Peta's 45th season brings 'Bona,' other screen classics to stage

Peta's 45th season brings 'Bona,' other screen classics to stage 
By Walter Ang
May 28, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Eugene Domingo as Bona
Philippine Educational Theater Association's 45th season (2012-2013) lineup is hinged on cinema.

"We want to treat audiences to a unique experience of understanding and interrogating film through live theater performances," says artistic director Maribel Legarda.

The season begins in August with "Bona," a stage adaptation of the film of the same title, where a middle-class woman falls in love with a bit actor who abuses her.

Nora Aunor portrayed the titular character of the film written by Cenen Ramones and directed by National Artist for Film Catalino "Lino" Brocka.

TV and film comedy actress Eugene Domingo will portray Bona in this adaptation, where Bona is now a spinster call-center agent, to be directed by Socrates "Soxy" Topacio and written by Layeta Bucoy.

The season concludes in February 2013 with "D' Wonder Twins of Boac," an adaptation of William Shakespeare's comedy of mistaken identities, "Twelfth Night."

Translated by Rody Vera and to be directed by Legarda, "this will be a parody of how the Philippine film industry evolved in the '60s and '70s," she says.

Both productions will be staged at the Peta Theater Center in Quezon City.

Complementary events 
Building on this season's thematic take on cinema, Peta has shows and events to complement its stage productions.

In October, Peta will devote Wednesday evenings to shows featuring TV and film actors performing live.

"Watch your favorite celebrities without the benefit of a second take, only 'take one' performances," Legarda says.

In November, the group will stage a concert version of "Himala the Musicale," which was staged by Tanghalang Pilipino in 2003 and 2004, and is based on the film "Himala" written by Ricky Lee and directed by National Artist for Film Ishmael Bernal.

The musical adaptation, written by Lee with music by Vince de Jesus and lyrics by both, is about Elsa, a young woman who claims to have seen the Virgin Mary during an eclipse and begins to exhibit healing powers.

In December, Peta will host a Cinemalaya Retrospective. The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is held annually at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

"We plan on featuring ten of the best short and full-length films that have been shown in past Cinemalaya festivals," she says.

Available for booking
Peta is also offering three of its previously staged productions for touring this year.

"William," written by Ron Capinding* and directed by Legarda, uses rap, hip-hop and flip-top along with music composed by Jeff Hernadez to show how a group of high school students deals with being forced to study Shakespeare and his works.

"One of the main objectives of the play is to present how these Filipino-speaking youngsters reconcile with Shakespeare's English," she says.

"Batang Rizal," written by Christine Bellen and directed by Dudz Teraña, tracks the journey of a student named Pepito as he time-travels and meets Pepe, the young national hero José Rizal.

"Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang," written by Bellen and directed by Phil Noble with music by Noel Cabangon, features three of Severino Reyes' stories: "Ang Prinsipeng Mahaba ang Ilong," about a prince cursed with a nose as long as an elephant's; "Binibining Tumalo sa Mahal na Hari," about a maiden who earns the ire of the king of Tondo and endures three challenges that test her cleverness; and "Ang Prinsipeng Duwag," about a prince who is ridiculed for his refusal to fight wars.

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*Bonus! Read about Ron Capinding's writing process here.

Dulaang Filipino joins Montreal Theater Fest 2012

Dulaang Filipino joins Montreal Theater Fest
By Walter Ang
May 28, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Riki Benedicto (far right) in rehearsals.
Dulaang Filipino recently staged Polish playwright Slawomir Mrozek’s “Out at Sea” for the 2012 Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival.

The festival hosted over 30 artists from the Philippines, France, the USA and Montreal to showcase “provocative and socially engaged theater.”

This was the first time a Filipino group joined the festival.

DF, now on its 20th year, is the resident theater company of De La Salle College of St. Benilde. The college’s School of Design and Arts offers theater-related courses such as Technical Theater, Dance, Production Design.

The festival’s theme, “Anarchy,” allowed for subject matter about persons, ideas and histories of anarchy as well as pieces that portrayed resistance “against all forms of power: state, capitalism, war, racism, homophobia, sexism, salaried work, etc.”

“Out at Sea” is described as an “absurd and macabre comedy” where three men on a raft in the middle of the ocean contemplate the notion of “having something to eat” as not a matter of what but whom.
The group performed the English version in Montreal and will stage a Filipino translation by Carlo Pacolor Garcia later this year in Manila.

