Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Archive for September, 2012


How to live longer 2

Posted on September 29, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated September 30, 2012 12:00 AM

I got an e-mail from a classmate recently telling me he just underwent a quadruple bypass. He felt extremely lucky saying he was “saved” by a higher power and the reason, he felt, is because he still has other things to accomplish in life. He is still too young to say goodbye. Thank God he got proper warning via a stroke that was caught in time, and he received a new lease, another chance at life.

I consider a person who lives past 77 years to have lived a long life. I base that number on personal family history. On the average, my uncles and aunts on both my parents’ sides lived around that long. When someone lives a long life, there is a certain sense of completion about his or her time on earth. The word “lifetime” to describe his or her existence on earth becomes quite apt.

With longevity, it is safe to assume that one has survived many battles, illnesses, disappointments, great sadness, numerous trials, to live another day, and another. But then, one must have also experienced joy, happiness, laughter, friendship, love, mirth, ecstasy, and many other pleasurable states.

The saddest person is one who has lived too long but who feels that he has simply wasted his life away. It is said that this is a probable reason why certain people get to be cantankerous as they age. It is their way of lashing out at life because they did not live it on their own terms. They had dreams all right, but they were too scared, too timid and shy, or too disempowered to have done anything about them, least of all pursue them. They have lived a long life, but not in a majestic way. They have simply… wasted away.

It is such a blessing to be able to spend a great deal of time doing what one loves to do. When I watch the Oscars, the Emmys and other similar shows that recognize excellence, and I see aging men and women who are praised and honored for their outstanding work, I see and feel their sense of achievement. One not-so-secret explanation for this is, these men and women loved what they did, and that’s why they did it well. They put a lot of time, effort and passion in their work and the excellence they produced is the result of their love and dedication.

I see this same love and dedication in lives played out by ordinary people who live lives of lesser magnitude, with hardly any public recognition, but of quiet impact. Teachers, doctors, housemaids, nurses, caregivers, priests, nuns, employees, etc., spend a great deal of their lives in service to others, and they love what they do. They invest a great deal of their waking hours caring for, nurturing, and making it possible for other people to live their lives not only in greater comfort and safety, but with illumination and meaning. One might say, the people they serve wouldn’t have had such a high level of achievement and functionality if they didn’t have such men and women of generosity and bigness of heart in their lives.

There are many theories on longevity. Some men attribute their longevity to their wives. The English novelist Charles Read wrote, “A wife is essential to great longevity; she is the receptacle of half a man’s cares, and two-thirds of his ill humor.” I am not sure I agree with this as a rule, but it raises the question, what should we attribute a woman’s long life to? To men who dump their worries, cares and ill humor on them? Just asking.

I have met people who have lived long fruitful lives, some with partners and some without. When I ask them how they have managed to live so long, they talk about their specific formulas for health which often make sense only to them, since some of what they say is contrary to what health experts believe promotes longevity, such as smoking or daily intake of alcohol. Some say exercise, or lack of it. Some say their secret is eating certain foods and avoiding or indulging in certain vices.

But after talking with them for a while, you will see that their attitude has a lot to do with it. These are people who know how to be happy, and who have lived a big part of their lives with real purpose. They wake up every day raring to do something they like to do, finding meaningful activities to spend their time on.

Victor Frankl, in his awesome book Man’s Search For Meaning, wrote about his horrendous experience in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Death was a daily occurrence in the camps due to lack of food, poor nutrition, sickness, depression, or murder. But while there were many reasons why people died, he observed that there were tangible reasons why some people lived despite the odds. And these had nothing to do with age, sex, health status, educational level, or whatever other demographic. It had everything to do with the fact that these men and women, though thrown into the worst circumstances life could conjure, felt they still had things to do in their lives. Some wanted to see their children and families. A few wanted to write books, continue their education, or attend to some unfinished business. All of them were looking forward to something after the horror was over.

Lucky are the people who find their passions early in life; they can spend a lot of time indulging in joyful, meaningful activities. And the more they do it, the more excited and happy they become. They are inspirations to others who are trapped in dreary, meaningless lives.

Although a lot of people live longer by looking forward to a better future and making that their inspiration, there are those who attribute their longevity to avoiding stress and not worrying about things they cannot control. They pretty much live in the here and now.

This is what the American writer-director Garson Kanin meant when he wrote, “A man 90 years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity. ‘I reckon,’ he said, with a twinkle in his eye, ‘it’s because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.’”

Here’s to longevity! A long life to all!

