The poster of Livin’ La Vida Imelda, which I suspect JP Cuison made
This Friday, Nikko and I went to SLab for Carlos Celdran’s Livin’ La Vida Imelda, the theatrical version of his famed walk at the CCP. The show is an in-depth tour of Imelda Marcos’s rise and fall as an icon of beauty, fashion, power, and political and cultural influence, all told in Celdran’s inimitable wit and style.
A wonderfully created version of the CCP, painted on the wall of SLab (photo from here)
Normally set in the CCP, Imelda’s career is told through the buildings in the complex, from the Theater of Performing Arts, Folk Arts Theater, Coconut Palace, the PICC, and the Manila Film Center. Given its change of location, Celdran is brilliantly aided by minimalist versions of the buildings along the four walls of SLab, making the production almost as interactive as the actual walk.
Carlos Celdran with “Imelda” (photo from here)
Celdran uses pictures, videos, music, and performers to help him in his monologue, but the most fascinating is the story itself and the perspective he shares with everyone. He both idealizes and mocks Imelda, balancing his criticism of the Marcos era with funny anecdotes of the former First Couple. Celdran seems to have mastered two of Imelda’s mannerisms: her imperial way of speaking and waving a white handkerchief as she charms her way through global politics.
Much of the stories I already heard, being a fan of Imelda myself. I have two unauthorized biographies, both banned by Imelda herself, and I have a canvas bag with Imelda’s face, which I must admit garnered a lot of attention that night. But seeing it performed live, or at least caricatured, was given a fresh dimension that I appreciated.
The highlight of the night (at least for me), were some of Celdran’s thoughts on the Marcos era. These were things I was forced to re-think during dramatic pauses in the monologue: Did Marcos really Aquino? For someone who is as intelligent as Ferdinand, would he really kill Noynoy Aquino at 2PM in the middle of the airport in front of so many journalists? Apparently, Marcos had no idea of the plot because when he heard about it, he threw an ashtray at Imelda, knowing the effect it would have on his presidency. And the more important question: is democracy really for everyone?
All in all, the show was very provocative. Celdran pulls out all the stops and name drops like there’s no tomorrow, unabashedly sharing his thoughts without censoring himself. It is a crash course on an important part of Filipino life, told in a way that will make you listen (all history lessons should be told this way, complete with song and dance numbers). The portrayal is honest, raw, and emotional, and leaves a very important afterthought: Maybe Imelda did a lot of good, too.
A shirt of the program
I even got a shirt! I got to talk to Carlos after the show and he was a nice guy. We compared notes on the books Imelda banned, The Rise and Fall of Imelda Marcos and The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos, both written by Carmen Navarro Pedrosa. I promised him I’d go to the actual tour.
The production has a few more dates, make sure to check this page out. I heard it has two extra shows. The show is held at Silverlens Lab, 2/F YMC BLDG 2, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City, Philippines. You may call them at (+632) 816.00.44 / (+63905) 2650873 for more details. Tickets are priced at P800 and P400 for students.
Dinner was at CBD, Ayala Triangle, then we went to Bed, Manila. I got my checks from The Philippine Star that afternoon so I was in the mood for dancing.