Eco lights now shine on works of art

Eco lights now shine on works of art
By Walter Ang
Nov. 30, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Rico Gonzales, Philips Electronics and Lighting country manager
"Hold on to your incandescent light bulbs, because the only place you'll see them in the future will be in museums," said Rico Gonzales, country manager of Philips Electronics and Lighting.

Philips has partnered with Ayala Museum by providing subsidized lighting using LED (light-emitting diode) units.

At the signing of a memorandum of agreement between both parties, Gonzales noted that LED is fast becoming the standard of lighting for commercial and residential use due to its longevity and low-energy consumption.

LEDs emit less heat than conventional lighting units and do not generate UV (ultraviolet) light?two elements that degrade artworks.
Philips' 35-watt Luxspace LED units have replaced 120-watt incandescent lamps, which results in energy savings of up to 70 percent.

The LED's life span of 50,000 hours (compared to incandescent bulbs' 1,200 hours and compact fluorescent bulbs' 8,000 hours) will result in lower replacement and maintenance costs.

Philips also installed its Dynalite lighting controls to allow the museum to adjust lighting levels according to the needs of different exhibits.

"These solutions address the needs for less energy consumption, higher operational savings and better lighting performance," said Gonzales. "Users of Philips LED lighting solutions can achieve a return on investment in as early as six months.

"But it's not just savings from the lighting units per se. Because there is less heat and energy consumption, it results in savings on air conditioning, as well." Humidity and temperature are also components in conserving artworks, which is why climate-control systems play a crucial role in museums.

"Ayala Museum is delighted to partner with Philips," said Vicky Garchitorena, president of Ayala Foundation. "This highlights the need to embed the principles of sustainable development in all our activities, including our initiatives in art and culture."

For future generations
"It also showcases how technology can be used to conserve our resources so that future generations can continue to enjoy their benefits."

The partnership with Ayala Museum is part of Philips' goal to "showcase Filipino monuments." It has already helped light up the People Power monument in Manila and the Capitol in Cebu.

Philips has a global campaign to highlight "the icons of the world" to expose more people to architectural and cultural structures. "Lighting can help provide a sense of history, a sense of space, a sense of purpose," said Gonzales.

The campaign is also meant to exhibit how lighting can be used to showcase a structure's shape, materials and colors by providing focus, contrast and rhythm. It has lit the Chelsea Bridge in England, the Suzhou Science and Art Center in China, and Enoshima Panorama Lighthouse in Japan, among others.

Established in 1967 by the late artist Fernando Zobel de Ayala, the Ayala Museum has historical collections, 60 handcrafted dioramas, and a one-of-a-kind boat gallery that illustrates the development of Philippine maritime trade and colonial economy. The museum also features paintings by Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo and Fernando Zobel.

"Philips and Ayala Museum both push for our green advocacy to achieve environmental efficiency and sustainability, and, ultimately, a sustainable and progressive country," Gonzales said.

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Japanese danseur featured in BP’s ‘Sleeping Beauty'

Japanese danseur featured in BP’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’
By Walter Ang
Nov. 21, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Japanese ballet danseur Nobuo Fujino will play Prince Desire in Ballet Philippines' staging of "The Sleeping Beauty" this December. He alternates with BP principal dancer Jean Marc Cordero.

BP principal dancers Carissa Adea, Candice Adea and Katherine Trofeo alternate as Princess Aurora, who is cursed as a baby to die. However, good fairies soften the curse and replaces death with a long, deep sleep, which will end with the kiss of true love.

Fujino will perform in only two performances. He will partner Candice Adea, 2011 USA International Ballet Competition silver medalist, in the Dec. 2 fundraising gala for the benefit of the Noordin Jumalon Dance Scholarship Fund.

Jumalon was the CCP Dance School director and passed away last Sept. 24, 2011. He had been with Ballet Philippines for more than 30 years, mentoring hundreds of dancers.

This is Fujino's first time to perform in the Philippines. Fujino is a principal dancer of the Hong Kong Ballet and was formerly a senior artist of the Australian Ballet.

