Backstory’s out!

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It’s been a week since the big event. I’m not a huge fan of celebrating anniversaries, commemoration days, and all that (except for Christmas and Easter perhaps). But realising that seven days have already passed since the project, I can’t help but look back on the previous months and everything that took place in those few, strenuous months—the several episodes and stages that the kids and I have to go through so that a musical event will effectively materialise.

(Heads up! This might sound a little too mushy-gooey. But please bear with me.)

It was a first time for me. First time that I was the “boss”, that I was on top of everything. First time that an entire show has been placed solely on my shoulders. Interestingly, I had to get to grips with how much power and authority I actually possess being the boss, the pilot of the plane. I called the shots, I ran the show. I could do everything that I wanted.

But at the same time, I had to face a myriad of responsibilities and demands, which all have piled up week by week during the preparation season. (Absolute buzzkiller, hey!) Demands from the show itself, from the theme and design, from the group’s purpose, and every single individual’s personal goals. I had to measure up to the group’s standards, my head directors’ standards, the parents’, the audience’s, to my own standards; and somehow find the right balance between all of those.

At one point, It was all just elusive. Listening to and looking over what everybody was saying and expecting, how on earth would you do it? How would I cater for everyone’s needs? How would I wedge everybody’s favourite songs in an 80-minute repertoire? How would I do all these without losing my identity and personal touch? How far could I take it?

It was fearful. It was difficult. There were times when my mind would just go blank, that all the complications around would just swoop me out of my disposition, and got me floating flaccidly with the clouds, pie-faced. Revisions were endless. There were at least twelve drafts produced before we locked in the final songs and their order in the setlist. If a particular number didn’t work (in terms of music and/or impact), then it needed to be either replaced or completely cut, regardless of the hours spent in preparing, arranging and polishing it.

As the director, I had to turn limitations into possibilities, and into actual acts. I had to enable the kids to work and succeed on their own pace, but without sacrificing the desired artistic quality; and making sure that only their strengths and passions were displayed on the night, and nothing that could vitiate their image as budding artists. It was also my job to look after their motivation, their engagement and enjoyment in the project. I mean, they’re kids still. You gotta give them a reason to stay focused and driven.

Oftentimes, it would just feel like the project was in a precarious state. Criticisms were getting too hurtful and alarming. Everybody was feeling exhausted. But then, there’s no turning back anymore because the date has been set, the venue’s been booked, the ad’s been released, people have been informed about it. So quitting was never quite an option at all. There were lots of frustrations, arguments, breakdowns. But we had to stick together and believe that it will all work out in the end.

Alright, for a supposedly “experienced”, “professional” person like me, I’m sure everything that I just said would just sound lame and dumb. You could be thinking, “Oh, what is wrong with this guy? He should know what he’s doing! He’s already done heaps of that! He’s already earned a lot under his belt. He should be ashamed of himself.”

I mean, I’ve been in several productions before, directed music for a lot of events and stuff. But for some reason, this one’s quite different. It felt like I went miles and miles down to zero, and start everything from scratch—and starting from scratch never felt so intense and gruelling. I was bogged down on the ground with all the clutters and scattered pieces, and I had to assemble them all together right along with my own self.

Now, I’m sorry if all those sounded so melodramatic. It was not the intention! You might even think that I am exposing my own weak side. Well, you may think that but it’s precisely what happened. And you can’t succeed until you learn how to face your weaknesses. I am a work in progress who is currently going through a rigorous state of refinement before I can self-actualise. And the best thing to do while in this phase is to be open, honest and accepting of your own flaws and limitations; and just be teachable. Strip away the prejudice and the inhibitions. Shut up and just do it!

When you saw the show, it may have looked so smooth, so easy and simple. Yet behind all the fun and fluidity were the many challenges, failures and hardships experienced individually and as a group. But like what I said, I believe that the group managed to pick ourselves up, and overcome the hurdles, and proved that determination will enable us to survive.

