Gina Pareño debuts as stage actress in American Hwangap


Veteran movie actress Gina Pareño (far right) tries stage acting and debuts in the play American Hwangap. Chris Millado directs this Tanghalang Pilipino production, with playdates until October 3, 2010 at the CCP-Little Theater.


Nagbukas na ang dulang American Hwangap noong Biyernes ng gabi (September 10), sa Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino ng Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Movie and television actress Gina Pareño was accorded praises for her debut performance on stage along with the veterans in the theater field.


Si Chris Millado ang nag-direk ng play na ito ng Tanghalang Pilipino na itatanghal hanggang October 3, 2010 at the CCP-Little Theater.

Naging masigla ang loob ng CCP-Little Theater, lalo na sa curtain call matapos ang palabas. Masigabong palakpakan ang isinalubong sa lahat ng mandudula’t taga-produksiyon, sa pangunguna ni Ms. Pareño, na gumanap bilang Mary, ang iniwan at binalikang asawa matapos ang labinlimang taon.

Kasama ni Gina sa dula ang veteran actor-director na si Mario O’Hara, who played Min Suk, a Korean who returned to his abandoned family to celebrate his "hwangap" (60th birthday celebration which complete the Eastern zodiac).

Playing Gina and Mario’s children are Jeremy Domingo, as David, eldest son; Liesl Batucan, as Esther, only daughter; and Nicco Manalo, as the child-like and lovable Ralph.

Nasa entablado rin, para sa grand welcome kay Gina at magpasalamat sa mga nanood ng unang pagtatanghal, ang kanilang direktor, si Chris Millado, at mga tauhan ng produksiyon, tulad nina Jethro Joaquin (sound designer), Katsch Catoy (lights), Mio Infante (Set), Kalila Aguilos (costumes), Sonny Pedrocho (technical director) at Aaron Daniega (stage manager).

Patunay rin na may kaukulang suporta kay Ms. Gina ang ABS-CBN at Star Cinema outfits ay ang pagdalo ni Ms. Tess Fuentes, isa sa mga producer, na nag-offer ng bouquet of flowers, sa premyadong aktres at contract artist.

Overwhelmed at nagulat si Gina sa hindi niya inaasahang pagdalo ng isa sa mga opisyales ng network, kaya nang mabungaran ito, papaakyat sa entablado ay nangiti sa tuwa ang aktres. And, as she accepted the bouquet, she whispered a simple, "Thank you!"

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Nasa unang gabi rin ng pagtatanghal, para sumuporta kay Gina at sa buong cast ng dula ang aktor na si Bembol Roco (gaganap sa English version) at ang veteran character actress of the 1960’s na si Ms. Marita Zobel, a contemporary of Gina. Nakasama ni Gina si Marita sa pelikulang Natutulog Pa Ang Diyos (1988), directed by Lino Brocka, para sa Seiko Films.

MARIO O’HARA ON MS. GINA. Backstage, nakausap naman ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) ang mahusay at premyadong direktor at aktor na si Mario O’Hara, as he prepared to leave for home.

Kuwela ang maraming eksena sa dula na may intimate moments sina Mario O’Hara at Gina Pareño, bilang nagkabalikang asawa. Merong yakapan at mariing halikan (necking), na nagiging comedy ang dating, dahil sa kanilang body movements.

PEP told Mario that he and Ms. Gina has chemistry onstage, na hindi pa napapanood sa big screen.

"Oo naman," pagsang-ayon ni Direk Mario. "Kaming dalawa [ni Gina], halos sabay kami niyan, e, sa panahon. Nag-work kami sa TV nung araw, sa Salamisim, Balintataw [top-rating TV drama in the ’60’s, ’70s, and ’80s].

"Pero, si Gina yata, mas artista siya nina Elwood [Perez] at Joey [Gosiengfiao]," banggit pa ni O’Hara, who was then identified in many Lino Brocka-directed movies and teleplays. "Hindi kami masyadong nagkaroon ng chance [na magkasama], kundi ngayon lang."

On the audience’s positive response to the just-concluded play, especially to the performances of the entire cast, Mario simply smiled and said, "Alam mo naman, pagka mga artistang tunay, di ba? Ang dali-daling maka-relate [ng audience], e. Wala kasing mga walls."

