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Best Philippine Theater Productions Gather for the 7th Gawad Buhay Awards

The recently concluded 7th PHILSTAGE (Philippine Legitimate Stage Artists Group) Awards for the Performing Arts or the Gawad Buhay Awards Night went from poignant to hilarious. From meaty punchlines and long, emotional acceptance speeches to graceful dance numbers and two bigwigs who have shaped Philippine theater, that night was of most importance for the theater community because, similar to the Tonys in the US, the Gawad Buhay is an annual event that gathers and recognizes the Philippines’ best theatrical performances throughout the season.

Let this entry walk you through the highlights of the 7th Gawad Buhay:

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (19)
Topper Fabregas of Red Turnip Theater gives life to the 7th Gawad Buhay Awards Night as the host. Fabregas, who would later go on and on with his inside jokes, summoned powerhouse actors Joaquin Valdez, Kim Molina, and Red Concepcion to join him on stage.
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (18)
What followed was an intense attempt to outshine one another in an all-out vocal showcase.
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (20)
Red Concepcion representing Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Full House)
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (21)
Nikki Gil and Steven Silva (9Works Theatrical) were the first pair of presenters.

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

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

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

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (25)
PHILSTAGE welcomes its newest member: The Philippine Ballet Theater
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (24)
Philstage welcomes its newest member: The Philippine Ballet Theater
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (23)
Is it possible that Topper is the new Tolits?
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Margie Moran-Floriendo, President of Ballet Philippines, is the next presenter.
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (26)
Liza Magtoto receives the award for Outstanding Original Libretto (Rak of Aegis, PETA). She dedicates the award to her dad who she describes as her “Original Tolits.”
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (60)
Tanghalang Pilipino

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

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (71)
Topper changes into Ebenezer Scrooge and jokes about how the costume hasn’t probably been washed since the show.

Female Featured Performance in a Play

Pinky Amador, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
LIESL BATUCAN, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (72)
Bituin Escalante is 2014’s Outstanding Female Featured Performance in a Musical.

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

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (28)

Pepe Herrera who stars as Tolits in Rak of Aegis dedicates his award to his mother, who once told him to follow his heart.

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

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (31)
A scene from “Sinta” by Dulaang Sibol
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Onofre Pagsanghan receives the first of two Natatanging Gawad Buhay awards for his brainchild Dulaang Sibol. Photo shows Pagsi embracing Paul Dumol.
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Onofre ‘Pagsi’ Pagsanghan
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Tanghalang Pilipino‘s Kleptomaniacs, with Nicco Manalo and the group.
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Fabregas came out in what seemed like a loin cloth, from the nominated costume collection from the Ballet Philippines’ La Revolucion Filipina.
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Carissa Adea of Ballet Philippines

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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (40)
Richardson Yadao, Ballet Philippines

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)

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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (41)
The cast of Gantimpala Theater Foundation‘s Kanser@35: The Musical features members of Viva Voce.
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (42)
The cast of Gantimpala Theater Foundation’s Kanser@35: The Musical features members of Viva Voce.
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (43)
The cast of Gantimpala Theater Foundation’s Kanser@35: The Musical features members of Viva Voce.

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Topper in Full Gallop! The production’s costumes were designed by Rajo Laurel.
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Philippine Opera Company’s Karla Gutierrez belts out You’ll Never Walk Alone as accompaniment to the “In Memoriam” segment.
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The PR gurus of Theater: Toots Tolentino and Leloi Arcete.
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Winning Outstanding Sound Design are PETA’s 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)

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Ballet Philippines perform a dance excerpt from “After Whom.”
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Topper’s next costume represents Full House’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (50)
Presenters Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and partner Robie Zialcita.
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Red Concepcion probably had the most costume change that night. Apart from winning Male Lead Performance in a Musical, he also appears in excerpts from Priscilla Queen of the Desert and, in this photo, alongside Team Kayumanggilas in Kung Paano Ka Naging Leading Lady!

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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (16)
Kim Molina wins Outstanding Female Lead Performance in a Musical!

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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (51)
Director Maribel Legarda for PETA.

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

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (53)
Mio Infante, the man behind the infamous flooded set of Villa Venizia.

