I was moved that I had to listen to the songs again so I can relive the story and aptly write a review of Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical without dishing big spoilers.
It was probably in 1996 and I was just five years old when my eldest brother came home from school and he brought a storybook called “Fruitcake”, which he took great care of as if his life depended on it.
That was my first encounter with the band called Eraserheads. I am the youngest of five siblings and my oldest siblings’ music unconsciously became mine (because, technically, I don’t have a say on what radio station to listen to *rolls eyes*), and one of which was Eraserheads’. This band was practically all over our home—we had their cassette tapes, they were on my sibling’s Walkman, their songs were played on guitar, their posters were on the rooms’ walls, and the Song Hits were mostly about them.
I grew up listening to them.
1990’s was Eraseheads’ years. No doubt! It was the decade where they became the most successful, most influential and most significant Pinoy rock band. I wonder, are there any 90’s kids who grew up not loving this band?
Last Sunday, I took a precious trip down memory lane by watching Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical that utilizes the most memorable songs of Eraserheads. This major musical is staged on the Newport Performing Arts Theater. It is produced by Resorts World Manila and Full House Theater Company. It is written by Dingdong Novenario, and directed and choreographed by Dexter Santos.
Here’s my review of Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical.
I was lost at the beginning and the plot was quite difficult to follow. But as the story progressed, I realized that it revolves around three estranged college best friends—Hector (Gian Magdangal), Emman (Myke Solomon), and Anthony (Jon Santos). After 20 years, they were reunited by a disconcerting incident about their other friend, Joy (Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo). The musical was presented in two timelines—the present day where the three friends were oddly summoned to a police station as they were the last people who were contacted by Joy, and the other narrative happened during their college years which showed how young Hector (Bibo Reyes), young Emman (Boo Gabunada), and young Anthony (Phi Palmos) met, bonded, became the best of friends, got along young Joy (Tanya Manalang), and how an incident (that haunts them until the present day) happened and changed their friendship and lives.
The first half of the musical was a series of whopping nostalgia. The setting was in the 1990’s where the Ang TV show, Voltes V, Walkman, ROTC, baggy jeans, vintage pay phones, old film camera, and the likes were the “main thing”. The selected Eraseheads’ pieces, notably “Minsan” and “Pare Ko“, were ingeniously arranged and tailor-fitted for the scenes with the help of Manila Philharmonic Orchestra. It made me feel all sort of happy feelings—I was laughing, I was smiling, I was excited, I was over the moon. But, if truth be told, I was a little weepy at some point because everything reminded me of my childhood where life was less complicated. I was drawn to every song. Each representation sparked wistful memories.
The second half shifted to young Joy who lives with her Tiya Dely (Sheila Francisco). The story gradually revealed the real persona of Commander/ Councilor Banlaoi (Jamie Wilson), the main antagonist. While I found the onset of the second part dragging, it was remarkable how Francisco showcased her expertise on stage. Also, Wilson’s portrayal of Banlaoi was spot-on—he perfectly depicted the douchebag of our time (a.k.a. corrupt politicians).
Just so you know, it was not a fairy tale ending. It whacked us with some realities about life, both pleasing and painful.
The plot was not perfect, it has loopholes. But all these gaps were played down by the incredible ensemble, by the orchestra who gave different zest to the Eraserheads’ songs, by the far-fetched props and designs, by the main actors who are truly in a league of their own, and by all the creative people who work tirelessly to put all these stuff together to create an epic masterpiece.
The standing ovation that the cast members received from us and this review I wrote could be an understatement of how good this hit musical is. It will run until May 12, 2019. So don’t miss this out and get your tickets here!
And, to put you in the mood here’s the playlist with some of the unforgettable songs of the band.
Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical revels on a beautiful, albeit shambolic, friendship. It also celebrates the iconic Eraserheads who has forever changed the landscape of the Filipino Rock music and who has, in one way or another, once became an integral part of our lives.