And I am just very proud of our kids who have displayed determination, maturity and stamina in order to deliver a good show. Of course, they’ve done that the past year for Wait For It and have succeeded in a lot of ways. But this time, I have witnessed it first hand, and got involved in many of their personal struggles, insecurities, uncertainties, confusions. Nevertheless, not one person gave up. Not one person stepped back and chose comfort and convenience. Everybody was on board regardless if rehearsals were demanding, boring, uncomfortable; even though their Kuya Rie nagged, complained and criticised nonstop.

I will also never forget how incredible it is to be mentored by our head directors, Tito Ferdie and Tita Geraldine “Ging”, who we normally call the Master Yoda-Queen Bae tandem. This time, I felt like a kid sitting on their lap, listening attentively to their stories, lectures and important lessons that have become my nourishment in this journey. They did not give up on me, and they choose to deal with my tantrums and crack-ups.

I cannot imagine doing this venture without them. I cannot imagine myself finishing anything without their invaluable say. They were the lifeline of this project, of this group. They’re the flickering rhythm you see on the cardiac monitor after someone got revived from a near-death scene—that after you see it, you know that you are safe, the chaos is over. They are my doctors. They are my role models. They have become Mom-and-Dad.

Again, I will never get tired of thanking our amazing parents for the indubitable and unrelenting love and support. They drove us to rehearsals, prepared our meals, opened up their homes for rehearsals, spent their weekends and lots and lots of time helping in the production and making sure that we didn’t get hungry and dehydrated. I wish I could state everything in detail to express how thankful we are. They are our champions!

Many could be wondering why a long-af essay as a backstory for a 1.5 hour long gig. It’s just a gig. Well, we in Filozart, do not just prioritise the end product of our undertakings. We value and and attach so much importance to the creative process—everything that is discovered, learned, experienced and solidified throughout this stage. It is where connections are formed, relationships are strengthened, and bonds are treasured. It is what we all remember and take home with us after the lights have gone out and the curtains closed. It’s what engenders growth. It’s what whips up the motivation to become bigger, better and bolder. It’s what makes us Filozart.

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Rie Manaloto

R.

Thank Yous

This post was originally published on the FilOz-Art Facebook page the day after the concert. I thought I’d share it here as well.

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Words are just inadequate to express our joy and gratitude for every single individual who has made this very special event possible and nothing but successful.

The incomparable love and support of our parents and families. The warm support of our friends and loved ones. The invaluable help of our critics. They are massively appreciated. We love and treasure you all!

To our amazing directors, Geraldine and Ferdie, who believed in our abilities and strengths since Day 1, inspired us and helped us accept our faults and weaknesses, and taught us how to rise up and improve ourselves. We know that Thank You is hardly enough. But thanks for making a difference in our lives. We will always remember and treasure the important lessons we got from you.

We’ve only just begun. Wait for it. Wait for more.

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Rie Manaloto

R.

Twelve faces. Twelve stories.

Happy New Year! This got to be my first post this 2015. I have been incredibly busy since the year has started to roll.

As you might know, I’m doing a concert with FilOz-Art Youth called “WAIT FOR IT” this Saturday (which is tomorrow, gosh). The team has been preparing laboriously and working so hard for this show. So many hours, days, weeks have been spent on this building and cultivating this unique and remarkable project. It has been just an amazing ride, and a fantastic roller coaster of an experience! I wouldn’t even attempt to explain it cohesively right now.
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I thought I’d make a post about the twelve personas who are the main highlights of this show. It’s all about our stories, our issues, viewpoints, experiences, opinions, dilemmas, passions and aspirations. These factors have been interwoven with the art of performing, mainly imbued with and/or shaped by music and theatre.
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ANDREO: Unstoppable passion and a remarkable talent.

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BRYAN: Heartfelt ballads, warm and soothing voice.

BRYAN: Heartfelt ballads, warm and soothing voice.

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NIKKI: Riveting dance moves, limitless strength and passion.

NIKKI: Riveting dance moves, limitless strength and passion.

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ARON: Musical creativity and flexibility, tasteful piano tunes.

