Ma. Glaiza Lee, Contributor

The spirit of Seoul

Although beer has been gaining popularity in recent years, soju remains the drink of choice for most Koreans because of its availability and relatively cheaper price. Everything I know about the Korean drinking culture I learned from going on hoesik while staying in Seoul, the capital of Korea, a few years back. If you watch Korean dramas, you would probably notice scenes in which office employees would head to a dinner place to eat, have a beer, then move to another place for round two with soju, and end at a noraebang (Korean karaoke room) for other alcoholic drinks. That’s hoesik for you. Hoesik literally means “dinner with co-workers,” but for the most part it is an eating and drinking party involving rounds of alcohol at different venues. The Korean drinking culture reflects the country’s social structure, traditions and lifestyle. Most foreigners are quite hesitant to join hoesik, especially if they see how strong drinkers Koreans are and how the so-called drinking party goes on through the night. During my first hoesik with my Korean and foreign journalist friends, everyone had to fill a beer glass to the brim, drop a shot of soju and down it in one go. And that was just the beginning. Imagine doing this every week! It would surely make foreigners find excuses to bow out. But once a person understands the meaning behind it, appreciation kicks in. You see, drinking in Korea is more than just chugging bottles after bottles of alcohol. Drinking is a way to get to know someone. Offering someone a glass of maekju (beer) or a shot of soju is like an invitation to open up. Going to hoesik involves learning the Korean drinking etiquette. The Korean society is quite strict when it comes to drinking manners. This is why parents would really spend time teaching their children who have come of age how to drink. Drinking manners How one pours and receives drinks are important. Hierarchy also plays a big role in drinking. Koreans usually identify the “higher” person in the relationship — someone older or someone with a higher position — and defer to them accordingly. When a younger person gives a drink an older person, s/he has to offer it respectfully, with two hands holding the bottle. Raising the glass or pouring alcohol with one hand signifies that that someone has seniority. When receiving drinks from a much older person, hold the glass with two hands — the right hand holding the glass, the left hand supporting the glass bottom — and bow the head slightly, saying, “Gamsahamnida (Thank you).” After receiving the drinks, hit the bottle and put it down. If a senior person is pouring, don’t drink yet until someone has poured the senior a shot. When all the glasses are full, raise your glass, say “Geonbae!” and drink. It is customary to drink the first drink in one shot. While chugging the shot, turn your body away from the elder person, and cover your mouth and glass with one hand. It is rude to have an empty glass. When it is already empty, the drinker should hand the glass back to the person who poured the drink for him/her. In exchange, the drinker would pour him/her a shot. Refusing a drink is considered rude, unless you have absolute and airtight reason. Saying “I don’t like soju” won’t cut it; you need a better excuse than that. You can either accept the drink and discreetly get rid of it, or use the Black Knight or Black Rose. As the name suggests, the Black Knight is someone who can come to your rescue and drink it for you. Using this alternative resort also means that that person can get a wish from you. The leading spirit Although beer has been gaining popularity in recent years, soju remains the drink of choice for most Koreans because of its availability and relatively cheaper price. Statistics show that more than three billion bottles were consumed in South Korea in 2004, with one person drinking an average of 13.7 shots per week. In 2006, an average Korean approximately consumed 90 bottles of soju in a year. Soju, which means “burned liquor,” traces its roots to the Goryeo dynasty. After the Mongol invasions in the 13th century, the Yuan introduced the technique of distilling arak, which they learned from the Persians, to the Korean Peninsula. They set up distilleries around Gaegyeong. When the Yuan Mongols established their logistics base in Andong, it also became the center of home-brewed liquor. To make soju, the winemaker would crush and mix the dried grains with water. Then, the mixture would be filtered and fermented for 15 days. The aged liquor would then be boiled in a sot (cauldron), topped with soju gori, a two-storied distilling apparatus with a pipe. The result would be a clear, colorless alcoholic beverage with about 16 to 53 percent alcohol by volume. Traditionally, soju is made from rice, wheat and barley. However, during