ably with their verve and charm. 

Antonette Go and JV Ibesate played Egay and Blessie, Gwyneth's busy, harassed but loving parents. Jonathan Tadioan played Gwyneth's Lolo Sally as an endearing teddy bear. Lhorvie Nuevo played Blessie's BFF, Jing-jing's mother and Gwyneth's godmother Mayet. Go, Ibesate, Nuevo and especially Tadioan would also be seen playing some other roles in the ensemble.

Playing various other roles in the ensemble were Doray Dayao (who played a persistent travel agent and Mayon Volcano), Aldo Vencilao (who played a sleepy cashier and Andres Bonifacio), Ybes Bagadiong (who played various sidekick characters, including one in drag) and Joshua Tayco (who played a desperate thief and Jose Rizal). Child actor JM Canlas played the beggar boy Nico. Canlas gets to sing the beautiful wartime carol by Felipe de Leon "Payapang Daigdig." Aside from this song, other Filipino carols were also sung with some lyrics altered to fit the theme. 

The cast take their bows after the show

It was refreshing to see the Tanghalang Pilipino actors all smiling in very light-hearted roles after their very intensely serious turns in their last two shows "Ulilang Tahanan" (MY REVIEW) and "Ang Pag-uusig." (MY REVIEW). Their acting performances here were all so exaggeratedly giddy and happy; delightful, not corny. When the characters broke the fourth wall to personally engage random members of the audience, the big surprise worked to get the viewers alert and involved. The whole play proceeded so infectiously catchy and lively, just as juvenile audiences will surely like it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Recap of THE MUSIC OF JOSE MARI CHAN: Treasure Trove of Timeless Tunes

December 17, 2017

I had known about Jose Mari Chan and his music since I was a child. I had seen him sing a song or two at some special occasions before, notably our silver high school homecoming back in 2008, but never a full-length concert. This year he is celebrating 50 years of an evergreen music career. This concert, written and directed by Mickey Munoz and held two times yesterday at the Theater at Solaire, is a tribute of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra for his unique signature style of OPM, unmatched from then till now. 

The concert began with an Overture played by the orchestra, led by Maestro Louie Ocampo. The legend himself came onstage to sing "Can We Stop and Talk Awhile". After cracking some pretty funny jokes, he announced that he was going down to the audience to enjoy the rest of the show. I was surprised by this development and I am sure everyone else was too. So, it turned out this was really going to be a tribute by other singers to his songs, not by himself. An introductory video by Gerard Salonga brought us back to the beginning of Mr. Chan's 50 year journey.

First up were Mr. Chan's own sons Franco and Joe Chan, who sang "Mr. Songwriter." This was the same tune used for "Mamang Sorbetero" by Celeste Legaspi (who was in the audience herself last night). The two guys proudly talked about how their father, then working in the family sugar business in Iloilo, started his entertainment career as a host and singer on the ABS-CBN TV show "9 Teeners" in 1965. This later led to his first single, a hit entitled "Afterglow" in 1967, which the two also sang together as a duet. Their set ended with their version of "Deep in My Heart."

Markki Stroem and Juris sing a duet

Markki Stroem came onstage to sing the modern classic "Beautiful Girl". He then introduced Juris who sang a song Mr. Chan wrote for his 7th wedding anniversary -- "A Love to Last a Lifetime". Markki then came back to join Juris to sing "My Girl, My Woman, My Friend." Upcoming singer and guitarist Migz Haleco then sang his own versions of "Can't We Start Over Again" and a song I never knew was a JMC composition till now -- "I Remember the Girl" (or "I Remember the Boy" as more popularly recorded by Joey Albert). 

After the orchestra then played an instrumental version of "Stay My Love". The young vocal group Acapeliago came onstage for a poppy rendition of "Afraid for Love to Fade".  They were joined onstage by Jona, and they sang a beautiful acapella version of "Minsan Pa," in what I thought was the best vocal performance of the night. This song had lyrics written by National Artist Rolando Tinio, and was originally by Janet Basco in 1978 as one of the finalist of the first Metro Pop Festival. The vocal arrangements in this segment were by Moy Ortiz of The Company. 

Acapeliago and Jona sing "Minsan Pa"

The next number was a very entertaining medley of commercial jingles composed by Mr. Chan by another young vocal group, Vocal Synergy. We heard very familiar ads of  Alaska Milk ("Wala Pa Ring Tatalo"), Sunquick ("Over Twenty Glasses"), Mr. Clean ("Kuskos Piga"), Hallmark Cards ("No One Throws Away Memories"). One particularly funny one was that for Knorr Real Chinese Soup, where Louie Ocampo joined in. He later shared that he was actually the original singer of that jingle. The orchestra concluded the set with instrumental versions of "Big Beautiful Country" (the official theme music of the Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation BBC Channel 2) and "Love at 30,000 Feet" (Philippine Airlines). 