* * *

1) I would like to invite everyone to my solo concert, “Live Laugh Sing,” on Oct. 11 at the Newport Theater, Resorts World, at 8 p.m. I promise you surprise and delight. I will be singing a wide variety of material. My guests are Yeng Constantino, Noel Cabangon, Ebe Dancel and Jett Pangan. Call 0917-8859338/ 0918-8859335 for ticket reservations, with delivery. Or call or go to Ticketnet. See you all there.

2) Here’s something exciting! A Photo Workshop at Bee Farm in Bohol on Oct. 20. Interested? Please write me at jpfotojim@gmail.com for details.

Acting, my new adventure 3

Posted on September 22, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated September 23, 2012 12:00 AM

I came home at 7 a.m. last Thursday after a taping of Maalaala Mo Kaya, a TV drama that depicts the life stories of people who send their narratives to Charo Santos of ABS-CBN who hosts the show. Last night, I played the father of Diether Ocampo. I will not divulge too much about the episode. Besides, you will surely hear about it before it is shown next week.

I am also part of the cast of a big, high-profile teleserye playing next month called A Beautiful Affair, a sure blockbuster love story featuring the stellar combination of Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd, also on the Kapamilya network. We have been taping for close to a month now.

It sounds strange hearing myself say it, but yes, I am now an actor. Among the many things I do, such as composing, singing, performing, teaching, photography, writing and running workshops, I guess I now have the right and the privilege to include acting for television. After all, I have been doing enough of it recently.

The truth is, for a number of years, I was quite averse to acting on television. Based on the admittedly few local TV shows I watched, I just did not think there was ample reason to be part of them in any big or permanent way. In general, the plots, I felt, were rather staid, derivative of foreign TV shows or movies, or were too contrived. The characters were hollow, one dimensional and stereotypical, the acting melodramatic, and the pace of the storytelling too slow.

Still, acting jobs would occasionally be offered and sometimes, I would accept them when they came my way.

This year, I decided to go as far as I can in acting. Why the change of heart? Maybe it’s because of the fact that I am at the onset of my sixth decade and I have decided that, at the very least, I should consider opportunities where I may find new ways to express myself.

When I was asked to join the cast of A Beautiful Affair, I consciously fought off my initial hesitation and promptly said yes. Little did I know that the experience would be quite amazing. For starters, the members of the cast were subjected to an acting workshop given by Laurice Guillen.

An acting workshop involves a lot of things, among them letting go of one’s fears to be able to bravely act out the assigned role with clarity and honesty. It involves stepping forward to the unknown and uncomfortable territory of trusting intuition and allowing vulnerability, and coming from one’s truth and applying it in acting out a script. As the actor and teacher Sanford Meisner put it, “Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”

The exercise was both exhilarating and draining. I sensed a new energy in the room and the actors were able to establish a rapport with each other quickly. I also felt tired because we went through a lot of exercises in expressing varied feelings.

Taping a teleserye involves a lot of emotional commitment. One must get into the role and deliver. I was initially intimidated, but eventually, thankfully, I was exhilarated after I did a rather emotional scene with Bea Alonzo. It took a lot out of me working with someone like Bea, who fearlessly shows vulnerability and engagement. After I had internalized my script and my role and faced the cameras, I felt like I was being pulled into a more intense emotional connection with her and to the whole scene. I was “one” with it. It was electric.

Acting in a teleserye also involves a lot of time spent just waiting. There are so many scenes shot in a day and that takes much planning on the part of the crew and a lot of waiting on the part of the actors. Meanwhile, stories are shared and friendships are formed among the cast.

I have also learned a lot seeing how lights and cameras are set up, and how actors tackle their roles. I am learning how the director paces and choreographs actors, cameras and the entire movement and execution of the scenes.

It is similar to music where one fills up time with notes and silences arranged to lift the listener to a new experience. All this is nuanced with the dynamics of volume and sound texture. The difference is, in acting, you fill up time and space with something that hopefully makes sense and is engaging enough, or riveting enough for the audience to be interested. You fill up time and space with your story using your body, movement, voice and emotional state to convey its real meaning.

I have often wondered why many actors, actresses and performers everywhere seem to have messed-up personal lives. There seems to be too much alcohol or drug use, promiscuity and other toxic indulgences in place of a quiet, more stable emotional life. The answer, I believe, is partly that when, say, a businessman invests in an endeavor, it is only money he puts on the line. Money can always be replaced, or earned again when lost. But actors and performers invest their entire beings in what they do. They are emotionally “invested” in their performance. They “lose” when they deliver less than expected and so the loss is always personal. And quite often, one is remembered for one’s last performance.

