Ma-Yi comedy on Fil-Am families opens in New York

Ma-Yi comedy on Fil-Am families opens in New York
March 21, 2016

From left, Villarin, Chilip and Katigbak.
Ma-Yi Theater Company is staging a comedy, "House Rules," about two sets of Filipino American siblings coming to terms with their respective parents' mortality at Here Arts Center, starting March 25.

Fil-Am theater artists involved in the production include playwright A. Rey Pamatmat, director Ralph Peña, sound designer Fabian Obispo, and actors Jojo Gonzalez, Mia Katigbak, Tiffany Villarin and Tina Chilip.

In one family, Vera (Katigbak) plays referee to her two daughters, over-achieving neurologist Momo (Villarin) who disapproves of photographer Twee (Chilip) living back at home after using up her grant money on a trip to India.

In the other family, cardiologist Rod and his brother JJ, a comics illustrator who likes to draw aliens with genitalia, deal with their father Ernie (Gonzalez)'s heart attack. Also, Rod's fiance Henry just called off their engagement.

Laughs and feels
Peña, who is also Ma-Yi's producing artistic director, summarizes: "Two sisters. One might be lesbian. Two brothers. One gay couple. Two Filipino families. One big bag of crazy. Meantime, there's plenty of monopoly, mahjong, and gin rummy to keep them all busy."

The families in "House Rules" go on to explore the rules of these games, including sungka, a traditional Filipino game, and the rules of living.

Peña recently directed "The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!" for ArtsEmerson in Boston and "Macho Dancer: A Musical" at the 2015 Virgin Labfest in Manila.

Pamatmat declares: "You will laugh all the laughs and feel all the feels but still have plenty to chew on when the night is through."

His most recently staged plays are "all the terrible things I do" by About Face Theatre in Chicago and "Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them" by Company One Theatre in Boston.

Back to Ma-Yi
Chilip is thrilled to be working with Ma-Yi again. "The first time I saw a Ma-Yi production was 'The Romance of Magno Rubio.' I was just blown away and felt this deep pride.

"So much of theater and mainstream media is white, and you get used to it and complacent with it. Then one day, I got to see something that's representative of where I came from and it was so beautifully done. Why can't more theater be like this?

"I've watched almost every Ma-Yi show since I moved to New York. They do amazing work and are really committed to developing Asian-American writers, which is so important if we're to have more diversity and Asian representation on stage here in the US.

"In this production, I get to collaborate with these insanely talented people whose work I've admired. I'm really proud to be working alongside them."

Born and raised in Manila, Chillip has been in Ma-Yi's revival of Peña's play "Flipzoids" and in Huntington Theatre's staging of Pamatmat's "after all the terrible things I do" in Boston.

Regional credits include "Our Town" and "Chinglish" for Portland Center Stage and "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism" for Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She's also been on TV shows "Mysteries of Laura" and "Royal Pains."

Chilip was also in David Henry Hwang's "Golden Child" in Manila for Tanghalang Pilipino, for which she received a Philstage Gawad Buhay! citation for Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role.

"As an actor, [playing a Filipino character] is no different from how I approach any material," she says. "But on a personal level, it makes me very happy to see Filipinos portrayed in mainstream theater, whether I'm the one playing them or not."

She also wants to point out that she has one brother and two sisters in real life. "And I'm really close to them. Definitely not like how the two sisters are in this play!" she adds, laughing.

Set design by Reid Thompson, lighting design by Oliver Wason, sound design by Fabian Obispo, costume design by Martin Schnellinger.

"House Rules" previews start March 25 (no performance on March 27, Easter Sunday), runs April 1-16, 2016 at Here Arts Center, 145 6th Ave., New York. Tickets at or +1-212-352-3101.

Contact Ma-Yi Theater Company at +1-212-971-4862,, or MaYiTheaterCompany on Facebook.


Raymund Concepcion learns to tap-dance–at 52–for 'Stepping Out, The Musical'

Raymund Concepcion learns to tap-dance–at 52–for 'Stepping Out, The Musical'
March 19, 2016
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Raymund Concepcion
"My character is the only male student in a one-night-a-week dance class composed of mostly limited and incompetent but very enthusiastic individuals," says Raymund Concepcion II of his upcoming production "Stepping Out, The Musical" with Repertory Philippines (Rep).

"He is a bit awkward and nervous but he attends the class to cope with the loss of his wife, who loved to dance," he adds. "Attending the class allows him to relive the memory of his wife, whom he loved very much."

As the musical progresses, the classmates form friendships with each other as their dancing improves.

