Manila goes nuts with theatrical rendition of Peanut’s ‘You’re a good man, Charlie Brown’

You probably grew up knowing Snoopy and the rest of the gang, which Charles Schulz had immortalized in his internationally known comic strip Peanuts. For more than five decades, people had been reading quick-witted dialogues and satirical exchanges between Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Shroeder, and Sally that it feels like you’re part of the group at one point or another. But this time, avid reader or not, Charlie Brown finally let the world know about how depressing it can be on his shoes amid being in the colorful world that he’s in. The popular, Tony Award-winning, comedy musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is finally staged in Manila through the efforts of 9 Works Theatrical that opened on Saturday February 11 at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza, along Ayala Avenue in Makati City.

Peanut GangCarla Guevara-Laforteza plays the crabby Lucy in ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’.

Get to sympathize with dear ol’ Charlie played by Robbie Guevara as he recounts everyday occurrences in his life that depresses him like not being able to play a kite, being the only person who doesn’t receive a Valentine card, or even the fact that Snoopy only likes him because he feeds the well-loved white and black dog. Listen and be entertained as the Charlie’s list of woes goes on and on and get inspired on how he gets to cope with it the best he can. Together with commendable actors in the local theatre scene Carla Guevara-Laforteza as the vain and crabby Lucy, Franco Laurel as the blanket loving studious Linus, Tonipet Gaba as the musically-talented Schroeder, Sweet Plantado-Tiongson as funny and quirky Sally, and Lorenz Martinez as the forever loved pet Snoopy, You’re a Good Manwas able to bring to life the humor that reminds everyone of mundane things that can make a person happy or sad.

Just like in the comic strip each character was able to tackle mature themes in a much simpler tone making the audience laugh in the everyday comical life occurrence that they just overlook.

Peanut GangThe brother and sister Robbie Guevara and Carla Guevarra-Laforteza play Charlie and Lucy, respectively.

Directed by Michael Williams along with assistant director Toff de Venecia, musical director for instrumentation Joseph Tolentino, musical director for vocals Sweet Plantado-Tiongson, choreographer Deana Aquino, scenographer Mio Infante, lighting designer Martin Esteva, sound designer Chuck Ledesma, costume designers Mio Infante and Twinkle Zamora, photographer Richard Lazaro, and graphic designer Larry Palma delivers a performance you’ve always dreamed that a local artistic team will come up with. The whole musical has showcased each actor’s talent while staying true to their characters.

Peanut GangThe entire Peanuts Gang are seen in this photograph.

“I know that I don’t only speak for myself — in fact most, if not all, who are involved in this production will agree with me — but doing a local version of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown has always been one of my dreams,” executive producer Santi Sta. Maria expressed in one interview. “It’s just one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do, my little contribution to the local theater scene.”

Each of the cast finds his own reason to play their character and similarities to making it more enjoyable for them to portray their roles. “The material is very witty and requires a lot of comic timing from the actor,” Franco said regarding his characterization of Linus.

“The challenge for me is to find the balance between caricature and reality so that I can bring out the truth in what I’m doing even if from the perspective of a child.”

Overall, the audience enjoyed the performance as everyone made sure there was never a dull moment. The backdrop depicts the colorful cartoonish world that the Peanuts casts are in and they definitely woke up the ‘child’ in everyone with their stellar singing and dancing performances.

Friday shows are at 8 p.m,, Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3:30 p.m.

A limited number of performances are now available for fundraising and block-buying. For tickets and other inquiries, call (632) 557-5860, 586-7105 or +639175545560 or email for inquiries.


