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What keeps Ateneo-La Salle ‘war’ going

By: - Desk Editor
/ 06:04 PM January 23, 2012

Ateneo and La Salle—“ne’er the twain shall meet,” insists former corporate executive-turned composer Ed Gatchalian, creator of “Rivalry,” a new original musical about the intense competition that seems to affect the personal lives of many students and alumni of both schools.

“It’s been on my mind for 30 years,” Gatchalian told the Inquirer in a recent interview.

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He recalled that Noel Trinidad, a classmate at the Ateneo since Grade 4, first had an idea for a musical about sports rivalry, which was playfully titled “Crispa-Toyota, May Araw Din Kayo.” But, at the time, Gatchalian was busy with his corporate job—and Trinidad with his acting career.

Returning home years later after working in Vietnam, Gatchalian resolved to devote his time to music. Watching an Ateneo-La Salle basketball match in 2007, he said he couldn’t believe that his alma mater lost the game.

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“I couldn’t get out of it for over a year,” he related. “It didn’t help that my youngest daughter was a diehard La Salle fan and she kept ribbing me. I thought that might be a good angle for a musical.”

“Rivalry” is set in 1968. The plot involves two families, the Valencias from Ateneo and the Basilios from La Salle—whose lives get entangled when their clan’s offspring compete in sports, business and romantic interests.

Gatchalian wrote the music and collaborated with Joel Trinidad (lyrics) and Jaime del Mundo (book, direction).

After working together for the first time in another musical for a corporate client in 2007, Gatchalian and Del Mundo realized that they shared the same vision of producing original musicals that would attract a wider audience.

The question is, why would people outside the elite Ateneo-La Salle community bother to watch “Rivalry”?

Gatchalian cited an example to prove he’s on the right track: “Take ‘Miss Saigon,’ it’s not really about the Vietnam War but about love. In ‘Rivalry,’ the themes are likewise universal—love, joys, fears. Ordinary people can relate to that.”

Del Mundo, a University of the Philippines alumnus, explained: “The advantage of my being from UP (or any other school), is I can look for a more universal aspect of the ‘rivalry,’ how to understand it without being from Ateneo or La Salle.”

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The cast speaks

The cast, some of whom are from both schools, shared their views on joining “Rivalry.”

Jeremy Aguado, former rock singer and a theater actor for the past 12 years: “Aside from playing a La Sallite, I really am from La Salle Green Hills. It’s an honor to carry our alma mater and bring it to the stage. Meeting Ed, working with him and listening to his plans for Philippine theater inspired me … It’s gonna be good.”

Mako Alonso, a theater actor in college currently playing in a rock band: “The odd thing is, I’m from Ateneo and I’m playing a La Sallite. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the fence… you see that [the characters] are different and yet the same. Tito Ed has composed music that is very catchy and melodic. Audiences will leave the theater with the tunes in their heads.”

Felix Rivera, who has acting credits from Repertory Philippines and Atlantis Productions: “It’s refreshing to work with original material. Like Jeremy, I’m honored. I’m a proud La Sallite playing an Atenean. People may think the rivalry is just about basketball, but it’s a lot more than that.”

Athena Tibi, pop singer, a semifinalist in the 2002 “Star For A Night” talent search which pitted her against Sarah Geronimo: “It’s my first time to play a theater role. I’m nervous but excited to be in an original musical. The experience is inspiring me to do more theater.”

Gatchalian gave a glimpse into the music: “It is the way I would like to tell the story in melodies, rhythms and chords … I don’t have strict rules to follow. The numbers range from swing to rock to ballads, Burt Bacharach-style … I look at each number as a story in itself.”

Asked if there are things that really distinguish an “Atenista” from a “La Sallista,” Gatchalian flippantly recounted his college days: “La Sallites in my time really feel that they were more debonair. A lot of them were mestizos; most Ateneans were brown-skinned. When we crossed paths at a party, talo kami. So dinadaan namin sa Shakespeare … prose and poetry … bottom line, the girl gets attracted to the La Sallite on first sight, but the Atenean gets to talk to the girl the whole night.”

(As somebody who went to high school and college at La Salle, this writer disagrees. Of course.)

(“Rivalry: Ateneo-La Salle The Musical” opens Jan. 27 at the Meralco Theater and runs until March 11. Call 891-9999.)