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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (54)
Carlo Pagunaling (PETA)

Outstanding Costume Design
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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (59)
Fuersa Filipinas and Team Kayumanggilas showcase an exciting, must-see excerpt from Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady
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Teatrong Mulat in a puppetry number.
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Second Natatanging Gawad Buhay recipient was founder of Teatro Mulat, Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio. Joined by her former students Bibeth Orteza and Dennis Marasigan.
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Joaquin Valdes and Nikki Gil deliver a moving excerpt from The Last Five Years.

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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (66)
Gio Gahol (PETA) wins Outstanding Choreography for a Play or Musical.

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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (67)
Myke Salomon receives another win for PETA.

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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (63)
Jon Santos, Michael Williams and Red Concepcion sing “True Colors.”

Jon Santos, Michael Williams and Red Concepcion sing Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.”

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (62)
Sandino Martin, Regina de Vera, and Bart Guingona
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (1)
Representing Cherie Gil, who won Outstanding Female Lead Performance in a Play

Female Lead Performance in a Play
Baby Barredo, “August: Osage County” (Rep)
CHERIE GIL, “Full Gallop”
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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (3)
Champions Kim Molina and Pepe Herrera sing Mahal na Mahal Kita.
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (2)
Aicelle Santos and Jerald Napoles
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (4)
Kalila Aguilos of Rak of Aegis.
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Lorenz Martinez of Rak of Aegis.

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (7)
Antoinette Taus 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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (8)
The ensemble of August Osage County, composed of 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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (9)
The winning ensemble of RAK OF AEGIS jumps for joy!

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

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (10)
Chris Millado and Audie Gemora thank the audience.
Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (11)
Bibeth Orteza, Rafa Siguion Reyna and…
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Jon Santos as Armida Siguion-Reyna

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)

Gawad Buhay 2014 x Reverb Manila (63)

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

Outstanding Original Musical

Congratulations to all the winners! ‘Til the next Gawad Buhay!

Philstage is an organization of professional performing arts companies in the Philippines, namely: 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, Red Turnip Theater, and Philippine Ballet Theater.


Ten Reasons Why ‘Sabel, Love and Passion’ is Not Your Average Musical

Sabel-ReverbManila-(6) Sabel, Love and Passion: A Musical Production is an original Filipino musical inspired by the life of National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto ‘BenCab’ Cabrera‘s long-time muse, the crazy dancing lady named Sabel. Throughout his artistry, BenCab created numerous variations of Sabel. And the thought of a Sabel variation as a musical constantly challenged BBC journalist, art collector, BenCab’s friend, and brainchild of this project Rico Hizon since 2003.


Hizon, who graced the audience with a short introduction prior to the much-awaited showcase, candidly shared that everything started over a decade ago, when they saw in a coffee-table book a feature on dancers interpreting Sabel at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Sabel, a musical, he asked himself. He then turned to musical director and composer Louie Ocampo, who then went to Director Freddie Santos. The challenge was, indeed, accepted. However, amidst several talks of a production, the musical had not seen light until April of this year. Finally, last Thursday (April 30), thanks to the collaborative work pursued by Ocampo and Santos, and everyone behind BenCab’s 50 Creative Years, a sea of guests flocked to the Theater at Solaire to witness the successful World Premier Gala of Sabel, albeit the heavy traffic caused by the coinciding concert that evening.

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So this just happened.. ❤️ #Sabel #BenCab

A post shared by Iza Calzado (@missizacalzado) on

Reverb Manila first found out about the production when Ms. Iza Calzado started posting tidbits about Sabel via her Instagram account over a month ago. And although only a few articles surfaced in the weeks that followed, we had to rely on the cast members to spoil us with updates regarding the progress via social media.

We knew instantly that Sabel, Love and Passion: A Musical Production was relevant.

For those who missed out, Reverb Manila gives you ten reasons why Sabel is not your average musical production.

10 | In a world where even visual art has gone digital, it’s quite hard to find avenues that strike a balance between modern and traditional visual art forms. However, the production had allowed its viewers to experience the best of both worlds, in fact even marrying other art forms imaginable – song, ballet, poem – which all came together as one grand production that is Sabel.


The stage employed a rather minimalist design, consisting of asymmetrical canvasses that were assembled to frame and add dimension to the stage. It was beautiful enough being simple. But wait until it drastically transforms through the help of strong imageries projected via LCDs, transporting us to different eras, unraveling the deepest emotions in the story. There was even a scene where the paintings projected on the panel would follow the young character Miguelin‘s hand as he painted on the canvass. It was refreshing to have witnessed such visual effects.