Fujino has portrayed roles such as the Prince in "Cinderella," "The Sleeping Beauty," and "The Nutcracker;" Albrecht in "Giselle;" Solor in "La Bayadere;" among others.

He had been performing the role of the Prince from "The Sleeping Beauty" when he was promoted to principal dancer for Hong Kong Ballet.

"Technically, it is always challenging to work through all partnering and solos in pure classical style," he says.

Cordero became the first Filipino male to reach the semifinals at the 2010 USA International Ballet Competition (touted as the Olympics of ballet) and won best male in a lead role in a Russian Ballet performance category at the 2011 Boston International Ballet Competition.

He partnered Candice Adea at the 2011 BIBC and they both have been invited to by the artistic director of Chelyabinsk State Academy Opera and Ballet Theater to perform lead roles in a full-length production next year.

He won the 2010 Gawad Buhay! Outstanding Male Lead Performer in a Modern Dance Production for his work in BP's "Crisostomo Ibarra."

Since then he's moved up the ranks in BP and has performed in all of BP's productions including principal roles in "La Revolucion Filipina," "Coppelia," "The Nutcracker," "Peter Pan," and "Don Quixote" among others-a long way from when he started ballet training at the late age of 16, just to pass the time while waiting for his girlfriend Candice.

Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa with music composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the duo also known for "Swan Lake" and "The Nutcracker," "The Sleeping Beauty" is based on Charles Perrault's fairy tale "La belle au bois dormant."

BP staged "The Sleeping Beauty" in 1983 with Japanese Prima Ballerina Yoko Morishita and Cecile Sicangco, Nonoy Froilan and Brando Miranda; and in 1988 with Sicangco, Froilan, then CCP Artist-in-Residence Lisa Macuja and Latvian danseur Aivars Leimanis.

BP ballet master Victor Ursabia is restaging the production. Music will be performed by the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Jeffrey Solares.

Holiday option
Candice Adea invites the public to try watching a ballet this holiday season for a change. "It's a different kind of magic," she says.

"December is a time when there will be many forms of entertainment to choose from, in this fast-paced world we live in, it's good to have the chance to watch a live performance with the whole family and revel in a show with grace and beauty."

"The Sleeping Beauty" runs Dec. 2-11, 2011 at Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater), Cultural Center of the Philippines. Visit Contact Ticketworld at 891-9999; Ballet Philippines at 551-1003, 624-5701; CCP Box Office at 8323704.

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Children's plays by DUP and TP starts Nov. 18, 2011

Children's plays by DUP and TP
By Walter Ang
Nov. 21, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Umaaraw, Umuulan
Dulaang UP will stage "Umaaraw, Umuulan, Kinakasal ang Tikbalang" a children's play based on publisher-painter-theater producer and Philippine Daily Inquirer contributing writer Gilda Cordero-Fernando's children's short story "The Magic Circle."

"The Magic Circle" was serialized in PDI's Learning Section in 2009.* 

Adapted by Rody Vera and directed by José Estrella, "Umaaraw" is about the adventures of a boy named Jepoy Baybayin and his pet dog, Galis, as they go on a "magical journey bursting with fantastic characters and strange happenings."

Jepoy and Galis are invited to a wedding underneath a balete tree, in the middle of the dark forest. There they meet the Spanish-speaking dwarf maitre d' Pacqui, Tatlong Maria (Makiling, Sinukuan and Cacao), the enormous Doña Geronima with her clean and shiny plates, talking pythons and frogs, tiyanak debutantes, ballroom-dancing aswangs, the four musicians of San Roque, and a woeful kapre named Kap.

"Part of the play's objectives is to remind audiences of the richness of our folk literature that are rendered nearly forgotten by foreign popular culture," says Estrella.

"I had fun adapting the story because the story is quirky in itself," says Vera. "I met with Gilda and we decided to add a situation for the Jepoy to experience in order to add dimension to his characterization.  That situation is lifted from another of her short stories for children. We're happy with the results."

