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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

How to behave at the office Christmas party

Party time indeed (and the clip above is a party gone so wild!)

When I was editor, the invites during this time of the year abound. But I have been very selective in the parties I go to (I prioritize those that I made good connections with the PR and their client; and with those I need to connect with on behalf of the organization I am part of). On most occasions though, I end up not going because I am still tied up with desk duties.

Whenever I see my friends who are people managers also like me, we cannot help but discuss our woes over the teams we manage, and the things they do and not do during office Christmas parties.

I told my reporters before that it is OK to attend these parties, provided that:

  1. They have already submitted their stories for the day
  2. That there are no other pressers, events that are happening on the same date and time of the party they are attending to
  3. That it is OK to drink, but moderately (the last thing that I want to hear is that my reporter got involved in an altercation, drove under influence, sexually harassed (or harassed someone sexually), among other unpleasant happenings that could have been avoided in the first place)
  4. That we are not allowed to accept Christmas gifts worth half or more than half of our monthly salary (most media companies have such rule, but not strictly followed, except in the company I was business desk editor [consultant] for almost two years)

I  also have heard really ludicrous stories of how employees misbehaved during Christmas parties, and how some also blew up the party budget with no appropriate justification for it.

So here are some tips on how to behave during Christmas parties:

  1. First things first: Unless you really have a good excuse (or you are the boss and can opt not to show up), attend, to recognize the blood, sweat, tears the organizers put in to make this party happen. Also thank them before you leave.
  2. Dress appropriately. It is still an official function after all. If you need to participate in a production number that requires a costume, make sure such is not too lewd for the general audience (as some of the attendees bring their young children with them). Inform your guest as well about the dress code.
  3. Do not get drunk. Enough said.
  4. Eat. Moderately also like drinking.
  5. Be social. That’s the point of attending the party, to socialize, to network, so be careful with your body language that tells others, “I’m bored, what am I doing here anyway?”
  6. Avoid gossiping. Zip that mouth. Again, this is an official function still. And the bosses are most likely in attendance and you might have no idea that they are within ear shot and hear you bad mouth him or her or your colleagues.
  7. Avoid flirting. Especially if under alcoholic influence. The last thing that you want to happen is be sued for sexual harassment or hurt someone’s feelings or proposed a marriage to a lady from another department you only met at that party.
  8. Do not post photos or videos that are, well, how lame the party is, your colleagues drinking or eating way too much, or those engaging in not-so-nice behavior.
  9. Be yourself. But do not make a fool of yourself. Again this is still an official function so behaving appropriately is still the key.

So be merry and enjoy the parties!

Email ma.lynda.corpuz[at] for feedback.


(UPDATED) CEO defined

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest


(UPDATED) A Facebook connection shared an article early this week from a national daily about a telecommunications chairman’s “non-negotiables” in his company’s search for a chief executive officer (CEO). He temporarily assumed the CEO role about a year ago.

Citing that 2016 has been an annus horribilis (a year of disaster or misfortune) for the company, thus the next CEO should be “ready to die” for  the company, he said.

He has to be ready to die for the job, give up his family. Those are my strictures. Work over family. Period. If I could see that in that person, you’re it. You know, there is always a price you pay for the life you choose,” he said.

The reactions on the article my Facebook connection found the famous Philippine corporate leader’s remarks appalling, in light of efforts of more and more companies to strive for work-life balance or holistic employee life, in the hopes such efforts would lead to employee happiness.

As long as you say yes to a major responsibility, it is given that on occasions, the family or other things that matter to you take second or last priority. To say such in public is a turn off to those interested for the job. On top of the company’s reputation, the behavior of its leaders / managers were suddenly put on the spotlight.

At the same time, I see this Chairman / CEO’s point that indeed, there is always “a price you pay for the life you choose.” And he would not be considered successful, a maverick in his field, if not for the things he had to give up to deliver business results.

I can relate to such when I became an Editor in Chief (an executive level role in the company): the pressure was unbelievable; there were occasions I was going home when it was already early morning the next day accomplishing not only editorial tasks but also social media management, among other things; there was a lot of catching up in terms of hitting the week, the month’s targets; on top of making a team work as a team.

But I did not do it alone. My lean team helped. So the success I achieved as an executive is the success of the team as well. It was a teamwork.