the Korean War, with the diminishing supply, distilling liquor using rice was banned. Hence, the soju producers found alternative ingredients such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and tapioca and mixed them with flavorings and sweeteners, resulting in diluted soju with lower alcohol content. Even when the ban was lifted in the late 1990s, most producers have stick to the alternative starches. By the 2000s, soju began to dominate the global alcohol market, with Jinro leading the pack, followed by Chum Churum and Good Day. All three made it to the Top 100 Global Spirits Brands in 2016. Since its launch in 1924, Jinro has been consistently named the number one soju brand in Korea and has played an important role in establishing and evolving Korean drinking culture. Currently, Jinro soju holds more than 50 percent of the Korean market share. Globally, Jinro has been the world’s best-selling soju for 12 consecutive years, with over 71 million cases sold. In 2016, its Chamisul soju reached the one trillion won (US$882 million) sale mark, with 1.7 billion bottles sold since it was launched in 1998. Make it light With Jinro’s superb taste and quality, pushed by the Hallyu phenomenon, the spirit of Korea has reached Philippine shores. More and more Filipinos appreciate Korean drinks, especially with the renaissance of Hallyu in the Philippines. And this is a trend that Hite Jinro Company wants to capitalize on by introducing a new variant exclusively for the Philippine market. Drinking is an integral part of Korean culture. “Based on our market survey, the Filipino people like to drink, but they don’t want to get drunk immediately. They want to have fun and enjoy their time with friends and family. So, they prefer drinks that are light and easy to consumer. This is the reason we are launching Jinro Light,” shared Jinro’s representative Jason Yoon during its public launch held at Dulo MNL, located in Poblacion, Makati City, recently. He explained that the new soju variant is an extension of Jinro 24. It is part of their effort to further expand into the vast Southeast Asian market. In 2017, a big chunk of soju sales, amounting to US$8.8 million, came from Southeast Asian countries. That was about 180 percent growth from 2015. Unlike regular soju, Jinro Light only has a 17 percent alcohol content, which gives a refreshing kick but is mild enough for an extended drinking experience. “With Jinro Light, the Filipino people can try a new drinking culture. Aside from expanding our brand and offering more options, we want to show the Filipino people the Korean way of drinking,” said Yoon. He explained that the Filipino and Korean drinking cultures are quite different from each other. “In Korea, we drink soju with food. But in the Philippines, when you have dinner, you just have dinner. Then, you drink afterwards. We like to drink our soju straight, but most Filipinos want to drink it as cocktails, slushies or with beer.” Your drink menu While there is no right or wrong way to enjoy soju, there are Korean drinking traditions that prevail. There’s the so-maek, a combination of soju and maekju (beer). Fill a mug with beer, then pour in some soju, stir and drink. Another thing to try is the poktanju or bomb drink. Drop a shot glass of soju into a pint of beer and chug it down. This is quite similar to the Japanese sake bomb. One of my favorite mixes is the yogurt soju. Mix soju, Yakult and Chilsung cider (you can substitute this with Sprite). You can also try the cojinganmaek, which is a good combination of soju, cola and beer. Stack a shot of soju and a shot of cola inside a cup of beer, and you’ll have a unique drinking experience. Do you like Melona, the Korean ice cream? You can mix it with soju and cider for that creamy booze. Need a little perk-me-up? Combine soju, Gatorade and Red Bull (or any energy drink) for that energizing drink. Love coffee? Bring them on. The combination of soju and coffee reminds us of Irish coffee. Like something fruity? Mix your favorite fruit juice with soju. It is like your typical Screwdriver, only you would been using soju instead of vodka. Impress your drinking buddies with subak soju. Get a whole subak (watermelon), cut it in half and start scrapping its fruit from the shell. Pour soju, add some ice, then blend well. Now, you have the perfect party drink. What’s drinking without some anju (small bites) Koreans match their alcohol with certain food. For beer, there’s chicken. This combination is popularly known as chi-maek. Makgeoli (rice wine) is usually paired with jeon (Korean savory pancake). For soju, drink it with samgyeopsal (grilled meat). But the clean taste profile of soju, it can also been paired with our pulutan choices such as sisig, crispy pata and what have you. Whatever your preference is, just raise your glass and bottoms up.

