Scrooge The Musical — FINAL WEEKEND!

Ahh, Christmas in the Philippines. The time of good holiday cheer, spending time with loved ones and those you haven’t seen in a while, braving the increased traffic to get to the malls to finish gift shopping — all done to the ubiquitous sounds of Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas album. You know what I mean.

I never actually knew where Jose Mari Chan got those songs he covered in that album, so you can imagine my surprise when I sat down to the press preview of Scrooge The Musical at OnStage Greenbelt a few weeks ago, and the ensemble cast opened with the song “A Christmas Carol”.

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As the musical unfolded, itΒ showed Ebenezer Scrooge’s miserly treatment of all the people around him, including himself, the spooky haunting of Scrooge by his departed business partner Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future helping Scrooge see the error of his ways. The cast, led by Miguel Faustmann as Scrooge, was amazing and on point, and while the sound mixing still had kinks to be ironed out (Miguel’s mic didn’t seem to be catching a lot of sound), the OnStage theater was small enough for their voices to carry through.

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My familiarity with most of the songs helped me hear them with new ears. They are so overplayed from September through December and thus lose their meaning, but within the framework of the musical they are re-imbued with their magic and also bring back memories of wonderful Christmases past.

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I have always been accustomed to seeing A Christmas CarolΒ as a non-musical film or TV special aired during Christmas time — I can still remember very vividly Bill Murray’s Scrooge film. I didn’t know that it wasΒ a musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Being the cultural illiterate I am, the first time I heard of Scrooge The Musical was when Repertory Philippines sent me a press release about them staging it this time of year (more specifically, November 21 to December 14). When they offered tickets to the press preview, I jumped at the chance.

This is the fourth time Repertory Philippines has staged an adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The story follows the miserly life of banker Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey towards realizing the true spirit of Christmas through three ghosts: that of his past, present, and future.

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In my life I have only ever been to about ten plays, but I’ve never seen one with full production values. Scrooge The Musical takes you into the Victorian England setting from the book, with sets swiftly transforming from exteriors to interiors, from the street marketplace into an office, from the outside of Scrooge’s house into his living room and bedroom. As an adult I found myself marveling at the stagecraft. I can imagine the kids in the audience asking their moms and dad excitedly, “How did they do that?!”

This is the last weekend for Scrooge The Musical at OnStage Greenbelt. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you do! Today’s matinee performance is already sold out. You can purchase Scrooge tickets via Ticketworld.

While Scrooge can be very entertaining, I think it also reminds us that Christmas shouldn’t be about material things. Rather, the giving of gifts should be from the overflow of gratitude and thankfulness in our hearts as we remember the Reason for the season. (It isn’t called “Christ-mas” for nothing.)

1 Little, 2 Little… 12 Monkeys

(or the time a famous musician bought me a drink)

I’ve not been one to go for nightlife or the local music scene lately simply because I’m a morning person, a somewhat serious athlete, and there’s something about going to a dingy smoky bar late at night just to watch a band perform that makes my asthmatic throat constrict.

12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub at Century City Mall, Makati aims to change that attitude, and from my visit there last Friday I think it might actually work. :)

12 Monkeys
12 Monkeys is on the 5th Level

12 Monkeys
fully-stocked bar

12 Monkeys
for the live acts

12 Monkeys
for the DJs

This music hall and pub was set up by the who’s who of Manila’s music, social, and F&B scene. Read more

Uniqlo U-Shop, U-Win

Last Friday, I was given the opportunity to attend the launch of Uniqlo’s new game app called U-Shop, U-Win.

Uniqlo U-Shop U-Win

Uniqlo U-Shop U-Win

(The launch was held at Fully Booked in BGC as a nod to the opening of Uniqlo’s third store in the country at SM Aura Premium on May 17, 2013.)

Uniqlo U-Shop U-Win

the U-Shop U-Win virtual store game

The U-Shop, U-Win game app on the Uniqlo Philippines Facebook page allows participants to “shop” at a virtual Uniqlo store. Read more

Les Mills Ultimate Super Workshop Kuala Lumpur

In the grand scheme of things Les Mills, the Philippines hasn’t been a major player. I’ve been instructing for about six years now; up until recently only one gym chain had acquired the license to use Les Mills group exercise programs in their clubs. We were blessed that we had Arnold Warren, a program coach for BODYJAM in Southeast Asia, residing in the Philippines, and twice a year we’d hold our own workshops and invited trainers from the region. At least we didn’t stagnate, but not much was happening with us beyond purchasing the new releases with new choreography and music on DVD every quarter.

Then the advanced instructor modules were introduced, and for long-time instructors like myself it brought us back to why we had started teaching in the first place: because of our passion for these programs that had brought about so much change for the better in our own lives.

We had our first official Les Mills metro workshop in the last quarter of 2012, which made us feel more connected to the whole network of Les Mills events in the region. So a large number of us decided to make the trip to Kuala Lumpur for the Ultimate Super Workshop happening on February 16-17, 2013. It would be the only official workshop held for the first quarter of the year (we have workshops quarterly) and it was an opportunity to represent the Philippines among the other Southeast Asian nations. Read more

Met Gala 2013 and the Contemporary Filipino Art Exhibit

Metropolitan Museum: Contemporary Filipino Art Exhibit

Met Gala 2013 at the Metropolitan Museum

As a kid I loved visiting museums during field trips. They were an occasional treat to feed our creativity and our minds.

One of my school’s favorite haunts was the old Ayala Museum, which had a permanent exhibit about Philippine history (loved the dioramas!). During my university Spanish class our professor required us to visit the Metropolitan Museum, which had an exhibit on Spanish artifacts found in the Philippines.

At the Met Gala 2013, I encountered a different Metropolitan Museum. Read more