Archive | February, 2010

One Killer Play: Dulaang UP’s “Arturo Ui” in review

27 Feb

Tyranny is not always born – for it to flourish, it must not only be bred, but coddled. Such is the premise of “Ang Muntik Nang Di Mapigilang Paghahari ni Arturo Ui”, Dulaang UP’s Filipino adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.” Ably helmed by Alexander Cortez, the production boasts of dynamic choreography, original compositions, an ensemble of energized portrayals, and a plot both timely and timeless.

The play juxtaposes Adolf Hitler’s rise to power with Chicago circa 1930, where greed is at an all-time high and vegetable sales are at an all-time low. Merchants from the deteriorating Cauliflower Trust secure their hold on the local market by bribing the heretofore honest Mayor Dogsborough (Jerson Rey Guiwa). The illicit deal is kept under wraps, until an incriminating witness falls into the hands of gang leader Arturo Ui (Randy Villarama). With little else but wiliness and a band of loyal cronies, Ui successfully blackmails Dogsborough in an attempt to gain political clout.

Equality, fraternity, morality – Chicago under Arturo Ui is governed by anything else but. The road to absolute power, after all, is one marred in blood and riddled with bullets. But in as much as lust for power corrodes a leader, submissiveness among the citizens erodes the soil upon which democracy is rooted. The cast echoes this sentiment in their closing hymn against passivity: “Ang lahat ng madaling makalimot / Ang lahat ng palaging takot / Ang lahat ng na kay raming dahilan / Ang siyang may kasalanan (All those who forget too easily / All those who always live in fear / All those who never run out of excuses / Are to blame).” With the chorus’ fingers pointing at the audience (both literally and figuratively), the parting scene is at the very least striking, and at the very most, haunting. In these times of social, political and economic turbulence, the epilogue of “Ang Muntik Nang Di Mapigilang Paghahari ni Arturo Ui” is as much a threat as it is a call to action.

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“Ang Muntik Nang Di Mapigilang Paghahari ni Arturo Ui” will be performed from Feb 17 to March 7, with screenings at 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends. For ticket inquiries, please contact Dulaang UP at 09228124938, 09194281399, 981-8500 local 2449 / 2451 or 926-1349. Catch it while you can! 🙂

Edutainment

12 Feb

Backstory: Last Wednesday, my groupmates and I interviewed VP candidate Edu Manzano, the subject of our [individual] personality sketch for Journ 101.  And yes, “edutainment” is a legtitimate word — one that I feel best describes the experience 🙂

The humming of hair dryers, the sharp snip snip snip of scissors cutting through tresses – such are the sounds normally associated with Emphasis Salon at the Powerplant Mall. But in one of the salon’s private quarters on February 10, the hair dryers and scissors muted in comparison as vice presidential candidate Eduardo “Edu” Manzano cut to the chase about who he was, who he is, and who he aspires to be.

By and large, a hair salon is an unorthodox venue for a sit-down interview. For Manzano, however, it was a practical choice. “I just got back [from a campaign tour]. That’s why I met you here, because I have to have a haircut. It’s so hard to have long hair, kasi minsan hindi kami naliligo eh (because sometimes, we hardly even bathe),” he said in jest.

Though he is best known as an actor and comedic TV host, the bulk and diversity of Manzano’s resume is no laughing matter. He served as a missile engineer in the US Air Force and as a banker for the Bank of America. A self-proclaimed “late bloomer” in the entertainment industry, he initially worked with the likes of Ariel Oreta (as a writer) and Basil Valdez (as a production assistant). He also dabbled in hotel management and the shipping industry, earned a level four black belt in judo and involved himself in the Philippine Olympic Commission. Manzano is confident that the experiences, accomplishments and rapport he had built up with his work in various sectors gives him an edge over his fellow VP candidates.

That, and his unique approach to campaigning, which involves less media exposure and more focused interpersonal interaction. He intends to accomplish this with the help of the “Edu Express”, which is slated for its debut this February 15. This is in line with his vision of bridging his ideals and advocacies to the people, and vice versa. “I’m not going to stand on a float and just wave,” said Manzano. “I’m going to go to every city, every municipality, and barangay. My caravan will have monobloc chairs and tables. And I will sit under the mango trees and actually discuss, or try to answer, all the questions people have.”

When asked why he has no advertisements on TV, Edu replied with another question, “Don’t you have ad fatigue [already]?” He believes there are more effective ways to campaign than to spend billions of money to promote one’s self-proclaimed poverty or populist statements. Manzano, however, acknowledges the fact that many citizens aspiring for – and capable of – public posts are daunted by the supposed hefty price tag of campaigning. This notion is something he has set out to debunk, adding that “nobody has a monopoly of concern,” and that is integral for all Filipinos “to participate in the process of enacting change.”

Does he consider his celebrity status a bane or boon to his campaign? “I think the only way the citizenry can see past all the gloss is to be able to sit down and actually interact with the candidates,” Manzano answered.  “I think it’s time that we ask for a little bit more. And I’ll be honest – if you ask me the questions and I don’t answer you well, then don’t vote for me. Vote for who you think is more qualified.”

The Filipinos have become familiar with Edu Manzano as a performer. For years, he has graced their TV screens as an effervescent emcee, with his witty quips and trademark “Papaya” dance move. However, an in-depth encounter could make one realize that this is a funny man to be taken seriously.

Baking power

2 Feb

Baking was an activity I really sunk my teeth into in high school. The idea of making something mouth-watering — okay edible, at the very least — from scratch appealed to  both the diner and the giver in me. I looked forward to our weekly baking class; whenever I experimented on a new recipe, I’d save a slice or two for my Home Ec teacher to critique. For some time, culinary websites became a staple in my browser. I drooled over Kitchen-Aid displays in shopping malls, and invested in some baking paraphernalia. The empty pans, grins and positive feedback I brought back from taste tests among friends and family were like feathers in my imaginary toque blanche.

Fast forward to 2010. Once upon a chill-out session in my organization’s tambayan (local term for bailiwick), I resolved to bake an apple pie as requested by some orgmates. My org committee head never let me forget that promise, and today I set out to fulfill it. I grabbed a recipe online, shopped for some ingredients, rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

Because I only had one available mixing bowl, I decided to do the crumb topping first to scrimp on dishwashing.  “Using a pastry cutter,” said the instructions, mix together 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar and butter until evenly distributed and crumbly in texture.” I followed it to the letter, but ended up with something that resembled  cupcake batter (so much for the crumbly texture). I set it aside, hoping additional flour would do the trick.

The crust was next. Onto the bowl went some flour, oil, milk, sugar and salt. According to the recipe, I was supposed to “pat [the] mixture into a 9 inch pie pan, spreading the dough evenly over the bottom and up sides.” I eyed my premature crust’s crumbly consistency and wondered how it was supposed to look like dough. Pfft.

The making of the apple filling went smoothly, so I returned to the topping-turned-batter. What little flour I could add helped some, but the butter still overpowered the mixture. I gave the pie-that-was-yet-to-be its final touches and flashed a send-off smile before surrendering it to the oven. 15 minutes later, I checked the pie and took a whiff of nutmeg, cinnamon, and stewing apples. “Sherap,” as Travis Kraft would say. The next 30 minutes came and went — the smell of burnt crust sent me rushing back to the kitchen. OH CRAP.

I took a sliver and a bite out of it. Apple pie? Not quite. Apple crumble, more likely. My mother said it was good (like all mothers are wont to do), but I wasn’t so sure. Then I remembered the people I had promised to bake for. Would this little monster of a pie have any takers?