If Concepcion kind of looks familiar or sounds familiar, the surname may be a clue. His three sons are also in the theater industry: Red, Kevin and Sam.

He last tread the Rep boards in "Shakespeare in Hollywood" several years ago. He had been dropping hints to fellow Rep actors that he'd like to do another Rep show.

"When they asked me if I was available, without thinking about it, I said yes," he says.

"Little did I know it involved tap dancing", he adds with a laugh. "But I like a good challenge."

With book by Richard Harris, lyrics by Mary Stewart-David and music by Denis King, the musical was adapted into a movie in 1991 with Liza Minnelli as the dance instructor.

Recent credits
Concepcion started acting in theater during the 1980s at the Manila Metropolitan Theater where he was a resident artist. After about a 20-year hiatus from the theater scene, his comeback productions were Triumphant People's Evangelistic Theater Society's (Trumpets) "Joseph The Dreamer" and "The Little Mermaid."

He's been steadily on stage since. He was in Resorts World Manila's Full House (FH) Theater Company's "The King and I" as the Kralahome and its Singapore run of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," where he alternated with Jon Santos as  Bernadette Bassinger in certain shows.

Most recently, he played Larry Calma in FH's "Bituing Walang Ningning, The Musical" and as Ahoshta and The Hermit of Southern March in Trumpets' "The Horse and His Boy."

New things
Directed by Jaime del Mundo, "Stepping Out" features women characters  played by Joy Virata, Bituin Escalante, Sheila Francisco, Cara Barredo, Angela Padilla, Naths Everett, EJ Villacorta, Christine Flores, and David Shawn Delgado alternating with Sarah Facuri.

How does it feel to be the only thorn among the roses?

"I foresee that it's going to be lonely in the men's dressing room," he says.

Even with decades of experience-Concepcion is 52 now-he says there are always new things to learn in theater.

Having to learn tap under choreographer Rose Borromeo has had its challenges.

"Had I learned to tap dance  when I was younger, it would have been easier. It's a little difficult because it requires precision and grace." Nonetheless, "while it's been a bit of a struggle for all of us, it's been a lot of fun."

Does he have any advice for male dancers when they have to dance with their partners?

"I am not exactly the best person to give advice on dancing, but make sure your partner shines, that she has a good time, that she stays beautiful while dancing."

"In other words, don't drop her."

Musical direction by Ejay Yatco, costume styling by Mindy Perez-Rubio, set design by Miguel Faustmann and lighting design by John Batalla.

"Stepping Out, The Musical" runs April 1-24, 2016 at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1 Mall, Makati City.

 Visit or RepertoryPhilippines on Facebook. Tickets 
843-3570 or through Ticketworld at 891-9999 or link:


New book on Marcoses details crimes, myth-making, thievery

New book on Marcoses details crimes, myth-making, thievery
March 9, 2016

"My hope is that if it can even sway a few voters away from the Evil Spawn, then I would be gratified," San Francisco author Myles Garcia says of his new book and Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.' bid to be elected vice president of the Philippines.

Garcia will launch his book "Thirty Years Later...Catching Up with the Marcos-Era Crimes" with a book signing at the Philippine Center in San Francisco on March 11.

"I wrote this book to help remind the Filipino people, especially the new, young voters, of the dangers of the Bongbong Marcos or Jejomar Binay candidacies, and the waste and turmoil left behind by the illegitimate, twenty-year rule of Junior's parents," states Garcia.

"I want people to have a comprehensive account of the excesses of that shameless hussy at the expense of a poor nation!"

Lists and bullets
In the book, Garcia presents his inventory of the Marcos family's crimes researched using online news articles from Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, New York Times, among other sources.

Garcia is clear from the start that he's writing for readers who've lived in the Philippines and for readers who may not be familiar with the country and its culture, much less its history, taking care to explain political and societal dynamics alongside the data he's chosen to present.

(The 'thirty years' mentioned in the book's title references the 1986 People Power revolution that ousted the Marcos family from the Philippines, allowing Corazon Aquino to be sworn into office as the new president.)

He breaks down information into lists or bulleted short paragraphs, providing readers with punchy, short reads per chapter.

He takes on the stance of a layman, if you will, instead of a historian, economist or political analyst. The better to reach fellow laymen, though he weaves these viewpoints into his notes, constantly reminding readers of the economic fallout caused by past (and sustained by present) events and circumstances.

The book begins with a brief history of how the couple came to power and dives right in to listing down the families that became Marcos cronies.