***

UP Diliman recital

Classical singer Joseph Legaspi will have a recital, “Ouverture de L’ame (Opening To My Soul)” tomorrow, 6:30 p.m. at the Abelardo Hall Auditorium, University of the Philippines College of Music in Diliman, QC. Call 929-6963.

‘Rom-Com’

Songs and laughter make a fine combination as Jon Santos teams up with The CompanY in the show “Rom-Com (A Romantic Comedy Special)” on Jan. 27 at the Music Museum. “It is great to work with artists who raise the bar,” Santos told Inquirer recently. “And the members of The CompanY certainly do that.”

Asked whether “Rom-Com” is more Jon Santos than The CompanY or vice-versa, Santos quipped, “I thought I would have ‘Com’ to myself and have nothing to contribute to ‘Rom,’ pero I found that may nalalaman naman pala ako sa romance. And you have to experience The CompanY’s brand of comedy, on the other hand. It’s so effortless, pakiramdaman lang, because they’ve known each other… forever!”

Call 721-6726.

Red Horse Muziklaban

Five amateur bands—Curbside, Mind of Clay, Zephaniah, Leviticus and David vs Goliath—compete at the 13th Red Horse Beer Muziklaban Grand Finals on Jan. 28, 6 p.m., Aseana City, Macapagal Boulevard in Parañaque. The event also features Joey “Pepe” Smith, Slapshock, Greyhoundz, Kjwan, Wilabaliw, Razorback, Mayonnaise, Ibarra, Gayuma, Even, Hatankaru and Light of Luna. Gates open at 4 p.m.

Singing cops, soldiers

Eleven of the country’s singing cops and soldiers compete in the first-ever “AMWSLAI (Air Materiel Wings Savings and Loan Association) AFP-PNP Singing Stars Battle of the Champions” on Feb. 2 at the Music Museum.

Proceeds will go to the families and dependents of servicemen and women killed in action.

Evanescence

American rock band Evanescence, featuring cofounder Amy Lee (vocals, keyboards), performs on February 19 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with British group Bush as special guest.

Formed in 1995 in Little Rock, Arkansas, the band shot to prominence in 2003 with the release of its debut studio album, “Fallen,” which sold more than 17 million copies and won two Grammys for the group. Among its hits are “Bring Me To Life,” “Going Under,” “My Immortal,” “Everybody’s Fool” and “Call Me When You’re Sober.” Call 911-5555.

OMD at Big Dome

British synth-pop group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) performs on March 12, 8 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Its hits include “Enola Gay,” “Souvenir,” “Locomotion,” “So In Love,” “If You Leave,” “(Forever) Live & Die,” “Secret” and “Dreaming.”

The Big Dome concert is part of OMD’s “History of Modern” tour in support of its latest album of the same title.

‘Fuerza Bruta’

The interactive live event “Fuerza Bruta,” which combines theater, aerial stunts and dance moves, will have a series of performances starting Feb. 14 at the Manila Hotel Tent.

Call 320-1111 or log on to www.hoopla.ph.

A1, Jeff Timmons, Blue

A three-in-one concert featuring British-Norwegian group A1, ex-98 Degrees vocalist Jeff Timmons and British pop vocal quartet Blue will be held Feb. 25 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

A1 is known for the songs “Be the First to Believe” and “Same Old Brand New You,” as well as its cover of A-ha’s “Take on Me.”

Timmons was with 98 Degrees when the group recorded “True to Your Heart,” a duet with Stevie Wonder in the movie “Mulan.” The album “98 Degrees and Rising” yielded the hit singles “The Hardest Thing,” “I Do (Cherish You)” and “Because of You.”

Blue’s chart-topping hits include “All Rise,” “Too Close,” “If You Come Back,” “Fly By II,” “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” (featuring vocals from its original composer, Elton John),  and “U Make Me Wanna.”

Mowelfund benefit

Mowelfund is organizing a benefit Celebrity Poker Tournament with a guaranteed prize money of P2 million on Jan. 24-29 at the Midas Touch Poker Sports Club, No. 7 Captain Henry Javier St. Barangay Oranbo, Pasig City. All games start at 3 p.m. Proceeds will go to Mowelfund beneficiaries and the Mowelfund Film Institute Educational Program. Call 727-1961 and 0927-9443696.

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TAGS: Ateneo, Entertainment, La Salle, Music, Musical, Theater
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