Major in Multimedia Arts students Paw Castillo and Manjean Faldas play Fat Man and Medium Man, respectively. Major in Consular and Diplomatic Affairs students Ernest Lim plays Thin Man. Teddie Avelino choreographs.

Director Riki Benedicto is reinterpreting the work using the Philippine political landscape as a metaphor.

Benedicto is DF’s trainer. He is a member of Tanghalang Pilipino’s Actors Company (TP’s resident pool of actors) and recently directed “Bakit Wala Nang Nagtatagpo sa Philcoa Oberpas” for TP.

“The characters ‘campaign’ to each other and have elections [to decide who should be eaten], but there are four ballots even though there are only three characters, so right away there’s cheating involved,” says Benedicto.

“The Philippines has experienced different forms of government, different colonizers such as Spanish, American and Japanese, and even a dictatorship. Now we are experiencing the so-called  ‘people-powered’ democracy.

“With this kind of political circus going on, we want to ask, ‘What’s happening to our country? Is it the leaders, the people or the form of government we have that causes our suffering?’ The play reflects our current situation: still searching for freedom, still dreaming of a free country.”

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Spend your money on food and theater in Osaka

Spend your money on food and theater in Osaka
By Walter Ang
May 26, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Osaka Castle
Osaka has an easygoing pace that allows for a relaxed approach to exploration.  We flew from Manila into Kansai International Airport via Cebu Pacific Airlines and a short train ride later, we were already at our hotel.

For first timers, it's good to know that subway stations usually include more than one "brand" of subway lines and can also include train lines. But no worries, in case you get confused, your ticket won't allow you to enter turnstiles of a different line and you'll simply have to backtrack until you find the correct turnstile.

Tourist offices within the major stations are helpful with English-speaking staff.  Get your maps, itineraries and information here since not all stations have tourist offices and most of the stations do not have English signage nor English-speaking staff.

One of the major draws for families with children would be Universal Studios Japan (which has begun construction of its Wizarding World of Harry Potter), located in Osaka Bay's waterfront, though the city offers a host of other sights and activities.

The old and the new
Osaka was historically the commercial center of Japan, given its bay and its location at the mouth of the Yodo River.

Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples are spread throughout the city and it's easy to include one or two into your day's plans, depending on what area of the city you plan on visiting.

In the city's upper east side, warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, considered one of the "great unifiers" of Japan, built a castle that was completed in 1597 (for a bit of reference, that was the year King Philip II of Spain issued a royal decree that, in effect, established Spain's sovereignty over the Philippines).

Carelessness, laziness and forgetfulness left me with little Yen when we visited Osaka Castle. And just my luck, they don't let you pay for tickets using credit cards. The castle entrance is quite a distance from ATMs and banks, so we contented ourselves with walking around the courtyard grounds, contemplating the castle's exterior.

From there, we moved south to the downtown area: Shinsekai, a district developed in the 1910s using New York and Paris as templates.  Shinsekai means "new world," though it seems a bit frozen in time and has a rugged feel to the neighborhood.

The area is popular for its fugu (blowfish) and kushikatsu (deep fried kebabs) restaurants.  It also has a zoo and park and is home to the Osaka Municipal Museum of Art.

Food, shopping, cosplay
Kani Doraku restaurant's giant crab signage in Namba.
Osaka is known for its food and they have a saying that goes, "Kyotoites are financially ruined by overspending on clothing, Osakans are ruined by spending on food."

We ventured to the Namba district, with its streets filled with restaurants, to try out regional dishes like okonomiyaki (pan-fried batter cake), takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and udon (thick noodles).

Namba is part of the Minami (south) area that includes the Shinsaibashi shopping district, with its  covered streets packed with stores upon stores, and the Dotonbori entertainment district, with its bars, restaurants, nightclubs and pachinko (pinball/slot machine) parlors.

Glico candy's billboard of a running man.
For the requisite touristy photos against iconic landmarks, there is Kani Doraku restaurant's giant crab on its façade and, by the bridge, a building with Glico candy's (makers of the Pocky chocolate-coated pretzel sticks) lighted billboard of a man running on a blue track.

The area is also home to Nipponbashi, more popularly known as Den Den Town, the electronics/manga/anime district (comparable to Tokyo's Akihabara).  It hosts the annual Nippombashi Street Festa (yes, it's spelled without an I) whose main feature is a cosplay parade. The festa is held every March and it had more than 200,000 attendees this year.

Bunraku to Broadway
National Bunraku (Japanese puppetry) Theater
As theater fans, we made sure to visit the National Bunraku (Japanese puppetry) Theater. There were no shows when we visited, but we still wanted to see the theater and were able to view the exhibition area at the lobby.

