Last year, 9 Works Theatrical and Globe Live! produced their first original Filipino musical based on the music of APO Hiking Society, Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!. The critically acclaimed feel-good musical made an audience of different generations laugh and cry while resisting the urge to sing along the greatest hits of APO. Answering everyone’s Panalangin (including mine), Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! is back for a second run from February 2 to March 17.
Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! is a heartwarming story of love and friendship. Set during the country’s turbulent 70’s, a college barkada decides to join a singing and songwriting contest. As talented as the young friends are, they find that like real life (especially during Martial Law), finding the right lyric to the perfect melody is not as easy as it seems.I’ve already seen the show twice during its first run. You would think that I was crazy for watching it more than once. Let alone twice (and three times more). In theater, each show is different and an opportunity to look at the production on a different perspectives. Get different seats! The first time I was in the front row. It was more intimate like I was part of the barkada. And the second, I was in the middle. I got to see what was happening on all sides of the stage on a macro-level. Same show, different experiences. Reruns are even more exciting. Expectations are higher and the audience (first timers or not) are harder to please. I was excited about the little tweaks here and there and how they’d contribute to make the show even better.
Musikal nAPO 2019 fine tuned the details. Once the show started, I immediately noticed the improvement on the stage design. A projected background of 70s campus with acacia trees added an ounce of nostalgia. Transitions were smoother and the mission of each scene and character were clearer. What struck me the most was the last scene, the production really put an effort to make it more impactful. I almost cried. I won’t reveal too much but I was inceptionized.
Mark Bautista returns as Rick the group’s lyricist. Mark makes everyone giddy with his romantic rendition of Di Na Natuto. The first few notes would be enough to make the titas (and the inner tita in you) squeal with excitement. Another favorite is the emotional Nakapagtataka. This song has been revived multiple times but not as a duet. Rick enters the stage instantly luring you in with the intro as he sings it to his girlfriend, Anna.
Rita Daniela takes a break as Aubrey (My Special Daddy) and is back to the 70s as Anna. Anna gets the best punchlines. Subtly delivered but would produce the biggest laughs. Like the jokes, Rita’s Tuyo Na’ng Damdamin is sang with ease and control. Not too much. Just enough to strike heart strings. Like you’re waiting for her to burst and belt out but… tuyo na’ng damdamin. Her last note is a last long sigh before she finally decides to walk away. This run, Mica Javier is also casted as alternate of Anna.
Jobim Javier is Butch, the resident playboy. He is until he meets the girl of his dreams Michelle (Sab Jose) who has a boyfriend. Butch is also a crowd and personal favorite. I love him in Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba and Suntok sa Buwan. Another couple that will put a smile on your face is Sonny and Jane. The couple is threatened by LDR when Jane‘s father is assigned to the States. You’d love their fancy antics in Show Me A Smile.
Jon Philippe Go’s Ray has the heaviest storyline among all the characters but his crystal clear voice lightens the room each time. His runs in Batang-Bata Ka Pa are enough for one to see Musikal nAPO again. Again and again.
Three more reasons are Jaime (Jef Flores), Donnie (Jon Abella) and Bobby (Vyen Villanueva), the constants of the show. They nearly never leave the stage. They are the ever reliable friends: single and almost always on campus grounds. Haha! They are almost in all numbers and thanks to the rerun, I was able to focus more on them (and their harmonies- Listen!) this time around. But what really takes it home is Saan Na Nga Ba?. The nostalgia kicks in big time with this song. Suddenly, you remember your friends that you don’t talk to anymore. The friends that passed. Makes you wonder: saan na napunta ang panahon?
Having seen the musical the third time, I still ended up on my feet during curtain call clapping ’til my hands hurt. It still brought the same and maybe even more emotions I had the first time. I laughed. I cried. I was moved. Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! wakes our sleeping nationalism and calls each one of us to act and be always vigilant. This was what 70s nostalgia was all about: using art and music to express love for the country. I didn’t mind overhearing parents explaining the 70s and martial law references to their sons and daughters. It’s important to keep the conversation going so we don’t repeat history. More than APO’s timeless music and the incredible talent behind this production, the message of the show easily makes it a classic.
Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! will be back at Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Bonifacio Global City, on February 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 22-24, March 1-3, 8, 10 & 15-17, 2019, at 8:00pm on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, and 2:30pm on Saturdays & Sundays. For tickets, contact 586.7105, 0917.554.5560, or Ticketworld at 891.9999.