On the wings of the fallen

Vampires and the wolves are passé.
But guess what? Angels have all fallen and crashed into the young adult fiction section of our bookstores. Killing the monotonous vampire-mortal scenario, a good fallen angel and a mortal falling in love seems to be the latest reading fad for teens.
First, there’s Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, it’s the usual there’s a new boy at school and the straight-laced studious girl’s interest was piqued by his bad boy manners. There are some similarities with Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight series, that you can almost ask if Fitzpatrick just replaced vampires with her fallen angel character.
Giving that bad boy vibe is a fallen angel named Patch. He is sure to keep the female readers hooked. There are enough twists that will keep you reading, especially since the protagonist Nora can be a little too immature with her decisions, making you want to read what’s the outcome of her love struck choices. It has a good cover, judge if it’s a good read.
Falling with a big thud
Landing on the fifth spot of the New York Times best seller list last December, Fallen by Lauren Kate promises a new take on this relatively new fantasy genre where wings and not fangs are in. Certain elements make this one a rather compelling read. Kate introduced an agnostic protagonist that later on worked for her advantage, who was admitted to a reform school for being accused of certain occurrences in her life.
It was a vividly dark story, rich with mystery that even in the middle of the book, you’ll still doubt if your guesses are right or not. The setting is really original which was good to veer away with the usual high school drama present in teen fictions. Kate was able to weave romance into a gothic take on religion, which is a breath, if not of fresh air then definitely, of something new. But in the end of course, the sinisterly handsome fallen angel gets the girl.
Both of these fallen angel-themed books are cliffhangers as sequels are to be released later this year. Teen fiction has gone to a new dimension or better yet to a new time and space.

Warning: Monster album sighted


Archipelago’s Travel Advisory

By Angelique P. Manalad, Contributor

After 72 gigs, two number one singles and two music videos later, super band Archipelago finally launches its debut long-playing album Travel Advisory.

Composed of 14 songs, the CD talks about different kind of weather-the kind of musical storm dauntless music lovers welcome as a fresh breeze.

An amalgam of several highly acclaimed bands-Yan Yuzon and Wendell Garcia from Pupil; Chad Rialp from Liquid Jane and Tempestuous Jone and Pat Tirano from TOI and Monkeyspank-Archipelago fuses grunge, trip-hop, alternative and blues rock genres. Between them, the band members possess enough musical virtuosity and song writing creativity to launch more than a dozen chart toppers and rock classics. That’s exactly what they are poised to do with Travel Advisory.

Archipelago has been thrice nominated in the 2009 Asia Voice Independent Music Awards based in Malaysia. Their first single ÒMRIÓ is nominated for Best Rock Song and Best Moody-Melancholic Masterpiece, while its video became nominated for Most Mind-Blowing Music Video.

Most of the tracks in the album are positively infectious and guarantee a case of LSS (last song syndrome). The opening track and current single “Black Box” premiered not only in Manila but also on Hot 100.7 FM in Athens, Georgia and United States on September 1. It features an intricate musical arrangement that compliments Yuzon’s throaty vocals.

ÒMay1,” the second single of the album, has already reached the top place in local charts. The song talks about different scenarios that unfold in life. “Sa bawat oras mo’y may himala [With one’s every hour, a miracle],” it proclaims. And that’s not they have to preach. The track “Lumapit,” which sounds like the Creator talking one-on-one with listeners, is what Yuzon calls a “gospel song.”

The title track “Travel Advisory,” a song which most of the band members co-written, delivers a message to the rest of the world. “it’s a political message to the governments of the first world countries that issue travel warnings to their citizens against traveling to the Philippines whereas they base such warnings on stuff that goes in a small part of our country and shouldn’t be taken as the overall state of how the country is as a whole,”  Yuzon shared.

Songs written by Rialp-“Engine Breaker” and “One of Three” scream testosterone overload as the former takes you for a ride in the fast lane while the latter is a narrative about a rock star’s lifestyle involving sex, drugs and money.

Gaan explores a vein of irony with “What You Want.” It paints a frightening scenario of the consequences of some things that we desire. In the song “Eternal,” haunting vocals and guitar strumming blend to deliver a smooth hypnotic piece.

Travel Advisory delivers an exhilarating musical journey that assures rockers arrive in better shape.

Peace and love anyone?


By Angelique Manalad Contributor

With the H1N1 pandemic in full swing, the fall out of the global economic crunch and the Con-Ass debacle, these are alarming times to say the least. Amid these troubles, it is wise to let music do all the healing for our weary souls. Thankfully, this country boasts a lot of musical talents and Pisenlav is one of the many.

Composed of drummer Benmark Favorito and bassist Fernando Se, Pisenlav was born in the campus of the University of Santo Tomas. The duo was playing music in a band since 2000.

The Eraserheads and The Beatles heavily influenced Pisenlav’s repertoire. Favorito and Se described their songs as belonging to the alternative rock genre.

