Ensuring culture and arts in foreign diplomacy

Ensuring culture and arts in foreign diplomacy
By Walter Ang
March 19, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario,
Metrobank Foundation chair George Ty and
Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña
Metrobank Foundation has partnered with the Department of Foreign Affairs's "DiplomART: Cultural Diplomacy through Philippine Visual Arts," a program aimed at including culture and arts in foreign relations.

DFA secretary Hon. Albert del Rosario said, "DFA recognizes the impact of culture in modern diplomacy and sees it as an effective tool in protecting our national interest, in advancing our advocacies, and in achieving the development agenda of the country in the international arena."

He recently signed Department Order No. 15-11, which formalizes the creation of the Cultural Diplomacy Unit of the Department, ensuring that cultural promotions form part of the initiatives of the DFA personnel here and abroad.

The partnership was commemorated with an exhibit of winning artworks from the 27 years of the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (Made) competitions.

Metrobank founder and group chair George Ty was in attendance. Ty created the foundation in 1979 to "share the fruits of [the bank's] success with society." He serves as the foundation's chair.

Featured artists included former Made winners Roberto Feleo, Elmer Borlongan, Emmanuel Garibay, Mark Justinioni, and Jan Leeroy.

The Made competition started in 1984 solely as a painting competition and eventually included sculpture, interior design and architecture categories.

Aside from the exhibit, art lectures were conducted by historian, 2006 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teacher, and INQUIRER columnist Ambeth Ocampo, who discussed "Searching for the Lost Eden, History, Culture and Nationhood," and by art critic and 2011 MADE Painting Competition judge Cid Reyes, who discussed "Public Domain, Private Hell: A Study of Images in Philippine Contemporary Visual Art and Sculpture".

The lectures were for DFA officers, cultural attaches and future ambassadors that will represent the Philippines in their respective foreign posts.

"Metrobank Foundation hopes to contribute in strengthening the cultural diplomacy program of the DFA," said Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña. "Exhibiting the exquisite works of our Filipino visual artists and providing opportunities for further learning about Philippine art and culture is an expression of our aim to enrich the soul of our nation through art and excellence."

Del Rosario said, "This partnership, we hope, will not only allow our personnel to take note of the developments in the world of arts, but also give rise to future events and initiatives that will inspire us to showcase to the world the glorious, unique and beautiful Filipino culture."

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Comebacking actor Junix in ‘Jekyll’

Comebacking actor Junix in ‘Jekyll’
By Walter Ang
March 12, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Junix Inocian
The ballad “This Is the Moment,” popularized by pop singers Martin Nievera and Erik Santos in the 2000s, is from the Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde.”

The musical will be staged by Repertory Philippines, featuring Michael Williams and Jett Pangan alternating in the lead role of Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde.

The musical is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel set in Victorian-era London. The respectable scientist Dr. Jekyll begins to display alarmingly erratic behavior apparently due to a chemical formula he creates and ingests, resulting in a sadistic and murderous alterego, Hyde.

Joining the cast is a Filipino actor who’s been based in London since joining the original cast of “Miss Saigon” in the early ’90s: Rufino “Junix” Inocian.  Before leaving Manila, Inocian was introduced to a generation of Filipino audiences via his role as Kuya Mario on the TV show “Batibot.”

London and back
“I’ve been in London 23 years now,” he says. “After ‘Miss Saigon,’ I did other musicals: ‘Cats,’ ‘Just So,’ ‘Pacific Overtures’; ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’ I did plays, films and television.

“I’d been wanting to go to the Philippines to see my kids and finally meet my grandchildren. I always hope for a chance to work with Repertory Philippines again.

“When I knew I was going this year, I e-mailed [Rep associate artistic director] Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo.  I had always wanted to do ‘Jekyll and Hyde,’ and when she offered me a role, I said yes, naturally.  And enthusiastically.”

Inocian will play Gabriel John Utterson, Jekyll’s lawyer and friend.

Coming home
He joined Rep in 1978.  “At the time, having an audience occupying half of the theater was considered a full-house!” he laughs.

During his stay with the group, he acted in over 60 productions.

“To see the company grow from there to the present where houses are filled to capacity, where audiences are clamoring for tickets and demanding for extensions of performances, makes me absolutely proud of being part of its history, of being part of its tradition of excellence. To be part of a Rep production again—it feels like coming home.”

It will be a birthday gift as well, since the musical opens a day before his natal day.

From page to stage
With music by Frank Wildhorn and book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, this production is directed by Yulo.