9 | It’s the only time you get to see all of BenCab’s works since most, if not all, of them now belong to somebody else.

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Lo and behold! The stage drastically transforms into a BenCab masterpiece. From simple asymmetrical shaped panels, these instantly turn into a collection that depicts the national artist’s numerous interpretations of Sabel.

8 | Iza Calzado makes a grand theater debut. In her Instagram account, Calzado said: “I am over the moon with joy because I’m finally doing my first theater/stage production! Though it is not exactly a straight play I think it’s a great start to doing stage work. Yes, I am still nervous but I hope my angels guide me so I can give a heartfelt performance on Thursday. Here with me in the photo is Bianca Trocino from the Philippine Ballet Theatre dancing as Sabel. She is amazing on stage. And so are Antoinette Taus and Aicelle Santos who will be the voice(s) of Sabel. Brilliant Women! Together I hope we get to bring Sabel to life! See you at Solaire at 8pm on Thursday.”

Iza Calzado clad in a flowy cape by Rajo Laurel.

She’s a mainstream success as a TV/Film actress, but the beautiful Calzado was such a delight even onstage. She delivered deeply moving narrations that made us shed a few tears here and then, and we’re pretty sure the audience, too, felt her joy, her pain, her longing through every word and movement. Iza’s angels had, indeed, guided her well throughout the night.

7 | The Power of Dance. It’s one of those few musicals that put the spotlight on dancers. 

The Philippine Ballet Theatre as amazon warriors during war.

We seldom get to see a musical that gives an amazing amount of credit to dancing since productions tend to focus more on the singing aspect to judge if a musical is good over all. It was great to see these ballet dancers dominate the stage. They were composed of very young and talented individuals who are part of the Philippine Ballet Theatre, by the way. They stood out on their own, without being overshadowed by the stellar voices behind each of the main characters.

Audie Gemora sings Look at Her for the first time.

6 | You’ve got a Triple A powering all-original compositions plus two balladeers to complete an outstanding vocal showcase.

Former child star Antoinette Taus lends her voice to the Young Sabel.

TRIPLE A. Theater veteran and Audie Gemora, Former child star Antoinette Taus, and Rak of Aegis’ Aicelle Santos exceeded expectations in their moving solo performances of Look at Her, In Love, and Smoke and Mirrors.  Balladeers theater veteran Bo Cerrudo and The Voice of the Philippines Season 1 contestant Timmy Pavino excellently lent their voices to the characters of Luis and Miguelin respectively, alongside Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Ian Ocampo and Matthew Davo.

The promising Timmy Pavino and Matthew Davo as Miguelin.

5 | Put two bigwigs in the live performance industry Mr. Freddie Santos and Mr. Louie Ocampo together as director and musical director and you get a production that’s no less than world-class.

Standing ovation. The cast with the Direk Freddie Santos, Musical Director Louie Ocampo, and BenCab.

Kudos to a masterfully written narrative poetry by Direk Freddie Santos and musical direction by lyricist and composer Mr. Louie Ocampo.

4 | The storyline screams Pinoy. It’s pretty simple yet it works.

Miguel and Consolacion

The plot is simple and realistic for anyone to understand and relate with. The audience didn’t need to rack their brains to understand what the story was about. The story has a certain teleserye twist to it. It would reveal how the motherless protagonist would lose her father in his sickness, fall in love and get her heart broken by a man who abandoned her. Her misfortune drives her mad, causing her to abandon her son. It would then take years for them to find each other. Oftentimes a family memento would help, which in this case, was in the form of a necklace. See, these elements make the material unmistakably and genuinely Pinoy. The values demonstrated by these characters are very much reflective of the Filipino culture, with emphasis on often abstracted concepts, such as: family, love, hope, and resilience.

3 | So we just mentioned that the story was simple; and yet, Sabel had to be portrayed by five characters.

It’s now all Smoke and Mirrors. Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Bianca Trocino and Rak of AegisAicelle Santos offered a harrowing performance of Sabel gradually losing her mind.

