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Theater actor Aaron Ching; 23

CHING in Peta’s 2013 production of “Maxie the Musical.” JUDE BAUTISTA

Stage actor Aaron Ching—known to local theater fans for his roles in such productions as “Stageshow,” “Katy,” “Maxie” and “Lorenzo,” and the GMA 7 show “Kambal Sirena”— passed away on June 30, at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila. He collapsed at a CCP theater festival. Reported cause of death was “gastrointestinal bleeding resulting from ulcers.” Ching was cremated on Saturday. Jude Bautista, contributor

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Filipino ‘Engineer’ a ‘sleazier’ smash hit in Miss Saigon revival in London

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THE STANDOUT, SCENE STEALER Jon Jon Briones came from ensemble to front and center and the leading role where every night is a standing ovation. MATTHEW MURPHY/ WWW.MISS-SAIGON.COM

The heat is on in “(Miss) Saigon” and the critics have spoken: Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer in the hit musical’s revival production in London’s West End is “the show’s standout, stealing every scene his Engineer comes close to.” This is the verdict from the premier theater website Broadway World UK, which hails the Filipino-American actor for “bringing freshness and exuberance to a role he knows so very well.”

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Becca Godinez returns to local stage after 33 years

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BECCA Godinez (right) introduces Maxwel S. Corpuz (left) and Ellen D. Williams (background) to Manila audiences. HYDEE ABRAHAN

LOS ANGELES—After being away from the Philippine stage for 33 years, LA-based Becca Godinez returns with “Flipzoids.” The actress’ character in Ralph B. Peña’s play couldn’t be more apt—Aying is a Filipino woman in Southern California who longs for her homeland.

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Guerrero’s bittersweet victory recalled

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GUERRERO. Similarly snubbed

The ongoing furor over Nora Aunor’s noninclusion in the new list of National Artists calls to mind a similar experience we had many years ago, when theater pioneer Wilfredo ‘‘Freddie’’ Ma. Guerrero was similarly passed up for the signal honor.

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Homegrown Lily blossoms in Prague

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CHU (second from left) in Prague Shakespeare Company’s “Cymbeline,”

We get a kick out of hearing the success stories of homegrown Filipino talents getting cast in substantial roles in theater or film productions abroad. But, what many of them don’t have is Lily Chu’s consistency and knack for reinvention: In the three years since she decided to move to Prague with her Czech husband, she has already appeared in 10 substantial plays (“Hamlet,” “Marat/Sade,” “Macbeth”) and musicals (“Rent,” “Chess”)—and counting!

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