Maybe that’s why they fall prey to substances and behavior that can give them a “lift” or heighten their senses to feel more alive to what they do. For many performers, their work is the single most important thing in their lives and they ask their audience to judge them solely by it. They may be pathetic in many ways in their personal lives, but brilliant when acting. That’s why actor Vincent Price once said, “What’s important about an actor is his acting, not his life.”

I have a lot more to learn about acting. At 61, it sounds funny hearing myself say that I am a new student learning a new craft. But yes, it feels really good and the excitement of it makes me feel alive.

Let’s talk about (ahem) sex 0

Posted on September 16, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated September 16, 2012 12:00 AM

A friend called me the other day to ask how I gave my “birds and bees” talk to my kids. A conscientious parent, she felt it was time to have the conversation with her son. She had talked to her husband about it, and true to the stereotype of men, he said that she should do the talking to their 14-year-old.

I kind of laughed knowing how difficult this can be. Most parents try to avoid any talk of sex or even a remote display of sexual affection toward each other in front of the kids. The subject is simply taboo. But my friend is, thankfully, one of those who felt the need to openly discuss sex with her son. It was time.

My parents never talked to me about sex. When I was growing up, I got most of the information about sex from friends who discovered its powerful allure through the natural processes that happen to the body at the onset of puberty. Wet dreams, and discovering masturbation, are part of sexual awakening. There was also pornography which classmates bought like drugs from dark street corners then shared with everyone. I was also exposed occasionally to men’s magazines like Playboy from the dad of a classmate who collected them. We knew where he hid them.

My classmates and I were quite obsessed with sex at the onset of high school, although some were already in that state as early as Grade 6. We partly discussed the matter in school but always in religion class where we were peppered with guilt and warnings of hellfire, but there was hardly any talk of the pleasure of it. My best lessons about sex and love, I learned hands-on, if you’ll pardon the expression, when I started meeting and relating to girls.

So, when I had my own kids, I vowed to give them “the talk” when it was time. When they were close to adolescence, I would watch TV with them and bring up conversation when I felt that the MTV channel they were viewing was too sexed up, or promoted values too hot for them to handle. I felt that these were teachable moments and I took advantage of them. I figured that if I was in the same room and these were showing and I did not say anything, I could send the worst signal: that I tacitly approved of them. So I took time to watch what they watched, not to condemn the content, but to bring it up for discussion. In that way, I tried to establish openness with them.

I am not a sex expert. Far from it. But I know it is crucial that such a powerful instinct as sex be influenced and guided with parental love, scientific facts and true wisdom if we want our kids to be able to handle it in a way that expresses their loving essence.

One of the things I told my two daughters and a son was that sex is something they will have to deal with for life. It is one of life’s most constant and greatest forces that they will have to understand, tame and contend with, perhaps until life ends. So it is important to have an open mind and a healthy understanding of it. And just as all of us on earth are sexually transmitted, everyone is also a sexual being, and sex is one of the most unique ways by which we can express ourselves. We will face and indulge in sex many times in our lives and hopefully, the experience will always be amazing, wonderful, pleasurable, moving in a most human way, and done consensually with great love.

I remember telling my girls that at the young age they were then (about 13-14), they were already capable of and subject to life-long consequences for their actions and it is good to be aware of it. Once they first had their periods, although they still seemed like little girls at times (even to themselves), they were now capable of bearing children, wanted or unwanted, planned or unplanned. And so it was important for them to understand their bodies, and be in control of themselves and the situation when they were in the company of boys in almost any setting.

If one is not in control, one is potentially a victim. It is as simple as that.

The metaphor I used to describe sex was something I got from the writer M. Scott Peck: sex is like owning a horse. If you don’t tame it, it will go where it wants to go when it wants to. If you are in control, you will go where you wish to go with it when you are ready.

I also told them that while I trust them to do the right thing, they will be in many situations where Mom and Dad may not be around, so they had to use common sense and be guided by the values we have taught them. It would be their call so it was important to be always aware of what is going on around them. Being street smart is a virtue in such situations.

In an age where the allure of sex is everywhere, thanks to the media that permeates almost every aspect of our lives, it is important to educate kids so they can think for themselves and discern not just what is right from wrong. It is also crucial that they discern what is good and best for them, to think beyond getting caught up in the moment of sexual attraction, but to transcend it. They must realize that sex is only part of the bigger scheme of a relationship. And sexual energy does not need to be expressed only as an outright sexual act, but can also be sublimated as passion for living life and its many aspects.