The material somewhat reminds you of Katy the Musical. If you would recall, Katy’s character was divided into three in order to define a particular stage in the character’s life. The intricate dimensions of Sabel’s character inevitably required that she be played by not just three but five characters (as narrating, dancing, and singing Sabels) to walk the audience through Sabel’s colorful journey from being a motherless child, losing her father, falling victim to war, to falling madly in love, and becoming a mother.

2 | The songs used in the production have the makings of a classic. The lyrics to each song was poetically written yet easily understandable. The songs had a lot of recall, thanks to their beautiful melodies. The emotions created were ripe; and the songs, undeniably heartfelt. Our personal favorites are Look at Her and Smoke and Mirrors.

The Finale. Pavino, Taus, Gemora, Santos and Cerrudo belting out the Reprise of Look At Her.

Sabel is born and raised by her father Miguel played by Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Lemuel Capa.

1 | We finally answer the question, Who is Sabel? Long before she became the crazy bag lady slash taong grasa, and the muse behind BenCab’s artistry, she was a woman who loved to dance. The story introduces a beautiful love story between Miguel and Consolacion, who would then give birth to Sabel. Since she was born at a critical time of Philippine history, we would experience with her the unfolding of several historical events. It was a difficult time for a lot of Filipinos, and Sabel was no exception.

The Dancing Sabel was played by two soloists, mainly by Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Bianca Trocino.

As Consolacion abandoned her and her father, Miguel was left to raise the helpless Sabel on his own. But the misfortune did not end there. Still very young and unaware of the dangers of the world, Sabel would lose her father after he suffered from a serious health condition, leaving poor Sabel to figure out her life through the next few decades, alone.

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The world stopped. Young Sabel and Luis fell in love.

She would live through the World War II as a warrior, a comfort woman to the enemy soldiers, a nightclub headliner in the cabaret era, and a lover…

Darkness ensues. Sabel lets us into a world created by her despair.

We also  learn that even love can destroy you through and through. When Luis left her, both unaware that she was bearing his child – their child, her life began to fall apart. She had lost herself. A deranged woman would now take to the streets in search of scraps of plastic she finds and piece them together into something she could wrap around her body. It was a beautiful symbolism; Sabel wanders off to pick up the missing pieces of herself that was wasted away.

BenCab saw through her. She had many dimensions to her life. No wonder she’s come to be a recurring image in his works as a visual artist. Sabel-ReverbManila-(13)

We saw through her, too. We can no longer perceive Sabel as the deranged lady who wandered off to nowhere. Sabel was a courageous woman whose spirit may have been crushed due to several unfortunate, heartbreaking moments in her life, but what we need to remember is that, Sabel had loved passionately – even foolishly – with all her heart. Only, she’s lost so much in her life that she in turn lost herself. The story offers stark insights on the dangers of loving selflessly. We can lose ourselves. But life also teaches us that hope abounds – that anything lost can be found.


That’s why Sabel is a story of hopeSabel had the happy ending her heart truly deserved, as she reunited with a father she thought she had lost, and her son whom she had long abandoned.

And that, my fellow theater fans, is why Sabel, Love and Passion is not your average musical.

Tessa Prieto-Valdez joins the crazy-talented bunch.
National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose
Congratulations! Hizon, Ocampo, Santos and BenCab with the cast.

Sabel, Love and Passion: A Musical Production will hold its rerun at the Music Museum on June 26 and 27. And we dare all brave souls who have loved and lost to witness a compelling story you’ll forever remember. Get to know Sabel, and join Mr. Cabrera as he continues celebrating 50 remarkable years as visual artist.

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Catch it while you can! We can’t wait for you to share with us what you think.


Stay tuned for updates via http://www.reverbmanila.com!

#PalakasinangOPM: Girl Power (Pocket Performances)

March 14, 2015 – It’s been a month since OPM (Organisasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-aawit) rocked the Bonifacio Highstreet Ampitheater with a hefty lineup of solo acts and successfully pulled off collaborations. But before the 8 p.m. show, there was a series of pocket performances that were actually just as awesome.

OPM Pocket Performances

I decided to swing by a little earlier to get the feel of the event and catch some the afternoon sets. I was fortunate enough to witness four powerhouse ladies perform (hence the title Girl Power). Each gifted with their unique vocal prowess and sound, they actually have a few things in common – they’re all singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists!

