Ballet Philippines is getting to the pointe in its 35th season

Getting to the pointe 
By Walter Ang
November 2004 (not published)
submitted to Unwind Magazine

We can't all afford to travel or have enough guts to jump out of a plane with a parachute, but it's not so hard to inject a little more fun into life. For example, one can always try new cuisines or explore new ways to have a good time ? like, oh say, watching something we wouldn't normally watch.

After I'd been broken into the world of ballet, I realized it's not such a bore. It's not that expensive to get tickets and it's definitely not difficult to understand. What's there to have a headache about anyway? These people aren't talking in a strange foreign language. Movement, choreography and body language are as universal as Coca-Cola.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a fanatic who quivers with excitement when I hear about another upcoming production of a flying boy who doesn't want to grow up or a princess who turns into a bird with a long neck. However, my interest does get piqued if I hear about a ballet that deals with something unusual like Dracula (yes, there's a ballet about this bloodsucking creature) or a world classic being adapted into local flavor.

The great thing about watching foreign material that's been localized is that it becomes more familiar and accessible, yet at the same time, fresh and revitalized. Ballet Philippines does this by transforming and condensing the full-length ballet "La Fille Mal Gardee (The Ill-Guarded Girl)" into "Ang Pilya" for the opening show of its 35th season, "On Pointe." With this information on hand, off I marched to the Manuel Conde Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Instead of French costumes or the traditional tutus, the dancers wear traditional Filipino costumes like the kimona and patadyong. A village setting gives way to a rustic barrio. Even the dances are Filipinized: what should have been a clog-dance turns into the maglalatik (that dance where guys have coconut shells strapped to their torsos).

The simple plot has Mama Simeona, hilariously performed by Anatoly Panasyukov (yes, a man ? so you can imagine how funny the character looked), wanting to marry off her daughter Lisa to Alan, the son of the town's biggest landowner. Just like classic love stories, it's no surprise that Lisa's heart pines for someone else.

So it's lighthearted fun throughout the show until we end with a triple wedding: Lisa gets the man she wants, Alan ends up with someone who doesn't mind his penchant for chasing butterflies and even Mama Simeona gets a man for herself. The cast injects much energy into their characters, hamming it up for the audiences but never holding back in executing the choreography.

After showing how Filipinos can successfully "indigenize" a world- classic and making it into our very own, Ballet Philippines proves that our dancers certainly have the abilities to meet global standards head-on by performing several short pieces with foreign inspiration or choreography for the second act.

With these pieces, the look and feel of the whole second act becomes a dramatic counterpoint to the cheery and celebratory first act. Lighting designer Jonjon Villareal provides the audience a darker, edgier and contemporary atmosphere and deftly adds emphasis and drama with his subtle yet highly effective color schemes. With his pulse for dance and aesthetic sensibilities, Villareal's work is always an added pleasure to watch.

The curtains open once again with award-winning Alden Lugnasin's "Accidental Swans." Dancers dancers Clark Rumabayon and Kris-Belle Paclibar set the stage on fire with this mesmerizing contemporary pas de deux inspired by the classical "Swan Lake". A visually delightful piece, costume designer Gino Gonzales creates an incredibly sensual look by having both dancers wear black straps strategically placed on their bodies, showing off their sinewy and toned builds.

Then, with his entire body covered in shimmering body paint, Rumbayon makes a final encore in Marius Petipa's "Bronze Idol" inspired from "La Badayere." The whole shebang ends with a powerful piece that captures the many facets of femininity riding on an undercurrent of elegant strength. Five sultry women emerge from the shadows and proceed to dance "Je Tu Elle," a sexy, assertive and sensual piece by Redha Benteifour.

The mix of Filipino and foreign elements in this show is actually a great way to introduce the art form to novices. A sampler plate of different styles and persuasions, audiences get a taste of how fun dance can be. The pieces piece are short enough to sustain attention, but long and varied enough so that the audience leaves the theater a little hungry for more.

BP's next show "BP Goes Global" opens in October. Call 551-0211.

Tanghalang Pilipino's "Ang Romansa ni Magno Rubio" (The Romance of Magno Rubio)

Ruby of a Rubio 
By Walter Ang
October 2004

In these days of instant communication, who hasn't heard of LDRs? Cutting across continents, cultures and, sometimes, common sense, Long Distance Relationships have become part and parcel of the Filipino life of immigration and overseas contractual work.

