Rak of Aegis 5.0: Against the current ft. reality
Imagine a room filled with wild head-banging, seal-like clapping, and a hooked cackling audience—that’s how on last Saturday, June 25, Rak of Aegis transformed the entire Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) – PHINMA Theater into a menagerie of giddy spectators chuckling at the comical but poignant puns of the show. From the astounding direction of Director Maribel Legarda, PETA once again revives this highly acclaimed, award-winning fifth run of the legendary musical featuring renowned Aegis songs like “Halik,” “Luha,” and “Basang-basa sa Ulan,” exposing Filipinos to the emergence of resiliency and its escape from humanity’s demise.
The musical welcomes the audience through the powerful backdrop of neighborhood conversations of Barangay Venizia and tuning into radio channels that introduce songs, news, and stories that symbolically parallel the happenings of the barangay. Taking place during a two-month period in the flooded area caused by Typhoon Ondoy, Barangay Venizia connotes the bereaving condition of Filipinos and their struggles in the aftermath of a vicious calamity.
As the characters Aileen (Tanya Manalang) and her mother Mercy (Neomi Gonzales) dynamically appear, it undeniably sets a flaming depiction of a maternal bond and family-centered Filipino culture. Aileen is a typical Filipina dwelling in poverty and passionately dreaming for her family, barangay, and herself; which Manalang brings her character to life with powerful vocals and acting skills. Her parents work for Mary Jane (Isay Alvares-Seña), a well-off shoe factory owner and the Kapitana of Barangay Venizia, who faces a shortcoming. While Mary Jane contemplates about necessary solutions for Venizia’s survival, she usually contends with Kiel (Robert Seña), Aileen’s father and Mercy’s spouse, clashing their ideologies that results to unintentional bringing up of their past issues. The real-life couple (Isay and Robert) superbly portrayed their role as citizens who have the determination to impose a realistic solution amid their subjective issues.
Ideally, a conventional Filipino life story isn’t authentic without the presence of a love story and unanticipated humor. With this, the neighborhood of Venizia witnesses the comical rivalry between Aileen’s suitors, Kenny (Vince Lim), the enigmatic son of Mary Jane and a symbol of modern youth; and Tolits (Pepe Herrera), a bangkero and suave matinee, as they try to prove themselves to be the right men for her. Together with Aileen’s best friend Jewel (Ron Alfonso), an image of usual kalog Filipino gays, the three effortlessly execute the humoristic vibe of the musical, leaving everyone’s jaw wide-open.
Living in Venizia despite the tragedy and insurmountable problems of every character proves to be beyond the real strength of “bayanihan” amid a disaster. But as the characters unintentionally dwell on their own dreams and desperately seek for a better life, someone with a great role in Barangay Venizia comes out to propose a solution that changes the Venizia residents’ entire fate.
*Each role in the cast has four alternates and the characters stated above are based on the June 25 3PM show
Highlighting the repercussions of poverty and calamity, Rak of Aegis’ production reflects an original and genuine Filipino musical piece. With the excellent set design of Mio Infante, the show visibly conveys the present predicaments of marginalized Filipinos, which the elite and middle class infrequently see or understand. Showcasing authenticity, both in the situation and in the talents presented is the utmost depiction a Filipino musical could ever do, and Rak of Aegis impeccably nails it.
The depth of the show’s symbolism and message reiterates everyone’s role in their own country and its citizens. With resiliency as the main theme, the show prompts us that even if we’re all diversified with our views, religion, and culture, we can still relentlessly outlook our future as a nation. And that even during calamities and disasters, camaraderie will be the solution to outwit impossibility and our adversities.
Aside from its depth, the musical immerges the culture of Pinoy rock and Original Pilipino Music and the world’s vision to Filipinos as one of the “happiest people” on Earth. The heart-breaking tracks of Aegis like “Halik” and “Luha” were skillfully rewritten and arranged by Liza Magtoto and Myke Solomon to suit the socio-cultural scheme of the story and bring the mixture of modernism and traditionalism in a perfect projection of reality.
Beyond the laughter and songs, what totally manifested throughout the entire show is the exhibition of humanity in the concluding part of the play. Rak of Aegis make us realize that nothing is more important than solidarity—that we all have our own personal concerns but forsaking our struggles just to prioritize a collective issue is needed in the most unexpected of events.
A must-see show this 2016, Rak of Aegis runs from June 17 until August 28 in the same venue to expand our mindsets and crack open our innermost humorous soul. On the verge of its success and wittiness, the show proudly showcases a depicted Filipino reality that life is all about challenges and pain, and our best option is based not on fame—but on triumph.