Award-winning sculptor Leeroy New does costume design. Visual artist and Anino Shadowplay Collective member Don Salubayba creates shadow puppetry. Lex Marcos is set designer and lighting designer. TJ Ramos handles music and sound design.

"Umaaraw" runs Nov 23 to Dec 11, 2011 at Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan, University of the Philippines, Quezon City. Contact 0917-7500107 or 926-1349.

Emperor moved to 2012
TP's staging of "D'Emperor," George de Jesus III's Tagalog translation and adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes," originally slated for November, will be moved to Jan. 11-22, 2012.

Director Riki Benedicto says, "Tessa Prieto-Valdes, one of TP's board members has been on board with this production, connecting us with Slims Fashion and Arts School and fashion designers."  Joey Samson, Martin Bautista and James Reyes will do costume designs.

This November, Tanghalang Pilipino is restaging "Pinocchio, Gusto Mo Bang Maging Tao?"

First staged in 2002, this children's play is about the magical adventures of a wooden puppet whose quest to become a real boy leads him to learn about life, love and honesty.  This adaptation by George de Jesus of the well-loved classic tale of Carlo Collodi features Tanghalang Pilipino's Actors Company, its resident pool of actors.

"Through a fun-filled interactive staging, the production also tackles environmental awareness and addresses the urgent need to teach our children to be active participants in environmental protection," says artistic director Fernando "Nanding" Josef.

With music by Nonong Buencamino, costume design by George De Jesus, III, set design by Mel Fernando and lighting design by Haia Castro.

"Pinocchio" runs Nov. 18-20, 2011 at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, Cultural Center of the Philippines. Shows beyond these dates are available for booking. Contact 8323661, 0908-8941384, and 0928-2754747.

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*Links to "The Magic Circle" by Gilda Cordero-Fernando:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Making theater in Cebu for ten years and counting

Making theater in Cebu for ten years and counting
By Walter Ang
Nov. 15, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Hendri Go
To cap its tenth anniversary, Cebu's Little Boy Productions is staging a one-day-only performance of Chris Martinez's comedy "Welcome to Intelstar" and Anton Chekhov's farces "The Boor" and "The Proposal."

LBP brings in shows from Manila and stages its own shows with local talent. It's also done co-productions in Manila, including "Once on This Island" and the Filipino translation of "Art" with Actor's Actors Inc., and the Asian premiere of Disney's "High School Musical" with Ateneo Blue Repertory.

"What I'm most proud of is the diversity of shows that we've done," says Hendri Go, the man behind LBP. "In Manila, you have different theater groups with different segmented markets.  In Cebu, we don't have that.  LBP tries to do a little bit of everything."

LBP has also worked with Repertory Philippines and Atlantis Productions to stage musicals ("The Last Five Years," "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change"), plays ("Tuesdays with Morrie," "Doubt"), and improv acts (Silly People's Improv Theater).

Little Boy
In 2001, Go helped out a friend with the Cebu tour of New Voice Company's "The Vagina Monologues."  He observed the entire process from backstage to front-of-house, including the business side of logistics and ticket sales.

"I realized that you don't have to be a performer to do theater," he says. Prior to this, Go's theater involvement was limited to a summer workshop with Rep when he was in high school, and acting in a musical comedy revue for De La Salle University's Harlequin Theater Guild.

"I saw how the audience loved the show.  Wouldn't it be great if we could have more of these in Cebu? Wouldn't it be great to make theater more accessible to Cebuanos if the shows were brought here?"

Later that same year, he "brought over" the play "Love Letters" to Cebu.  "I found the script quite moving and the production requirements minimal, meaning it didn't cost so much," he says laughing.

LBP was born.

Manila-based actors Bart Guingona and Pinky Amador were cast for "Love Letters."  "It was a very big deal, getting these well-respected stalwarts to do our very first show.  It established a level of quality for the company."

"Since then, we've worked with the likes of Lea Salonga, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Cherie Gil, Michael Williams, Bituin Escalante, Chari Arespacochaga, Ricky Davao, the late great Jose Mari Avellana, among others."

