The field of live entertainment will never be the same again especially now that the L.E.A.F Awards is here.
L.E.A.F stands for “Live entertainment, arts, and festival” awards, headed by seasoned theater artists and arts and culture mavericks Sonny Valencia and Frank Rivera.
If we are to base the outcome of those who became victorious during their awards that happened recently at the RCBC Theater in Makati, City, the award-giving body started impressively.
A total of 65 awards were handed to the crème dela crème of the live entertainment industries in a fast-paced three-hour spectacle with special production numbers by the Kalilayan Folkloric Dance Troupe featuring the Terno Collections of Rommel Padillo Serrano. Ephesus/Tribu, Alisah Bonaobra, Roeder Camanag, Gerald Santos, and Dulce.
My biggest takeaway from the awards night was the fact, in the highly contested categories, some of the major winners and finalists were formerly and some are still part of Gantimpala Theater: Roeder Camanag (Outstanding Performance by an Actor for Dulaang UP’s Ang Dressing Room), Vien King (Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Musical for Philippine Opera Company’s Passion), Norman Pena Florida (Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role for Artist Playground’s Nakakapagpabagabag) and Jose Jeffrey Camanag, the shared with Jerry Sibal, (Outstanding Director for a Musical for Noli Me Tangere: The Opera).
Other former Gantimpala artists Francis Matheu and Joseph Matheu, who are the wonder duo behind Twin Bill Theater , Mitoy Sta. Ana, who is renowned production designer and theater actor and Anthony Cruz of Tanghalang Bagong Sibol.
It felt good that their names were called and read them on screen as finalists. It was even better to witness them being proclaimed as winners. From where I sat, my eyes turned misty as the victors delivered their acceptance speeches.
For sure, the late, great Tony Espejo beamed with pride in heaven as he watched the award proceedings. His beloveds are reaping their golden fruits of artistic recognition.
King said of his win: “Firsts are always a memory to safe keep: My first time in a theatre rehearsal, where I questioned myself why I was there to begin with; my first time to step on stage and felt that performing is my calling; my first time to get a romantic role, nervous, excited, and uncontrollably happy, yet felt all the pressure on my shoulders; and my first time to receive an award, a recognition for doing something that I was very passionate about.”
Here are some of the most passionate artists who are no longer L.E.A.F virgins:
For the field of the dramatic arts - Outstanding Actress in a Musical: Sheila Valderrama-Martinez (Passion, Philippine Opera Company); Outstanding Performance by an Actress in A Featured Role Musical: Carla Guevara-Laforteza, Ang Huling El Bimbo/Resorts World); Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role Musical: Juancho Gabriel (Spring Awakening/ Ateneo Blue Repertory); Outstanding Ensemble for a Musical: Spring Awakening (Ateneo Blue Repertory); Outstanding Performance by An Actress: Missy Maramara (Stop Kiss/Positive Space/Music Artes); Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role: Stella Canete (Ang Bahay ni Bernarda Alba/Dulaang UP).
For Dance: Locsin Dance Workshop of Davao City – Contemporary Dance Group; Kalilayan Folkloric Dance Troupe of Catanauan, Batangas – Cultural Dance Group Community Based; UST Salingawi – Cultural Dance Group School Based and Sindaw Philippines- Cultural Dance Group Professional.
For concerts: Erik Santos and Yeng Constantino, performance in a concert by a duo for Extraordinary; Gerald Santos, performance in a major concert for The Homecoming Concert tied with Anton Diva for Shine; Dulce, performance in a concert for Magnificat; Ephesus/Tribu, Filipino Cultural Concert for Reminiscenses and Club Mwah, outstanding musical concept review.
In conclusion, the thoughts of Abner Delina,Jr., one of the finalists for Weight of Words, about his L.E.A.F experience: “What I truly appreciated in this LEAF Award is the opportunity to witness (at least for few hours) the richness and beauty of our history and culture through the presence of the people. Everyone took time to dress up and show up just like what is expected of performers, that’s given.”
“But the diversity of attendance, the reunion, yes, across generation, art forms, productions, networks, places- humans who shared their smile and stories to each other before and in between segments- that was beautiful really. To see people at their best despite the problems we face now,” he carried on.
To feel the zest of everyone in the midst of the escalating socio-political, health, climate crisis. Almost, and can be dangerous actually, if personal and collective purpose is not clear and cultivated consciously. But for a moment, we remind each other of our power and value and creative spirit to recharge maybe or refuel and redirect our energies back to our rehearsal studios to create works that matter most in the world today. Wonderful experience,” he concluded.
Congrats to the Forces behind and center of the L.E.A.F Awards. May the Muses be with you always.
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