A CEO, while calling the major shots, will not be as effective as he / she should be if his / her team is not behind the CEO. On top of making his / her company successful, the CEO must also look after himself / herself.

Thus, the CEO is always pressured to strike a balance between delivering business results and looking after his / her people’s welfare. Addressing such welfare concerns of his / her employees would result in their valued support to the CEO.

Despite such remark, this company will surely find its CEO: he / she must really want the job to do so, and pay the price of a life he / she will get into.

Until next week for a new post. Email ma.lynda.corpuz[a] for feedback.

REDISCOVER 5S (for January 20 – 26, 2014)

Because last week was rough, I was not able to do my 5S.

Let me make it up to you this week. Again, my 5S covers:

Scenes (Films, theater)
Servings (Food, drinks)
Sights (Destinations, festivities, holidays, landmarks, places)
Soothe (Relaxation, rejuvenation, wellness)
Sounds (Concerts, music)

To add to Soothe, Spiritual and related picks will be included.

Scenes: Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz

Yes, the highly anticipated, well-loved musical is opening this week. And a quick look at Ticketworld site shows that indeed this is a huge magical production to see (limited seats!). So if you’re a fan or curious about what the hype is all about (and the hype is worth it apparently), then this is a must.

Servings: Tully’s Coffee

Tully’s Coffee is a good alternative: they also offer WiFi, they serve savory treats, cakes and pastries, and on a night that you are at their The Exchange Regency branch (along Meralco corner Exchange Road and Jade Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City), you might be serenaded by a youth chorale and after, solicit from you (they sang and played beautifully though so that was fine). The place is spacious, well-lit, and not crowded (around 8 to 9 p.m. I was there on a Wednesday night). It is worth to give the place a try.

Scenes: JOYous Visual Trick Arts Gallery

This is the place for selfies — with so many visual tricks aided by technology to liven up your snapshots! The JOYous Visual Trick Arts Gallery offers the latest 3D artworks to the Filipinos, an interactive way to appreciate — and “be in” the experience. So, selfie there!

Soothe: The Spa

Still reeling from the holiday stress? And greeted with tons to do upon return to work? De-stress and head to the nearest The Spa and avail any of their massages or alternative wellness treatment. If you also want to get fit and fab this 2014, you can try their BARRE3, a 60-minute workout that has the combination of the grace of ballet, the wisdom of yoga, and the strength of Pilates. Their studios are located inside The Spa Wellness Alabang, Eastwood, The Fort, Rockwell, and Trinoma branches.

Sounds: Boublil and Schönberg’s Do You Hear the People Sing?

This is a powerhouse. The tickets though are steeply priced but it is for a truly worthy cause.

The first time to be staged in the Philippines and as a benefit concert, Do You Hear the People Sing? has been well received around the globe and is fully supported by Boublil and Schönberg, Enda Markey, and IMG Artists. The Philippine shows are on Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30, 2014, 8 p.m. at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila.

The stellar cast includes Tony Award winner Lea Salonga (Kim in Miss Saigon and both Eponine and Fantine in Les Misérables); David Harris (one of the most acclaimed leading men in Australia); and Marie Zamora (the original Cosette in the Paris production of Les Misérables). All the artists are performing pro bono to support a worthy cause: proceeds shall go to rebuilding programs for the survivors of supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Check Ticketworld for prices.

So, there goes my 5S. What’s your pick?

Disclaimer: Details such as date, time, and venue of shows/events cited are valid as of this writing. Prices subject to change without prior notice. This is a non-sponsored post.

REDISCOVER 5S (for January 6 – 12, 2014)

Yes, 5S: Starting this new year, I am posting here my picks for:

Scenes (Films, theater)
Servings (Food, drinks)
Sights (Destinations, festivities, holidays, landmarks, places)
Soothe (Relaxation, rejuvenation, wellness)
Sounds (Concerts, music)

Yes, I thought that if I have the time and the budget, I will experience such in a week. And if I did, I will post a review after. It’s about sharing experience — all through 5s. And if you have recommendations, let me know.

And for starters, here are my picks:

Scenes: Wait Until Dark

Wait Until Dark Poster (Poster-18x24) v1

Wait Until Dark (Poster downloaded from the Repertory Philippines website)

2014 is Repertory Philippines’ 47th year, and it kicks off its 77th season with Wait Until Dark. “A thriller by Frederick Knott, Wait Until Dark revolves around Sam Hendrix, who carries a doll across the Canada-US border that sets of a chain of events that will lead to a terrifying ordeal for his blind wife, Susy,” the teaser reads.