While exploring the Namba district, we ended up walking right in front of the Osaka Schocikuza Theater, where they had kabuki shows running all day.  This is the fun of travelling without too detailed a plan, allowing for surprises along the way.

Osaka Schocikuza Theater
We caught a matinee show, the seats filled with senior citizens on an excursion.  Luckily, the show was a comedy and so language wasn't too big a barrier.  The material had several scenes of physical comedy and a very funny princess played by a very burly man.

For more Broadway-inclined tourists, Shiki Theater Company's Japanese translation of "Sound of Music" is currently running at the Osaka Shiki Theatre, in the Kita (north) area, until June this year.  Shiki Theater Company is the same group that has translated other hits such as "Wicked" and "Lion King" for Japanese audiences.

Mission impossible
When we set out for Osaka, my friend and I had no idea what this city had in store.  We wanted to wing it when we got there by getting free maps and brochures and asking questions in the tourist offices.

The only two things we'd prepared for, after a perfunctory Google search, was the Bunraku Theater and an apparently highly-elusive but mesmerizing water clock we'd seen on Youtube.  This water clock had drops and streams of water falling from above, forming numbers, letters, flowers and all sorts of patterns, shapes, and designs.

Osaka City Station Water Clock
We left the water clock for last, trekking to Osaka Station City (a train station and mall).  We searched for quite a while, going back and forth inside the station, almost giving up, only to realize that the water clock is actually outside the station!

When we finally saw it, we did the most cheesy, touristy and geeky thing in the world: we cheered and applauded.  And we didn't care; we were ecstatic!  It's funny what you ascribe value to, but after that long search, we'd found our Holy Grail in Osaka.  We also discovered it's not easy to take photos of falling water.

Tourist information for Osaka is available at  

Visitor visa information for Filipinos available at  The Japan Embassy in Manila does not accept walk-in applicants (exceptions apply) and only accepts applications through accredited travel agencies. 

Philippine passport applications and renewals can be done through Philippine Explorer Travel Agency, contact 0932-887-2835 or visit their Facebook page.

Cebu Pacific flies between Manila and Osaka thrice weekly. Contact 702-0888 or visit For sales and promos, like Cebu Pacific on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

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Lopez Museum will move to Rockwell

Lopez Museum will move to Rockwell
By Walter Ang
May 21, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Maritess Lopez and husband Manuel Lopez, Lopez Holdings 
Corp. and Rockwell Land chair; Oscar Lopez, Lopez Group of 
Companies chair emeritus, and wife Connie Lopez; Cedie 
Lopez-Vargas, Lopez Memorial Museum and Library executive 
director; and Nestor Padilla, Rockwell Land Corp. president.
The Lopez Memorial Museum and Library, currently located in Benpres Building in Pasig City, will transfer to Rockwell Center, Makati City.

The museum will move in to the Lopez Tower and Museum Building once the structure is completed by 2014.

The Lopez Museum was founded in 1960 by Eugenio Lopez, Sr. and started out in Pasay City in a building designed by Angel Nakpil (since demolished) before moving to Pasig in 1985.

From sugar holdings in Iloilo, industrialist Lopez, Sr. grew his family's wealth vastly through businesses in different industries.

The building broke ground in a ceremony that included the lowering of a time capsule led by Lopez Holdings Corp. chair emeritus Oscar Lopez and chair Manuel Lopez. Manuel is also chair of Rockwell Land, developer of the building.

The contents of the time capsule include eight pieces of polished coins, a newspaper, and plans for The Lopez Tower and Museum such as renderings and floorplans.

For the people
When the museum moves to the Lopez Tower, it will gain double its current floor space in Pasig, with the tower's first and second floors earmarked for the museum.

Mercedes Lopez-Vargas, museum executive director and granddaughter of Lopez, Sr., says, "The Lopez Museum in Rockwell Center is envisioned to be a relevant community space. We want people to be able to access and interact with our collections and exhibits."

She listed the museum's different components for the public: Its library has always been open to the public; it always rotates pieces from its permanent collection for display and regularly hosts exhibits of new works; and it also holds lectures and workshops on various topics year-round.

She noted that the museum's eventual interior design will focus on "the visitor experience." Its location in the 15.5-hectare Rockwell Center development marks it as a center point that complements that area's high-rise upscale residential towers, Rockwell Club country club, and Power Plant Mall.