In 2005, they recorded a five tracked independent EP but also experienced the hardships of being an unsigned band with members coming and leaving, going to unpaid gigs or having to sell tickets in order to be able to perform. But not losing hope in pursuing their passion, they contacted Jethro Estacio (Guitarist) and Fernando’s high school classmate, Jinky Golifardo (Guitarist). As a four-piece band they formed Mister Eddie Wagwag with Favorito doing the vocals.

Adding a certain twang for the band, Kate Lozano (Main Vocals) who was Favorito’s high school classmate became the final puzzle piece. Although some members resisted the idea of having a female vocalist, in the end they finally agreed that it was one of the best decisions that they made.

Combining different influences, Pisenlav gave birth to distinct chill-out sound blended with pop rock, alternative and reggae. Their songs, while being thematically linked to love, transports you to a place that bears the ambiance of a seaside escape where you can relax on a swaying hammock.

The band collaborates in writing their songs and hopes to finish their first independent album by this year with Lozano’s hypnotic voice in each track promising nothing but sweet serenity for those who will lend their ears.

Today Pisenlav is busy making it through the barriers having their song “Fill You Up,” debut last week at RJ 105.9 Underground Radio’s Daily Demo Delivery. The band also got to play their music for a good cause when they performed for the World Health Organization during the “World No Tobacco Day” held at the Rajah Sulayman Park, Roxas Boulevard.

According to the band, they are currently seeking ways to connect to a wider audience. “We launched the beta version of the official band website at,” Estacio shared. “It’s not yet fully launched as we will be adding more stuff soon. Like the official band blog, wherein we write about the life and times of an indie band in the Philippines. Also, we are planning launch a contest on the website wherein winners will win a free copy of the album.”

Thankfully, there’s still enough Pisenlav to go around.

Flashin’ for all to see


(unedited copy- Fudge magazine, April- May 2009 issue)

Who among you have watched the movie Step up 2? Raise your hand. Well, if you can still remember that scene where they suddenly danced in the train and received different reactions from their fellow passengers, brace yourselves for it won’t be long until that same scenario happens on MRT or LRT as the flash mob craze finally arrives in the country.

So, what is flash mob? (No, it’s not indecent public flashing okay?) It is a rapidly growing international phenomenon, flash mob performers assemble in a public place, display a unique action – much like in the famed Grand Central freeze where 200 people suddenly froze in place for 5 minutes— and finally disperse leaving the audience amazed by the performance.

As Tang introduces their new line of thirst quenchers which is the Tang Fruit Teaz, they also came up with the first ever user-generated youth online show in the country dubbed as Teazperiments hosted by top young celebrities Ketchup Eusebio and Andi Manzano.

The show gathers students from different school organizations to form their own renditions of original flash mob performances. “What’s nice about the show is students can get involved with these by expressing their creativity and kung ano yung trip na pwepwede nila gawin. Trip lang ‘to e! Kumbaga yung nag-eenjoy lang kayo and then kinakuhanan nyo lang video then upload it on the web. What’s nice about it is this is a competition so you will win something out of it.” Ketchup animatedly shares. We know Ketchup as one of the renowned young actors as he started gracing the limelight since he was 15 years old appearing on different shows such as Berks, It’s A Guy Thing and the recent indie film Ploning.

“It squeezes out the creativity in the students and it challenges the students even more especially we know that the students are very gifted nowadays. This is one way of letting them know and to show off how creative they really are.” Andi added, who is also a model, Magic 89.9 DJ and MTV VJ.

“Teens naturally want to explore things around them, hoping to discover something fun and interesting that would cure their boredom,” says Cindy Abella, Brand manager for Tang Fruit Teaz.  “Through Teazperiments, we thought this natural curiosity can be geared towards creative and exciting outputs.”

Abella further explains that the best part about this show is that the teens themselves can judge who created the most fun and creative flash mob presentation.  They vote online by logging on to

Although the first wave of competition only includes 7 school organization which were UP Theater Council, Ateneo De Manila University’s Dulaang Sibol and Tanghalang Ateneo, San Sebastian Theater Arts Guild, La Consolacion College Manila’s Arté.Comm and FEU-FERN Theater Society which will end by the end of March, Teazperiment will have another round of competition where anyone, all ages, shapes and sizes can join and brew up those creative juices. Go and log on to the site and see for yourselves if you and you’re friends can beat others in the flash mob craze



(unedited version: Fudge magazine, June-July 2009 Issue)
After winning the 2006 Nescafe Soundskool, Hilera take a crack at creating their own sound. Hilera comes out with their new album entitled Nuthouse which they are proud of as it literally spells blood, sweat and tears for the band.

