Category Archives: Arts

Basco Balikbayan Project: Rediscovering Filipino Heritage

The Basco Brothers and of course, their sister Arianne

How much of our kasimanwas have gone abroad to settle in a faraway land? For most of us, if we have relatives abroad, they are most likely in the United States. In the United States alone, there are close to four million Filipino-Americans which first settled in the United States at the height of the Martial Law era. Filipino-Americans are spread all across the United States in various terrain but most settled in California like my aunt and her family.

A June 2008 photo of my Filipina-American cousin's visit to the Philippines

My cousins are first generation of immigrant families there but they are characteristically American and does not speak a single sliver of any Filipino tongue other than “Mabuhay!” and “Kumusta?” Last month, I was invited to the press conference of Basco Balikbayan, a documentary project of the second-generation Filipino-American Basco Family to visit the best places in the Philippines and rediscover their uniquely Filipino heritage.

Filipina Actress, G. Tongi explains the gist of the Basco Balikbayan Project

The project is jointly produced by Giselle Tongi and Michael Carandang, an Emmy Award-winning producer for the Tyra Banks Show and America’s Next Top Model. Basco Balikbayan Project was born in the realization of Ms. G that there has been a lack of creative production that features the Philippines specially geared towards the Filipino-Americans who have never even seen the Philippines. They will part of the journey of actor Dante Basco with siblings Darion, Derek, Dionisio and Arianna to rediscover the homeland never seen before with its culture and richness of life.

Producers Michael Carandang, G. Tongi with host Tim Yap

Philippines’ Department of Tourism will be very much part of the production, taking the Basco siblings to  Palawan, Davao, Cebu, Ilocos, Naga, Pangasinan, Zambales and Baguio, as far as I have asked them, Negros Island was part of their interest list. In a jam packed but fun schedule, they will be going to key natural and historical places, savoring the local cuisine. The low-cost carrier Airphil Express will ferry them to the destination of choice.

The Basco Brothers and Sister with producer G. Tongi

While in part it is a documentary, it will also be featured as a series that will be pitched or is planned to be pitched in This project will pitch in with  Travel, A&E, Bravo, History, Discovery, Own, Tru TV, TLC, Current TV, Biography, DOC, and the National Geographic Channel. With much hope, the project will be a magnet for other Filipino-Americans to take the same path as well but in my own opinion, will be also a tool for us Filipinos left in the Philippines to actually travel around and discover the richness of our own country for – It’s More Fun In The Philippines!


Imeldific Night at Livin’ La Vida Imelda

Last February 4, 2012, a Saturday, I woke up from slumber and immediately opened my Facebook. I was not expecting much since my friends would most probably be out somewhere. Seeing my contact’s recent statuses, I suddenly noticed an announcement from Carlos Celdran that he will having a Blogger’s Barter for Livin’ La Vida Imelda (The Performance). More than caffeine, this jolted me awake and I immediately opened my blog email – to send in my intentions to watch the show. I was not expecting to make it to the first twenty (20) bloggers to make it but I felt that it might be a lucky day.

Just as I thought that I did not make it to the cut off since there was no immediate reply, I resigned to seeing this performance on another day as a paying guest. However, last February 5, 2012 (Sunday), I woke to good news! I was one of those who made it to the cut-off. I was thrilled that I even posted it on my blog’s like page which drew comments from other bloggers who also made it for the Blogger’s Barter. Just as my fellow bloggers already had something for the barter, I was still basically arguing with myself with which to give. I realized that since Carlos is a “Bacólod-addict” of sorts, I gave him a box of Merci Pasalubong.

From my little niche in Ortigas, I commuted to the venue at Yupangco Building in Chino Roces Avenue or what we popularly know as Pasong Tamo. From the MRT’s Shaw Boulevard Station, I took the train to the Magallanes Station which always give me funny smiles. I decided to cool down a bit at Alphaland Southgate Tower to update my blog with an article about PUREZA’s film director Jay Abello. After eating my early dinner, I decided to go to Silverlens Gallery by taking a tricycle. I did not have a hard time finding the building. At the entrance I met a fellow blogger, Cristina Raposa of Style Espresso who also availed of the barter.

I was just in time for the opening of the venue at 7:30pm and did not have to wait. Entering the venue, I immediately noticed some minimalist renderings of Imelda-commissioned structures in the CCP Complex using electrical tape! What made me happier is the fact that the artist is also of proud Negrénse heritage. I took the last seat of the third row for me to have a good vantage point of the performance. Minutes before the performance, I noticed steady streams of foreign guests who also came to see the show. Somehow I think that a Carlos Celdran in any show would always draw good crowd. I am privileged to be one of them as well.