Two and counting

Two years ago, a stunning hotel rose at the edge of Manila Bay. Inspired by the cruise ships passing by the bay, Conrad Manila Hotel exceeds expectations with its unparalleled amenities and authentic services that make every stay unforgettable. Since it opened its doors in 2016, the Hilton Worldwide-operated hotel has become a strong player in the hotel industry, with an increasing room occupancy in its 347 luxurious suites. It has also taken a huge piece on the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) pie, hosting business meetings, events, bridal affairs and what-have-you in its four event halls and two ballrooms, which occupy more than 4,000 square meters. Its restaurants, led by the Brasserie on 3 and China Blue by Jereme Leung, have become favorite dining spots among the Filipino diners, while the Conrad Spa and Fitness Center has been known for its consistent quality service. “It has been an outstanding year of keeping true to our promise of providing inspired stays and becoming a destination of choice for the new generation of sophisticated travelers, offering them service that is intuitive, a world of style and infinite connections,” said general manager Laurent Boisdron. To celebrate this milestone, Boisdron hosted a “Sunset Cocktails” anniversary party at the Conrad Manila Presidential Suite for the hotel’s industry partners, loyal hotel guests and the media. The anniversary cocktail event was a way to show appreciation to those who have supported the hotel since it opened its door. Gracing the event were Hungarian ambassador Dr. Jozsef Bencze, French ambassador Nicolas Galey, Singaporean ambassador Kok Li Peng, US Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Klechsi, Embassy of China Director of Administration Lei Lei Ray, among others. In his speech, Pasay City mayor Antonino Calixto recognized the contribution of Conrad Manila in the city tourism and economy. During its 24 months of operations, the hotel has reaped 24 recognitions, awards and citations from various international, national and local award-giving bodies. Even before its operation started, the structure itself has been awarded the Best Hotel Development, Best Hotel Architectural Design, and Best Hotel Interior Design at the 4th Annual Philippines Property Awards. “We are grateful for the 24 industry awards and recognitions that we have received in a short span of time, including the ASEAN MICE and Green Awards, LEED Gold Certification, and the 2017 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence. We dedicate our second year by looking forward enthusiastically with our collective resolve to nurture Conrad Manila as a caring and compassionate partner of the communities we serve,” said the general manager. The hotel commemorates its second anniversary by showcasing its epicurean delights, coupled with special promos for guest room stays. Conrad Manila launched the “Feasts of Fancy,” a daily themed buffet selections at Brasserie on 3. Every night, executive chef Daniel Patterson takes diner on a satisfying epicurean journey. Fulfill your Chocolatier’s Dream every Monday, or take fancy on the Salmon and Caviar selection on Tuesday. Indulge your carnivorous soul with Prime Meat Raves on Wednesday. The Symphony of the Sea takes over on Thursday. Make it Sear and Sizzle on Friday to Sunday. Experience fine art on a plate, masterfully prepared and served, at China Blue by Jereme Leung, as the Chinese restaurant offers a new collection of imperial culinary treasures. Celebrate with friends over good wine at C Lounge while enjoying the beautiful sunset of Maila Bay and listening to live music. “Inspiring Two is our road map to double our standards for excellence when we serve our guests for their inspired experience at Conrad Manila,” concluded Boisdron.

A woman’s touch

Textures and Terrains For the first time since it opened its doors to the public, Gallery C displays an all-women artists’ group exhibition, titled \"Textures and Terrains,\" on exhibit until September. Part of Conrad Manila\'s month-long second anniversary celebration, the exhibit features works by women artists Olivia d’Aboville, Pardo de Leon and Mac Valdezco. \"[The exhibit] tells a lot about Conrad Manila\'s message of unity with women who embody the attributes of creativity, courage and strength of character,\" shared Conrad Manila general manager Laurent Boisdron. After studying the Conrad art collection, curator Rica and Con Cabrera wanted to focus on the women artists. The pretext of the exhibit, Cabrera explained, is summed up in a question: \"How do female artists work with materials that look masculine?” They selected three that represent different generations of art practices happening today. The three artists were chosen among the artists commissioned by the hotel to complete its art collection, now composed of over 600 contemporary paintings, sculpture, installations and decorative arts. They also represent different materials they are working on. Each practice has a distinct style. Graduated from Duperre, a prestigious textile design school in Paris, Olivia d\'Aboville is equipped with specialized knowledge on tapestry and textile techniques. Her works on exhibit, which belong to the Moonlit Water series, capture the ocean at peace. The artworks, featuring pleated, hand-woven polyester abaca textiles, showcase the artist\'s intense fascination with the ocean, which she developed through the time she spent diving in the waters of Puerto Galera. She recreates its light, fluidity and movement using various materials. Pardo de Leon, meanwhile, has been known for her abstractions. A Thirteen Artists Awards in 1988, the Baguio-based artist fuses spirituality and nostalgia in her works. Displayed at the Gallery C is her Triptych: Room of the Three Suns, depicting the passing of time as signaled by the Sun at Dusk, The Noonday Sun and The Sun at Dawn. The artworks have unassuming yet commanding colors, balanced by the lines drawn in heliocentric trajectories and embellished by mystical orbs and gemstones. A Thirteen Artists Awards recipient in 2006, Mac Valdezco has an affinity that can transform. She uses found objects to mimic elements of nature. Using plastic tubing, nylon, epoxy and acrylic, her artworks on display show her fascination with sculptural forms and materials from industrial surplus and factory-produced objects. Some of the pieces on exhibit were part of the Beautiful Bones series, which was inspired by her childhood memories of visiting and playing around the bone collection of the National Museum where her mother worked. Her sculpture Black embodies her ethos of transforming things, dictated by the medium she uses or by the organic gestures of her artistic hands. Aside from their commonality as women artists, they create based on their experiences with nature and their studio practice. The artworks are quite tactile, seemingly inviting the viewers to feel their textures. They are not flat, but have two-dimensional features. \"When we saw their artworks, we could feel the textures, and see landscapes, no matter how abstract they seemed,\" said Cabrera, who curated the exhibit based on the conversations among the artworks.

