Our day in the sun | Inquirer Entertainment

Our day in the sun

By: - Columnist
/ 01:36 AM February 25, 2016
THE AUTHOR with costar Vincent Rodriguez III               FACEBOOK

THE AUTHOR with costar Vincent Rodriguez III FACEBOOK

It has been a very interesting few months in the United States, what with treading the Broadway boards in “Allegiance” and filming the season finale of CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (at this time, I’m not at liberty to reveal anything about my character and how I fit into things, except to say that I had the best time playing with everyone!).

In addition, I found the time to see a play at East West Players in Los Angeles titled “Criers for Hire” by Giovanni Ortega, directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, and starring Joan Almedilla, G Tongi, Nicole Barredo, Samantha Cutaran and Rudy Martinez.


After all that hustle and bustle, I’ve returned to Manila with time to reflect on what has passed and what I’ve seen.

This current Broadway season is one of diversity. Compared to the season that immediately preceded it, the stories being told and the actors, directors and creative forces tasked with telling them are far more varied.


The new shows currently running are “Hamilton,” “The Color Purple” and “On Your Feet,” with “Shuffle Along,” “Nerds,” “Disaster,” the Sara Bareilles-penned “Waitress” and Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s “Bright Star,” and the revival of “She Loves Me” is about to open.

Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o will make her Broadway debut in “Eclipsed,” while Forest Whitaker stars in the revival of “Hughie.”

It’s a colorful season to be sure, and I’m proud that, despite its short run,

“Allegiance” was a part of it. I can’t think of a better time for our little show to have had its time.

‘Crazy Ex’

As for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” in case you don’t already know its basic plot, Rebecca Bunch (played by Golden Globe winner Rachel Bloom) moves from New York to West Covina, California after a chance meeting with her ex-boyfriend Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III).

She claims that she just needed a change and that her move out west had nothing to do with Josh, but her new acquaintances and friends, Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin), Greg (Santino Fontana, who voiced Hans in “Frozen”) and new boss Darryl (Pete Gardner) know better. Even Josh’s current girlfriend Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz) knows exactly what’s going on.


Oh, and by the way, Josh is Filipino-American.

“Crazy” had a Thanksgiving episode, but it wasn’t just the run-of-the-mill American turkey day celebration. Rebecca was invited to—and this part tickles me to no end—a Filipino-American Thanksgiving! She even decides to cook dinuguan in her kitchen to bring to the Chan home.

During filming, the episode’s writer, Rene Gube (yes, he’s Fil-Am, too) noticed that the said dinuguan didn’t look the way it should, so the crew made adjustments and thereafter the dish looked really delicious.


After one filming day, I headed to downtown LA to see “Criers for Hire,” a story of a Filipino mother, Baby (Almedilla) who leaves her daughter Ligaya (Barredo) in the Philippines, while she goes to the US to find work.

There, Baby meets Meding (Tongi) and Henny (Cutaran), working together as criers at Chinese funerals (if they don’t cry right, this could mean bad luck for the departed soul).

Ligaya follows her mother to the US, and meets a young Colombian-American man, Narciso (Martinez) who aids in her assimilation to American life, culture and music. It is riotously funny and touching, with one gorgeous ballad sung by Almedilla that doesn’t fail to make its listeners shed a tear or two.

The play has a lot of Tagalog, which might be difficult for nonspeakers to comprehend, even with translations projected onstage, but it works. And the performances of the entire cast were strong.

Now, here’s the thrilling part: our experiences and perspectives are being represented in mainstream media, whether onstage or on television. It’s something I never dreamed I would see in my lifetime.

Sure, we’ll see the occasional token Asian face on “Glee” or “NCIS,” but a Fil-Am Thanksgiving episode written by a Fil-Am writer? A musical on the Japanese-American internment directed by a Japanese-Chinese-Canadian (Stafford Arima) whose music and lyrics were written by a Chinese-American who also cowrote the book (Jay Kuo), starring actors of Asian descent?

It’s remarkable because culturally, if a bunch of my friends are evidence of this, Asian-Americans aren’t normally encouraged to get into the arts as a profession. I have Asian-American actor friends who said it was easier for them to come out as gay to their parents than to declare that they were going to be actors for a living.

Perhaps it’s because our parents, besides drilling in us the importance of a good education, feared that we may not be able to support ourselves financially if we have a career in the arts. Maybe it’s because we don’t see enough of our faces, or hear enough of our stories.

But the times, they are a-changin’. It’s incredibly exciting to be around to witness all of this, to see that it is possible for an Asian musical theater leading man to get the girl, to be the cool, handsome, hunky bro in a network TV show, to direct and write.

Whether I stepped on that stage at the Longacre night after night, said my lines with my Fil-Am costar, or laughed and cried along with the hired criers, I was aware that artists of Asian descent were, en masse, getting our day in the sun.

To all these wonderful artists, keep inspiring, pushing and being creative. Represent!

Thank you!

It was my 45th birthday just this past Monday, and my Facebook timeline and Twitter feeds were filled with greetings. Thank you, everyone! My heart is absolutely full.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: “Allegiance, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, G Tongi, Joan Almedilla, Jon Lawrence Rivera, Lupita Nyong'o, Nicole Barredo, Samantha Cutaran
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our entertainment news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.