Tangahalang Pilipino's staging of "Ang Romansa ni Magno Rubio" speaks of this phenomenon (among other things) though the connecting medium is not the internet nor cellphones. Instead, the correspondence between Magno Rubio and his sweetheart Clarabelle blossoms from the pen-pal section of a movie magazine and unfolds over the course of several years.

The audience gets to see how Magno, a Filipino migrant farm worker in Depression-era California, attempts to woo the object of his affection (a girl in Arkansas he has never met, save for a lone photograph and lock of hair). It is this search for love that takes place in American playwright Lonnie Carter's adaptation of blacklisted writer and political activist Carlos Bulosan's short story.

The words
First premiered in Manila by the New York City-based Ma-Yi Theater Company last year, it has been translated by Joi Barrios to Filipino for a fresh staging. Comparing the English verse (projected onto a screen as supertitles) to the Filipino text is akin to choosing between apples and pineapples, but oh how the spoken Filipino lines soar and resonate throughout the theater! At once lyrical and earthy, at turns poignant and bawdy, it rings closer to the ear and strikes closer to the heart than any other language could.

Director Loy Arcenas and choreographer Jack Yabut deftly replicates the motion of the words by having Magno and his fellow workers do rhythmic and, at times aggressive, choreography as they chant their lines. They use the very Filipino arnis in several scenes to great effect. Here, the martial arts weapon becomes their tools of oppression and instruments of distress.

Yes, oppression. For the story of these migrant farm workers are not the success stories of OFWs today. Magno and his companions do not have the perks of free visa processing, free airfare and assured greencard status that nurses enjoy today. Instead, theirs is the story of our unfortunate countrymen who end up being forced to work inhumane hours for a pittance.

Despite Magno's small income, he sends Clarabelle gifts at her every beck and call. Everyone realizes he's being taken for a ride, but who can blame him for creating his own fantasy lovelife? Our protagonist is lonely, poor, uneducated. When you're being screwed by almost everything else in your life, what else have you got left except hope?

Made flesh
Paolo Rodriguez plays the titular role and imbues his character with the perfect blend of pathos, naiveté and ne'er-give-up demeanor. A strong ensemble cast includes Roeder Camanag as the restrained narrator, Paolo O'Hara as the resident bully, Noely Rayos as one of the group comics (doubling as the voice of Clarabelle), and Soliman Cruz as the avuncular senior of the group. All the actors breathe life and emotion into what could have become generic stereotypes in lesser hands.

Apart from guiding the actors as their director, multi-awarded Arcenas also gave birth to their acting space ? a drab and lifeless warehouse interior. Although he pushes this set towards the edge of the stage to bring it closer to the audience, he seals off the characters with horizontal wires that simulate the slats between planks of wood. These wires, together with lighting stands placed within close proximity of the walls, become the subliminal prison bars of the lives that have trapped our characters.

Barbie Tan-Tiongco's lighting design illuminates the set just so, adding to the foreboding feel of the space. The claustrophobic set actually serves a dual purpose. It has to be small enough so that it can be transported around when the production migrates away from Manila to spread the story of Filipino immigration away from the Philippines. A production tour across the country is a timely way to nudge audiences into evaluating how we view and deal with our search for identity (cultural and otherwise), for love, for a sense of belonging, for a better life.

Watching a stage incarnation of the Filipino diaspora as a third generation Chinoy struck many a chord. Brought to my mind were my (and my generation's) personal struggles to reconcile our polycultural upbringing and the continuing efforts to bridge the gap between my generation's cultural quirks with our parents' own (somewhat dated) worldview. A situation that is, I am certain, shared by families that carry labels such as Fil-Ams, Fil-Ozzies, Fil- Europeans and Fil-what-have-yous. Even, yes, Chinoy-Ams (Chinoys who have immigrated to America)!

Despite the bleak premise, the play is replete with humor and light moments. The songs and dancing are fun (and funny) to watch, while the banter and chemistry of the ensemble keep the audience rolling in the aisles. Watch out for the fantastically funny fight scene between Magno and a fellow farmhand. Social, cultural, educational, and business organizations in the country that want to experience this ruby of a production (that has won 8 Obie Awards in 2003) ought to book the show now before the production's touring itinerary is set.

Asian Youth Orchestra in Manila

Asian Youth Orchestra in Manila 
By Walter Ang
Sept. 8, 2004
Philippine Daily Inquirer

I'm one of the very few people I know who can mess up singing the Alphabet Song. This is probably why, after announcing to friends that I would be watching the Asian Youth Orchestra, I was met with a multitude of eyebrows rising to the heavens.