REVIEW: Binondo, A Tsinoy Musical Bridges over time

More than just a love story, Binondo creates a bridge between two cultures, those of the Philippines and China. “Is the lapel not working? Or is it the sound system?” asked the lady in black sitting next to us at the Theatre at Solaire when we watched Binondo, A Tsinoy Musical recently. We knew what she meant. From where we were sitting, the actors’ voices seemed a little muted, and their singing would go decrescendo. The live orchestra music was also overpowering the singing voices. That was unfortunate. The musical compositions by Von de Guzman were quite engaging, to say the least. From the first musical number, “Masdan Ang Hugis ng Buwan,” down to the last number, “Sa Bawat Sulok ng Binondo,” the beautiful music brought to life the true story based on the life of producer Rebecca Chuaunsu’s uncle. Back in 1986, Rebecca, together with her parents, traced their roots in China. A Chinese professor told them about her uncle’s greatest love and heartbreak. For 32 years, they etched the story in their hearts and minds, hoping that they would be able to share the romantic tale set in Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world. Spanning two decades (the 1970s and 1990s, respectively) and two countries (China and Philippines), the musical tells the love story between Lily, a hopeless romantic Filipino lounge singer born and raised in Binondo; and Ah Tiong, a straight-laced Chinese professor who went on a two-week vacation in Manila before returning to Beijing. The racial prejudice and political turmoil in their countries — Martial Law in the Philippines, and Cultural Revolution in China — kept the star-crossed lovers apart. When circumstances pulled them apart, Lily and Ah Tiong’s hearts refused to forget. But years of waiting and absence have a way of changing the story. Would fate finally bring them together and let them keep their promises to each other? More than just a love story, Binondo creates a bridge between two cultures, those of the Philippines and China. Playwright Ricky Lee, with the help of Gershom Chua and Elhay Castro Deldoc, masterfully weaved the tribulations of political turbulent times both in China and the Philippines into the romantic narrative. The Philippines and China have a long history, brought by years of migration and trade. Long before the colonizers came to the country, Chinese immigrants had already settled in the Philippines, bringing with them their customs and traditions. When the Spaniards came, they drove the Chinese immigrants living in Manila to the place we now know as Binondo. Ricky Lee points out how the Chinese and Tsinoy are usually contravida, or portrayed for comic relief, in films and theater plays. But, in this production, the Chinese characters are neither antagonists nor a laughingstock. They are portrayed as human beings who put their hearts on the line and hope for a love unhindered by prejudice and political circumstances. The beautiful story is brought to life by some of the country’s talented artists from film, television, and stage, including Shiela Valderrama-Martinez and Carla Guevara-Laforteza, who alternately portray Lily; Arman Ferrer and David Ezra, who play Ah Tiong; and Floyd Tena and Noel Rayos who star as Carlos. Completing the cast are Mariella Laurel (Jasmine); Ashlee Factor (Ruby); Ima Castro (Mrs. Dela Rosa); Jennifer Villegas dela Cruz (Lourdes); Dondi Ong (Mr. Chua); Kay Balajadia Liggayu (Mrs. Chua); Russell Magno (Mr. Zhang); Elizabeth Chua (Mrs. Zhang); Jonel Mojica and Joseph Billeza (Ge Lao); Jim Pebanco, Lorenz Martinez, Khalil Kaimo, Tuesday Vargas, Ellrica Laguardia, Rhapsody Li (Chorus); Philip Deles and Ivana Villanueva (Swing). Catch Binondo: A Tsinoy Musical on its last weekend run: July 6, 8 p.m., July 7, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and July 8, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., at The Theatre at Solaire.

