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A musical for our generation

By BUTCH DALISAY, The Philippine STAR Published Oct 01, 2023 5:00 am

Pinoys who came of age in the 1990s like our daughter Demi, born 1974, will swear by Ang Huling El Bimbo as their collective anthem—not just the song, but the whole musical and its score by the Eraserheads, who might as well be Martians to Beatles and Woodstock fans like me. On her last vacation here from her long and happy life in California, Demi made sure that she and her cousin KC got to see the show, no matter the cost, and the two girls stepped out of the theater misty-eyed.

It got me wondering if our generation—boomers, I think we’re called—had something similar to get us all thoughtful and even weepy about what we’d been through. If you were born in the ‘50s, you’d be in your late 60s or in your 70s by now, and that’s a long time to be alive, relatively speaking, especially given that so many of us died so young (read my Qwertyman piece on this from a few weeks ago on “A long grace note”). That usually means college, jobs, marriage, kids, affairs, separations, houses, cars, debts, accidents, ailments, responsibilities, recognitions, disappointments, losses, homecomings, and all the sundry little things that make up a life. That’s what happened to us, and the ordinariness of it doesn’t seem to suggest much worthiness as entertainment material.

Ricky Davao as Leo, Joel Nuñez as Anton, Raul Montesa as Raul, and Nenel Arcayan as Josie

But someone our age apparently thinks otherwise, and beyond just thinking about it, has actually co-written and produced a musical titled Silver Lining for our generation—and our children who may want to understand what their folks went through, and why they think the way they do.

That someone is Jack Teotico, better known these days as the man behind Galerie Joaquin, Fundacion Sanso, and other art-related ventures that have opened doors for Filipino artists here and abroad. (When we last met, he was on his way to Madrid to scout prospects for a gallery there.)

Jack and I happen to be friends for half a century now, having met at UP where we were both student activists. We had actually been grade-school batchmates in La Salle Green Hills but hadn’t really connected there. We were both arrested after martial law, and our lives would inevitably intersect every now and then. An economist by training, he headed the Fiber Industry Development Authority at one time, while I worked for the National Economic and Development Authority. We ran into each other more often when he devoted himself almost exclusively to the art world.

The musical Silver Linings in rehearsal.

Still, it was a great surprise when he told me, at his recent 70th birthday party, that he was staging a musical titled Silver Lining, using songs he had written over the years. I knew Jack also loved music and had been performing with a group called Rockitwell.

“I think it’s time to share our generation’s experience,” Jack said. “Not just the political part, but our story of growing up and growing old, the friendships we make along the way, the trials we’ve been through, and what life looks like today from our point of view.” No literary piece touching on the 1970s would be complete or credible without mentioning or implicating martial law, and it’s there in the dark shadows of Jack’s story, but he’s chosen to foreground what to most people were the more familiar rituals and milestones of early adulthood—high school and college life, relationships, love and loss, acceptance, and intimations of mortality.

Based loosely on real-life events, the musical traces the journey of three high-school buddies who, in their senior years, form a band for their Golden Anniversary homecoming, drawing in their wives and children. They soon decide to work on a musical together—so yes, this a play within a play—and as they do so, the past unfolds in poignant contrast to the present. Even as the narrative unavoidably reaches into the darkest corners of our lives—dependencies, betrayals, disappearances, and such—it ends of a note of hope and redemption.

Working with Palanca-prizewinning scriptwriter Joshua Lim So and musical director Vince Lim, Jack tells these stories through songs with titles like Brothers, Losing Our Way, Rambolan and Atin Ito. The script is in Taglish, given the middle-class milieu of the characters, and the melodies should be easily relatable, reflecting the musical variety of the period covered, from ballads to disco.

Directed by Maribel Legarda, the musical is headlined by veteran actor Ricky Davao as Leo, Joel Nuñez as Anton, Raul Montesa as Raul, and Nenel Arcayan as Josie, with Krystal Brimner playing a special role as Julia.

As every Broadway aficionado knows (and Jack is one), musical theater is a risky business, but I suspect that Jack really isn’t into this for the money, but rather to leave his signature on our cultural memory. He’s done more than enough to support and promote other artists, and indeed it’s time for him to tell his own story—our story.

Silver Lining will have a limited run of only six performances over two weekends at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati City—at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Oct. 20 and 27; 8 p.m. on Saturdays Oct. 21 and 28; and a 3 p.m. matinee on Sundays, Oct. 22 and 29. Book your tickets now via Ticket2Me or