The show started with a video that summarizes parts of Philippine history. Indeed, the Philippines is one curious case from nearby Southeast Asian neighbors. Series of colonizers like the Spaniards, Americans and Japanese have since passed by and ruled island after island yet we seem to have an unbelievable obsession for our colonizers, particularly the Americans, among neighbors that so hate their former colonizers still. Much of Imelda Marcos’ time revolves around American influence from the liberation to the times of recovery to the Presidency of his husband. Everything has to do with these Americans and their ultimate interest.

The show definitely had the boom that I always see with Carlos Celdran’s performance. This boom is a unique class of its own and I call “Carlosian”. How do you know? Imelda Marcos’ very own identity and birth is already a center of controversy. This beauty of Leyte definitely carries even now a mysterious charm and some rumors that we may never confirm. Imelda herself was initially not accepted in the mainstream alta-sociedad even with her Romualdez roots. Her marriage to an Ilocano politico, their rise to powers is as mysterious as the rumors that surrounds them but one thing’s sure, they changed the country so much forever.

By how the show was run, it was well thought and prepared with the concept packaged well. You can never go bad with Carlos for he himself is a performer. The show was pretty much derived from the Livin’ La Vida Imelda tours he gives at the CCP Complex but this time fuller flavor of sing, song, more acting and dance. I was surprised that I was even pulled into the performance. I was very shocked at first but this is what made the show special, the audience very much has a part on it. I sat back on my seat pretty much blushed but happier. The performers and Carlos himself pretty much captured the crowd not just well but full well.

Learning history, both factual and speculative, has never been this fun. Who would not have fun with comedic relief that is spiced with hard history? Truth, the underlying rumors, mysteries, destructive gossips and conspiracies forever hounds this archipelagic country of ours but we do not need to bump our heads with them. Perhaps people should learn from history and take in to consider what Ferdinand and Imelda’s though misguided aspirations were for, a nation of equality, free from the rule of the oligarchs once and still does rule nation. What change did our country have after the almost three decades since Marcos’ rule end?

More than the laughs, it makes us think deeper into the story of this power couple who will forever captivate the imagination of our people. It disturbs us but at the same time entertains us and with that I give a loud Kudos! to Carlos Celdran. The show was worthy indeed of my time and so as yours too. Livin’ La Vida Imelda will have another show tomorrow at 8pm and on February 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 to March 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10. The tickets to the show is worth P800 which is actually cheap for a good show but students get it half at P400. What are you waiting for? Catch this awesome performance in a date most convenient for you.

Eat Pray ILOve ILOve: A Day with Sexy Maggie

If you think my trip to Iloilo City was just all about sights and wonders plus food, you are wrong. After a segway at Bluejay Coffee and buying a small cake as a gift, I went to 92.7 Wild FM’s Iloilo Station at Perpetual Succor Bldg., Jalandoni St. near the University of San Agustin, just across an RCBC branch. Wild FM Iloilo, an FM radio station owned by the University of Mindanao Broadcasting Network, has just been in half a year’s operation and has already landed a No. 6 spot in on-air ratings which is an amazing feat for an FM Station with fourteen other competitors. My purpose for the visit is to meet Wild FM Iloilo radio jockey Gindy Cezar, also known on air as Sexy Maggie, one of the most interesting radio jockeys of 92.7 Wild FM.

Graduating just this year at West Visayas State University, she was immediately absorbed into the still brand new 92.7 Wild FM as one of their pioneer radio jockeys. Sexy Maggie’s time slot on air is between 1am to 6pm, pretty much one of the trying time slots to handle since she would be handling both a laidback siesta time of 1pm and the rush hour of late afternoon. Even with her busy schedules, she is able to handle he time between family, being a radio jockey and as an ESL instructor. Pretty amazing for your extraordinary DJ, right? How I met Gindy is a bit of curiosity since it was just a purely online interaction though we both found ourselves in the same camp during the last Presidential elections.

The New Year pretty much awaits a better point for the Sexy Maggie here and I am glad I met her before the year ends. Asked whether she will sit out longer at the booth or not, she said that she might be planning to take up her master’s studies soon but which would be thought of since her career is blossoming. With a cheerful and sunny voice on-air, Sexy Maggie had me hooked to 92.7 and a regular listener myself, either on the 92.7 frequency which can be picked up in Bacólod City or via online livestream at Sexy Maggie was cool enough to greet me in the first part of her program and in the last part, just before I left for Bacólod.

I am very thankful for Sexy Maggie and the rest of the folks at Wild FM Iloilo for entertaining me while I am observing the program outside the booth. The visit alone to Wild FM Iloilo is already worth my pocket’s spent and I was able to meet new people who have very much a lot to say not only about things in broadcast but in the wider scope of life. Whether I’d be seeing Sexy Maggie again, hopefully soon, real soon. God never fails to bless me with one more friend just before the year ends. My day with Sexy Maggie and my experience at Wild FM Iloilo would be one of the happy memories I will have of 2011.