By Alex Y. Vergara
It’s now a week into the New Year! If for some reason you haven’t popped the cork yet, you now have 17 good reasons to, as Philippine entertainment, culture, fashion, and culinary scenes teem with events, activities, and developments designed to either uplift our sensibilities or make us smile and forget our everyday cares.
From Miss Universe to Madrid Fusion Manila, Coldplay concert to a musical based on Sugarfree’s music, artists, promoters, impresarios, and various movers and shakers in government and the private sector have seemingly conspired to bring us another exciting and eventful year. Take note that this is just a partial list. More twists, turns, fun, and surprises are in store for everyone, as we journey deeper into 2017. Hold on to your butts!
1. Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, whose hits include such rock ballads as “Heaven, (Everything I Do) I Do it for You,” “Straight from the Heart,” and “Please Forgive Me,” returns to Manila with a one-night concert at the Araneta Coliseum on Jan. 18. Adams broke into the global music scene in the early 1980s, but has managed to remain relevant by extending his fan base beyond his core supporters composed mainly of Gen Xers.
2. American rock bank Goo Goo Dolls takes center stage for the first time in Manila on Feb. 11 with a one-night gig also at the Araneta Coliseum. Led by John Reznik and Robby Takac, the group originated such hits as “Iris” (theme from the film City of Angels), ”Slide,” and “Here is Gone.”
3. The Moffatts, another Canadian act made up of brothers Scott, Clint, Bob, and Dave Moffatt, plays at the Araneta Coliseum on Feb. 18. Starting out as a country vocal group in the late 1980s, the Moffatts produced such hit singles as “I’ll Be There for You,” “Girl of my Dreams,” “Until You Loved Me,” and “Bang Bang Boom.”
4. The year’s biggest and most anticipated live show is undoubtedly Coldplay’s April 4 open-air concert at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds. The one-night gig is part of the British band’s “A Head Full of Dreams” Asian tour. When tickets to its Manila show were first sold online last November, it took the band’s fans no more than six minutes to wipe out 8,000 tickets. Expect frontman Chris Martin and his mates to sing Coldplay’s biggest hits such as “Paradise,” “Princess of China,” “Fix You,” and “Yellow.”
5. After 23 years, Miss Universe, without a doubt the biggest and most prestigious global beauty pageant as far as beauty contest-crazy Filipinos are concerned, returns to the Philippines. Third time’s definitely a charm, as the country previously hosted Miss Universe, or simply Miss U to Pinoy fans, in 1974 and 1994. This time, it will be staged at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Jan. 30 with Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach giving away her crown. How far will Miss Universe Philippines Maxine Medina go? Will it be a historic back-to-back win for the Philippines? The entire world, universe rather, will be watching!
6. But before the coronation night, which happens to be morning in Manila, Miss Universe candidates will grace a number of events such as charity auctions, TV appearances, and fashion shows. One such fashion show is on Jan. 22 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City where the 87 delegates will be wearing creations by members of the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines, said FDCP president Tonichi Nocom. It will be a catwalk showdown not only among the ladies, but also among their outfits’ designers. May the best look win!
7. To make Miss Universe a truly nationwide event, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has also coordinated with Cebu- and Davao-based fashion designers to stage fashion shows in their respective cities featuring some of the Miss Universe candidates as their models. Pageant fans who can’t watch the live telecast on Jan. 30 can see some of their favorite candidates up close and personal, as they will be touring a number of key cities and destinations all over the country: Boracay (Jan. 14); Vigan (Jan. 15); Manila (Jan. 16); Cebu (Jan. 17); Baguio (Jan. 18), Davao, and Batangas (Jan. 19).
8. For this year’s Red Charity Gala sometime in October, the show’s featured talent will be Joey Samson, considered in the industry as one of the most talented fashion designers in the country today. Apart from supporting the Red Cross and Assumption Batch ’81 Foundation, one of the objectives of the much-awaited annual fashion show is to highlight the talents of a Filipino designer by giving him the platform to showcase his creativity and versatility through a 40-piece collection. Samson, an exceptional tailor, is known for his mannish and architectural aesthetics. Now on its ninth year, Red Charity Gala featured such big names in the past as Dennis Lustico, Lesley Mobo, Jojie Lloren, Michael Cinco, and Cary Santiago. Organizers Kaye Tinga and Tessa Prieto-Valdes promise a show “to watch out for.”