It eventually started staging productions with local actors, designers, and directors.  "We produced regional premieres of plays by contemporary Filipino playwrights."

Aside from occasionally touring shows to Dumaguete and Ormoc, LBP conducts workshops in Cebu every summer.  "It's important to consistently provide training and theater education. The workshops in Manila, the level of quality, I wanted that in Cebu. So we fly in experienced, qualified teachers from Manila to teach."

Go says that moving productions over to Cebu can cost double of a Manila staging.  "You pay your artists more because there is an out-of-town premium or you have to give them 'per diem' allowance.  You have airfare, board and accommodations.  Sometimes we have to fly in special lights or sound equipment and large set pieces.

"But Cebu ticket prices are often lower than Manila prices. How do you make that work? That's the challenge. We have to fill the seats!

"Cebu audiences are more appreciative than Manila audiences because we don't get as much productions.  We have a lot of first-time theatergoers.  Those who come to watch really make an effort to get into it, to enjoy and appreciate it.

"On the other hand, you can't really be too edgy with the shows that you present because you're going after a general audience, you have to cast a wide net."

Go always has a hand in the productions he stages: from script selection to casting, from selection of collaborators (director, set designer, musical director, etc.) to scheduling.

"I like being a producer, getting involved, exchanging ideas, putting things together, doing the numbers.  It's exciting for me." 

In addition to evaluating production elements such as cast size and set requirements for cost computations, Go has a fairly simple formula in deciding what show to produce: "I ask myself 'Will this work in Cebu? Can I sell it?'"

"I like taking risks and trusting my instincts that a show will work."  Above everything else, "I have to like the show. I produce material I like and believe in, whether it's commercial or not."

"I look back at the ten years of LBP, at what we've done, the workshops, the local shows, the shows from Manila, the shows in Manila, the tours, the people we've worked with, and I feel very, very grateful and happy."

"The Boor" and "The Proposal" 3 pm and "Welcome to Intelstar" 7pm on Nov. 26, 2011 at CAP Art Center, Cebu City.  Contact (032) 254-9320.

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Pulitzer-winning novelist Edward Jones in Manila this week

Pulitzer-winning novelist Edward Jones in Manila this week
By Walter Ang
Nov. 7, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Edward Jones (2004 Pulitzer Prize winner, "The Known World") will visit the Philippines under the auspices of the US Embassy in Manila. He will be featured speaker at the 2nd Manila International Literary Festival, Nov. 16-18 at Ayala Museum, Makati City.

Organized by the National Book Development Board in celebration of Philippine Book Development Month, this year's theme is "The Great Philippine Book Café." The festival will feature performances, book launches, book signings and a book fair.

The board of the Philippine Center of the International PEN [Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists], led by National Artists for Literature F. Sionil José and Bienvenido Lumbera, will host a dinner reception for Jones on Nov. 11. Visit

Set in the state of Virginia in what was the not-quite-yet United States of America, Edward Jones' "The Known World" occurs during the cusp of sweeping changes: in 1855, a decade before slavery would be abolished, and (for a bit of global context) 20 or so years before the priests Gomburza would be executed in the Philippines.

Maps were still constantly changing as explorers were still tracing the globe and pioneers were still staking out land?where the characters in Manchester county led their lives in relation to whatever they knew of "the known world," so isolated that news from a neighboring county would take a year to reach it.

In this fictitious world that Jones has created, details like census statistics and citations made in future academic research (all created by the author), as well as complicated characters that lead complicated lives in complicated circumstances, there is vividness.

And fantastical touches: a character who eats dirt, boys who spontaneously combust, a cow with an endless supply of milk.

And a surprise right at the very start. The slave owners (who own black slaves) are black themselves. Henry Townsend, who was born into slavery and bought out of it by his father, becomes a slave owner himself.

Jones unspools from Henry Townsend many different other characters, showing us their tenuous navigations of their selves, invariably and unavoidably, in relation to slavery.

