Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kalaryot and More…

When was the last time you sat down on a relaxing weekend for a cultural smorgasbord of sorts?  I was privileged enough to have been given the opportunity to experience the Gala performance of a Kapampangan Sarzuela entitled ‘Kalaryot’.  A little introduction though before I get into the details.

Since I am still trying to gather enough traffic for this blog, I have been re-establishing contacts and continuously berate the social media for opportunities to feature food, places to eat and events.  Lo and behold, I received 2 invitations so far from restaurants and got complimentary access to watch a theater play in just four (4) days of uploading my latest three (3) entries.  I met a friend of mine this week to connect her with my officemate for a possible business proposition.  After the meeting I snagged her for a quick chat and updating (she has just gotten married).  And I told her that I would appreciate her help in promoting my blog and commenting on how to improve it.  The conversation went on well and I have (informally) asked her that I will feature her other business --- a firing range within December (this is something to watch out for especially for you stressed out, adventurous and/or plain curious young professionals).  Then our conversation segued into her other ‘rakets’.   She mentioned that she is sponsoring an event which I can feature in my blog.   

She gave me a few details as well as two (2) tickets (I almost fell from my seat because the price of the tickets is not a ‘so-so’ value these days).  I told her that I am going primarily for the following reasons:  (1) It is in support of the Kapampangan culture, (2) Watching theater play is a much needed stress relief from the media that we have now, (3) It is a project by a start-up but highly promising school in Angeles City, (4) If they are able to get good reviews of this and get as much word as possible, this will jumpstart a very fruitful 2012 for them (that means more possible stage plays for people to watch).  With these reasons, I rearranged my calendar without giving any second thoughts.

The play was organized by ONSTAGE, a performing arts school with sponsorships from various prominent individuals as well as organizations and businesses in and around the metro. What really sealed the deal for me that this was something big?  No less than Angeles City mayor Eduardo Pamintuan, her wife and several of the city counselors were present to watch too (Today, Angeles City political personalities, PNoy watch out for me in 2012, ehe).  The event was held at the new Holy Angel University Theater.

Here are some of the shots from the back stage I had a chance to snuggle up (being there alone made me feel their passion and tension).

At the Actor's dressing room
All smiles welcomed me despite the tension at the back stage
All were clad in costumes and 'the works'
I had to take this shot... backstage eh...
Briefing before the performance
We were lucky to have joined in the prayer before the performance
Hurrahhh!  break a leg as they say

The Plot
The writer and screenplay was perfectly penned by Ms. Maria Ana Vega and I would say she did a good job in trying to capture TODAY’s audience and get hold of their attention effectively.  Some of the notes I wrote while watching (yes, I felt like true blogger… this then makes me ‘ma-feeling’ right?) was that the transitions were smooth and coherent.  The viewers are given a crisp understanding of the point of view of each of the character, and would at each moment of the play appreciate the character and predicaments of each of the actors (and actresses).  For those who have watched The Game of Thrones, you would be able to relate more when I say that I was reminded of their effective formula that in a story, there need to be no villain and heroes, just people on opposite ends but have separate journeys that ‘justify’ why they act or say so.   

For me, this is an intelligent way of letting people in this telenovela-generation with KC-Piolo on the forefront (and now Mo and Rhian, and Gloria and Laila De Lima), that in REAL life, there can be instances that there is no black and white, only two sides with different circumstances.  The play’s official Facebook page has an album showing the over-all plot and right after this paragraph I will be showing you how ‘artful’ one shot was made.  But since it was written in Kapampangan and my Blog metrics tells me that I have expanded (yes that’s my mayabang alter-ego again giving me a pat on my own back) readers who won’t understand it so here is the highlight of the story made in the time of the American occupation in Philippine history:

“Once (and I had to start with ‘once’ ehe) there was a celebrated military officer Major James Elliot who was very happy of his newly born son whom he named Carl Elliot.  A celebration of his son’s birth was cut short with an attack from Kapampangan ‘rebels’ (sorry I am biased)leaving many casualties and in the midst of the mayhem the poor child was left to be found by the attackers.  One of the Kapampangan lad took the child raised him as if his own.  Major James Elliot, surviving the attack, quickly returned to the scene of the crime in search for his son.  One of his soldiers instead handed on to him a blood soaked linen that used to be his son’s.  He concluded that the infidels have murdered his son too.  Years went on and ‘Kalaryot’ the filipinized name of the Major’s son, now the son of a Kapampangan couple (I would have to hold on myself not to spoil why the kid was named as such) as a nice young man.

But audience will be reminded that this is a stage play, and not a happy play at that.  The plot soon thickens as the tables are turned against Kalaryot and his loved ones.  His peaceful life will soon be marked with death, lost hopes, broken love and even betrayal most bitter.
The true father and son are eventually reunited in a circumstance that does not end well and NO, I will (again) not tell how this stage play ends.  I would have to agree with Vice Mayor Vicky Vega that every Kapampangan should see this play and I believe that 2012 will see this coming into reality.

The Production
I give the show a five out of six (there I officially announced my own performance meter) for the production.  I think having a backstage access and seeing (and hearing) how the whole team were before the show made me understand how and why the show went this and that way.  There were some minor audio technicalities that ‘glitched’ during the performances but these can be spared I think.  A better planning on how to manage the microphones will be made in the future presentations I believe.  There was one frustration I had, I wished the opening sarzuela where there is this beautifully dressed lady who opened the entire play in her high soprano (I’m not that musically inclined so sue me).  From where I was seated, a little in the front row, I was sure that it was good only if the microphone was properly operating.  But other than that, the play of lights was beautifully done ( I learned that the digicam I had has a weakness in capturing scenes drenched in blue, so calling organizers, can you please send me copies of your official shots? Ehe), the stage was very simple, detailed to a point that it was poetic in itself and wisely utilized.

The Cast and Some Other Highlights

#1 Kalaryot’s Adoptive Mother’s Singing her Prayer/Lullaby – this was heaven.  It made goosebumps appear all over my face (I’m not exaggerating here).  It was the sweetest, most relaxing song I heard in the entire play (I’m still contemplating if I will dethrone my own mom’s songs, ehe).  The emotions of the actress was masterfully translated into the song that I felt how thankful she was of having found and given the chance by God to raise a kid even not her own.

The sweet song of a mother

#2 Major Elliot’s scenes – yes, I’d have to say that he was indeed a key player.  When I met him at the backstage, he was very welcoming and accommodating.  But when he was on stage and every time the spotlight hit his character, he was indeed IN CHARACTER.  What a strong and emotion-filled voice.  Very effective and realistic.
My friend Renz, Me & no less than Major Elliot himself, Good times!
#3 Kalaryot loses Aurora scene – call me a hopeless romantic, or maybe it’s just me being extra vulnerable these days but this scene was powerful to me.  I’m not sure if below picture would give you an idea on how intense it was but for me, judging from the contrast between the rigid soldiers and how fluid Kalaryot and Aurora’s actions were on this photo says it all.

Feel the tension?
#4 Damian, Damian, the people were almost ready to give him a standing ovation – ahahaha, he was the much needed relief during the entire play.  He was the stereotypical ‘friend’ of the lead.  I was sure everyone expected him to be funny, but he did not fail one bit to deliver his WITTINGLY FUNNY lines and anecdotes.  I was glad he was given his own moment to shine. Man, that guy can sing.