While Yulo has not changed anything in the script, she’s introducing new directorial devices.  “The story is taken from Utterson’s perspective; he tells the story.  I’ve added the concept of a Greek chorus to represent narrators, emotion and situations. During rehearsals, I had to workshop the idea to see if it would work, since the script is not written [to be staged] that way. I think I managed to make it work.  Luckily, I have a very good and patient cast.”

Yulo is also setting the action on stage in a “Victorian [medical] operating theater” set, designed by Joey Mendoza.  “Jekyll being a doctor, I thought this would be an interesting take. It allows for a lot of leeway in the staging.”

Cris Villonco plays Emma Carew, Jekyll’s fiancée. Kalila Aguilos plays Lucy Harris, a prostitute that Hyde obsesses over.

Onyl Torres is musical director; Raven Ong, costume designer; and John Batalla, lighting designer.

“Jekyll and Hyde” runs March 16-April 15 at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1 Mall, Makati City. Contact 5716926, 5714941; info@repertory.ph; or Ticketworld, 8919999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph.

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Seaside lifestyle inspires new watches--be it the Hamptons or Boracay

Seaside lifestyle inspires new watches--be it the Hamptons or Boracay
By Walter Ang
March 9, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Christian Bartosch, managing director
of Baume & Mercier Northeast Asia
Swiss watchmaker Baume & Mercier launched several new lines in the Philippines via an outdoor exhibit at the Fashion Walk portion of Greenbelt 5. The exhibit featured whitewashed items that evoked how its lines' designs capture the essence of "relaxing seaside living."

Gretchen Barretto graced the exhibit opening, looking chic in a mustard gold tunic. Also in attendance was Emerson Yao, managing director of Lucerne, the exclusive distributor of Baume & Mercier in the Philippines.

At its brightly lit and welcoming display section in Adora, Greenbelt 5, Baume & Mercier's managing director for North East Asia Christian Bartosch said, "We are all about family values and the celebration of moments and milestones. We are excited to present Baume & Mercier's latest collection, which embodies our brand's vision of conviviality and authenticity."

Heritage and legacy
Bartosch points out the company's uninterrupted and close to two centuries (since 1830) of actual watchmaking history. "Some brands do not make their own watches, but we actually have a heritage of making watches."

With these new lines, Baume & Mercier looks back at its own legacy and has reinterpreted some of its past popular watch models to match the lifestyle and values of today's individuals.

"I believe that the Philippine market will come to love these new line of watches because Filipinos are known for their refined taste and sophisticated style," he said.

"Our concept is anchored on a global concept of seaside living, so it can be anywhere, it can be the Hamptons, it can be Boracay," he says. "It represents an environment where you can reminisce milestones."

"To us, it's family that's important. Many people acquire or receive a Baume and Mercier watch during special occasions like a birthday or graduation or anniversary. We are there when you spend quality time together with your loved ones."

The Hampton collection is inspired by a museum piece from the 1940s. The updated design keeps a rectangular shape, distinctive satined domed volume, curved case side, and enhanced curved scratch-resistant sapphire crystal window. Refined sword hands exude sophistication.

The men's pieces come in self-winding or automatic chronograph versions with two-tone, warm hues. Its straight alligator strap comes with an adjustable triple folding clasp.

The ladies' pieces carry a signature jodhpur-shaped alligator or satin-finished polished steel wristband with an integrated case and bracelet that allows for a cleaner line. "The unique shape of the wristband makes it lighter and more comfortable on the wrist," said Bartosch.

There are two types of diamond embellishment: 20 diamonds in the curved case side or a double row of 36 diamonds on the satined domed volume. A main emblematic piece consists of 80 diamonds with a total of 1.78 carats.

The back of the watch features a "Sundeck décor" (lightly etched stripes across a plain face, recalling wooden slats on a boardwalk) to allow for personalized inscriptions. "We think about details like that," said Bartosch. "The better to immortalize one's important moments."

Interchangeable straps
Linea, with its diamond-set bezel and prominent numerals, will appeal to "the contemporary self-expressive woman."

Originally launched in 1980, it became an international bestseller, noted for its "confident allure and femininity." The reinvented model has an enlarged domed crystal shape and interchangeable bracelets in metal, satin and black calfskin.

Capeland reinterprets a single-push chronograph from 1948. These watches are equipped with a self-winding mechanical movement with a flyback chronograph function (for instantaneous resetting of the timer function).

Classima combines the simplicity of self-winding mechanical movements and modern watchmaking expertise such as dual time zone, power reserve. The watch's caseback features a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal window, displaying its internal mechanisms.

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