Rafa Siguion Reyna describes past connection with family friend Lino Brocka

IMAGE Allan Sancon

Rafa Siguion Reyna on working with Joel Lamangan: "Naninigaw siya at kung minsan ay nakakapagmura, but he's such a character." Lamangan is the director of the musical version of Maynila Sa Kuko Ng Liwanag, which is being staged until October 6. 


Isa si Rafa Siguion-Reyna sa powerhouse cast ng musical version ng 1975 film na Maynila Sa Kuko Ng Liwanag.

Ito ay maituturing na musical tribute ni Joel Lamangan sa kanyang mentor, ang National Artist for Film na si Lino Brocka na siyang director ng naturang classic movie.

Ang original Filipino musical ay mapapanood sa Kia Theater, Cubao, Quezon City with performances on October 4, 5, and 6, produced by Grand Leisure Productions.

Ginagampanan ni Rafa ang character na si Imo, ang construction worker na naghahangad ng mas magandang buhay, at ka-alternate niya rito si Joseph Puducay.

Sa film version na pinalabas noong '70s, si Bembol Roco ang gumanap ng lead character na si Julio Madiaga samantalang si Hilda Koronel ang gumanap na Ligaya na siyang leading lady niya.

Sa 2017 theater version, si Arman Ferrer ang nagbigay buhay sa probinsyano na si Julio samantalang magka-alternate naman sina Sheila Valderrama-Martinez at Lara Maigue para sa karakter na si Ligaya.

Kasama rin sa cast sina Dulce at Ima Castro (alternating as Mrs. Cruz), Rita Daniella and Aicelle Santos (alternating as Perla), Noel Rayos, Floyd Tena, Jim Pebanco, at marami pang iba.

Sinabi ni Rafa sa PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) na isa sa kanyang “bucket list” ang makagawa ng isang musical play kaya masaya siya na kasama siya sa cast ng Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag, The Musical.

Ito ay dahil malaki daw ang ugnayan ni Direk Lino Brocka sa kanyang mga magulang: ang veteran director na si Carlos Siguion-Reyna at batikang film and television scriptwriter na si Bibeth Orteza.

“Direk Lino Brocka was a ninong sa kasal ng mom and dad ko,” kuwento ni Rafa sa presscon ng play na ginanap sa Barbara’s restaurant sa Intramuros kamakailan.

“He directed the first screenplay of my mom, yung Palipat-lipat, Papalit-palit. He also gave my dad his first directing job on TV after film school, yung Isip-Pinoy, where Direk Joel was also one of the directors.”

Mabuting kaibigan raw ng kanyang ama si Direk Lino, describing the friendship as “a great away-bati-away-bati relationship."

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Pagpapatuloy ni Rafa, “According to my mom, Direk Lino was also the one who recommended my dad to David Overbey of the Toronto International Film Festival, and he visited me daw in the hospital nursery when I was born.”

Wala bang “special treatment” ang produksiyon kay Rafa dahil anak siya nina Direk Carlos at Bibeth na mga kilalang pangalan sa industriya?

“For me, it gives me pride that people in the production don’t care even if I’m a son of my mom and dad. Wala silang sinasabi.

“They don’t play favorites, even if my parents are known. They got very excited when they learned I got the part I auditioned for, dahil nga very close sila kay Tito Lino.”

Ayon kay Rafa, isang malaking challenge at source of pride para sa kanya ang makatrabaho ang isang Joel Lamangan, gayundin ang kilalang dance choreographer na si Douglas Nierras.

“I feel like, ‘pag nakatrabaho o nadaanan mo na ang isang Joel Lamangan at isang Douglas Nierras [sa isang play], kaya mo nang gawin lahat!” sambit ni Rafa.

Saan siya pinakanahirapan sa Maynila… experience on stage?

“Pinakanahirapan ako sa pag-retain ng stamina ko. Sa energy. Minsan kasi, napapako ako sa mga pagkakamali ko or errors.

“The challenge in doing this play is yung sing and dance, in character ka dapat, the whole process of being Imo as a construction worker who dreams of having a better life. I have to look dirty all the time.

“And imagine, nasa gitna ka nina Direk Joel and Tito Douglas! Kaya kailangan mong ma-overcome ang kaba mo!

“It’s a great Filipino musical. Sabi ko nga, nasa bucket list ko ito ‘coz my Lola [Armida Siguion-Reyna] is a classical singer, too.”

Nagsimulang gumawa ng stage plays si Rafa noong 2013, pero ang Maynila… ay masasabi niyang isa sa unforgettable theater experiences para sa kanya.

“The play is focused on the book, more than the film. Dito, you can see na yung Maynila the city is the main antagonist, at hindi tao. Kahit na 1970s pa ito, the story is still relatable until today—a man from the province who dreams big in Manila.

“It is an attempt to adapt the novel and film material to this stage version,” dagdag niya.

So, papaano niya ide-describe na maidirek ng isang Joel Lamangan sa isang musical play?

“It was my first time to work with Direk Joel. Yes, naninigaw siya at kung minsan ay nakakapagmura, but he’s such a character.

“You can’t take it personally. Sabi niya lang, ‘It’s part of the game. It’s my job to make a good performance for everyone.’

“Napagalitan niya rin ako sa rehearsals, pero for a good reason.

“Makikita rin dito yung activist side of Direk Joel Lamangan. Pero sabi ko nga, si Direk Joel, ‘pag pinapagalitan ka, very charming pa rin siya. Sobrang nakakatawa yung mga one-liners niya!

“For example, sasabihin niya, ‘Ano ba kayo, para kayong mga baklang trabahador! Lalaki dapat!’ or ‘Gumanda na ang Act 2, ang chaka naman ng Act 1!’

“Nakakatawa at nakakatuwa siya. Pagod na kami, pero dahil sa touch of humor ni Direk Joel, you will really get amazed. Hindi puwede sa kanya ang ‘Puwede na ‘yan!’

“With Tito Douglas naman, I learned a lot. He motivates and reminds you to stay in character as well.

“Direk Joel and Tito Douglas really demand a good performance. So, I’m really proud to be part of this show.”

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Ikinuwento rin ni Rafa ang mga sacrifices niya bilang isang artist, at hindi rin daw ito biro.

“From November 2016 to March 2017, wala akong trabaho!” pag-amin ni Rafa.

“There was a lull in work, which happens naman siguro to majority of artists.

“Because of that, I learned to be thankful ‘pag may offer or ‘pag may work. Akala mo kasi, kapag meron, dire-diretso na, pero hindi.

“Buti na lang din ay bakante ako the past weeks sa shooting ko for Goyo, Ang Batang Heneral, at sa October pa raw ang resume ng character ko doon.”

Sa pelikula naman ay huling lumabas si Rafa sa Baklad, isang entry sa TOFARM Film Festival na ipinalabas noong July 2017. Ang karakter ni Rafa ay isa sa mga baklad boys kunsaan kasama niya ang bidang si Ronwaldo Martin.



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