Reverb Manila OPM Aicelle Santos

First up was my favorite power-belter slash pianist turned stage actress Aicelle Santos. I arrived at the venue just in time for her live rendition of Ikaw Pa Rin, off her debut album Make me Believe.

Former La Diva member Aicelle has been generating quite a buzz in the world of theater ever since she got shortlisted for the role of Gigi in Miss Saigon. Shortly after, she made her theater debut as Teen Katy in Katy the Musical and Aileen in the phenomenal Rak of Aegis, winning her first Aliw award for best actress in a musical. After recently staging her first solo concert in PETA last February, she’s set to take part in a historic musical Sabel, Love and Passion this April.

Reverb Manila OPM Indian Girl

I was standing beside this pretty little girl – unfazed by the summer sun – as she watched Aicelle sing her latest single Kapangyarihan ng Pag-ibig.

Tambay tayo. Tawagin niyo akong Aia.

ReverbManila OPM Aia de Leon

Hey there, Aia! Returning to the OPM scene is former vocalist and co-founder of Imago, Aia de Leon – and yes, she is back.

The thought of Imago always leaves me feeling quite nostalgic about college since their music defined that particular time in our lives. Plus they would often play for a lot of our school events. Admittedly, I was a bit sad to accept her part ways with Imago (especially after seeing her audition for The Voice of the Philippines). On a much lighter note, a happier Aia reenters the industry as a solo artist, and she’s promoting her new single Tao Lang. Her sound may have changed. But to me, different in this context is good. I’m pretty sure her fans are just as happy to see her back. For good.

One of the great things I love about watching concerts is the opportunity to hear new sounds from artists I have not yet heard of. And two of them were rising artists Mei Cruz and Cucay Pagdilao.

Reverb Manila OPM Mei Cruz

Emerging pop artist Mei Cruz may be a pretty familiar face on YouTube. She’s done a number of notable acoustic covers. All in all, I enjoyed her pop rock vibe during her set with OPM. Her brand new single Hibang is quite an easy listen. It also kinda reminds me of of Moonstar88’s Migraine?

Check out her music video here. She might just be a new addition to your OPM playlist.

Reverb Manila OPM Cucay Pagdilao

Another new artist Cucay Pagdilao is bound to conquer the local pop, ballad and alternative genre. She was rocking the satellite stage with her enamel white keytar! This classically trained independent artist had some undeniable stage presence so I had to step out into the sun to watch her acoustic set. I want to see her play the piano, though. From what I’ve gathered, she has finished working on her album Music, Lyrics and Longing.

 Check out her song Nala (Ikaw Pa Rin):

My accidental girl-power coverage offered a good balance between mainstream and emerging artists. They’ve got the passion and beauty with the vocal power to match!

So who’s your new favorite OPM artist? Leave a comment below.

Stay tuned for more photo and video updates on the Collab Sessions via http://www.reverbmanila.com. Please follow #ReverbManila via Tumblr, and via Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube! 

How We Randomly Celebrated National Siblings Day 2015

It’s gonna be a long summer break, and my brother is raring for new things to try!

I decided to bring him to the Satchmi Vinyl Day concert since I was absolutely sure I was going. It was easily the perfect, if not most hipster, way to celebrate National Siblings Day. Thing is, neither of us knew it was National Siblings Day until my friend took notice and reminded me the moment she saw us at the venue. It was pure coincidence, I thought to myself.

It was a rather cute coincidence. The afternoon soon turned into an evening of discovery and discography. The audience was spoiled with overflowing ice cream, floats, and a smorgasbord of eargasmic tunes from Satchmi’s awesome lineup of bands!

The following morning. We woke up late, and there we were: laying still, imagining how we could possibly get past the hangover Satchmi’s concert had brought upon us.


Our Last Concert Syndrome: Satchmi Vinyl Day 2015! Tandems ’91 and Jensen and the Flips are my new favorites! He’s digging Ang Bandang Shirley and Cheats! (Photos and videos will be up soon!)

Re-listening to their live performances made it a lot easier for us to cram all of our chores into two hours.

Earlier in the afternoon though – when the weather outside was just about right – we headed out to SM Aura to go to church and practice photography.


The view from 5F SM Aura. He’s developing a good eye for detail.


Seeing the Samsung Hall reminds me of Echosmith! They’re returning to Manila for a full concert this August!