Being an indie band from 2007 to 2008 due to some corporate matters, they decided to build their own recording studio in their house named Raw Chord as music remains to be their top passion and hunger for that certain high that only delivering music can give. Even though they didn’t have a single idea of what to do, and sometime result to consult with videos over Youtube or ask for some instructions with professionals they worked with they successfully recorded every tracks in the album (except one which is Ded, ded, ded).

“Nagsimula kasi kami like from scratch…inano namin kung ano bang mga praktikal na dapat gawin so naisip namin ‘mag-start kaya tayo ng recording studio?’ talagang wala kaming idea like kung pano simulan yung studio. So, talagang nung nagsimula kami ng album, talagang nagsimula muna kami ng studio, habang sinusulat naming yung mga kanta pinagaaralan naming yung recording process na sobrang frustrating…Super D-I-Y to the max!” Ivan Garcia, the band’s bassist, disclosed. Though they encountered some difficulties such as having to come up with all the right equipments little by little, trying not to disturb the neighbors too much and lacking sleep, the group is happy to announce that they can now serve their end product.

Nuthouse may be an offensive term pertained to our country by John Lennon after their 1966 visit in Manila (blame it to you-know-who), but taking it as an inspiration Hilera named their second album Nuthouse to attest that this so-called nuthouse can produce music at its best.

Hilera came to the music scene after winning the Nescafe Soundskool representing Kalayaan College three years ago; where the band emerged as the champion even though they weren’t selected during the first eliminations, but as a chosen wildcard among the other participants they were able to compete again and overcome the battle, talk about sheer luck. But it was not all luck; they won and conquered the music scene even after the interschool competition after releasing their self-titled debut album which includes the hits “Define” and “Rhyme without reason” proving that the trio has the musical talents worthy for all to hear.

With their latest offer, Chris Padilla (vocals), Ivan and Bobby Padilla (drums) experimented with new instruments giving new flavors to their music that we’re used to. “May mga dinagdag kaming mga instrumento; brass section, trumpet, saxophone, baritone tractor, may keyboard…tapos halos kalahati ng mga kanta ginamitan ng upright bass.” Chris shares. Exploration of growth in their musicality was a great journey and challenge for the group, even their song writing changed, as they need to conform to the new instruments they wanted to use. “Ang hirap tugtugin, ang hirap dalhin, ang hirap patunugin,” they said with a laugh but are happy with the final sound.

As for the song writing, Ivan being the chief lyricist is used to short poetry like haikus even back in highschool. Adapting the style, their compositions are short and are left for the listeners to interpret at times. The melody comes first for the band. Almost each song in the album is written in English but this isn’t to say that they don’t like to use their native tongues but just to be able to be understood by a wider audience.

Nuthouse is composed of 16 songs where Radical being the carrier single being played over the airwaves as of press time. “Gusto kasi namin na yung first naming na ilabas na single medyo mabigat e, yung radical tungkol yun sa dinedeny mo yung sarili mo pero hindi ka makatanggi sa sarili mong will.” Chris explained. “Expression din ng banda pagdating sa struggle sa sarili.” Ivan added. They hope to inspire anyone who will lend their ears and inspire other aspiring bands to take that leap as they did. Hilera may be one of the young bands in the country but they clearly showed that when it comes to making music, nothing is too hard to do if you would just put your mind and heart to it.

the power of words


By Angelique Manalad
(unedited version of articles in Fudge magazine Feb-March 2009 issue p.71)