Following chapters lists Imelda Marcos' travels around the world, her social-climbing efforts among other countries' royalty and heads of state, and the big-ticket items she purchased, including jewelry and real estate.

Much of the book features "Imelda Marcos and her highly visible shenanigans.a natural consequence of Imeldiana lore just being more visible than the boring, invisible scheming and financial shell games that Marcos played with their stolen billions."

Garcia then recounts the court trials in the U.S. and in Manila where Imelda was acquitted.

While earlier chapters may have a surreal, gaudy, soap-opera feel due to the excessiveness of the crimes listed, Garcia reminds readers in later chapters that it's all far too real, with a recounting and accounting of how much the family had stolen and how much has been retrieved by various means.

He then posits that "it might be time to bring the curtain down" on retrieval and disbursement efforts, pointing out that "whatever has been recovered, also deduct the cost of the hunt-the salaries [of the staff], administrative expenses, fees to foreign law firms, etc."

He lists down a few more myths surrounding the Marcoses: fabricated family histories, fake war and school records, the Golden Buddha caper, alleged illegitimate children, among others.

Where are they now?
He provides a "Where are they now?" list of the involved parties, alive and dead, and concludes with an appeal to his fellow Filipinos to choose well in this year's presidential elections.

Garcia moved to the U.S. one month before martial law was imposed in 1972. "Because I spent the first 24 years of my life in Manila...I feel uniquely qualified versus other foreign journalists, to write about this chapter in history with a great deal of authenticity, distilled with the perspective of time and distance," he says.

"While I never personally suffered at the hands or because of the decrees of the Great Plunderer. I feel for those who were less lucky and am still outraged at how people [were] fooled and betrayed by the very people entrusted to lead them."

Garcia is a correspondent for, where two of his articles have won the Philippine American Press Club's Plaridel Prize for Best Sports Story two years in a row. A life-long Olympic aficionado, he is also the author of "Secrets of the Olympic Ceremonies," which was updated with a 2014 edition.

"Thirty Years Later...Catching Up with the Marcos-Era Crimes" by Myles Garcia is available in paperback at The ebook edition will be available later this year. In the Philippines, the book will be available at Popular Bookstore, Quezon City.

'Coro de los Diablos,' Filipino translation of 'Lord of the Flies,' goes onstage in Los Baños

'Coro de los Diablos,' Filipino translation of 'Lord of the Flies,' goes onstage in Los Baños

March 5, 2016
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Coro de los Diablos," Layeta Bucoy's translation and adaptation of William Golding's novel "Lord of the Flies," will be staged at University of the Philippines Los Baños on March 8, 9 and 10.

The novel is about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island and their descent into savagery.

Directed by Joey Ting, this stage adaptation "will have male and female students on their way to the World Youth Convention during World War III," says Ting. "They get stranded on an island and that's when we explore the tragic drama of human survival."

Ting's recent directing credit includes "Haring Ubu" (Alan Palileo's translation of Alfred Jarry's "Ubu Roi") and "Elevator Action" (Vladimeir Gonzales' translation of Harold Pinter's "The Dumb Waiter").

This production is hosted by the UPLB Philosophical Society for its first anniversary.

The play premiered last year under Dulaang Laboratoryo, Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas' series of thesis productions by students taking certificate or degree programs in Theater Arts under the university's Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts.

"Coro de los Diablos" runs March 8-10 with 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows at Charles Fuller Baker Memorial Hall, University of the Philippines Los Baños. Call +63-915-450-9432, visit UPLBCoroDeLosDiablos on Facebook. link:


Former Repertory Philippines actresses Nicole Barredo and Giselle Töngi in 'Criers for Hire' in Los Angeles

Former Repertory Philippines actress Nicole Barredo in 'Criers for Hire' in Los Angeles
March 6, 2016
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Nicole Barredo
In Los Angeles, two former Repertory Philippines (Rep) actresses, Nicole Barredo and Giselle Töngi, are appearing in a play about Filipinas who work as "crying ladies" at funerals.

Staged by East West Players, "Criers for Hire" is about three professional funeral criers who welcome Aurora's 14-year-old daughter Ligaya from the Philippines into their somber trade.

However, they soon realize that she has the opposite effect on people, making them laugh instead of cry.

The play will tackle cultural identity, generational conflict and finding home in a new country.

Barredo plays Ligaya. "It's my first time to play a Filipina character on stage here in the United States and it's very exciting because it means we are slowly being visible and represented in the American entertainment industry," she says.

"It's an honor to finally get to bring our culture on stage."

Before she moved to California in 2009, Barredo had been working with Rep since 2002.

