A gift that keeps on giving—and ‘Loving’
It’s only been a few weeks since the idea of organizing “Loving The N.U.T.: A Benefit Concert for Nestor U. Torre” was broached to us by Isay Alvarez. The actress and “teleserye” regular created the role of Gigi in the original West End production of “Miss Saigon,” but for Nestor, Isay essayed the roles of Monina in “Magsimula Ka,” Cory Aquino in “Cory, The Musical” and Katy dela Cruz in the 2013 revival of “Katy! The Musical.”
“Loving The N.U.T.,” which will be presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines at the Main Theater Lobby on Tuesday at 8 p.m., gathers some of the country’s most exciting and enduring performers—and we’re overwhelmed by the warm support we’re getting, as well as the interest it’s generating.
Aside from Isay, “Loving” features Celeste Legaspi, Mitch Valdes, Dulce, Robert Seña, Ricky Davao, Pinky Marquez, Bo Cerrudo, Gian Magdangal, Bobby Martino and Beverly Salviejo, but the “benefit” aspect of the production goes beyond their must-see performances.
Nestor’s friends, former students and colleagues have reached out to us in droves asking how else they could help NUT, as Nestor is known in the entertainment biz—and we’re very grateful for all the support.
But, the concert has turned out to be more than just another show that its exceptional performers can shove aside when the curtains close—“Loving” has become a special gift for Nestor, who suffered a major stroke in February, that keeps on giving!
Aside from the generous donors who have come on board, we were thrilled to get a text message last week from acclaimed visual artist Araceli “Cheloy” Limcaco Dans, who heeded our SOS by upping the gift-giving ante.
Tita Cheloy called us to say that she wanted to contribute to the fund-raising activity—by donating one of her paintings and allowing the group behind the concert to put it up for auction!
No ifs or buts, Tita Cheloy was doing it “for Nestor, whom we all love very much,” she told us.
Through the years, we’ve become a fan of Tita Cheloy’s lovely—and very expensive—calado paintings. Every year, in fact, as Christmas approaches, we would always look forward to the coveted Cheloy Dans calendars, which feature images of her most visible artworks. She gives them away to her closest friends and colleagues, and we’re honored to be one of them!
She is one of Nestor’s closest friends, so we would always hear NUT talking about the days when they acted together in a production of the musical “Oliver!” many decades ago.
Our own “run-in” with Tita Cheloy happened more than 10 years ago, when we acted in the Nestor U. Torre-helmed original Pilipino musical “Mapaghimalang Birhen ng Caysasay,” whose cast and production team included some of the biggest names on the theater, music and art scenes.
We were swept off our feet by our character’s only “aria” “Hulog ng Langit.” In the aforementioned musical, it’s a song sung by Juan Maningcad, the poor fisherman we portrayed who found the miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin of Caysasay as he was fishing on the Pansipit River in 1603.
Also in the cast was Tita Cheloy, who played the lead child character’s lola.
Tita Cheloy and I were in great company.
The production included actors Cocoy Laurel, Ogie Alcasid, Tommy Abuel, Ivy Violan, Lou Veloso, renowned glass sculptor Ramon Orlina (who produced the show), National Artist Ryan Cayabyab (who wrote the music), production designer Leo Rialp and writer-director NUT. What a team!
Tita Cheloy was a comforting presence in the “Caysasay” rehearsals leading up to opening night. And it comes as no surprise that her “presence” now as we help NUT get back on his feet is just as reassuring and worthy of emulation.
Her gorgeous 2015 creation “Mother’s Birthday Gift II” (22” × 30” watercolor on paper) is considered one of Tita Cheloy’s major artworks, and will be introduced for public auction in the “Loving The N.U.T.” concert on Tuesday. For inquiries about the show and the mechanics for the silent bidding, please call Yssa at 0919-9114444.
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