It has been many years since I did “the talk” with my kids. I think they have all grown up to be decent, happy adults. We have kept an open channel for discussing sex, relationships, and other sensitive matters. I remember how their school friends would come to the house and open up to Lydia and me about their relationships, a subject they could not discuss with their own parents.

I really appreciate it when my kids ask me straight questions about sex, such as the importance of sex in the entire context and lifespan of a marriage. Such an important topic should be open for discussion in the same way as religion, spirituality, career, health and other vital life issues. And the great thing is, if parents and their children can discuss sex in an open and healthy manner, they can discuss practically anything.

How do you jump off a 100-foot pole? 1

Posted on September 08, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated September 09, 2012 12:00 AM

There is a Zen koan that asks the cryptic question, “How do you jump off a 100-foot pole?” A koan is pretty much like a riddle but one must abandon thinking and embrace it holistically to get its message. And there is no one definitive message in a koan. There are many ways to be right and wrong about it. The most common way to approach it (and it is the wrong way) is to be logical, rational and mental. To understand a koan, one must sit, quiet oneself, and marinate in the koan until it reveals its secret to you. Think of its meaning as something like a territory that you enter. You can be anywhere north, south, east, west of its territory, meaning-wise, and explore it all over, and in the process you will discover shades and nuances of meaning.

This week, with the box office and critical success of the movie I Dobidoobidoo, I, and the people behind the movie, have been basking in the limelight. Honestly, it feels great. It is very validating to have one’s work recognized and appreciated in a big way. I’m sure everyone in the cast feels it too. Everyone associated with the production must be on a high. As high as a 100-foot pole.

I remember those times when I could not sleep after an APO concert. The audience reaction and the performance itself would give me an adrenalin rush that kept me awake even when I was physically tired from doing a two-hour show. I simply could not relax and doze off. It would take quite a while for the adrenalin to dissipate from my system. I would lie down, close my eyes but to no avail, and I would finally fall asleep as the sun was rising.

It felt great doing a show where all the things we planned worked out beautifully. Sometimes, my lingering excitement after a show would cause a clash with my wife who had an entirely different experience of it as a member of the audience. I expected from her the same level of involvement and appreciation of the minute aspects of the show, and I would be so disappointed when she appeared less involved or enthusiastic than I was. To her, it was just another performance that ended when it ended, or at best lingered for a short while. But to me it was about a host of other things — an act of daring, an achievement in execution, a validation of our talent from the audience.

I now have a better appreciation of my wife’s reaction. Even today, when I get too giddy and excited about the things I am involved in, she reminds me that it is only, say, a workshop, a song, a performance, or a movie. She is obviously coming from a different place. But her attitude has helped keep me grounded. Her deadpan remarks are great reminders for me to let go and practice non-attachment to those things that bloat the ego. She helps me get off the 100-foot pole.

Going back to the koan, I want to rephrase it coming from an artistic point of view and ask, ‘How does one get out of the predictable and sure formula that one is successful at? And why should one even think of changing the formula?”

I ask myself these questions quite often. My great fear as an artist is complacency, being too comfortable about my art and developing a fear of “walking on the edge” and trying new things. I always remind myself to try out new approaches, open myself to new opportunities and take risks. The older I get and knowing that I have less time to enjoy my work, the more adventurous I have become. One thing I know is, I don’t want to be a “safe” artist. I want to feel alive and I can only feel that when I practice creativity and awareness.

I admire artists like Miles Davis who started so many trends in jazz throughout his career. He made new rules and often broke them. He was always pushing the envelope. There’s also Picasso. I am not a fan of every stage he went through but I admire his playful and adventurous creative spirit.

I think it is only possible to be like that if one is willing to jump from the stratospheric 100-foot pole where the “sure thing” is kept on a pedestal, and leave behind old formulas and concepts, tried and tested templates, and question rules, norms and judgment, so that we remain open to whatever turns up. Only then can new, fearless, inspired, original creation happen.

This can be applied to all other disciplines and aspects of living, from parenting to new business ventures, surviving mid-life, trying to start anew at life, etc. There is a point when one needs to move forward and leave his comfort zone and that can be terrifying. But this comfort zone can eventually become a death zone where one stops growing and becomes content, stuck with only what he knows or understands. Life becomes static, boring, a closed set. Knowledge becomes obsolete. And one feels dead to one’s self.