I smiled, asked them to tug their eyebrows back into place and defended myself.

"Just because I can't sing doesn't mean I can't appreciate music," I said. So on a muggy Wednesday evening, I made a beeline to the Manuel Conde Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines to catch the orchestra's second day performance in Manila.

Coming together
The Asian Youth Orchestra is an annual six-week undertaking. Musicians from all over the region (namely China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) audition to win spots in the orchestra. Those who are chosen go through a three week Rehearsal Camp under internationally renowned musicians and conductors. The remaining three weeks is slated for their performance tour.

Filipinos in this year's line up include Maria Victoria Regalario and Maurice Ivan Saraza (Violins); Ariston Payte III and Joven Tidon (Double Basses); Floyd Ricafrente (Flutes), with Rodel Hernandez and Saturnino Tiamson (Percussion).

Founded by Yehudi Menhuhin (Musical Director) and Richard Pontzious (Artistic Director and Conductor), the AYO had already completed performances in China, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia this year before arriving in Manila. The group will then move on to Hong Kong and end their rigorous 15th anniversary tour with a 4-city performance in Japan.

Making music
For the first act, the orchestra peformed Dmitri Shostakovich's "Festive Overture" and Richard Strauss's "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks." The pieces were light and fun, reminiscent of Looney Tunes and Disney cartoons. The music had a different effect, however, on my companion.

About five minutes into the first piece, she leaned in and, with much gusto and said, sotto voce, "At nahawi ang kurtina papunta sa kaharian!" This hilarious line caused us to have the giggles throughout the first hour. Good thing we knew ourselves well enough to have sat ourselves at the very last row when we came in the theater.

We made our own fun and peppered the piece with annotations like, "At eto na si Prinsipe Amante!" or "Road Runner 2, Wily Coyote 0." You get the idea. Occasionally, we would watch Pontzious as he conducted (Menhuhin conducted the evening before), his body swaying this way and that, with much energy and passion. The evening was off to a great start.

The universe had other ideas, though, and the night had decidedly taken a turn from thereon. The first act would have gone smoothly if not for the lady seated in front of us who seemed to have doused an entire bottle of perfume on herself. Her stench became so unbearable that we had to transfer seats.

Ladies and gentlemen, please keep in mind that while overindulging in fragrances is not against any theater etiquette rules, it is, however, a crime against general good taste and the civil liberties of oxygen-loving people!

Accidental lullaby
Then came the second act's piece, Gustav Mahler' Symphony No. 1 in D, "Titan." The souvenir program describes the first part of this piece as "Slow. Dragging."

It was. So slow and dragging, in fact, that people (horror of horrors) started dozing off. One person in our row even started (embarrassment of embarrassments) snoring! Strangely enough, who ever he was with didn't seem to think it necessary to wake him up.

This seemed to be the case in several rows of seats throughout the theater, causing two ushers to keep going up and down the aisles, trying to find the guilty parties. This would have been fine if they had tried to wake the snoring individuals, but they didn't. Add to that the annoying squishy sound of the usherette's skirt rubbing against itself as she repeatedly sashayed by and you can imagine how things were starting to sound.

Too bad for me and my friend. We could no longer stand it and snuck out before reaching the last part of the piece. It would have been fun since the program describes it as "With violent movement," but we were afraid that if we had to sit through the snoring and the squishy skirt sounds any longer, we would be the ones causing violent movements.

Fun for all
Despite the unexpected and unintentional audience participation, the evening was still a lot of fun. The bright beaming faces of the young musicians and their enthusiastic performance was very inspiring. And who would not be awed by the whole concept of bringing together different nations for the sharing of music?

Also impressive was the long list of corporate sponsorships that gave life to the show. Splashed on the posters and souvenir programs were entities like Cathay Pacific (Tour Patron) and JP Morgan (Manila performance sponsor). Of note is worldwide superstar Jackie Chan sponsoring scholarships through his charitable foundation. This becomes a challenge to local businesses: to support the performing arts more. Aside from the obvious tax write-offs, helping homegrown talents shine is definitely a noble investment in community relations. Hey, if Jackie Chan thinks it's cool to support the arts, why can't we?

Women and war onstage: Lysistrata and Trojan Women

Women and War Onstage 
By Walter Ang
September 2004

THOSE born in the first half of September fall under Virgo, a zodiac sign associated with deities such as the Egyptian goddess Isis or the Greek goddess Demeter. Perhaps it is Virgo's cosmic influence this month that has spurred two theater companies to stage productions that feature quite opposite renderings of the same theme from ancient Greek drama: women and war.

