PETA’s Rak of Aegis

I was invited to the press night of Rak of Aegis, the closing production of PETA’s 46th season. A few weeks prior, I got to watch the preview, a 20-minute sneak peek of what to expect on the actual run. During the preview, I was already impressed with the vocal prowess of the three leads – Aicelle Santos, Isay Alvarez-Seña, and Robert Seña. But I wasn’t prepared for the brilliance of the actual play.

Rak of Aegis’ curtain call

I was already expecting the electrifying performances of Santos and the Señas, but I got to experience the extent of their vocal range in full that night. I was especially blown away by Robert, whose powerful tenor voice literally gave me the chills. His nuanced performance as Kiel was amazing. At times, Santos was overpowered by Robert and Isay, but their voices are otherworldly so it’s forgivable.

Rak of Aegis is set in Villa Venizia (referencing Venice), a town recovering from a flood. The town is still submerged and local businesses are floundering, but the locals are getting by with the world-famous Filipino spirit. Aileen (Santos) wants to change all that by uploading a video of herself singing, hoping Ellen would discover her and give her money. She instantly becomes a YouTube sensation, and the town capitalizes her singing prowess amidst the tragedy.

It might be poverty porn, but it has bite. It’s mixed with humor, many of which was delivered by Phi Palmos as Jewel (or Joel) and Jerald Napoles as Tolits. Their comic relief was one of the highlights of Rak of Aegis.
My only issue was that it was a little too long.

Because the press night coincided with the opening performance, Aegis was there as special guests. As the cast took their curtain call, the band suddenly appeared on stage, making a dramatic entrance on the boat that was used as one of the props. The set designer actually put a flooded area on the stage to make it look realistic, and boy was it realistic – the water didn’t look clean.

And they broke into song. It was crazy, everybody went crazy. Even the guys who came in blazers went ballistic and sang along to Halik, Basang Basa Sa Ulan, and Luha. Aegis may be masa, but every Filipino knows at least one Aegis song, no matter their socioeconomic status. They have this universal appeal that makes them a guilty pleasure of everyone – bakya or sosyal. As proof, my brother knows Halik and Ulan even though he’s part of the latter group.

The cast of Rak of Aegis

Me with Aicelle Santos and the girls of Aegis
I got to meet the band after! I also found out that my friend’s parents are Aegis’ managers.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for the longest time but I’ve been so busy with things. But you can still catch Rak of Aegis because it will be staged until March 9 at the PETA Theater in Quezon City.

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