The building will have 19 stories and is intended to be the new headquarters of some of the Lopez companies, housing offices for businesses in industries such as real estate, property development, power generation, and telecommunications, among others.

The Lopez Tower and Museum building will pursue a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. LEED is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council for the design, construction and operation of eco-friendly "green buildings."

The building's "green" design will go hand in hand with the museum's efforts, working with architect Katherine de los Reyes, in researching suitable materials and designs for the museum's interiors and the best methods for the eventual transportation of its collections to maintain and enhance the museum's conservation and digitization programs for optimum preservation.

Its library collection, including books, prints and maps, features over 20,000 titles by around 12,000 authors covering almost 600 years of Philippine arts, history, and culture. The oldest piece is a copy of the Belarmin-Lopez Doctrina in Ilocano from 1620.

Its art collection houses rare works by renowned painters such as Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo. It also has works by National Artists Fernando Amorsolo, Victorio Edades, Carlos "Botong" Francisco, Jose Joya, and Vicente Manansala?artists whose Rockwell Center's residential towers are named after?among others.

At the Lopez Museum at Benpres Building, "Beat," an exhibit featuring the works of contemporary artists Nikki Luna and Ernest Concepcion that contemplate the multiple meanings of the word "beat," such as defeat and rhythm, runs until October 13, 2012.

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Can UP string ensemble make it to France?

Can UP string ensemble make it to France? 
By Walter Ang
May 14, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The University of the Philippines’ Arco String Ensemble has been selected to perform at the 24th Festival International de Musique Universitaire, the first Filipino group to be admitted.  But will they be able to make it?

The festival in Belfort, France is regarded as one of the world’s most culturally diverse music festivals. It is slated on May 26-28.

Under the musical director Edna Martinez, the group is composed of 27 students, all majors of the Strings and Chamber Music Department of the UP College of Music.

“By taking part, UP Arco verifies the fact that our instrumental music education at the tertiary level is at par with global standard,” says Martinez. “They have reached and set a high bar of honor and excellence in both musical éclat and performance élan.”

However, as of this writing, the group is still struggling to raise funds for the trip despite staging a fundraising concert recently.  A limited-edition CD containing classical music performed by UP Arco has also been released.

The group needs over  P1.7 million for airfare and travel expenses within France.

FIMU was created 26 years ago by the University of Technology of Belfort-Montbeliard. The event is now organized jointly by the town of Belfort.  The three-day festival stages 250 concerts and attracts over 80,000 visitors.

The event is expected to assemble over a hundred student music groups and covers  a wide berth of music genres: from classical music, new music, jazz, rock music, world music to brass band and opera.

Formerly the UP String Chamber Orchestra, the group was founded in 1998 to become one of the resident performing groups of the university’s College of Music.  The average age for this particular batch is 21 years old, with most having studied in the college’s Extension Program, classes held on weekends and during summer.

The group has performed major string orchestra works of Corelli, Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Britten, Grieg, Tchaikovsky, and Elgar.

If they can raise the necessary funds, this will be the first time the group will attend an international event.

“The group’s existence is a willful move on the part of UP College of Music to groom a new generation of string players,” Martinez says.  “All proceeds go directly to the students’ travel expenses. The support we get goes a long way: not only for our country and the university but more so to the lives of our young musicians-the new generation, the hope and pride of our nation.”

E-mail or call 0917-5941020.

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Bicol’s Baao Children’s Choir wins first place in Spanish choral fest

Bicol’s Baao Children’s Choir wins first place 
in Spanish choral fest
By Walter Ang
May 14, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Baao Children’s Choir (BCC) won first place in the 18th International Contest of Habanera Youth 2012 held at Palacio de la Música music hall in Torrevieja, Spain.

BCC, led by conductor Virgilio Briones, is the first Asian choir to participate in the competition.  It was one of the eight choirs selected to compete out of 40 groups that auditioned.

The group received a cash prize of €3,000 and a trophy.

“The Filipino group received a standing ovation and the longest applause from the audience!” said choir manager Joshua Badilla.

The group competed against six Spanish groups and one from Latvia.

The group sang “El Negro,” a required piece for the competition, “Qué Bonita Es Cuba, Dicen Que se Muere el Mar,” arranged by J. Madurga Oteiza; and “Scenes from the North,” arranged by Fidel G. Calalang Jr. of the UST Singers

The Baao Children’s Choir is a community- and church-based choir of children aged 11-18 years old.

“It took them about four months to prepare for the competition,” said Badilla.