"I've always enjoyed acting and loved singing and dancing in school. I chanced upon a Rep audition and got to perform professionally," she says.

"Rep made me realize that performing really is what I want to do."

Her credits include "Fame" and "The Sound of Music" and Repertory Children's Theater productions such as "Pinocchio," "Disney's Mulan Jr." and "Disney's Aladdin Jr.," to name a few.

She also taught musical theater at Rep's summer workshops.

"One major thing I learned from working in Rep is discipline. It's something every Rep baby must have and it has become so important to me to practice it continuously. It makes any performing experience so much easier and enjoyable because you are prepared to work and you get to enjoy the entire process."

Her acting credits in the United States include Ti Moune in "Once on This Island," Fiona in "Shrek" and Kim in different productions of "Miss Saigon," one of which won her Stagecene LA's Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Musical 2011-2012, and Inland Theatre League's Excellence in Theatre Award 2012.

First love
(From left, back) Rudy Martinez, Giovanni Ortega,
Joan Almedilla;
(front) Giselle Töngi, Jon Lawrence Rivera,
Samantha Cutaran, Nicole Barredo.

Töngi's theater credits in Manila include Rep's "The Producers" and Atlantis Productions' "Piaf."

She currently hosts TV channel LA18's "Kababayan Today."

She's cast as Meding, one of Aurora's friends.

"It feels great because acting has always been my first love, no matter what; I will return to it time and time again!" she says.

"I auditioned for this play because it's so relevant to our Filipino community living here in America. I had to be a part of this show in any capacity and am honored to have been cast.

"It truly feels surreal to play a character that embodies my culture and sensibilities. I've lived in America for over 16 years now, and there are hardly any roles for our kind. The lines I say on stage are not foreign to my tongue or my ears."

Filipino lines in the play will have English supertitles.

"I know fellow Filipino Americans will be delighted to see this show!"

Other cast members include  Samantha Cutaran and Joan Almedilla as Aurora. Almedilla hails from Cebu and has performed as Kim in "Miss Saigon" on Broadway and as Fantine in a US tour of "Les Misérables."

"Criers for Hire" is written by Giovanni Ortega and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, both of whom are also from the Philippines. Ortega is artistic director of Mezclao Productions, and Rivera is founding artistic director of theater group Playwrights' Arena.


"Criers for Hire" runs until March 13 at David Henry Hwang Theater, Union Center of the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles. Call +1-213-625-7000, visit or EWPlayers on Facebook. link:

Lisa Tejero plays Fil-Am character in "after all the terrible things I do"

Lisa Tejero plays Fil-Am character in "after all the terrible things I do"
March 3, 2016

Lisa Tejero
Actress Lisa Tejero will play a Filipina bookstore owner in A. Rey Pamatmat's "after all the terrible things I do," in the play's Chicago premiere by About Face Theatre in March.

In the play, Linda (Tejero) hires Daniel (Colin Sphar), a young white aspiring writer. They discover a dark connection that goes much deeper than a love of literature. The play explores the dark side of ordinary people, second chances and the price of forgiveness.

"As an actor, it's par for the course to portray a character that is not only outside your realm of experience but also different from your own personal orientation of age, race, religion or culture," Tejeros says.

In Chicago, she has worked with Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Regionally she has appeared in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company, Mark Taper Forum, among others.

"That being said, it's also equally exciting to be able to go a little deeper into a realm a little closer to my own personal point of reference."

Tejero's father is from the Philippines; she was born and raised in "a small town in Missouri."

"My upbringing was very Midwest. Shortly after graduating college, I went to the Philippines and lived there for a year to get a better sense of things. It so happened that that was the year of the People Power revolution, so that might not have been the most accurate read of things," she says.

Ironically, the year she lived in Manila, she worked with Repertory Philippines for a season, but "I was wigged blonde twice and not one of those shows or characters were Asian," she says.

She auditioned for About Face Theater's artistic director Andrew Volkoff, who is also directing the show. "We are both very moved and taken by the script and had an immediate rapport with each other."

When she first read the script, she'd only intended to do it quickly to get an overview for her audition. "But I was so totally drawn in during the first scene. I was completely fascinated by both of the characters, their interplay and story arcs."

"I kept delving deeper into all the possibilities and the complications of both the characters. I hyper-jumped into being invested with this story immediately."

Tejero is excited for the chance to "explore a multi-faceted and layered character" once rehearsals begin.

She appreciates that the production feels "very safe and supportive, which is important since the story requires us actors to push each other to some very pained places where we are hurting and hurtful. I feel that the more respect, support and love there is in the rehearsal room, the harder and deeper it allows you to go at it on stage."