When one has reached this point in one’s life, the next step is The Leap.

I met a woman who became a successful producer at a TV network. She started her working life there, paid attention and learned the ropes, worked her way up the ladder and eventually became a producer of some big shows. While it was exciting for many years, she eventually got tired of the pressure. She realized that despite her success and the money she earned, she was not happy; she did not have time to feel alive and even have a real life. She felt that if she stayed on, her life would be meaningless and miserable.

She finally resigned after nine years on the job, and after resting, she embraced baking with great passion and abandon. These days, she calls herself a baker and a chef, and by her own account, she is happy, fulfilled — and successful. And she earns enough to support herself.

Security, predictability and safety are great. But at a certain point, they can be soul killing. I think of people I have met who abandoned their ambitions, opting for security rather than pursuing their dreams and passions, settling for second best. They are generally a dissatisfied bunch. Many have stopped feeling, they have lost the capability to love or come alive. They went for security but later found themselves stuck in the sure thing that provides them employment and financial support in exchange for feeling truly alive.

I have also met people who gave up job security to take higher studies, or start new ventures, or migrate to another country. They talk of feeling so alive despite a cut in pay and a step down in status or standard of living. They feel new energies oozing out of them, guiding them where to go, what to do, who to talk to, etc.

The paradox is, uncertainty can be wonderful even if we fear and avoid it. Many times, the uncertain and unsure is thrust upon us by fate, and we discover that our road maps are suddenly inadequate and we must make new ones to survive. Some adjust bravely and successfully. Those are the lucky ones.

The unlucky ones are left alone as if fate has denied them a deus ex machina that messes things up. Nothing dramatic or unexpected shakes up their lives. No outward crisis befalls them and forces them out of their comfort zone. Instead, they go through a slow, quiet “dying” which goes largely unnoticed. Years of living without challenge or passion have made them unable or unwilling to listen to the remaining life force inside them that is crying for attention.

Sadly, they will never experience jumping off the 100-foot pole.

* * *

Attention Bohol and Cebu: I will be having a photography workshop this Oct. 20 at Bee Farm in Bohol. This is open to beginners, and to all levels. If you are interested, please write me at jpfotojim@gmail.com, and I will send you the details. I promise you a great time.

I Dobidoobidoo love this movie 7

Posted on September 02, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated September 02, 2012

I will not be coy, or shy about this, and I am not holding back. I am absolutely thrilled that the movie I Dobidoobidoo, produced by Unitel, is currently showing and making quite a stir among those who have seen it. It is not your usual Filipino film. It is a musical written and directed by the young award-winning Chris Martinez who has given the movie-going public such great movies like Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, Kimi Dora, and Here Comes the Bride. And Danny, Boboy and I are a big part of this effort.

Tony Gloria of Unitel, a long-time friend, thought of this project after watching Mamma Mia! on Broadway some 10 years ago. He was inspired to do something like it using OPM and thought of the APO repertoire as the vehicle. More than five years later, he called and asked if we could meet for lunch. He broached the idea to me, but instead of a stage musical, he wanted to do a movie.

Prior to that, there were other interested parties who had approached the APO suggesting an original stage musical using our repertoire of hits. Back then, I was lukewarm to the idea. Maybe I was too protective of the APO songs which were already considered as having attained a kind of “legacy” status. It also did not give me confidence that not a single person or group who had expressed interest actually submitted a script, not even a synopsis of the play.

I felt more open to Tony Gloria who had produced the movie The Crying Ladies which generated critical reviews. But I needed more convincing. At our meeting, Tony shared his idea of how he wanted one of the songs to be interpreted, which I found rather amusing. I began to lighten up. He also said that he would be commissioning someone to make the script soon.

“Soon” actually took almost a year. When I finally got the script for review, I began reading it at around 11 p.m. Close to 3 a.m., I was still wide awake and riveted. I was so convinced it was a winning movie script deserving of APO’s material. I knew because I found myself laughing experiencing that warm glow of “truth recognition.” It felt real, not contrived, even if the whole effort of trying to make sense of varied hit songs and weaving them into a musical story is a contrivance in itself. The story flowed and had that charm that goes with good creative work.

The script by Chris Martinez captured the feel- good appeal of APO’s songs. Our best songs have, after all, been simple musical statements that try to capture the Filipino experience of love, friendship, heartbreak, and humor expressed in colloquial language that the public finds easy to identify with. When we wrote our songs, we made sure they were not only easy to like but also had elements of surprise and delight.

