Nick Joaquin’s play now a musical film
If you’re among the not-so-many Filipino culturati, you must be familiar with the late Nick Joaquin’s play A Portrait of An Artist as Filipino, which the 50’s iconic director Lamberto V. Avellana translated into film in 1965 with Naty Crame Rogers and Daisy Hontiveros-Avellana as Paula and Candida. This film also introduced this writer to upcoming actor Vic Silayan (as Bitoy Camacho) and who would later become one of Philippine cinema’s greatest.
In 1989, Bienvenido Lumbera translated Joaquin’s play to Filipino as Larawan and was performed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater with Celeste Legaspi and Noemi Manikan-Gomez playing the lead characters.
In 1997, Muscial Theater Philippines (musicat) staged a Tagalog musical adaptation of Larawan at what is now known as Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, CCP’s Main Theater, with Legaspi as Candida and Zsa Zsa Padilla as Paula. Roedar Camañag sang and acted the part of Bitoy Camacho and actor Ricky Davao the role of Tony Javier.
Two decades later, the same musical can now be seen in cinemas as a musical film. Produced by the same people that brought it to the stage 20 years ago, it is now the film that most serious Metro Manila Film Festival followers are hoping would snag the “Best Picture” trophy come Awards Night on the 27th of this month, to give Filipino filmmakers with profound drive to elevate local filmmaking from the routine of romcoms and slapstick comedy to the more sophisticated genres, like musical theater.
Already, those who have had a glimpse of the film during its press preview are rooting for both Joanna Ampil and Rachel Alejandro (Candida and Paula) to be the frontrunners in the acting categories. Also cited were Sandino Martin (Bitoy) and Paulo Avelino (Tony Javier) who might just snag an award as well.
I am familiar with the Avellana’s 1965 film as well as Lumbera’s translation. I had seen Ryan Cayabyab’s musical with Rolando Tinio’s libretto. I think I will have to watch the movie directed by my UP Diliman schoolmate Loy Arcenas to complete my Nick Joaquin experience come Christmas Day.
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