There’s a sudden surge of interest in our history. Maybe it was the success of Heneral Luna but we’re beginning to see more stories set during our country’s pivotal moments. And it’s great because we have a rich past filled with fascinating tales and characters. The latest in the entertainment landscape? Repertory Philippines‘ Miong, a musical based on the life of Emilio Aguinaldo, the country’s first president. Here’s my Miong review.
The musical debuted in 1998 and was brought back to open Repertory’s 2019 season. The story follows Aguinaldo as he tries to unite his countrymen to fight the Spanish colonizers. The result is a visual spectacle that could be our version of France’s Les Miserables and the US’s Hamilton.
Leading Rep’s Miong is Tim Pavino in the titular role. He is the perfect Aguinaldo with his matinee idol looks and his booming voice that mirrors his role’s dedication to fighting for liberty. His range is not surprising when you consider that the actor was once a contestant on The Voice of the Philippines. He is electrifying as Aguinaldo. Cara Barredo is also a perfect Yayang, Aguinaldo’s first wife, and her sweet voice complemented Pavino’s.
A musical relies heavily on its tunes and Miong had a great lineup of songs. Ian Monsod’s songs are memorable now as it was when it premiered and there’s a healthy mix of upbeat numbers and poignant ones. Some of my favorites are “Educated Gentleman,” “Cabeza de Barangay,” and the incredibly catchy “San Bartolome” (a friend of mine who saw it when it premiered says he can still remember the song). Perhaps the most rousing number of the entire musical is “How Beautiful is Our Flag,” where the country finally announced its independence. The image of the 30-strong cast with the Philippine flag has seared itself into my brain and will be something I will remember until I see the show again.
As with any Rep show, the production is immaculate. The set design was beautiful and captures the idyllic scenes we see in our history books. The costumes were on point.
Perhaps my only issue with the musical is the length. According to Joy Virata, who wrote the book and the lyrics, the show has been cut from its original three hours to an hour and 50 minutes. I feel like this wasn’t necessary because the show is captivating enough as it is. Because of the cut, some parts felt rushed. But I do understand why it had to be shortened. Attention spans are shrinking and a three-hour musical might bore younger generations.
There are so many unforgettable moments in Miong and many of them involve the ensemble. Joining Pavino and Barredo are Noel Rayos as Berong, Meynard Penalosa sa Father Blas, Elver Esquivel as Don Carlos. Lani Ligo as Kapitana Teteng, Kuya Manzano as the Spanish General, Arion Sanches as Bonifacio, Eizel Marcela sa Genoveva, Michael Musa as Crispulo, Ian Hermogenes as Santiago, Francos Ramos as Candido, and Sean Kevin Inocencio as young Miong. Rounding out the cast are Aixia Mallary, Ber Reyes, Bianca Mauricio, Czar Decena, Dave Corpin, Janine Tolentino, Jerome Fugoso, Kenny Isidoro, Kein Guiman, Laui Guico, Matthew Barbers, Mica Fajardo, Moira Lozada, Naths Everett, Nicky Trivino, Paula Paguio, Steven Hotchkiss, and VJ Cortel as the ensemble.
This story is in partnership with Repertory Philippines. Rep’s Miong will be staged at Onstage Theater, at Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas corner Legazpi Street Makati City, from February 15 to March 10. For inquiries, you may call Rep at 451-1474, and Ticketworld at 891-9999 or log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph. For updates and show schedules, log on to www.repertoryphilippines.ph. You may also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.