Jones breaks linear chronology and is a truly omnipotent narrator, frequently announcing the far-off future lives (and deaths) of characters just freshly introduced. Then he goes back and forth.

The reader becomes acquainted with the characters as if through repeatedly hearing rumors of the same people. Jones repeats descriptions, quotes, defining incidents; you've heard it somewhere before, but everything is new again.

Not unwieldy as it is all-encompassing, it's not so much a weaving together of the interrelated stories as it is an assembly of a very large quilt with squares of selected lives.

And while Jones allows us to see the different lives unfold, there are subtle patterns that emerge.

Women are seemingly placed in positions of power or agency. They are plantation-owners. They are slave-owners. They are teachers. The female slaves are the ones who get to run away.

Yet it eventually seems that they are the ones trapped in the business of living day to day, of grappling with the minutiae, (still) not really free.

It is the men to whom Jones gives the epiphanies that result from almost mystical sojourns into spiritual places (inside their heads, maybe). They seem to be given the privilege of negotiating with the intangibles: notions of legacy, freedom and (personal) transformation. The changes they undergo seem more freeing.

The multiple plot strands that are braided side by side, against and into each other grow tighter and tighter. A signal that the novel is nearing its end.

Manchester county soon burns away and is swallowed up by the surrounding states, as the lives and stories of the characters dissolve into the larger landscape of American history.

By then, the characters have so grown on you that you wish the book didn't end so soon.

Call 9268253 or visit

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L. De Guzman: 'I look at my painting as a form of prayer'

L. De Guzman: 'I look at my painting as a form of prayer'
By Walter Ang
Nov. 5, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer

After taking a nap one day in 2006, L. De Guzman woke up to discover he couldn't see, among other frightening things. He had an attack of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a severe allergic reaction to medication that causes skin to die and shed.

"The skin of my eyelids fused to my eyeballs," he says. "My corneas now have scars, my vision has blotches and it feels like there's something covering my sight."

After three months of recovery, he got involved with developmental work with an NGO. "It was hard because I had to get used to sunlight and the glare of a computer monitor. My skin was super sensitive because some layers hadn't grown back. Paperwork has difficult because my fingernails hadn't grown back yet. My fingertips were still stubs back then."

Artificial tears
He'd been working and living a normal a life as possible since then. Unfortunately, in February this year, his eyes stopped producing tears. "I was blind from around March to April, not blind because it was dark, like what happened after I got SJS, but blind because of all the light entering my eyes because I had no tears."

He has to put artificial tears in his eyes every half-hour, but only because doctors plugged implants into his tear drainage system?prior to that, he had to put artificial tears every five minutes.

"I can't see when the temperature's hot, when it's windy, when the eyedrops dry up, etc. When the weather is nice and I've just put my drops in, I can see, but my view like a Holga Lomo camera. There are shadows on the sides and it's all blurry"

"I'm locked most of the time inside the house because that's the only place I can control these factors."

"The implants and medication made my vision manageable. I was able to paint again starting June. Amazingly, when I paint, my eyes can focus on the parts I'm working on."

De Guzman will have his first solo exhibit, "A Tale of Muses and Dreams," featuring 23 pieces, at PenPen's Restaurant.

"It was my idea to have an exhibit, I wanted to help my family with my medical bills and to live a normal life. I was at Cubao Expo and my college friend Ping Medina saw me and offered the use of his restaurant for the show."

Born and raised in Manila by his grandparents, de Guzman's love for painting began when his grandmother gave him a watercolor set at the age of four. He's self-taught, inspired by paintings from the Renaissance and Post-Impressionist periods, as well as by ukiyo-e masters.

"The subject of the pieces revolves around my dreams. The muses inside my head from the early part of this year, when my eyesight deteriorated, with me cooped-up in darkness at home, I had no choice but to sleep and sleep because I couldn't do anything else."

Look again
"I was so depressed. I was seriously contemplating suicide. I really wished that I died back in 2006. I thought that life with a broken body like this is a life not worth living."