The choir was founded in 2003 as one of the choirs of the Barlin Choirs Organization of the Parish of St. Bartholomew the Apostle in Baao, Camarines Sur, which also has a youth choir and a college/adult choir.

It bagged the first place and Best Interpretation of the Contest Piece in the Namcya finals in 2010. It represented the Philippines in the 2011 International Children Arts and Culture Festival in Malaysia.

Briones is a multi-awarded choral conductor. He is the only Filipino choral conductor who has won five national championships in the Namcya in different choir categories (Children, Youth and College).

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Dance doyennes join Tanghalang Pilipino's 26th season

Dance doyennes join Tanghalang Pilipino's 26th season 
By Walter Ang
May 7, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Fernando "Nanding" Josef,
Tanghalang Pilipino artistic director
Musicals dominate TanghalangPilipino's line-up for its 26th season (2012-2013) and three doyennes of dance will be part of bringing the productions to life.

The resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines will collaborate with Edna Vida, Denisa Reyes and Agnes Locsin; they will choreograph one production each. Each production will feature a different genre: sarsuwela, bodabil and ethnic-rock.

All three have been artistic directors of Ballet Philippines, one of CCP's resident dance companies: Vida in 1989, Reyes in the early '90s and again in the early 2000s, and Locsin in the mid and late '90s.

All three were trained in, taught, and choreographed ballet, but are also known to have eventually deliberately broken the classical lines of ballet in their choreographies of modern and neo-ethnic works.

They've all choreographed for TP before: Vida for "Banaag at Sikat," Reyes for "Hukuman ni Sinukuan," and Locsin for "Noli Me Tangere."

No wound, no blinking 
The season begins with "Walang Sugat," a sarsuwela by Severino Reyes about a young couple torn apart by the Philippine revolution against Spain but are eventually (and comically) reunited.

Filmmaker Carlos Siguion-Reynawill direct with musical direction by Chino Toledo. Vida will choreograph.

"Walang Sugat" runs August 9-27.

The lone play for this season is "Walang Kukurap," a suspense thriller that "reveals the shady politics and unethical business practices so prevalent in the Philippines today."

Written by Layeta Bucoy and to be directed by TuxqsRutaquio, "Walang Kukurap" runs September 14-October 7.

`Bodabil,' ethnic-rock 
"Stageshow," a musical by Mario O' Hara is about a group of Filipino artists in the twilight of their careers, set against the dying days of the bodabil--also known as "stage shows."

Chris Millado will direct, with musical direction by Jeff Hernandez. Denisa Reyes will choreograph.

"Stageshow" runs October 10-21.

"Ibalong," an ethnic-rock musical by Rody Vera based on the Bicol epic, will be directed by Tuxqs Rutaquio with musical direction by Carol Bello. Locsin will choreograph

"Ibalong" runs February 8-March 3, 2013.

The three musicals will be staged at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino and "Walang Kukurap" will be staged at Tanghalang Huseng Batute.

Bigger, braver 
Last season, the company was beset with last-minute changes to its announced season line-up. Two productions were bumped off: a Filipino children's musical adaptation of "The Emperor's New Clothes" and a translation of Nick Joaquin's "Portrait of the Artist as Filipino," which had Helen Gamboa and Gina Pareño attached to play the main roles.

This season, TP takes on a big challenge since musicals and new works are more expensive to stage and Tanghalang Tolentino's 420 seats can be harder to fill compared to Tanghalang Batute's 200 seats. Two out of the three musicals are new works; "Walang Sugat" is the only work that has been previously staged.

Nonetheless, TP artistic director Fernando Josef is undaunted. "[We] have no choice but to continue to follow TP's raison d'etre, that we must bravely pursue creating theater that promotes Filipino aesthetics and theater forms and content," he says.

Open for sponsorship 
He notes that while it's tempting to "just do commercial productions that will be sure box-office hits," TP hopes that all its productions will push through this season "because our goals are good and noble, if I may say it. We are doing our darn best to realize all these great plans, which are well thought-of as they consider artistic goals, cultural advocacies and education advocacies."

The company is announcing its line-up this early is to allow businesses, organizations and schools enough planning time to consider sponsoring or buying shows. "Sponsors for the entire season or per production or even per show are welcome. Rows of seats or entire shows can be bought at discounted rates. This scheme also allows enterprising buyers to raise funds by selling tickets at full-price."

All productions feature members of Actors Company, TP's resident pool of actors. AC scholars, apprentices and members go through continuous training in acting, movement, dance, voice, script analysis, improvisation, directing and other related courses.