Bituin Escalante came onstage to sing another song I never knew was composed by Mr. Chan -- "Hahanapin Ko" (VIDEO). This song had lyrics written by Jimmy Santiago, and was one of the finalists of the Third Metro Pop Festival in 1980, interpreted by Anthony Castelo. After an emotional spiel, Ms. Escalante sang a very different, very jazzy (with scatting!) version of "Thank You Love" as arranged by JD Villanueva. 

Mr. Chan jokes around with Jona before their duet

The orchestra proceeded to play an instrumental version of "Please Be Careful with My Heart". Gerard Salonga came back on video to invite Mr. Chan back onstage to sing this same song as a duet with Jona (VIDEO). We were so glad to see Mr. Chan back onstage to sing some more. Before the song, Chan greeted old friends in the audience (some Fookienese greetings in there) and then went on to crack another series of jokes (a few green ones in there, haha!) I did not know he was such a joker in his spiels. The audience lapped it all up with glee. 

After the beautiful duet, Mr. Chan stayed on to sing "Tell Me Your Name" (a song with lyrics by Cristina Tabora) and "Refrain" (a sad song written when Ms. Mary Ann was abroad). Then all the guest artists Stroem, Juris, Migz, Jona and Escalante returned onstage to join Mr. Chan sing "Constant Change." 

Mr. Chan and his guests (Stroem, Juris, Escalante, Jona and Haleco) take their bows

As a finale, Mr. Chan ended his concert with his Christmas carols, beginning with "A Wish on a Christmas Night" (sung by Vocal Synergy & Acapeliago), "A Perfect Christmas" and finally his classic "Christmas in Our Hearts" (VIDEO) where he was joined by his children Joe, Franco and his original duet partner Liza. He invited the audience to buy his latest collection of all-new Christmas songs and he will be outside to sign autographs and take pictures. The long lines for this after-show activity was proof that the legacy of the indefatigable Mr. Jose Mari Chan is as vital now as it was back then.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


December 14, 2017

Here are the Hot 100 Singles of 2017 as ranked by Billboard Magazine. This year-end recap is based on Billboard Hot 100 chart performance during between the weeks from Dec 2016 and Nov 2017-dated charts. This is a list of last year's most popular songs across all genres, ranked by radio airplay audience impressions and sales data as measured and compiled by Nielsen Music, and streaming activity data provided by online music sources.

1   Shape Of You     Ed Sheeran (#1 for 12 weeks, Jan to Apr)

     - Debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Sheeran's first number one song in the US. Sheeran also became the first artist to debut two songs in the top 10 the same week in the history of the Hot 100, with "Castle on the Hill" also debuting at number six.
     - On the issue date, 2 September 2017, "Shape of You" spent its 32nd week in the top ten of Hot 100, tying the record for most week on that chart with LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live" and "Closer" by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey.[31] The following week, "Shape of You" spent its 33rd consecutive week in the top 10, breaking the 20-year-old record.

2   Despacito     Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee Featuring Justin Bieber (#1 for 16 weeks)

     - It is the first song primarily in Spanish to top the Billboard Hot 100 since "Macarena" (Bayside Boys Mix) in 1996. 
     - On August 4, 2017, the official music video for "Despacito" became the most viewed YouTube video of all time after receiving its 3 billionth view, making it the first video on the site to reach the milestone. It later became the first YouTube video to hit 4 billion views on October 11, 2017.
     - Reached number one on the US Hot Latin Songs chart on February 18, 2017 and remained there for 35 consecutive weeks until October 14, 2017.
     - Topped the Hot 100 for 16 consecutive weeks, tying with "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men as the longest-reigning number-one single in the chart's history

3   That's What I Like     Bruno Mars (#1 for 1 week, May)
4   Humble.     Kendrick Lamar (#1 for 1 week, May)
5   Something Just Like This     The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
6   Bad And Boujee     Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert (#1 for 3 weeks, Jan to Feb)
7   Closer     The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey
8   Body Like A Back Road     Sam Hunt
9   Believer     Imagine Dragons
10   Congratulations     Post Malone Featuring Quavo