"With painting, I saw that I can still do something that I love. When I paint, I forget all my bodily aches, I feel at peace with myself, my situation, and my Creator. I look at my painting as a form of prayer. I can see that there is still something to life. And it branches out into appreciation for other things, like the love of my family, my friends."

"One time, I tried to look at the morning sky with my naked eyes, without sunglasses and eyedrops, and I saw the most beautiful sky and I wished I could see more. Life began to have meaning again. I didn't want to give up."

"I can paint at my own pace. Sometimes I don't paint when I'm having a bad day, when my body is out of sorts. But when I get the chance of feeling particularly good on a day, I paint."

"I do a lot of Asian-inspired watercolors, crafts, like Japanese masks. But the bulk is flower paintings in acrylic. Flower paintings helped me get through this phase when my body started feeling weak again. All pieces are done in acrylic, a gentle medium because it doesn't have too much fumes that hurt my eyes."

"I hope people will like `my babies." I poured my energy, time, emotions and desires into these works.

"It's rare for people to go through what I'm going through and for them to realize what I've realized. I want my paintings to show that, given this harsh reality of life, people should stop with all their selfishness, negativity, and try to regain focus of their inner voice. They should take another look at what's really inside, they'll see beauty, truth, love?the basic things that make life worth living, the things that make us truly human."

"A Tale of Muses and Dreams" runs Nov. 5-25, 2011 at PenPen's Restaurant, Cubao Expo, Araneta Center, Quezon City. Contact 0916-600-2419. Visit

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Starring Lea Salonga, in the role of "Mommy"

Starring Lea Salonga, in the role of Mommy
By Walter Ang
November-December issue 2011
Moms Today Magazine

Lea Salonga was thrust into international stardom when she landed the lead role of Kim in the musical "Miss Saigon" in West End, London and then on Broadway, USA, winning top awards from both countries. Many years and notable roles later, she's still on top of her game, having recently performed as Grizabella in the musical "Cats" right here in Manila.

As she travelled the globe for her numerous projects, sharing her singing with countless audiences, she found love and got married to Robert Charles Chien. Initially based in the US, Chen was assigned for work in Manila and the couple has been staying here for the past few years.

Nicole Beverly was soon part of their family. While her daughter and husband are priorities for Salonga, it hasn't stopped her from continuing with her career. "Whenever I know I'll be away from home for an extended period of time, I'll bring Nicole with me," she says.

The family has traveled to many different cities together. "I would say that one of my favorite cities would be New York, only because of the variety of activities it offers. There's so much for a kid to do in that city. There are museums, park; you name it, they have it," she says.

Family and food 
Salonga notes, however, that family plays a part in what makes a travel destination desirable. "We have relatives in Los Angeles and other cities. That's what makes it special for Nicole. She gets to play with friends, godparents, cousins."

And of course, there's always the food choices. "We're planning on going to Singapore for my husband's birthday soon. I asked him what he wanted and he said all he wanted to do was eat. Done!" she says laughing.

Salonga and her husband try to be as accommodating as they can for Nicole's birthday wishes as well. "If she wants a tea party, we try to do what we can to make it happen for her," she says.

This is not to say that Salonga spoils her daughter. In fact, her parenting style leans toward encouraging Nicole to be as independent as possible. "When she wants something, we always say, 'Okay, get it yourself.' Of course, there are things she really can't do at her age, say, zipping up the back of her dress, but for the things she can appropriately tackle at her age, we want her to learn to stand on her own."

Salonga started in theater and showbusiness just as other children were just beginning their schooling. At the age of seven, she was cast as one of the children in the musical "The King and I" and eventually headlined the musical "Annie." She also hosted her own television show co-hosted with brother Gerald, who is now an accomplished conductor.

She trained with one of the pioneering English-language theater companies in Manila, Repertory Philippines, under its founder, the late Zeneida Amador. Amador was known to be a strict disciplinarian and treated adults and children equally.

"Training with Rep back then was pretty tough," she says. "Not every kid or parent found it easy to adhere to the way things were run." Given her experiences growing up and having been exposed to different cultures, Salonga strives to use a more balanced approach with Nicole.