When: Friday, January 17 to Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Time: 3:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. (varies)

Where: Onstage Theater
2/F, Greenbelt Mall 1
Paseo de Roxas St., Makati City

Price: Gold (Reserved Seating) – PHP 625.20; Silver (Free Seating) – PHP 521; Bronze (Free Seating); PHP 416.80. Tickets available at Ticketworld.

Servings: Red Buffalo Wings and Pizza

It has been almost two years since I last tried this, ergo the craving. From what I remember, the food tasted good. The serving is right (for my appetite at least). And to cater to the BPO crowd in Eastwood (its second and newest branch, located at G/F Eastwood City Walk 1, Eastwood Cyberpark, E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave. Bagumbayan, Quezon City), Red Buffalo Wings and Pizza offers Solo Lunch Meal of RB Wings (3 pcs. wings with rice for PHP105.00; add PHP30.00 for 14 oz. House Blend Iced Tea)  and RB Fried Chicken ( 1 pc. fried chicken with rice for PHP 105.00; add PHP30.00 for 14 oz. House Blend Iced Tea).

It also has RB Lunch Group Meals (Group A has 10 pcs. wings, choice of Three-cheese and Garlic or Pepperoni pizza, Chicken Alfredo, home-made fries, and 1.5L Coke for PHP795.00 or  Group Meal B of 10 pcs. wings, All Meat Pizza or RB’s Special, Spaghetti & Meatballs, home-made fries and 1.5L Coke for PHP895.00).

The lunch meals promo is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and not valid on holidays. Their pioneer branch is located at Unit 11 Greenhills Towncenter, #2 Granada St., Valencia, Quezon City.

Sights: Feast of Black Nazarene

Thursday, January 9, 2014 is the feast day of the Black Nazarene. The annual religious festivities draw millions of crowd — from devotees, tourists — even skeptics. The procession lasted to almost 24 hours in recent years. The casualties from the procession are also increasing. Traffic is at its heaviest. But despite such, many still flock to at least get a glimpse of the miraculous image.

Here is a link for traffic updates for this year’s procession.

My personal take on the occasion is posted here.

Soothe: January Zumba Party

Help shed those unwanted weight gained over the holidays as SM City Fairview holds a zumba party on January 11, 18, and 25, 2014, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at The Palm Drive. For details, check the mall’s Facebook page.

Sounds: “The Four Seasons”

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) kicks off 2014 with its fifth concert for its current season. Dubbed “The Four Seasons,” it will feature Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Nielsen’s Symphony No. 2, “The Four Temperaments” under the baton of the national orchestra’s music director and chief conductor, Olivier Ochanine. Soloist will be Joanna Ruth Livioco on violin (and another soloist to be announced, according to Ticketworld).

When: Friday, January 17, 2014

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Where: Meralco Theater
Ortigas Ave. cor. Meralco Ave., Pasig City

Price: Price Zone 1: PHP 1,545; Price Zone 2: PHP 1,236; Price Zone 3: PHP 515. Ticket prices from Ticketworld. Fifty percent discount for students. Present your ID upon purchasing over the counter and show ID upon entering the show venue. Not available on internet purchase.

So, there goes my 5S. What’s your pick?

Disclaimer: Details such as date, time, and venue of shows/events cited are valid as of this writing. Prices subject to change without prior notice. This is a non-sponsored post.

REDISCOVER Independence

Google's contribution to the 115th Philippine Independence Day celebration

A screen grab of Google’s contribution to the 115th Philippine Independence Day celebrations


It has been 115 years since Emilio Aguinaldo declared our independence from Spain and the surrounding events that led to it are still a subject of controversy until now: that it was too premature for Aguinaldo to claim independence on behalf of the country, when the Americans followed occupation, the World War I and World War II happened, the Japanese came, too.

Thus the debate that we should be celebrating our independence on July 4 instead of June 12 is valid, though at times we might think: does the date really matter if we do not really act, feel, think as free individuals?

Early this morning, a friend from Sweden asked me via Skype how do I celebrate Independence Day. I told him when I was in school, there were the mandatory flag raising ceremonies, declamation or oratorical contests with independence as theme, the Girl Scout-led or Citizen’s Military Training activities, the field trips to historical sites. But I do not do any of those now.