First is Aristophanes' comedy "Lysistrata," revived by the University of the Philippines' Dulaang U.P. For a company that thinks nothing of full frontal nudity, director Ameil Lenoardia has staged a surprisingly restrained and straightforward version of this sex satire.

In the English run, Missy Maramara injects Lysistrata (whose name means "breaker of the army") with an almost masculine authority as she leads the Athenian women to hold a sex strike to force their husbands to end the Peloponnesian war. The energetic cast attempt to stick to their vow of abstinence on a classically designed set by Tuxqs Rutaquio at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater.

While the women convince their husbands to "make love, not war" with hilarious encounters, opening night jitters may have made the cast seem guarded with the usual cheeky attitude and bawdy body language expected of a Greek comedy. The cast's dynamic should blossom though by the time they start performing the new Filipino translation by Jerry Respeto.

In contrast, the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Tanghalang Pilipino does not merely resurrect Euripede's tragedy "Trojan Women," it thoroughly deconstructs it. When you enter the Aurelio Tolentino Theater, the look alone of the set design tells you this won't be the usual Greek drama where characters wear togas and wave olive branches above their heads.

Production designer Gino Gonzales has created a harsh, off-kilter space. He sets a vast raked (theaterspeak for inclined) platform biased against the actual stage's edge. The backdrop is a towering wall of corrugated metal sheets punctuated by industrial light fixtures and barbed wire.

Foregoing her signature ornate gobo (light shone through cut-out patterns) designs, lighting designer Shoko Matsumoto orchestrates the light fixtures so that they alternately shine with menace or glow with sorrow. By illuminating mostly from the side of the stage, Matsumoto adds to the sense of imbalance required by this play that deals with the aftermath of the fall of Troy.

Gonzales and Matsumoto have done an outstanding job of casting a foreboding atmosphere for director Jose Estrella's interpretation of women left in the wake of war. To set the tone, Estrella begins the tragedy with her cast prostrate on strewn clothing that covers every available surface.

To further draw the audience into the confusion and dread caused by warfare, the disjointed elements keep on coming. Here is an ancient Greek tragedy where women wear kimonos over their evening gowns and male soldiers are in fatigues. The characters speak in Filipino and Taglish while making modern references to electricity and Princeton University. Then the cast merges Euripedes' text with lines from Charles Mee's modern interpretation, "Trojan Women: A Love Story."

Jose Capino's Filipino translation makes the lines sound visceral and earthy, yet it was also delicious to hear Helene (played by Kalila Aguilos) speak in straight English and even sing in French. She is a foreigner after all and unlike the popular movie "Troy" which portrays the face that launched a thousand ships as an oh-so-delicate innocent, here she is despised and reviled as the root of much strife.

Bearing the brunt of all this strife is the central character Hekabe (Hecube) alternately played by Divina Cavestany and Madeleine Nicolas. Cavestany leads a strong ensemble with her compelling performance as the Trojan queen. Never leaving the stage throughout the two-hour run, she epitomizes anguish while anchoring the wretched stories of her daughters, whose miserable fates are made known one by one.

The cast's suffering is made flesh by the nuanced but striking choreography of married tandem Nonoy and Edna Vida Froilan. This unyielding inventory of pain, misery and humiliation culminates in a powerful ending not to be missed.

The enduring power of these Greek dramas shows us the universality of striving for human dignity amidst discord and dismay. With current world socio-econo-politics the way it is, Lysistrata and Hekabe are the everywoman in our lives. So it was in the 400s B.C., so it still is in the 2000s A.D.

Tanghalang Ateneo's "An Enemy of the the People"

The Enemy Wears Floral Prints 
By Walter Ang
July 12, 2004
Philippine Daily Inquirer

When Dr. Thomas Stockmann discovers that the waters from the spa of his native town are poisoned, he urges the town officials to close down the resort. When the citizens realize such a decision could drive them into economic ruin, the doctor becomes "An Enemy of the People."

I drank coffee to prepare for this play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. I wanted to make sure I could stay awake as I expected a drab, dark, brooding production. I assumed the characters would wear black turtlenecks and round spectacles while dishing out kilometric discourse on sociopolitcs. This is an Ibsen play, after all!

In Tanghalang Ateneo's staging, I realized I should have drank piña colada instead when I was led to my seat by a torch-carrying usher dressed in a loud red Hawaiian shirt. In quite an ingenious move, director Ricky Abad and production designer Gino Gonzales take off from the resort discussed (but never actually seen) in the play and uses it as the visual motif of the production. Gonzales bedecks the stage with a wall imprinted with a collage of tropical birds and foliage. Along this predominantly red wall are several doors from which the cast enter and exit while dressed in beachwear that explode with colors.