It was in late 2004 that Carren Cecilia “Kooky” Tuason started putting into motion her vision of instilling confidence to everybody by means of creative self-expression, specifically through spoken words. A shy child herself, she wanted to be able to encourage people to come out of their safety zones and embrace the glory and satisfaction that artistic talents can give.
Spoken word, as defined by Kooky, is basically performance poetry. It doesn’t essentially pertain to poetry that is written or taught in school. It’s like storytelling and doesn’t stick to the certain parameters set in poetry. Spoken word aims to be able to get the message across and touch hearts of people. “It’s about being real, it’s about being you. It’s about exposing yourself.”
Early 2005, Kooky’s first album “Romancing Venus” came out. It became a good instrument of introducing spoken poetry to Pinoys especially the Filipinas. The album features Kooky’s poems of love spoken by her friends who gladly gave their support and lend their voices. Some of the women in the first album were TV personalities Angel Aquino, Iza Calzado, Cindy Kurleto; musicians Barbie Almalbis, Wawi Navarroza; journalist Kara David; and designer Kate Torralba.
Although Kooky never took formal education when it comes to poetry, she always had a passion for writing and a poet by heart. “Yung pagsusulat ko kasi, it’s my way of healing myself. Kasi madami akong dinaan na things in my past…ang tingin ko kasi kakampi ko yung pen and paper…Nakikita ko kasi yung poetry is healing e, so, I know that it can also heal others.”

Receiving positive feedbacks, Romancing Venus gave birth to a new movement adopting the name with an advocacy of healing through art, music and literature. They set themselves to empower those who were victims of abuse, give workshops and seminars and perform. “It feels great because in expressing ourselves, the Venuses would also like to encourage other people–young women especially to speak their truths and say what is on their mind. There is so much power in that.” columnist Karen Kunawicz, who is a part of the movement, said This also paved way to a second volume of the album the following year, which evolves to a wider range of life-themed poems and the background music also differs from the first one.
Since everyone in the movement are females, hence the name Venus, some people saw them as a sisterhood of some sort.

But as Buchi Emecheta, a Nigerian novelist, said that a writer is a writer and writing is sexless. Kooky soon called up some of her guy friends who also have the same beliefs and aspirations. She crossed paths with Juddha Paolo, who is not known to many writes poems himself but a little hesitant to call himself as a poet.

Juddha had been to spoken word for quite awhile even before he met Kooky, “I did my first poem in States, back in 1997. When I first got into ABS, I was doing spoken word in 2003, it’s something I’ve been doing even in the States. In 1998 the movie, Slum, came out with Saul Williams. I was able to meet Saul William in Los Angeles that was like the baptizing of me into the spoken poetry movement that was 1998, that was 10 years ago… I actually been into spoken word for quite awhile, it’s more of rap. I’m a hip hopper so it’s like rapping; I’ve always been doing that.” Along with Juddha, some guys also involved in Romancing Venus are writer Moki Villegas, photographer Erving Go and many others.

Kooky is brewing up a new group that will finally make both male and female feel equally welcomed which would be called “word weavers”. Another evidence of the success of spoken word penetrating the main stream was the radio show which was offered to Kooky as the station manager was really a supporter of the two albums released. “Nung una sobrang daming ano kasi nga mahiyain ako diba? I can perform on stage but mag-tuloy-tuloy ka na magdaldal e hindi nga ako nagdadaldal. Mas nagsusulat ako e, it’s a big challenge for me. Pero dahil naniwala sila sa akin tapos dahil maraming taong nagtiwala sa ginagawa ko tuloy-tuloy na sya.”

The third album was entitled “Bigkas Pilipinas” taken from her radio show’s title. The show features spoken poetry from other countries, guests who are closet poets who finally get to be heard and celebrities who read their favorite poems. As of today, Bigkas Pilipinas is the only spoken word show in the country airing for more than a year.

The impact of the show and spoken word still amazes Kooky even today, she had this listener who was a detainee in a jail and now releases his own album. Even though it was a struggle at first, Kooky and the rest of the movement is reaping the reward of finally being able to erase the boring connotation of poetry and awaking the minds and creativity of a lot of people.

Spoken poetry is receiving popularity in many parts of the world and it’s light is shining bright in our country as well. “I think, by and by, people would start understanding the power of the word. They would understand that they do have capability to control their environment. It’s growing, slowly but surely. And the more people would understand it, the more people see the magic of it, the more beautiful this world would be. Everything begins with the word.” Juddha stated.
Some of the other Venuses are musicians Anabel Bosch, Charms Tianzon, Aimee Marcos, Maegan Aguilar, Nityalila; writer Ginny Mata; and photographers Honey Cruz and Romina Diaz.
The movement has regular gigs which can be checked out at Kooky’s site at