The chat I had with my friend made me think: Am I really free? Are we really deserving of the freedom our heroes fought for us?

Individually, we claim independence when we finished school and move away from our parents’ guidance.

We tie ourselves to the tyranny of our jobs.

We depend on our salaries to live.

We are up to our necks paying the bills, consolidating debts, owing more to satisfy the lifestyle we set for ourselves.

We stay in a relationship even if it is not worth it because we do not want to be physically alone and intimacy starved.

As a consolation to ourselves, we declare freedom from our daily grind on national holidays like today or the long weekends or max out our leaves from work.

And most likely, our way of celebrating our country’s Independence Day anniversary today is lining up for the Man of Steel opening day.

Regardless, what we have now is a choice we made. The decisions our country’s leaders make definitely affect us. But we must responsibly, individually claim our independence as conscientious, law-abiding, God-respecting Filipinos and citizens of the world.

As our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal aptly puts it:

Our liberty will not be secured at the sword’s point… We must secure it by making ourselves worthy of it. And when the people reaches that height, God will provide a weapon, the idols will be shattered, tyranny will crumble like a house of cards, and liberty will shine out like the first dawn.

Let us all work for our freedom, one task at a time.

Let us all share the blessings of being free, even in the littlest way we can.

Let us all grow ourselves, free of pain, hurt, and our dark pasts.

Let us all look forward to our brightest future. And that brightest future will only happen if we start now.

REDISCOVER Forecasts for 2013 Year of the Black Water Snake


So it was another opportunity yesterday, February 10, Chinese New Year to craft or renew resolutions for the year, arm yourself with all the lucky charms you could get your hands on, and wish upon that bright star that all the good things would come your way this 2013.

Surely, you have checked your forecast for 2013. Is it good? Is it bad? Mine is a mix, and I think the same goes for most of the zodiacs in the Chinese astrology, especially since the Year of the Black Water Snake is not, according to forecasts, as auspicious as last year’s Year of the Water Dragon.

If I remember right, most forecasts for my zodiac last year were positive, but, well, they mostly did not all happen to me. But if I am to believe this analogy, those born in the Year of the Monkey (yours truly) can control  the Snake. So does that mean I have a better year this 2013? Hmm … interesting “prophecy.”

For curiosity’s sake, the following are the forecasts for my zodiac (interspersed with my reactions):


Relationships. Usually your love life is so-so in a Snake year, not good, not bad (ahuh, ahuh). Not really a good time for finding love or breaking up, just stay the course (OK …). If you see an opportunity to shift romance into a higher gear, go for it. (All right!) You’d be wise to run as fast as you can whenever you see an argument arising (yes, I am a peace-loving person). Instead, let the other person in on your own inside joke. Once you let them into your inner circle, fun times will come easily.

Health. You have quite a few high points ahead of you this year. Balance is the key to your good health, starting with your diet (ditto). Be sure to stay away from the fatty oils and eat more fresh fruits and veggies. (What about desserts?) Give your immune system a boost with the right vitamins and supplements. A little Omega 3 might be just what the doctor ordered (tuna overload, eh). You should also try to get in some physical activities, whether it is a nice walk in the park or a good workout in the gym (I know, I know, must jog regularly).

Wealth. Don’t monkey around with your money this year! It’s way too risky for you to take chances (risk-averse here when it comes to money). You may find yourself pulled toward one investment opportunity or another, but your best bet is to just pass and wait for another day (not unless wisely advised, I would not do anything stupid to squander whatever little I have). Be especially cautious when it comes to business ventures and partnerships (not business-minded here, this is not applicable then). Now more than ever you need to do your due diligence and be very careful about who you are working with.


Mischievous Monkey: A Snake year stimulates Monkey’s quick-wit and sense of humor and others take notice. Should a hint of infidelity raise its ugly head, run do not walk to the nearest exit (yep, just did that). Physical exercise is a must (OK, I get it, I must, I must exercise).