Passion 
The loud floral prints and brightly hued sarongs set the tone for the action onstage. Abad complements the vibrant energy of the production design with equally dynamic direction. His cast does not converse with each other simply standing in place or seated by a table, instead they traverse the length of the Rizal Mini-Theater stage. The high-octane movements mirror the characters' passion for their beliefs.

Two actors in particular imbue their roles with broiling vigor. Yan Yuzon plays the titular character Dr. Stockmann and Neil De Mesa is major antagonist Mayor Stockmann, the doctor's brother. The tandem pulls off their characters with aplomb: Yuzon creates a doctor full of impassioned rage, while De Mesa fills the Mayor with seething resentment and anger. Yuzon's hot, fiery disposition juxtaposed with De Mesa's cool, steely demeanor makes for captivating sibling rivalry scenes.

Discourse on sociopolitics was present, but Abad incorporates entertaining devices to move the action along. Actors face the audience instead of each other when certain lines are emphasized. Intimate arguments between Dr. Stockmann and Mayor Stockmann transform into one-on-one basketball games. If you're not sure who's winning the fight, just check to see who gets the ball.

Bells and whistles
Just like the canned laughtrack we hear on television sitcoms, key statements by the characters are punctuated by bells, whistles and special lighting. Reggae music like Bob Marley's "Get up, stand up" aptly underscores the scenes.

Characters are given slapstick asides and funny quirks to add humor. Mrs. Aslaksen and Hovstad, two characters who represent the fluctuating principles of local journalism, are given great hammed-up characterizations by Shermaine Barlaan and AJ Constantino, respectively. The cute factor was provided by Elmo Magalona, son of lunchtime TV variety show host Francis Magalona, as the doctor's son Ejlif.

Do not be misled, however, by the seemingly light treatment of the material. The audience takes the ride only to skid into a dark and chilling ending when Dr. Stockmann must face the consequences of upholding his beliefs. At the wake of the recent (unconcluded as of yet) national elections, the revved up actions onstage will hopefully lead audiences to assess how they deal with issues of power and influence, truth and lies, principles and persuasion.

The fun of watching this timely production was tempered only by two students seated behind me who prattled on and on the whole night and a student in front of me who actually made a call on his cellphone. Professors really should make it a point to discuss theater etiquette with students before requiring them en masse to watch a show. And if enduring noisy students wasn't enough, the restroom closest to the theater was locked, forcing the audience to walk long lengths before they could find relief. It's enough to make one wonder: who's the real enemy here?

Tanghalang Ateneo restages Enemy to open its 26th season beginning July 1. Call 0916701-7563 or 0917205-5943.

Arrow menswear CEO Ian Ross impressed with Manila mall traffic

Straight as an arrow 
By Walter Ang
June 18, 2004
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"I'm impressed with the phenomenal traffic. It's outstanding!" said the head of a worldwide menswear label when he visited the Philippines for the first time. Human traffic inside malls, that is.

Clearly, Philippine mall culture has delighted Ian Ross, president and CEO of Arrow, a brand known for its menswear that's sold in more than 90 countries. Ross recently undertook a Southeast Asian inspection tour of Arrow stores including countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. The Philippines was the last stop before he returned to headquarters in New York City.

The Philippine market is relatively new for Arrow in Asia, with countries like Thailand starting operations way back in 1974. However, Pinoy men have proven their mettle when it comes to metrosexual fashion sensibilities that match the rest of Asia. Arrow's growth has been steadily increasing since it opened its first store in SM City Manila in 2000. Now the brand is being sold in 10 department stores as well as 12 boutiques nationwide.

"The Philippine market is very good. It has posted double digit increases every year!" Ross credits the expansion to local licensee Benito Lim. "This guy is very aware of what's going on in the market. He has the capability to react to the needs of the market and be proactive," said Ross.

Hipper collection
This foresight for market demand has translated into this year's collection, decidedly hipper than last year's plain, formal designs. 2004's showcase of long sleeved polos and short sleeved polo shirts are adorned with candy color hues that come in patterns like stripes and checks. The fabric range includes cotton, polyester and a new material called Dryfit.

Ross points out that, "the Arrow brand may be 150 years old, but the image is getting younger and younger. The designs are a lot more fun here since people in Asia wear more color (compared to Europe and America)."