His OOTD. Patterns!

After a couple of snapshots outdoors, we decided to find that one restaurant neither of us hadn’t tried yet. It was especially hard; we were simply too overwhelmed by the lineup of restaurants on the 5th floor. Both our tummies couldn’t decide on which craving to satisfy, but the very moment we caught glimpse of Magnum Cafe, we knew it – Let dessert come first.


The Magnum Cookie Dough Skillet is basically a warm cookie chocolate chip cookie dough topped with two vanilla Magnum bars, dark chocolate, and chopped pecans.


I had no doubt the presentation was going to be just as great as the photo in their menu.


And poof, it’s gone! Just like that. We were also kinda warming up to Pink Friday, but we made the right decision not to binge order; one was more than enough. We can save Pink Friday for next time!

Despite all the randomness, I’m glad that my brother had quite an amazing time here, and although he’s headed back home tomorrow, I’m pretty sure he’s going home with a handful of firsts – a beautiful memory of this particular weekend. I trust that he’ll have better taste in music, and he’ll definitely look forward to our next food adventure.

I must say this has been the best sibling bonding to date – much sweeter than any Magnum dessert can offer!

How did you spend your weekend with your brothers and sisters?

Share your #NationalSiblingsDay story with us.

‘Til the next National Siblings Day!

Your April Guide to Great Gigs Around the Metro

Happy Easter, everyone!


April has just begun, and your favorite bars and artists are back to regular programming.

Don’t miss out! Check posters below for more deets!

12 Monkeys Music Hall and Pub

5th Floor, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Ave., Makati

12 Monkeys

Route196 Bar

196-A Katipunan Avenue Extension, Blue Ridge AQuezon City, Philippines

Route 196 Bar

The 70’s Bistro

#46 Anonas Street, Project 2, Quezon City, Philippines

70s Bistro


Unit C-1 The Fort Entertainment Center, BGC, Taguig, Philippines


19East Bar

Km. 19, East Service Road, Sucat, Muntinlupa City


Saguijo Bar and Cafe

7612 Guijo Street, San Antonio Village, Makati


Good night!


Who’s Ready for Satchmi Vinyl Day 2015?

VinylDayWho’s ready for #SatchmiVinylDay2015?  We all are!

We are just a week (and a few days) away from experiencing one epic Saturday with friends, music lovers, crate diggers, and vinyl enthusiasts! A penchant for something old and something new, I can’t wait to spend my April 11 hanging out with good old friends, churning out some #SaturdayNightFeels, as we listen to great music and create new memories together.

In partnership with Jam 88.3 and ETC, I’m pretty sure Satchmi will celebrate its third Vinyl Day with pure goodness for all its followers – and for the love of music and vinyl – on April 11 (Saturday) from 3 PM ’til 12 midnight at the Bonifacio High Street Ampitheater! Third time’s the charm, so are we to expect anything new this year?

Get these! Dig through 1000 records on sale, get 20% off on new records, 30% off on vintage records, 40% off on indie records, and 20% off on Motorinos! Plus, enjoy other cool finds, treats and drinks, and of course, fresh new sounds brought to you by some of today’s relevant OPM artists, such as: Imago, BP Valenzuela, Ourselves the Elves, among many, many more!

I don’t need to show you Satchmi’s latest teaser to persuade you any further, but I’m sharing it anyway. Just ‘cos it’s cool! From Serious Studio:

And here is what we just missed last year:

And the year before that… (Too bad I missed Identikit!)

And oh, did I forget to mention the concert’s absolutely free for everyone? Yes! This is one night of vinyl and music we definitely can’t afford to miss! 

Stay tuned for more announcements and updates from Satchmi. Follow/like them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Meanwhile, photos and video updates will soon be uploaded here and on Tumblr, and via Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube! Search and use the hashtag Reverb Manila | #ReverbManila.

Reverb Manila is Here!

Reverb /noun/ re·verb \ri-ˈvərb, ˈrē-ˌ\ is an electronically produced echo effect in recorded music. It is a device for producing reverb.

Reverb Manila dives into the wonderful world of music, arts, and lifestyle in the Philippines. From here on, we’ll be echoing to you events that you enjoy, as they happen.

Creative collaborations of any kind are highly encouraged!  Let’s start a new reverb!

Reverb Manila

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