Air charter services take off

In one of the gatherings we attended over the weekend, we chanced upon a Korean woman who has been living in the Philippines for more than 20 years now and working in a travel agency. Our conversation veered towards how the closure of Boracay has been affecting their travel business. For now, she has diverted her clients, mostly Korean nationals, to other Philippine provinces such as Bohol and Palawan. When we recommended other destinations in other parts of the country, she countered that most of their clients prefer to visit Boracay because of its travel convenience. The island has all the accommodations they need, they don’t need to travel far to reach it, they can book the flight, land at Caticlan or Kalibo airport and, within just a few minutes, enjoy the white-sand beach to their heart’s content. Unlike, for instance, Puerto Galera. To reach the destination, one has to travel far. One needs to take the bus going to Batangas Pier, which will take about three hours (four or more, if there is traffic), then take the almost-two hour ferry ride to reach Sabang or White Beach. Same is true with Clark. The land travel takes about three to four hours, depending on the traffic. Baguio and Sagada, two popular destinations up north, need even more time for land travel. But what if there is a way to reach Puerto Galera or Clark without the long hours of land travel? Enter AirTrav Corp., a a Filipino company that owns and operates air charter services in the Philippines. Chartered flights are more convenient In response to the growing need for quicker travel between shorter distances in the country, the company recently launched scheduled flights from Manila to Clark International Airport and Puerto Galera. “We notice that there are quite a number of businessmen who hold office both in Manila and Clark. These are people who value their time. Rather than spending their precious time commuting to and from Clark, we figured they would value flying and be more productive, instead of being stuck in traffic,” said AirTrav account manager Jema Ng. She pointed out that many tourists who frequent Puerto Galera would want to have more time to enjoy the destination than spend their vacation on the road. “Commuting to Puerto Galera takes about five hours or more. Going to Clark, one needs to travel for three or four hours. But with Airtrav, they can reach Clark within 30 minutes, and Puerto Galera in 40 minutes,” said Ng. The one-way trip from Manila to Clark costs P4,500, while a one-way trip to Puerto Galera costs P6,000. “Yes, flying on a seaplane can be quite pricey. But you are paying for the convenience and the experience. I think Airtrav is for those people who really value their time and convenience. The experience of flying on a seaplane is a different experience. When ride the seaplane, you’ll be flying between the clouds and the sea below. It is a very scenic ride,” said Ng. In today’s language, flying on a seaplane is a very “Instagrammable” experience. Plus, unlike the regular flight where you need to be at the airport two or three hours before the flight, you can take your time and arrive 20 to 30 minutes before your Airtrav flight. Fifteen minutes before the flight, the pilot will give a short safety briefing and then you’ll be on your way. Unless there is inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances, you don’t have to be worried that your flight will be cancelled. “There is no minimum (in number of) passengers before we take off. We keep with our scheduled flights,” said Ng, who shared that Airtrav has four legs per destination, meaning there are two roundtrips per destination daily, except Tuesdays. Each scheduled flight can accommodate eight passengers. Booming market in PH AirTrav president Jacob Cusi is looking to attract at least 500 passengers, depending on the frequency of the flights, for the remainder of the year. “We are looking to serve both local passengers, as well as international tourists. The market is very good now that tourism is booming for the Philippines. In Clark, commerce is very good. We have many tourists coming in from China, South Korea and all over the world. It is increasing every year,” said Cusi who shared that about 80 percent of their seats have been booked. With this robust tourism economy, Cusi revealed that the company plans to expand its route and increase the number of seaplanes. The commercial aviation company is shelling out $6 million (approximately P320 million) to acquire two more Cessna Grand Caravan 208 planes this year. “A brand new plane’s average cost is about $3 million. We have two coming in by the end of the year. For the next delivery, we are looking at August or September. Then, another one before the year ends. So, we will have three in total this year,” said Cusi. With these three seaplanes, Cusi plans to expand to the Visayas region later this year, and hopefully in Mindanao by next year. Aside from that, the company plans to partner with more resorts. Currently, they partnered with Friday’s Resort in Puerto Galera as their landing area. For their Puerto Galera flights, Airtrav lands right in front of Friday’s. So, tourists can arrange with their resort to have a boat pick them up at Friday’s. But there will also be available boats docked in the area that can drop them off at the Muelle Pier, where their resort can pick them. For Clark, they land at the Clark International Airport. How safe is it? Very safe, as how Captain Josh Mast puts it. The Cessna Grand Caravan 208 is the largest single-engine airplane ever produced by Cessna. “The company’s pilots undergo factory training directly at Robinson’s manufacturing facility, making our flight crew one of the best in the industry. Aside from this, our aircraft and pilots are insured by the country’s premier insurance firm, Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation, for its airframe, passengers, cargo and crew,” said Capt. Mast. The same company that partnered with UBER in 2015 to launch the country’s first and only UBERCHOPPER service in the Philippines (although that project didn’t push through), AirTrav PH holds an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, as well as a non-scheduled domestic carrier certificate from the Civil Aeronautics Board. The company also offers air charter services with its own Robinson R-44 Raven II. Made in Torrance, California, the aircraft can comfortably seat up to three passengers. Able to fly up to 300 nautical miles or three hours without refuelling, the R-44 can fly its passengers in utmost safety in its air-conditioned cabin. For booking flights to Clark or Puerto Galera, even for chartered flights, you can email at or visit their website AirTrav flies from the CCP Complex, Terminal B, Roxas Boulevard, Manila (right beside Harbor Square, fronting the Cultural Center of the Philippines).