To anticipate fashion forecasts and stay on track trends, Arrow headquarters releases a style manual to all its licensees twice a year. "This guide lets our licensees in on the latest information on color, trends, fabrics ? everything!" enthused Ross.

Ross emphasizes that information sharing within the Arrow family of licensees is constant. "We have a global conference every year where there are workshops, updates and sharing of success stories. All our licensees attend with all our consultants ? from designers to suppliers and manufacturers of fabric, buttons and any other product related to clothing," Ross explained.

Valuable feedback
Plans for the year are laid out at these conferences, but nothing is set in stone. "We don't dictate. It doesn't work if you do business that way. Our business model is different from other brands because we give our licensees the freedom to do adjustments for their respective local markets."

This CEO who hails from Canada and joins marathons in his free time describes Arrow as "a market research and customer driven organization." Ross further explained, "Everything we do, we do for the customers. We have a lot of retail stores and it gives us the opportunity to process feedback right away. Its gives us a big leading edge in finding out if something is not working."

Keeping an eye on such a large network of licensees scattered all across the globe certainly keeps Ross busy. Proof of this is his already fully booked calendar. He's scheduled to visit even more licensees in other countries till the end of the year. However, it is this attention to preserving the network, these open channels of communication and the provisions for localization that enable Arrow to stay current and in tune with its market.

The company may be more than a century old, but its ability to evolve has kept it running alongside newer and younger labels. "We constantly test our products. If it doesn't work, (we) sweep it under the rug and do something new," said Ross.

The philosophy is evident when one sees how Arrow has grown and diversified. What started out in 1851 as a one-room workshop in New York churning out collars and cuffs for men has grown into full men's line as well as a broad assortment of apparel for women and children. The Philippine outlets have so far only introduced the menswear, but Ross confirmed that "plans are already being made to eventually bring out the lines for women and children, definitely something to look forward to."

Flipping around with Ballet Philippines

Flipping around 
By Walter Ang
Feb. 02, 2004
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Audiences interested in dance but who balk at the prospect of sitting through the classical form of ballet should make a beeline for Ballet Philippines' "Neo Filipino" this February. BP ends its 34th season with its annual showcase of experimental works and new choreography, this time titled, "Flip."

So none of the usual ballerinas in tutus or men in white tights for this show, unless it's tongue-in-cheek or under the guise of "deconstruction." Instead, the stage becomes a venue for fresh material or re-workings of existing choreography, interspersed with other art forms and media like video and computer graphics.

BP artistic director Denisa Reyes, who aims to "turn things around" by pushing her choreographers "to go further with exploration and experimentation," acknowledges that the term "Flip" is used in the US as a derogatory term for Filipinos. But she wants to transform the label by reclaiming it for our own use.

"There is no racial bent here for the word. I think it's cool to accept Pinoys being called 'Flips,'" she says.

True to her vision for this year's showcase, Reyes will be restaging "Asong Ulol Atbp." First staged in the '90s, this piece is a satire on Filipino traits and norms that attempts to find an answer to the question, "What's wrong with us Filipinos?"

Accompanying this piece is a new work, "In The Name of the Mother," a commentary on overpopulation.

Reyes commends her choreographers "for being so brave with their choices." Erwin Flores, she points out, has embraced the challenge of using multimedia and technology in his piece "Wires." The piece uses "trigger" technology, similar to the Dance Revo machines usually found in arcades, where lights, music and video can be activated by certain movements.

While Flores' piece may incorporate technology, BP's associate artistic director Alden Lugnasin flips the theme around and explores environmentalism instead. Having grown up "sa may baybayin," Lugnasin's affinity for water and the environment is evident in his choice of topics for exploration and choreography.

But he dispels any highbrow definitions of his piece "Fluttering Disturbances."

"It is simply about my thoughts on appreciating the environment and animals as they are," he says.

Rounding up the flock of choreographers for this showcase is Raul Alcoseba, whose piece adds a tone of religiosity to the line-up.

"Uma-amen" finds its roots in the works of Rizal, "Noli Me Tangere" in particular, but has evolved into much more. The piece has been distilled to contain belief, faith and morality as its main ingredients.

If there is any commonality to the works for "Flip," it is that all are works in progress. All the choreographers are still fine-tuning their respective pieces at the time of this interview, flipping ideas on their heads and churning out movements and choreography for the audience come opening night.

"Neo-Filpino: Flip" goes onstage at the CCP Little Theater on Feb. 6, 7 & 8. Call 5511003.

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