11   Say You Won't Let Go     James Arthur

12   I'm The One     DJ Khaled Featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne (#1 for 2 weeks, May)
13   XO TOUR Llif3     Lil Uzi Vert
14   Mask Off     Future
15   Unforgettable     French Montana Featuring Swae Lee
16   24K Magic     Bruno Mars
17   Stay     Zedd & Alessia Cara
18   Wild Thoughts     DJ Khaled Featuring Rihanna & Bryson Tiller
19   Black Beatles     Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane (#1 for 1 week, Jan, + 6 more weeks Nov to Dec 2016)
20   Starboy     The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk (#1 for 1 week, Jan)

21   Location     Khalid

22   Attention     Charlie Puth
23   There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back     Shawn Mendes
24   Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)     Cardi B (#1 for 3 weeks, Oct)
25   Redbone     Childish Gambino
26   I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)     Zayn / Taylor Swift
27   It Ain't Me     Kygo x Selena Gomez
28   iSpy     KYLE Featuring Lil Yachty
29   Issues     Julia Michaels
30   Scars To Your Beautiful     Alessia Cara

31   1-800-273-8255     Logic Featuring Alessia Cara & Khalid

32   Slow Hands     Niall Horan
33   Love On The Brain     Rihanna
34   I Feel It Coming     The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk
35   Bounce Back     Big Sean
36   Strip That Down     Liam Payne Featuring Quavo
37   Fake Love     Drake
38   Don't Wanna Know     Maroon 5 Featuring Kendrick Lamar
39   Look What You Made Me Do     Taylor Swift (#1 for 3 weeks, Sept)
40   Castle On The Hill     Ed Sheeran

41   Bad Things     Machine Gun Kelly x Camila Cabello

42   Paris     The Chainsmokers
43   Side To Side     Ariana Grande Featuring Nicki Minaj
44   Rockabye     Clean Bandit Featuring Sean Paul & Anne-Marie
45   Feel It Still     Portugal. The Man
46   Let Me Love You     DJ Snake Featuring Justin Bieber
47   Sorry Not Sorry     Demi Lovato
48   Bank Account     21 Savage
49   Can't Stop The Feeling!     Justin Timberlake
50   Mi Gente     J Balvin & Willy William Featuring Beyonce

51   Thunder     Imagine Dragons

52   T-Shirt     Migos
53   Rake It Up     Yo Gotti Featuring Nicki Minaj
54   Mercy     Shawn Mendes
55   Tunnel Vision     Kodak Black
56   Rockstar     Post Malone Featuring 21 Savage (#1 for 8 weeks, Oct to Dec)
57   In Case You Didn't Know     Brett Young
58   Heathens     twenty one pilots
59   Now Or Never     Halsey
60   Caroline     Amine

61   Rolex     Ayo & Teo

62   DNA.     Kendrick Lamar
63   Juju On That Beat (TZ Anthem)     Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall
64   Swang     Rae Sremmurd
65   Passionfruit     Drake
66   Loyalty.     Kendrick Lamar Featuring Rihanna
67   Praying     Kesha
68   Goosebumps     Travis Scott
69   Cold     Maroon 5 Featuring Future
70   Broccoli     D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty

71   Slide     Calvin Harris Featuring Frank Ocean & Migos

72   What Ifs     Kane Brown Featuring Lauren Alaina
73   Chained To The Rhythm     Katy Perry Featuring Skip Marley
74   Feels     Calvin Harris Featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean
75   All Time Low     Jon Bellion
76   Hurricane     Luke Combs
77   Too Good At Goodbyes     Sam Smith
78   Young Dumb & Broke     Khalid
79   Magnolia     Playboi Carti
80   Love Galore     SZA Featuring Travis Scott

81   Drowning     A Boogie Wit da Hoodie Featuring Kodak Black
82   Starving     Hailee Steinfeld & Grey Featuring Zedd
83   Both     Gucci Mane Featuring Drake
84   What About Us     P!nk
85   Swalla     Jason Derulo Featuring Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign
86   Slippery     Migos Featuring Gucci Mane
87   Sign Of The Times     Harry Styles
88   Water Under The Bridge     Adele
89   Malibu     Miley Cyrus
90   Down     Marian Hill

91   No Promises     Cheat Codes Featuring Demi Lovato

92   Treat You Better     Shawn Mendes
93   I Get The Bag     Gucci Mane Featuring Migos
94   Small Town Boy     Dustin Lynch
95   Everyday We Lit     YFN Lucci Featuring PnB Rock
96   Havana     Camila Cabello Featuring Young Thug
97   What Lovers Do     Maroon 5 Featuring SZA
98   Do Re Mi     Blackbear
99   Look At Me!     XXXTentacion
100   The Fighter     Keith Urban Featuring Carrie Underwood



2016 -- 2015 -- 2014 -- 2013 -- 2012