New meanings for Marawi

The only musical in Virgin Labfest 14 tackles terrorist attack Theater director Ariel Yonzon’s instruction to child actors Tyrone James dela Cruz, Marlowe Mackenzie Concepcion and James Ramil Garlando was simple: Just do your homework and memorize your lines. The three young actors are part of the ensemble who will shed light on the tragic fate of Marawi City in a musical, titled Marawi Musicale. The musical is one of the featured plays in this year\'s edition of Virgin Labfest (VLF), the festival of un-staged, untried, untested and unpublished works, happening from June 27 to July 15, 2018, at various venues of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Set four months since Marawi City, capital of Lanao del Sur, was attacked and invaded by the terrorist group Maute-ISIS, the Marawi Musicale follows a group of Christian and Muslim volunteers who work tirelessly to fight hunger in an evacuation center in a neighboring municipality. Amid the noise of guns, bombings and air raids, and while soldiers fight off the terrorists, the volunteers struggle to feed all the children evacuees, while they wage war against their own personal issues. When asked what comes to mind when they hear the word Marawi, the children quickly associated the word with music and singing. This, as director Yonzon pointed out, was deliberate. The adult cast and crew shielded the children from the reality of the Marawi attack. Although they were not instructed to do so, the parents of the child actors somehow help to make them clueless and innocent about harsh theme of the musical. “When playwright Tyron Casumpang and I were discussing about the musical, he wanted to flesh out the characters that the children are portraying. But I think otherwise. Their being clueless and innocent is the heart of the play. They should stay as innocent, hapless victims of the war. In the musical, the tragedy is voiced out by the adults who have their own realities to contend with. When the children finally realize the realities of war, then it really becomes a real tragedy,” shared the director. In the 45-minute musical, the children characters are more focused on eating, playing and sleeping, which made the rehearsals much more fun for the young actors. For the child actors, the musical seems like a fun game where they can sing, dance and play at the same time. Their enthusiasm and energy are boundless. “For them, it is simply fun. They like it. They are excited to go to CCP and rehearse. They don\'t really have an idea about theater, about the musical. Their job is just to have fun. Be themselves. But they have to listen well to the instruction, be polite. I tell my son to listen to what the director says. At the end of the day, whatever he learns here, he would be able to apply it when he grows up,” said Ramil Garlando, the father of James. While they may be actors, they are still children. The director was concerned about them being rambunctious, but amazingly the children listen well to instruction, and they even memorize their lines quite easily. To think, that this is actually their first theater stint. The children are actually schoolmates and belong to the same school choir group. Their choirmaster, Sir Ivan as they call him, asked them to practice and do a cover of \"Awit ng Marawi,\" a song by Vehnee Saturno. The videos were then sent to Yonzon, who chose the three young actors for the VLF play he is directing. “We didn\'t know that it would be this big. We thought it would be just for a school presentation. But we are happy for them. Doing this kind of activities offers countless advantages. It brings them out of their shell. Since they are expose to new things, it broadens their horizons. They also learn about discipline. They become a little bit mature. They don\'t just focus on play and games,” said Jeny dela Cruz, the mother of Tyron. This is also a first for the parents. The kids don\'t have actors in their families. Their parents have normal jobs, but all of them are supportive and proud. They would take time to ferry their children to and from the rehearsals every weekend, spend moment to throw lines with their children, or explain about the director\'s instructions. “This is also a learning experience for us as parents. We realize there are other good things we can expose our kids to. This is a good exposure for my son. All things he would learn from this experience are all lessons he needs in his life,” said Maria Azalea Concepcion, the mother of Marlowe. Catch the young actors as they perform in Marawi Musical, which is part of the 2018 Virgin Labfest, happening from June 27 to July 15, at the CCP. This year\'s VLF will feature twelve new plays, four staged readings, and three revisited plays from last year’s festival, all performed by outstanding thespians and directed by upcoming and established directors. Taking “Silip” as its catchphrase, the festival offers a chance for writers to see their creative skills taken from page to stage. Now on its 14th year, the annual theater festival picked 12 new featured one-act works, out of more than 150 manuscripts submitted. Each expresses the complexity of human experience and create dialogues on social issues. Tickets are for sale at the CCP and all TicketWorld outlets. For ticketing information, call the CCP Marketing Department at 832-3706 or 832-3704 or email the Sales and Promotions Division at