The play was premiered by Milwaukee Repertory Theater and recently staged in Boston by Huntington Theater Company.

Praise from critics include On Milwaukee, "Searing"; Journal Sentinel, "Smart, sensitive"; Greater Milwaukee Today, "Well-crafted"; Boston Globe, "A trenchant, multilayered drama"; and WBUR, "Riveting"; among others.

"A. Rey Pamatmat is one of the most exciting and dynamic voices in the American theater today," says Volkoff.

Pamatmat's credits include "Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them," "Thunder Above, Deeps Below," and "A Spare Me (Waterwell)," among others.

"This piece is deceptively dynamic and complex, highly engaging yet with deep resonance, asking the audience to question what they see on stage and in their own lives. I'm excited to work with Rey, bringing his unique voice to Chicago," Volkoff adds.

Set design by Chelsea Warren, costume design by Bob Kuhn, sound design by Christopher Kriz.

"after all the terrible things I do," previews Mar. 11-13, runs Mar. 17-Apr. 10, 2016 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. 

Contact +1-773-404-7336, visit or AboutFaceTheatre on Facebook.

San Francisco's Bindlestiff Studio stages 'The Love Edition 2016'

San Francisco's Bindlestiff Studio stages 'The Love Edition 2016'
March 1, 2016

Aura San Miguel rehearses a scene in the play
"Puppy Love," written by Kristine Reyes.
Photo by Lorenz Angelo
Filipino-American theater group Bindlestiff Studio will be staging "The Love Edition" (TLE) from March 3-19 in San Francisco.

The production showcases new works "about love, heartache, and the weirdness in-between."

This year's theme is "Always & 4ever" and features seven new ten-minute plays "ranging from the hilarious to the heartfelt."

Four of the seven plays this year are by Filipino American playwrights.

"57 Varieties" by Ignacio Zulueta is about Sarah and Brian's third month anniversary that comes with an unexpected twist in bed. It's directed by Joe Cascasan.

"Life of Sin" by Manny Cabrera, directed by Yato Yoshida, is about Patrick and Karen's honeymoon in the Philippines that's rudely interrupted by the mysterious Derrick.

"Puppy Love" by Kristine Reyes is about a couple's contemplations on their relationship's future with the arrival of a furry four-legged frenemy. Directed by Alexis Dayers.

"Time Before Time" by Jeffrey Lo features a " not so boy-meets-girl story" where Joel meets Sarah, Sarah meets JJ and JJ meets Joel. Their encounter bends relationships, fate and time; directed by Juan Berumen.

The three remaining plays are "Woo Her Like a Badass" by Donna Latham, directed by Golda Sargento, a modern take of a suitor trying to literally holler at someone he's trying to woo. In "The Sunshower Bride" by Maggie Lee, directed by May Liang, Miranda's secret is revealed during her wedding day. In "Kill Me Please" by Rhea MacCallum, directed by Laura Priscilla Paule, Gloria, who is a fan of Stan's work, tells him that her dying wish is to be a part of his legacy.

Set design by Alejandro Acosta, lighting design by Darius Munoz.

Season line up
First conceived by Bindlestiff actors and producers Chuck Lacson and Raf Lim in 2006, this year's TLE received more than 60 submissions from playwrights across the U.S.

Playwright Conrad Panganiban, one of this year's producers, says, "Bindlestiff Studio is ecstatic to be presenting work from playwrights from New York and Seattle. It was challenging to pare them down into the final seven plays, but the reward is seeing how each of the plays complement each other."

Panganiban notes that all seven plays will be directed and performed by local artists.

"The Love Edition: Always & 4ever" is Bindlestiff Studio's first production for 2016. "The first of many events cultivating talented young individuals with the intention of self-empowerment through expression," says artistic director Lorna Velasco.

Other productions planned for the year include "Amok," a marathon staged reading of plays and "The Girl Most Likely To," a play by Michael Premsirirat. Granny Cart Gangsta, an all-female improv group, is also scheduled to perform.

Bindlestiff Studio will also produce its first ever Tagalog production from April 21 to May 7. "We will be staging three one-act plays from the 2015 Virgin Labfest, an annual festival of new plays held in Manila."

"The Love Edition 2016: Always & 4ever" runs Mar. 3-19. 2016 at Bindlestiff Studio, 185 6th St., cor. Howard St., San Francisco. Contact +1-650-278-3110.

Tickets available at Visit or BindlestiffStudio on Facebook.