“I’m not talking to you.”

Sa sentence na ito medyo naramdamdam kong ayaw akong kausapin ni muder Floy. Pero slight lang. Natapos kasi ang run ng kanyang “Atang” na di ko napanood.

“Baket? Ilang ulit ba akong nagtanong kung kailan ako manonood, lagi mong sabi tatawagan mo ako pero never ka tumawag”, resbak ko.

Silence.

“Sige i’m talking to you na”

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So Atang was a big hit at finally napanood ko siya, twice pa, sa re-run niya. One with Sharmaine Buencamino as Atang, and the other with Frances Ignacio.

On first viewing, i felt Sharmaine’s Atang was too controlled… to mellowed. But compared to Frances’s more fiery Atang, i kinda liked Sharmaine’s interpretation more. I felt kasi that while Frances’s acted out Atang, Sharmaine inhabited the role. While Frances seems playing to the audience, Sharmaine was ako-si-atang-keber-ko-kung-may-nanonood-diyan mode.

Well, in fairness naman to Frances, nung napanood ko siya, puno ng jogets ang audience. Jogets na mukhang required viewing ang Atang so nandun sila because they had to, not because they want to…. including yung ukininanam na katabi kong super text sa gitna ng play na nungsinaway ng kabarkada niya, ang sagot ba naman eh, “paki ko, nagbayad naman ako dito”. That was the kind of audience Frances had to deal with. She got the jogets-jologs crowd na nagmamadaling lumabas ng theater para makapag-trinoma pa while Sharmaine got Lea Salonga,the Ayala Zobels and the standing-ovation crowd. 

If i remember right, the role of Gia/Atang was written with Kris Villongco in mind. Kaso Kris chose Hongkong Disneyland kesa magpaka-starving artist sa Pinas so hello to she-who-will-not-be-costume-jewelled at hindi magugutom maski magpaka-artist dito sa pinas, Ayen Munji-Laurel. Buti na lang may brillo rin ang performance niya in total fairness at lumelevel sa trulili kung truliling mga brillantes ng lola niyo na nakikipaglabanan sa lighting design sa kinang. Parang, hello, may chandelier ba siya sa dibdib?

Of course narinig niyo nang nanlamon sa nag-iisang eksena niya si Bituin Escalante bilang Katy dela Cruz. Buti na lang, written-in na Katy was supposed to make lamon Atang in the scene talaga. Pero eksenadora ang Bituin, exiting stage left na siya, nanlalamon pa rin ng eksena. Napansin ko lang pala sa curtain call, in case na may gagawa ng stageplay tungkol kay Carmen Patena, pasok na pasok si Bituin dyan i swear.

The play is about the life of Atang dela Rama, na apparently was the first Phhilippine Superstar ever. See the semblance to Ate Vi? Naisip ko tuloy, was the pinoy public predisposed to idolizethis face? Hmm. Discuss.


Star of the First Season …Star for All Season

In 1917, at the age of 14 raw ay nagbida si Atang sa hit na sarsuelang Dalagang Bukid bilang ang donselyang si Angelita. By 1926, about nine year later, so 23 na si Atang, siya ang title role sa sarsuelang “Ang Kiri”! Ayyy!!!

Ewan ko ha pero sa kinalakhan ko in the 1980’s, ang “kiri” ay to the max na leveling ng kalandian:  landitay as in medyo malandi…. lanturay as in truling malandi…  at kiri as in landi-landi ever. 1980’s yun, imagine ko na lang kung ano ang levelling ng kiri noon…Pokpok? Babaeng malibog?

From what i gathered sa play, parang babaeng malibog nga si Atang. Or rather, babaeng may libog. May libog sa buhay, lust for life. She lived her life and loved her loves, unrepentantly.

But beyond just chronicling the life of one national artist, i think the play Atang is an indictment of pinoy pop culture today. A culture of scandal sheets, paparazzi, and phone and internet scandals that is producing a generation of disposable stars.

Kung gusto mong sumikat agad, ibalandra mo lahat, pati minudensya mo. Pagkakaguluhan ka, pagpipyestahan ka. Sisikat ka.Pero pag wala nang misteryo pang mabubulat, malilimutan ka rin agad dahil mayroon laging mas bagong gustong sumikat at handang magbulatlat at hubarin ang misteryo ng ng kanilang pagkatao para sa ilang segundo nila sa entablado….habang ikaw naman ngayo’y nasa likod na lamang, pinupulot ang pirapiraso ng hinimay mong pagkatao, pilit binubuo muli ang basag nang misteryo.

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