Terno cool

Early this year, beauty queen Maxine Medina was criticized when she wrongly attributed the invention of the terno to former First Lady Imelda Marcos. In a video shown during the preliminary round of the Miss Universe pageant, she uttered: “The terno was actually invented by our former First Lady Imelda Marcos. She invented these butterfly sleeves and they used this as covering their face. It was called terno because it’s all one piece.” The beauty queen is probably not the only one who thinks the same way. The terno was most often associated with the former First Lady. In a way, it is not completely wrong. Marcos popularized the terno since it has been her dress of choice for state events and functions. But no one really did invent the terno. It evolved from earlier traditional Filipino dresses─baro’t saya, the Traje de Mestiza and the balintawak, among others─that Filipino women wore before. The Cultural Center of the Philippines and Bench believe that there is a need to educate and create awareness among the young fashion designers, and everyone in general, on the terno, its history and evolution, as well as its aesthetics and design principle. Inspired by the successful turnout of last year’s Fashioning the Terno, a mentoring program for regional designers, the CCP ad Bench partnered again this year to undertake the second phase, titled “Ternocon,” a terno-making convention and competition for young Filipino designers. With the aim to encourage the use of the terno as a popular form of formal dress, the Ternocon connects the knowledge and skills hone at the first phase, dubbed Fashioning the Terno, to the contemporary application in terno-making. In the first phase, the young designers learned about the history and the proper construction of terno, dubbed the “Philippine National Dress,” with great emphasis on its evolution from 1860-1960. The workshop amended the misconceptions about its history, and addressed the construction issues concerning the terno and its various components, while training the designers in discerning proportion and silhouette of the terno. For the second phase, 30 designers who finished the first phase were selected to participate in the competition. Under the tutelage of country’s top designers such as Inno Sotto, JC Buendia, Cary Santiago and Len Cabili, each participant must design, create and execute one formal terno and one cocktail balintawak that are at par with the construction skills of senior fashion designers. “There is a lot of real talent and genuine enthusiasm in the regions, so it is very encouraging to go the extra mile for the participants. Our goal is to propagate the use of the terno and give the participants a unique opportunity to shine on a national level,” said costume and set designer Gino Gonzales who led and facilitated the preparatory workshop for the participants held recently at the CCP. The works by the participants will be judged based on the adherence to the tradition and competition guidelines, the craftsmanship and execution of design, the creativity of the design, and the wearability/functionality. The winners will receive cash prizes and citations. The second phase will culminate with a fashion and cultural showcase at the CCP on November 11, 2018, featuring the country’s prominent artists and performers, and highlighting collections of new couture terno created by three preeminent fashion designers. For more information, contact the CCP Cultural Exchange Department at 832-1125 locals 1708-1709, or email
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