By Lea Salonga
February 2, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I am happy to report that my daughter Nicole is back to riding her scooter, thanks to brand-new protective gear courtesy of her uncle Victor Lirio. Her skinned elbow is all fine and good, but something I wouldn’t want her to experience again.
She had her first ballet evaluation today. She’s at the most basic level possible, but already there’s an evaluation – in pink leotard, tights and split-sole ballet slippers, hair tied back in a neat bun. She wore the number 11 on the front of her leotard.
There were two teachers in the room: her regular teacher and the one evaluating the students. I couldn’t see very well from where I stood but, given that Nicole had taken lessons for only a few weeks, I think she did very well.
You’re probably wondering: Why ballet? Well, my first cousin, Maniya Barredo, is a prima ballerina. The title was bestowed upon her by another prima, Dame Margot Fonteyn. From what I’ve been told, no ballet dancer can call herself one – the title must be bestowed.
So, every girl in my family has to take ballet. I was a student for several years, as were a lot of my cousins. Nicole had to do it, or Maniya would never talk to me again. Gerard heard that from Maniya when he worked with her on “Romeo and Juliet,” so I expect his daughter Carmen in ballet class in a few years. She’d be a great “Carmen” someday; she already has the feistiness for it (translation: suplada and masungit… but very cute).
I was one of the many theatergoers who headed to the CCP Main Theater to watch “Mamma Mia!” I first saw it in 1997 during a working trip to London, and had a ton of fun. I had a ton of fun this time around as well. One difference? The audience in Manila was, interestingly enough, far more sedate compared to its West End counterpart.
If I remember right, in London, whenever the first few words of a most familiar song were sung, the audience would scream and clap. Perhaps they knew not to take it too seriously, and see it for what it is: a few hours of enjoyment with sentimental favorites from Swedish supergroup ABBA. The matching bell bottoms and platform heels enhanced the trip back to disco and glam.
Finally, toward the end, the CCP crowd got into the right spirit – on their feet, arms waving, singing and dancing along.
To the cast and crew, congratulations on a wonderful gala night, and break legs for the rest of the run!
Also, take the time to enjoy the islands if you can. Make sure to bring sunscreen (I noticed one of you was redder than a lobster … that’s gotta hurt).
My traveling days are coming again. That means landing at different airports. I am hoping that our own Naia will get itself out of the “world’s worst” lists. We may not have the nicest airport, but it’s not as bad as a lot of people say it is. Truth be told, I’ve seen worse. I’m optimistic that it’ll get better. Airports are the first places that tourists see. A good first impression makes for a great visit.
Speaking of things that need improvement, a few of our theaters could use a pick-me-up as well. I wonder if members of the well-heeled private citizenry would take up the cause of refurbishing our artists’ homes. When I see theaters abroad with brass plates behind certain seats, it makes my wheels spin. There are moneyed patrons who make a small contribution to fix a row of seats, replace the carpet, or have the dressing rooms painted. We keep going on and on about how proud we are of our artists; it’s about time we did something to justify such pride. Until then, we have no right to partake of the accolades they reap.
I will be performing at the Activity Center of Alabang Town Center tomorrow (Saturday), 6 p.m., in a show called “One Voice, One Community, One Cause,” a fundraiser for Tropical Storm “Sendong” victims. Other performers include Brenan, Julianne, College of Saint Benilde Chorale and Dr. Tonton Pascual. Plus Gerard Salonga and FilharmoniKa. See you all there!
This is the last weekend to catch Repertory Philippines’ “Next Fall” starring Bart Guingona and David Bianco. Directed by Audie Gemora. Head over to OnStage, Greenbelt 1! Call Repertory Philippines at 571-6926 or Ticketworld at 891-9999 for tickets and more info.