That was him in white... I wished I got a better shot (no pun intended)
Over-all take
With much more funding, a more strategic marketing, I am sure this can be a start of yet another fruitful means to bridged to today’s public the richness of the Kapampangan culture.  Rest assured, this blog will be in support of such endeavors.  And by the way, for the students who may chance upon this blog in their research for their reaction papers, it is ok to copy the things I wrote here just do not forget to state your references, and if I may indulge you, please do spread my blog and click on the ‘join the site’ for those with gmail and twitter account.  Otherwise, just help by posting the link to your Facebook wall!  I will end this blog with the very beautiful message that everyone in this generation should include in their ‘box of conscience: Revenge leaves no Winner in the Aftermath.”

full production
I love this eerie scene
You gotta love the lighting effects...
One of my nice shots.. confrontation scene
The lead 'Kalaryot', Me, Renz & Krizia my dear friend who recommended me for this stint

Haha, i had to had this shot


  1. Just reading your blog gave me goosebumps, I wish I was in Phils to witness this myself. I am so jealous. :( anyway, congratulations for a job well done On Stage Uyat Artista! :)

  2. I am just wondering if the writer's name should be Marian Vega?

  3. Thanks Ms. Vonn, for the beautiful blog.. And appreciating Anita's Lullaby "SALAMAT" ... It was really a good story that capture our hearts... Congratulation to all the Cast (ON STAGE UYAT ARTISTA) and to Sir Jason Pabalan and mam Tria Pabalan :-)Anita

  4. Thanks, and by the way it's a Mr. Vonn ehe... yes that part was really great. Do help spread the word by posting the link of this blog to your FB wall or joining the site by clicking on the button at the upper right side of this page. Congratulations once again

  5. ehe sorry MR. Vonn.. :-) Thanks again...

  6. The production looks impressive. It would be nice to something like this one of these days. This only proves that there are a lot of talented Filipinos.

  7. I'm reminded of the Ilokano "zarzuela". It's a dying culture.

    But hopefully, productions like this will remind the modern generation of our rich heritage. And be passed on to the younger ones.

  8. Nakaka panindig balahibo yung post mo! Sana may ganyan din dito sa amin para ma experience ko na man. Ang sarap cgru panoorin. Tnx for the post! I enjoyed it!

  9. Really? I thought before zarzuela is only in Ilocos, my bad <0.0>

    1. Same thoughts. The production looks phenomenal btw :)

  10. The set looks fabulous! Nothing beats the sweet song of a mother!

  11. wow, congrats for a well done job.

  12. you are so lucky to have witnessed such spoken and sung scenes :) Good blog post!

  13. Congrats ser! You were lucky you got the chance to watch this event.

    OT. ser pala kayo yes? Ngayon ko lang nalaman, kala ko talaga mam Angelie :D

  14. I love your blog post.. it gave the reader an insight into the play. i assume the play was done in Kapampangan?

  15.'s looking great, esp. the set.

  16. Nothing really beats watching theater shows like these. ^_^

    Congratulations in advance. I know you'd be able to get much traffic in your blog. ^_^

  17. Are those Manila Papers over there? Hmmnn...I didn't know that even big productions use them too.

    1. yes, some techniques, i guess.. are best left unchanged...

  18. This is the first intelligent cultural post I've read in YEARS! I think the young generation should all be required to watch several hours of plays and cultural shows to develop elevated thinking. I honestly think many of our local shows develop dumb, hyper sensitive people.

    1. thanks much for your very kind words! it's comments such as this that inspires me to continue writing...God Bless!

  19. It's been a very long time since I've watched a play hope I get the time to watch one soon. Good for you sir vonn ^_^ your blog is really paying off.

  20. Impressive in-depth blog.

    I'll be asking my eldest daughter to read this to have a taste of our culture. She's half German, grew up in Germany, and now we are all living in the Netherlands. I miss going to the theater in the Philippines, your post made me feel so nostalgic.

    I used to work in Cultural Center of the Philippines for the FOH during college, and man was I a happy gal to get paid, and be surrounded with so much culture.

    1. thank you very much Joanna... it's always nice to read comments such as this....

  21. Wow haba ng write-up muntik ng dumugo ang ilong ko ^^

    anyway, I haven't witness such play in my entire life...I am not a Catholic kasi but reading from the write up---it sounds interesting and a great learning.

    looking forward for your next post!