Inihahalintulad ni O’Hara ang American Hwangap sa isang Korean telenovela, na kinahuhumalingan maging ng mga Pinoy viewers na nakaka-relate sa mga karanasan ng mga tauhang bahagi ng kuwento.

Sa dula, ang tungkol sa asawa’t mga anak na naabandona ng padre de familia ay maituturing na pamilyar na kuwentong-buhay sa tahanan ng maraming pamilyang Pilipino.

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"Lahat tayo, alam naman natin ang mga problemang ganyan," sabi rin ni Direk Mario. "Napakadaling mag-relate dahil Pinoy na Pinoy."

Maliban na lang sa "hwangap" thing, na wala sa tradisyong Pilipino. Ito’y ang kaukulang selebrasyon ng ika-60 kaarawan ng isang lalaki, bilang kabuuan ng Eastern Zodiac (ika-limang bahagi ng labindalawang taong pagdiriwang), tungo sa pagbabagong-silang o rebirth.

"Wala tayong ganung tradisyon, yung 60 years old, na nagse-celebrate, kasi malapit nang mamatay," sabi pa ni O’Hara.

"Parang ang nagsara ng ’hwangap’, as a tradition, sa Amerika, e, si Clint Eastwood!" kuwelang banggit pa ni O’Hara.

NICCO’S DAD. Maging ang mabilis na napapansing stage actor na si Nicco Manalo ay tuwang-tuwa sa muling panonood ng kanyang amang komedyante na si Jose Manalo ng Eat... Bulaga! sa kanyang pagganap. Naroon din ang ilan pang kapatid ni Nicco, at iba pang kasambahay.

"Mahilig talaga siyang mag-perform [onstage]," nangingiting sambit ni Jose, tungkol sa panganay na anak, na iba ang landas na tinahak as a stage actor-performer.

Kung sa tunay na buhay ay ang komedyanteng si Jose Manalo ang kanyang ama, sa dulang kinasalihan ay mga dramatic actors ang kanyang set of parents: Gina and Mario, sa Tagalog version; Celeste Legaspi and Bembol Roco, sa English version.

"I’m privileged to work with them," sabi ni Nicco, who finished a Theater Arts course in De La Salle College of St. Benilde and has been doing theater (acting and production work) for the past four years.

LOVEY-DOVEY. Off-stage, lovey-dovey duo naman ang co-stars na sina Jeremy Domingo at Liesl Batucan, who played two of the siblings in American Hwangap.

Sa parehong versions (English and Tagalog) ng dula ay gumaganap ang real-life sweethearts: si Jeremy, as David, the hyper-articulate eldest son whose career success in New York, as an investment banker, couldn’t make up for his empty longings for a long-lost father; at si Liesl, as Esther, the middle-child and only daughter, who’s got mixed emotions over her dad’s homecoming and herself, as a single mom.

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Nasa lobby ng Little Theater sina Liesl at Jeremy, after their performances. Liesl was just as happy to introduce to her friends her parents, mom Sonia and dad Rene (Jeremy’s future parents-in-law).

"Ang saya ng company na ito!" Jeremy gushed. "Ibang-iba yung mga persona nila, bilang mga tao, bilang aktor..."

Jeremy said he was just too happy interacting with both set of actors (Gina and Mario; Celeste Legaspi and Bembol Roco), as his parents, in both versions of the play.

"I love wearing suits every day!" he added, in jest. "This is my first for Tanghalang Pilipino. And my first play, in Tagalog. Ngayon lang ako nabayaran, for speaking in Tagalog."

Jeremey and Liesl have done about twenty (musicals and straight) plays, the last being A Portrait of the Artist As Filipino (the musical) for Repertory Philippines.

"Liesl has done The Golden Child, for TP before. We’re ’best friends’, nung ano pa... everyone who’s watched Rep (plays) in the last 16 years! We’re really meant, as co-workers. Talagang mahal namin ang disiplina ng teatro and feel as lucky we’re in a material like this. Ang saya!"

Magpapatuloy ang regular run ng American Hwangap (English version) this weekend, simula sa September 17-19, 8 pm, sa CCP-Little Theater. Sa mga petsang September 24-26, at October 1-3, 2010 ay magkahalong English at Tagalog versions (mixed playdates) ang mapapanood.


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