The next day, I met Chris Martinez for lunch. After talking to him, I was sure that the project was in the best hands possible. He was also going to direct it. I liked it that Unitel, was behind the project and not the usual big producers or production companies who had stables of stars, directors, and writers who had to be kept employed. I remember Tony telling me when we first met about the movie that he wanted to make films he could believe in and personally enjoy. I was therefore confident that the slimy hands of artistic compromise would be tied and prevented from mangling the story, or treating the songs in ways that would demean them or make them dull and predictable.

I now felt that the project had moved significantly forward. I was under the impression that the movie would be ready in a few months for people to watch in theaters. But there were more delays. There were a few important details in making a movie that Tony Gloria had to settle, such as funding, casting, auditions, getting contracts signed, making down payments, getting a production team, and scheduling, etc.

The imposed deadlines were not met. I was getting frustrated, but I could understand that productions can and do suffer a few snags. Finally, more than a year after I read the script, Tony called to inform me that the cast was complete. When I heard that Gary V, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Ogie Alcasid, and Eugene Domingo would play the main characters, I was absolutely delighted. He informed me that the other members of the cast, most of them admittedly new names to me, all had to audition.

When the big production meeting came, I finally met Vincent de Jesus, the musical director of the entire effort. We were going to hear the music, more or less already arranged and close to final form, for the first time. Chris and Vincent had been in constant consultation about the treatment and Vincent had put in a lot of effort into the arrangement and recording of the minus ones. He was clearly nervous as he fumbled to get his iPod connected to the speakers. I was nervous too, and told myself to calm down and make sure I was totally expressionless in case I did not like what I was going to hear. I told myself there was still time to make adjustments if I did not like the music.

When the songs were finally played, I was speechless. They were recreations that sounded new, fresh, with different beats, orchestrations and treatments. I was amazed at how Vincent brought the songs to new interpretations I had not heard or foreseen. Best of all, they were playful, daring, and had that quality I associate with good musicals. They were animated, exciting, and had flair. I absolutely loved what I was hearing. When it got to Panalangin and everyone in the room spontaneously sang with the music, my eyes swelled with tears of appreciation.

During the actual shooting of the movie, which took six months, I hardly visited the set. I wanted to see the project only in its final form.

I watched the completed project for the first time last Aug. 24 at the Resorts World viewing room with Manny Pangilinan, Channel 5 executives, and some of the performers in the movie. I sat beside Chris Martinez who promised not to preempt the scenes and spoil my enjoyment. A few days earlier, there was a screening for the press and I heard how enthusiastically supportive and appreciative they were. They gushed about the movie in their columns and reviews. During interviews, they made it known to us that they really enjoyed the film. One of them called it “a breakthrough” in Philippine cinema. While I was pleased to hear all of it, the cynic in me took in everything with a grain of salt.

But I was floored upon viewing the film. Not even the positive reviews were adequate preparation for what I was to see. I was totally captivated from beginning to end. I was one with the audience as we sang, clapped, laughed, cried, cheered, sighed all throughout the movie. The story, music, directing, acting, singing all came together into a wonderful, funny, touching, moving musical movie experience. Everyone was ecstatic with praise after the viewing. MVP, in an after-show interview, said he thought it was better than Mamma Mia!

What Tony and Chris have come up with is a unique Filipino experience, a movie that is not only excellently and adroitly executed but is 100 percent ours to enjoy as Filipinos. It was made by us, for us, and it is something we can really be proud of. But beyond the nationalistic aspect, it is great entertainment that is so easy to appreciate and enjoy.

On the way home that evening, my thoughts went back to some four decades ago when Danny, Boboy, myself, and a few other friends got together to sing for the sole reason of meeting girls. At that time, we had no idea nor did we speculate about where it would all lead to. We just wanted to sing, write and use our music as “chick magnets.” Simple dreams they were that led to bigger ambitions and great fulfillment.

I feel so blest that our music has been given a new venue to be played and appreciated, this time in the form of a very well-made musical for whole families, from both the old and new generations, to enjoy. I have seen the movie twice and I will watch it three or more times just to enjoy the audience.

Everyone who was part of this effort clearly loved it. I am convinced more than ever that things we do for love are imbued with creativity and positivity. The love we put into what we do generates love or attracts love in its direction. We created and performed our music for 43 years and ended our performance as a group two years ago. We had a great run which we did with love, passion, and a lot of fun. I am overjoyed and grateful that the love and the music are still playing.


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