“kanser@35: the musical”, the review: of ashes, fire, wisdom… and love!


Where are the real Filipinos now? Where do they hide and live? Where have all the intensity for Patriotism gone?

Did they live in the hearts of the Filipino youths of today? Or, like in the ending of the most powerful musical play ever staged in the history of Philippine Theater- “Kanser@35, The Musical” – the ashes of those great Filipinos who lived somewhere in time were scattered by the wind and dived deep into the ocean of infinity?

Where have all the true Filipinos’ hearts and souls lived? Were the sacrifices of all our Filipino ancestors left unnoticed and unloved? Or did they stay amidst the heart of one true great nation?

The fire didn’t simply extinguished. It stayed into the hearts of every Nationalistic Filipino, wanting change, justice and equality. Up to now.

The wisdom also lingered on. As long as the memory of one Crisostomo Ibarra or one Dr. Jose Rizal’s book on LOVE for his fellow Filipinos would be cherished in schools and universities.

But were they for real? And for keeps?

These are the questions that a blogger asked for himself after he watched the 35th year of presentation of the longest-running play to date in the history of legitimate stage production. And it now turned into a musical play- that is, “Kanser@35, The Musical”.

The all too-tragic ending of this musical play left one blogger into the sea of absolute eternity. It’s the kind of an artistic energy that made him dig deeper into the fathoms of his very soul. As he waned to stay there more longer, cherishing a long-forgotten past of his Filipino identity. That kind of an artistic presentation that would want you to be gone for some time, because you lingered so much with your innermost feelings of passion, rage- and LOVE.

And that was it. For years he had been searching for the BEST. That kind of awesome feeling of wonderment. With a unison of specific craftsmanship- from the musical director, the choreographer, the stage design, the lighting, the stage blocking, the acting of the actors, and most of all, the direction. It’s the kind of unity that mixed all too-well, and the taste became so excellent.

We need not say now the names of the specific people involved in this great theatrical production, for they already know who they are. We bow to you, great artistic people of Gantimpala Theater Foundation. But we must not fail to mention the name of someone- Mr. Jun Pablo- who supported them all right from the very start. Without him, this rare kind of theater production won’t be put into reality.

Director Franniel Zamora, the director of this musical version of the classic adaptation on Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere, made us transform into a “chameleon”, because he made us ride into a time machine- back into the past- well deep into the mind and heart of one Crisostomo Ibarra.

Direk Franniel’s vision was clearly seen through the scenes, the texture, the color, the power. He executed the scenes with proper care and love, so magnetic to look at, so transforming-but oh, so real.

We so love the scene of Ibarra and Elias as they rode together on a small boat- talking about their contrasting ideas on bravery and Nationalism. Next to it were those romantic scenes of Ibarra with Maria Clara. Very simple scenes, but overpowering with words of love.

Vien Alen King as Elias, Kate Alejandrino and Michaela Fajardo as Sisa, Norman Penaflorinda as Alperes and of course, Ms. Myramae Menesses as Maria Clara- yes, they were all too great in their portrayals as the classic characters of one great novel. Vien’s timing and raw emotions comprehended much with his interactions to his fellow actors, Kate and Michaela provided proper characterizations both as Sisa, Norman stole scenes every time he appeared on stage and Ms. Menesses’ voice was overwhelming and penetrating.

But on the end, one great new actor provided the very “soul” of this great (again, we repeat) musical play. Its lead actor, Michael Pangilinan is so far, the most intense, credible, sensitive, alluring and delicate kind of Crisostomo Ibarra that we had watched on stage. His kind of rawness and youthful attack on the Ibarra character was amazing, refreshing and all too-powerful to the naked eye. Kudos to you, Michael!

After we watched the play, we were commuted into a variety of feelings and we were gone in ecstatic zeniths of appreciation. This seldom happens to an artist-writer like us. It only means that, our thirst and our quench for the performing arts were truly delivered and fulfilled. It was a SPLASH!

Thank you, Gantimpala Theater Foundation for being the one to deliver that kind of artistic enchantment on me. We love you all, GTF people. More power!!



(words by robert manuguid silverio)

micahel pngilinan: the most delicate Crisostomo Ibarra
micahel pngilinan: the most delicate Crisostomo Ibarra
direk franniel zamora: a unique vision
direk franniel zamora: a unique vision


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