Casting choices and design collaborators (set, costume and lighting) will be announced by the company as the season progresses, "to allow for surprises along the way," says Josef.

All shows are open for sponsors and showbuyers. Group, student and senior citizen discounts available. Call 8226920 or 8323661.

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Harvy Santos, from dancer to milliner

From dancer to milliner
By Walter Ang

May 7, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Harvy Santos
Harvy Santos, a former dancer of Ballet Philippines, was announced as a runner-up in Grazia Magazine’s “Hat Factor” millinery contest, which is part of the Cultural Olympiad, a series of events celebrating the 2012 Olympics in London.

Judges included the United Kingdom’s top milliners Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones.

“Hooray! I’m chuffed!” he says. “I was inspired by the modern pentathlon, and this year marks its 100th year.” The modern pentathlon includes five sports: fencing, swimming, horse-riding, running and pistol-shooting.

“My entry comprises the first three sports. Fencing inspired the mask, swimming inspired the wavy drapes, and riding inspired the bridle and harness. It’s very straight to the point.”

Santos created the piece to be worn by any gender, though he had “shock-factor in mind, say, having it as a fashion editorial piece or something for Lady Gaga to wear.”

For materials, Santos used PVC and latex as well as sinamay, “which they loooove here [in the UK]!”

Dance to millinery
Santos’ entry to Grazia Magazine’s
“Hat Factor” millinery contest 2012
was declared runner-up.
Santos trained at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance School prior to joining Ballet Philippines 2, BP’s junior performing company. He moved to Hong Kong in 1997 to study at the Academy for the Performing Arts under a scholarship he’d won. After graduation, he joined the Hong Kong Ballet and danced in all its major productions for six seasons.

He left dancing in 2005 to start Harvash Creations, devoting himself to design projects full time doing hair and makeup, costumes, and wedding dresses. Projects ranged from bespoke costume and couture commissions for individual clients to large-scale productions for stage and television. He designed for the HK Ballet, including 20 tutus for “Paquita” and original headpieces for “Swan Lake.”

The name “Harvash” is from a nickname he got from a visiting French choreographer when Santos was still with BP. “Vache is French for cow, so, moooo,” he laughs.

In 2008, Harvy moved to London for love. One day, while shopping for materials to make a Halloween costume, he noticed a copy of “The Hat Magazine.”

Santos’ won third-place in the
Worshipful Company of Feltmakers 2011
“It opened up a whole new world for me. I’ve always wondered about hats and anything placed on the head. This magazine has been my millinery fairy godmother.” Through the listings in the magazine, he signed up for a five-day millinery course with Rose Cory, who used to make hats for Queen Elizabeth.

“From then on, I went literally hat-mad and just kept on making hats.” Santos won second place at a competition for the Royal Ascot in 2009. “I had a photo of my hat in ‘The Hat Magazine.’”

He enrolled in a full-year course at Kensington and Chelsea College where he was awarded a Higher National Certificate with Distinction last year. He also won an award from the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers for one of his creations last year.

Santos has apprenticed with Noel Stewart, where he made headdresses and hats for Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite World Tour, and Stephen Jones, where he was part of the team that worked on hats for the collections of Marc Jacobs and John Galliano.

Santos won second-place in the Royal Ascot 2009
Santos started working for the Royal Opera House this year, currently working on headdresses for an upcoming production of “Falstaff.” “So far we have been dealing with massive deer antlers stuck on top of deer stalker hats, famously known as the Sherlock Holmes hat. There’s a total of 57 of them for the actors and chorus. We also make headdresses and headpieces for the dancers of the Royal Ballet.”

He’s done work on a revival of “La Boheme,” restoring hats from previous stagings. “It was really awesome knowing how old these productions are. It didn’t register much to me until I was replacing a hat-lining. Inside the lining I found a folded-up Daily Mail newspaper from Nov. 25, 1955 that they used to decrease the circumference of the hat to fit a performer’s head! That hat might have been made even earlier than 1955. That hat is definitely the oldest thing I’ve ever encountered.”

“I have ex-colleagues from the English National Ballet and sometimes they do guestings in music festivals and other events and the dancers themselves ask for my help.”

The performing arts doesn’t have an exclusive hold on Santos’ hats, fascinators (a large hair decoration or a miniature hat), and headpieces. “I’ve done a few commissions here and there. I have put up my website initially as an online portfolio. People, magazines and bloggers have been inquiring lots and showing lots of interest.”

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