"Sometimes we let her do whatever she wants because she can be very stubborn and headstrong if she wants to be," she says laughing. "There's always a little bit of both discipline and being laid back. It's just finding the right proportions."

Balance Salonga repeatedly highlights her desire for Nicole to become "very much her own person." "I want her to grow up asking questions and deciding things for herself. Sometimes it's not enough that I tell her to do something, she'll ask me for a reason. Of course, she's still a little girl, so sometimes I know she's just being makulit and I'll say, `Now hold on there, you're just toying with me now," she says laughing.

Salonga definitely walks the talk. On top of her singing and performing engagements, she also writes a column for a newspaper and maintains a blog (, both avenues for where she occasionally shares her thoughts on issues in the headlines. No scripts here to follow, these are all her own opinions.

She's written down reasons why she's for the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill as well as why barangays should not meddle in what residents buy in drugstores.

"Yes, I am all for a measure guaranteeing reproductive health services for many of our country's people, especially expectant mothers that need emergency obstetric care in case of a miscarriage or pre-term labor. There have been enough maternal deaths in the country that an RH measure is imperative," she has noted in her blog.

Open, frank and earnest, Salonga also recently announced in her column that she's turned forty, proud of where she is and thankful for "the blessing that is my life: great husband, wonderful daughter, fabulous mother, awesome brother ... and a valuable clutch of friends. I have the greatest job in the world and the most fantastic fans. And I've got my health. Right now, I'm the luckiest woman alive."

She says that turning forty has also made her feel that she's much more outspoken now. "At this age, I've lived long enough to be able to say `To hell what other people think!' I follow the dictates of my conscience. This is what I've learned and this is what I believe."

These current issues that have reached public consciousness have reminded parents of the challenges that face the complex task of raising children. Salonga says, "It's difficult to say what dangers are out there, it could be different for every family, for every person, but what I ask myself is `Am I doing right by my child?'"

In the same way that Salonga is not afraid to be vocal about what she feels is wrong in society, she wants Nicole to "question what's going on." There are no double standards for this mother: "I want her to challenge even us, her parents," she says. "I want her to understand why things are the way they are, and not just because other people say things have to be a certain way."

Kicking back 
In the meantime, away from the public eye, Salonga has dolls to play with. "Nicole loves her dolls and makes me play with her," Salonga says.

So far, Nicole has not expressed any interest (yet) of following in her mother's footsteps towards a life in the spotlight. "I don't want to force something on her that she may not like. For me, whatever gifts she has, we will nurture," she says.

Salonga beams when she says that Nicole has shown interest in drawing. "She's more of a visual person. She also likes fashion a lot and makes fashion choices far better than I did at her age," she says with a grin.

Both Salonga and her husband are unabashed video game players, with a whole array of consoles from the Playstation 3 to a recently acquired Kinect wireless controller for their Xbox 360. "Of course there are some games that are for adults, but when the portions are pretty much tame, like riding through the fields or collecting items, we'll let Nicole play."

The family kicks back by having food adventures, whether in restaurants or at home. "We recently had a get together at home and Nicole tried eating duck!" says Salonga, visibly proud that her daughter was open to trying new things.

"Nicole also likes to dance and moves around a lot. She's constantly in motion," she says. Of course, this may be very well a case of `like mother, like daughter.' "I get bored really easily. If I'm on vacation, three days is the most I can go doing nothing," she says with laugh.

Her drive, energy, passion and dedication to her craft has won her accolades, including an award each from former presidents Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Even though she's essayed some of the most coveted roles on stage, there are still few that Salonga would like to tackle, such as Evita Peron in "Evita," Lady of the Lake in "Spamalot," Elphaba in "Wicked," and Diana in "Next to Normal."

"When I wasn't married, I could devote myself to the process of rehearsals, of doing a run," she says.  "It's night after night of devoting your whole being into this singular purpose. While it would be fun, right now, being in a run of a production isn't the biggest on my priorities."

Of course, because Salonga is currently devoting her whole being into the singular purpose of raising her family.