From (the “tips to reduce bad energy” are also for those born in the years of Snake, Tiger, and Pig):

  • If a female has animal sign Snake, Pig, Tiger or Monkey between 18 – 45 years old and is giving birth in the Year of Snake, this will reduce a lot of bad energy and trouble for her naturally (aahh, this sounds partially true, ask my OBs about it).
  • Do more exercises and make sure there is sweating for every exercise (yes, I so get it now!)
  • Be more active and think positively (yes, that is the mantra). Go out and see more people and make new friends (yes, doing that, more proactively). Be more generous to others (I am trying to especially if money is involved).
  • Donation of blood or having a blood test done in May and November will help reduce some bad energy (cannot donate blood, I am anemic. Blood tests, becoming a pro here).
  • Be nice to your parents (yes, told myself to be more understanding to my mother), father or mother-in-law or other elderly people. Even telephone them more often will bring you better luck, especially for the money as there will be great help from an elder female (money from an elder female … hmm …).
  • Be more flexible and open minded to yourself and others (yes, I am a work in progress in this department). Be respectful and do not just think of yourself. Change the word Ego to Equal.

Monkey not only combines but also has a Penalty with the Year of the Snake. There will be more opportunities turn up and meeting new friends. There is a lucky star call “Nation Seal” (國印) in the Monkey’s palace. The “Nation Seal” gives the Monkey more power and control in the Year of the Snake. Particularly for those Monkeys who have a female supervisor or boss (really now …). Combine means new partnerships and new joint ventures. However don’t be greedy or otherwise you may gain money and lose your friend which may lead to a lawsuit (ah-ah, no way I am going to have one). Beware of smear or slander and implicated by others in February (yes, I am aware of this but that one person and that one involved with him are the ones that have to be punished if ever, not me. I wish that wishing them well would be enough for them to leave me alone).

Health: Liver, back, respiratory system (back, yes, not aware of pre-existing liver or respiratory problems here).

Wealth: Recovering (yes!)


The Monkey in Love. There may be some turmoil in your love life this 2013 Year of the Snake, but it’s all good in the end, Monkey. The Chinese 2013 horoscope is proof positive that you need to trust your instincts and trust the cosmos. If you’re currently in a relationship then there are typically two things that could happen: you could stay together or break up.

Either way, you’ll sail through it smoothly. Those who are destined to remain together will see their relationships strengthened and their ability to deal with issues become even better. Those who simply aren’t perfect for one another will see an amicable end to a relationship that wasn’t bad, but wasn’t the right one for you either (this is an open-ended thing for me, but this must have a closure soonest).

Single Monkeys can expect a great problem in 2013: too many suitors! (Modesty aside, admirers are a welcome break for me lately). Don’t make a rash decision and get into a relationship too quickly, because you will have other options available. That said, don’t be afraid to commit when the right person comes alone. You’ll know them when you see them (I certainly hope so). It’s not always true, but the Chinese 2013 horoscope for Monkey shows us that this year, if you aren’t sure about a relationship than there is a good reason for that.

The Monkey at Work. Work will be what you make of it this 2013 Year of the Snake. Are you happy at your current job? Then keep doing what you’ve been doing and things will remain smooth (OK …). Sure, some other employees may come and go, but for the most part your work flow and duties will remain the same as long as you continue to provide the same quality of work.

On the other hand, if 2013 Year of the Black Snake is the year that you’re ready to make a change, then don’t be afraid to go for it! Embrace it. You may want to stay with the same company but move into a different department or a position with more responsibility (oh … as if this read my plan and probably eavesdropped with one of my meetings with my manager, eh). If that’s the case, then make sure your boss knows you’re ready to move up.

If they won’t give you the opportunity to prove yourself, then take it upon yourself to find a way. For example, take on extra work – but make sure they know you’re doing it! One of the biggest pitfalls you could see in the Chinese 2013 horoscope for Monkey is not taking the proper credit for your work (indeed, give to Caesar what is due to Caesar). If you’re working hard, then there’s nothing wrong with your boss knowing it.

Overall the 2013 Year of the Black Snake is going to be a truly fantastic year. Not all Chinese horoscope signs are this lucky, that’s for sure, and not all years will be this great for you. The Chinese 2013 horoscope for Monkey shows us that when it comes to banner years, they do come up once in a while. Just make sure you take steps to take full advantage of the opportunities coming your way.

From (per interview with feng shui expert Maritess Allen):

Year of the Monkey – 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, and 2004

The luck of Monkeys this year will be average but their wealth prospects will improve (please!)