9. For its initial salvo in 2017, Ballet Philippines, under the helm of Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran, stages the classic Swan Lake with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra from Feb. 24 to March 5 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Joseph Philips and Candice Adea will breathe life to Siegfried and Odette/Odile, respectively. Garry Corpuz, Denise Parungao, Victor Maguad, and Jemima Reyes complete the cast. There will be eight performances.
10. Ballet Manila welcomes 2017 with its final production for the 21st season. The much-loved Don Quixote will be staged from Feb. 24 to 26 at the Aliw Theater to wrap up what has been dubbed as Revenge of the Classics. It will bring back one of classical ballet’s feistiest leads, Kitri, who outwits her father to marry the man she loves. Taking on the lead roles are BM principal dancers Dawna Reign Mangahas and Katherine Barkman, and soloist Jasmine Pia Dames as the spirited Kitri. Guest artist from the Kremlin Ballet Mikhail Martynyuk, BM principal dancers Rudy De Dios and Gerardo Francisco will perform as Kitri’s lover Basilio.
11. In May, The Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special recital concert. Come August, Ballet Manila will open its 22nd season with the world premiere of Ibong Adarna, an original production based on the 15th century epic ballad of three princes in search of a cure for their dying father’s ailment. Ibong Adarna will be choreographed by BM principal dancer Gerardo Francisco.
12. Ballet Manila will end 2017 with a very special original production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. To be staged in November, this much-loved Brothers Grimm fairytale will be choreographed by prima ballerina and Ballet Manila’s artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde.
13. We’ve read the book and seen the film and musicale, but are we ready for its opera version? The CCP welcomes 2017 by staging the opera varsion of Noli Me Tangere, later this month. This new incarnation of Jose Rizal’s seminal novel that helped ignite the Philippine revolution against Spanish colonial rule will be directed by Jerry Sibal, a New York-based Filipino. Sibal will also do the set and costume design.
14. Sa Wakas, the Sugarfree musical, returns with shows from Jan. 12 to Feb. 5 at the Power Mac Center Spotlight Theater at Circuit, Makati City. During its first run in 2013, Sa Wakas became a critically acclaimed, homegrown musical based on the songs of local rock band Surgarfree. Co-written by Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan and Mariane Abuan, with music arranged by Ejay Yatco, Sa Wakas was one of the first local works to bring together the world of pop rock and theater in one groundbreaking musical. Pamintuan is also festival director of Fringe MNL arts festival and creative director of Pineapple Lab art space and gallery. The show is produced by Charissa Pammit of Culture Shock Productions, the same group behind the earlier run.
15. Organized by the Department of Agriculture (DA), in partnership with SSI Group Inc. and Central Square, the quarterly Philippine Harvest returns with a three-day run from Feb. 10 to 12 at Bonifacio Global City’s Central Square. The event aims to promote a wide range of local, artisanal, organic, and natural agricultural products from Filipino farmers all over the country. Products include vegetables, meats, herbs, coffee, tropical fruit wines, organic rice, chocolates, native fruits, local nuts, and honey.
16. Madrid Fusion Manila (MFM), the first ever gastronomy congress in the Philippines, returns for the third time from April 6 to 8 at the SMX Convention Center. Like in previous editions, the event will bring together the most prestigious and innovative chefs from all over the world to share their knowledge and expertise on traditional and latest trends on doing food. MFM is the only Asian edition of Madrid Fusion, a global event celebrated annually in Madrid, Spain since 2003. DOT, in partnership with other government agencies such as DA, is again responsible for MFM’s staging.
17. The country marks the centenary of the late National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin in 2017 with a number of tributes, including the release of Ang Larawan, a movie-musical based on the writer’s 1965 English play Portrait of the Artist as Filipino. Produced by Culturtain Musicat Productions and directed by Loy Arcenas, with music by Ryan Cayabyab and libretto by the late National Artist for Theater and Literature Rolando Tinio, the film stars seasoned singers Rachel Alejandro and Joanna Ampil as sisters Paula and Candida, respectively. Making life interesting and a bit complicated for the pair of spinsters is the suave but opportunistic Tony played by Paolo Avelino. Does the actor have the vocal chops to match the two singers? That’s something for moviegoers of quality films to see, as producers Girlie Rodis and Celeste Legaspi plan to field it as the opening film of this year’s Cinemalaya at the CCP in August.