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SEREENA: A dynamic character embodying strong and flaming determination.

SEREENA: A dynamic character embodying strong and flaming determination.

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YZZY: Perkiness and charm like no other, a voice that needs to be heard, understood and valued.

YZZY: Perkiness and charm like no other, a voice that needs to be heard, understood and valued.

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Remarkable determination, strength of character and the will power to make a difference.

CJ: Remarkable determination, strength of character and the will power to make a difference.

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MILAN: A wire on fire blazing with fluttering fun and unstoppable enthusiasm. The life of the party, the essential icing on the cake.

MILAN: A wire on fire blazing with fluttering fun and unstoppable enthusiasm. The life of the party, the essential icing on the cake.

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ISABELLE: Incredible charisma, mellifluous voice, singing prowess, delightful personality--all rolled in one.

ISABELLE: Incredible charisma, mellifluous voice, singing prowess, delightful personality–all rolled in one.

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ANGEL: A beautiful spark of charm, sweetness and innocence.

ANGEL: A beautiful spark of charm, sweetness and innocence.

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A potent mix of undeniable talent, strong performing prowess, charm and unique persona.

TIARA: A potent mix of undeniable talent, strong performing prowess, charm and unique persona.

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And finally, me:

RIE: Artistic versatility, experimentalism, creative improvisation, and an earnestly open mind that hungers for new knowledge, creative exploration, recreation and cultivation of self.

RIE: Artistic versatility, experimentalism, creative improvisation, and an earnestly open mind that hungers for new knowledge, creative exploration, recreation and cultivation of self.

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Twelve young people all wanting and needing to be heard, understood, valued and appreciated. Yes, we are young, but we are still growing, we are still learning and developing. We are not finished shaping what we want to be, what we are meant to be. There are still many things that we are yet to discover and explore and love. We are simply not done yet. And that’s what we all gotta wait for–us.

Anyway, that was just a glimpse of what the title and the show actually mean. So if you’re interested and intrigued, come and watch “WAIT FOR IT” this Saturday, 10th of January, at the Waratah Room, Rooty Hill RSL. Tickets are sold at $35. Hope to see you there!

The poster. I told you there's twelve.

The poster. I told you there’s twelve.

Rie Manaloto WAIT FOR IT.

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Twelve faces. Twelve stories. 10th of January. Get your tickets now.

WAIT FOR IT: A Musical Theatre Concert by FilOz-Art Youth.

10th January 2015 at the Rooty Hill RSL

Rie ManalotoAndreo Cruz-DimaanoTiara Nyuzo

Isabelle MontillanoBryan inesMilan Velasco

Aron Cruz-DimaanoNikki SandagaSereena Caro

Ysabelle PranadaAngela PranadaCyril Catipon

Rie Manaloto for Wait For It: A Musical Theatre Concert by FilOz-Art Youth. January 2015.

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Exactly one month from now, all their stories will unfold. Be ready for a change, a clash, and a clamour. Save the date.

WAIT FOR IT: A Musical Theatre Concert by FilOz-Art Youth.

10th January 2015 at the Rooty Hill RSL

Rie ManalotoAndreo Cruz-DimaanoTiara Nyuzo

Isabelle MontillanoBryan inesMilan Velasco

Aron Cruz-DimaanoNikki SandagaSereena Caro

Ysabelle PranadaAngela PranadaCyril Catipon

Rie Manaloto for Wait For It: A Musical Theatre Concert by FilOz-Art Youth. January 2015.

I don’t always Tumblr

I don’t always Tumblr. But when I do, it looks something like this. (LOL, You know that popular tagline?)

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 10.14.23 amFilOz-Art Youth’s got a Tumblr page. We thought it’d be an easier way to share our photo sessions, silly moments and what not in a photo blog. Facebook couldn’t contain them apparently. So, if you got time, visit our Tumblr page, and perhaps give us a sneaky Follow.

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Wait For It. Coming Soon. January 2015. FilOz-Art Youth.

Rie Manaloto

R.