The Monkey will also be one of the unlucky ones in terms of health and afflictions (oh-oh). Chances are, Allen said, they have started feeling the bad health vibes as early as 3 weeks before (aahh, if my migraine episodes are to be cited, then this sounds true), in the same way that other unlucky signs this year have begun to feel their strength draining.

But it’s not all gloom and doom for Monkeys as they will have an “unexpected success” in the Year of the Water Snake (yes, success this year and beyond).

It’s not all about luck

Yes, I read these forecasts. I even interviewed Allen about two years ago and wrote about her forecasts relating to health. But the journalist in me tells me to simply read my forecast, shrug it off, and work dutifully to achieve the visions I set for myself for the new year.

Online sources abound so you can go and check your forecast.  However, even feng shui experts advise that charms are nothing if we do not work our way to success. Luck is only 1/3 of it: luck, plus work and prayers go a long way altogether. It all depends on what actions are you planning to undertake; if are you ready to face the consequences of your actions; and how swift are you to move forward and make things better for you and all.

Forecasts aside, let us all prosper this 2013 and beyond.

REDISCOVER The Phantom of the Opera Manila (Update 2)

No wonder it runs for 26 years now. The Phantom of the Opera is simply magical.

The world-renowned musical created by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and which was originally directed by Harold Prince, embarked on a world tour as part of its 25th anniversary that kicked off last year. The tour is currently in Manila, Philippines, and is on a super extended run until Sunday, October 14, and soon after, the tour flies to Seoul, South Korea.

Filipinos — from young and old — and expats and diplomats and among other “who’s who” — flocked to see the musical that first made headlines in West End and Broadway. (Apparently, this was not the first time it was staged in the Philippines as mostly publicized, because The Phantom first set foot here in 1997, if Wikipedia got it right. This writer tries to find proof of this but a the moment, her online searches yielded no verifiable results.)

Audiences waiting at the CCP Main Theater Lobby, minutes before the show starts

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Theater was filled to full capacity on Sunday, September 30, matinee show. The Filipino audience did not scrimp on expressing their appreciation of the talents (mostly from the South African run of the musical) performing for them, and you could hear the gushes and oohhs as the opulent, multi-million worth stage design transforms magically from one scene, from act to another. This was also the same stage set used in the South African staging of the musical.

The thunderous applause and wild cheers during more popular numbers like the hauntingly rock-ish The Phantom of the Opera (where the Phantom brings Christine to his lair), the truly soulful serenade, The Music of the Night, and the lovebirds’ duet, All I Ask of You, proved that the audiences got what they paid for, as the tickets were pricey. (As noticed, it almost shoot to 100 percent versus ticket prices for Mamma Mia! The Smash Hit Musical staged in the same venue early 2012).

The mask, the brand

The mask that is identifiable with the disfigured, musical genius Erik The Phantom, has also became an iconic brand over the years.

Taken during the break, and photos shot from the best angle possible. From left topmost: audiences started to come in; the stage before the show; audiences after the well-applauded performance; the grand chandelier and opulent stage

Wherever it goes, the mask, the musical re-creates its splendor: from the talents that on a par with the original Phantom Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman as the first Christine Daae; to a very grand stage design and colorful, incredibly beautiful costumes originally done by the late Maria Björnson; to hiring local talents for the cast and crew as the world tour’s immersion in their host country and to share knowledge and expertise with them — all these made a winning formula resulting in mostly sold-out performances.

From drab to fab: that was how the CCP Main Theater stage was transformed.

From this writer was seated, she keeps figuring out how did the tall candelabras and the seemingly floating candles appeared on the stage’s floor, as seen when The Phantom and Christine crossed a subterranean lake; or how the chandelier fell (it did not fall exactly, it was a few inches away from the floor much to the dismay of an audience member whom this writer heard ranting). But hey, it was still stunning how it was hoisted up with all the blindingly techno lights and the roaring, frightening overture accompanying it; or how The Phantom’s voice reverberated in the entire theater during the Notes and Notes/Twisted Every Way numbers; how the well-adorned stage transforms — during the Hannibal number, and Masquerade, Don Juan Triumphant, and most especially, to The Phantom’s ghostly lair; or where The Phantoms suddenly appears — from the uppermost beam that supports that two heavily adorned columns set on stage or from the angel that was lowered and hoisted up again as from where The Phantom maniacally sings his wrath (All I Ask of You Reprise/Chandelier Crash) or how he disappeared from his seat and all Meg Giry saw left was his mask (actually, we were waiting for The Phantom to appear exactly in front of us).

Talents abound

South-African Jonathan Roxmouth headlines the Manila tour as The Phantom.

To set the expectations, it is unfair to the young, talented thespian to be compared with Crawford (or any actor who played or will play Phantom). As heard from most of the elderly audiences yesterday who apparently have seen Crawford performed and found Roxmouth’s portrayal lacking.

Roxmouth dealt with the antihero in the best way he knows how: while The Phantom was a tormented, angry being, and which were wholly portrayed as such by other actors who played this well-beloved musical theater lead, Roxmouth made his version of The Phantom rightfully more human. He was maniacal when he needed to be, he begged for kindness and love that you could not possibly ignore him. Roxmouth stamps his mark as The Phantom, as how Ramin Karimloo made his Phantom 25th anniversary performance at the Royal Albert Hall truly memorable.

Roxmouth is definitely a skilled singer, but there were times his voice was strained or drowned when he sings along with Christine (played by Emilie Lynn, the alternate to Claire Lyon). His version of The Music of the Night was in itself sorrowful, sympathetic, and merited his own, new legion of fans now from this side of the globe. During the curtain call, you could hear Roxmouth saying “whew!” a show that he was seemingly amazed by the thunderous, endless, applause they were receiving.

Raoul was played by another South African actor, Anthony Downing. The general consensus was that the stage actor is dashing. But more than the looks, Downing sang All I Ask of You not just to express his love, devotion, and promise to protect Christine, but he seemingly sang it to each and every audience watching, listening, mesmerized with him. And the audience felt it and they responded via social media: a Twitter account for Downing was made by his gushing Filipino fans (@AntDowningPH).

Lynn was not “only” an alternate to Lyon (who apparently was sick and did not make it to her Sunday performance), for she is Christine Daae in her own right. The beautiful stage actress (who also holds a modeling portfolio) unbelievably sings powerfully. She hit the truly high notes in The Phantom of the Opera number, which is indeed a very difficult one but her version made it on a par with that of Brightman — and most recently, of Sierra Boggess’ rendition in the 25th anniversary edition of The Phantom. While the usual reaction was disappointment when audiences “only” watched an alternate performed, yesterday’s reaction to Lynn’s performance was “She was ‘just’ an alternate? No kidding!” She amazingly delivered. Of course, this writer is still curious how Lyon tackles the role of Christine.

Downing and Lynn made a beautiful pair on stage, but the chemistry is not that palpable. Surely, they can still work it out and make themselves more endearing. Overall, the pair made a very good impression.

The rest of the cast was equally talented as well: from Pauline du Plessis (as Carlotta Guidicelle, the Paris Opera House diva); Rebecca Spencer (as ballet headmistress Madame Giry); to Thabiso Masemene (as Ubaldo Piangi, with Filipino tenor Dondi Ong as alternate); to ballet dancer and Christine’s friend, Meg Giry (played by Cat Lane, who like any Meg before her, bears that template of a curious, schoolgirl-like semblance).

Arts and music for all

The lasting prowess of The Phantom of the Opera lies in the fact that it is timeless. It cuts across generations. It is truly universal that the audiences the world over learned to love what is supposedly a sad, tormented oeuvre based on the novel, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux.

What makes this Manila cast of The Phantom of the Opera more endearing to the Filipino audience is they harness the power of social media. During their free time, they respond to queries/tweets to them. They are stars who are within reach.

Indeed, when an art was properly executed from vision to action, properly migrated and positioned from one medium to another, it would definitely yield good business for years, as The Phantom of the Opera exemplifies.

It will be noteworthy to see how Love Never Dies (the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera) will be received by the Filipino audiences. But this writer thinks this is not going to happen soon. But she could be wrong.

Of course, my souvenir photo. And for someone who covered CCP events in the past and toured the building as part of her job as a lifestyle and entertainment writer, why, at this very occasion, I forgot about the stage door? Why? Sigh ….

Wondering now what is the next big hit production to see here in 2013?

For ticket inquiries, check Ticketworld.

The Phantom of the Opera will run until Sunday, October 14, 2012.

Photos by the author unless stated otherwise.

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