Here I go again! I can’t help but break out into song after attending the Gala Night of the musical “Mamma Mia” last Tuesday at the Theatre at Solaire. The singing continued at the show’s after-party at The Diamond Hotel where we got to meet the talented UK cast.

“Mamma Mia” has a strictly limited season for its Manila run, running only until October 21, and then heading off to new cities on the show’s International Tour. Judging from the full house and standing ovations at the Gala Night, this is one sensational musical not to be missed.

“Mamma Mia” is Judy Craymer’s ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of rock band ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s romantic past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.

The musical’s International Tour is produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East & Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal, Stage Entertainment and NGM. In Manila, it is presented by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Ticketworld and Concertus Manila.

Sponsors include NovuHair, Diamond Hotel Manila and OOCL. Media partners are CNN Philippines, Tiger 22, Crossover 105.1, The Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ayala Malls Cinemas, Ayala Malls, VISA, Robinson’s Department Store, Grab Philippines, Zalora Philippines, Aperitif PH and Sunnies Studios. Tickets are now on sale through Ticketworld.

From music of ABBA, I enjoyed a different genre a few days later at Manila House Private Members Club’s inaugural, signature event, “Ang Pagdiriwang,” an annual celebration of the best of the Filipino.

Manila House was transformed into a unique, sensorial, elegant and immersive installation that showcased Filipino cuisine, art, culture, music and hospitality. In one area, videos screened tributes to Filipino cinema, while in others there were a marquetry artist’s studio mounted by Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, native dance performances, Filipino jazz performed by Bernie Pasamba and his trio, and chorale singing by the UST Singers. Fittingly, all Members and guests came in elegant Pinoy attire.

Chef Gilbert Pangilinan prepared an all-Filipino, three-course dinner, including a sumptuous dessert buffet. After that, all the guests gathered in the ballroom, for the annual Manila House Honors, conceived to recognize and pay tribute to great achievements by Filipinos.  This year, Manila House Honors focused on The Filipino Composer.

Host Korina Sanchez-Roxas announced the honorees, including Freddie Aguilar, George Canseco, Jose Mari Chan, Willy Cruz, Rene and Dennis Garcia, Vehnee Saturno and Rey Valera. Manila House chairman Lorenzo Roxas gave plaques to those who could make it, namely Ely Buendia, Louie Ocampo, Ryan Cayabyab and Gary Valenciano. Jim Paredes was represented by his sister Lory.

The composers were then honored in a spectacular concert with five of the country’s best musical talents performing their timeless compositions in breathtaking new arrangements. All the guests were thrilled to listen to Rachelle Gerodias, Kuh Ledesma, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Martin Nievera and Gary Valenciano perform their musical magic. The finale was particularly uplifting, with all five, and the audience, singing “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika,” with all the joy, passion and excitement everyone could muster.

Miguel Miñana of ThemeWorks was the production director for “Ang Pagdiriwang.” Garlic Garcia and Twinky Lagdameo were creative director and consultant, respectively. “Ang Pagdiriwang” was co-presented by Belo Medical Group. Sponsors included Jewelmer, Ms. January Garcia, Sta. Elena Construction and Development, FILA, Nutri-Asia, Tanduay and Qualibet.

Filipino theater is alive and well. Tanghalang Pilipino, the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, is inviting all to its latest show, “Ang Pag-uusig,” a translation of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

The play has won six Gawad Buhay Awards, including Best Direction by Dennis Marasigan, Translation by Jerry Respeto, Ensemble Performance, Outstanding Play, Male Featured Performance in a Play by Marco Viaña, and Male Lead Performance in a Play by JV Ibesate, who tied with Joshua Spafford. “Ang Pag-uusig” runs at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute at the CCP until October 28.

All Pinoys love beauty pageants. I was recently asked to be one of the judges at the Mutya Ng Pilipinas pageant (www.mutyapilipinas.com). The 50th year of the Mutya had 50 stunning candidates from Filipino communities all over the world competing at the SM MOA Arena.

Mutya chairman Fred Yuson and president Hemilyn Escudero-Tamayo have done a great job of revitalizing the Mutya Ng Pilipinas. They brought in an all-star creative team to give it a fresh treatment and modernize the entire pageant.

Venisse Laurel-Hermano, recognized for her business savvy at the Rajo Laurel Group of Companies, spearheaded the creative and marketing team. Months were spent breathing life into the five new pillars of Mutya Ng Pilipinas, translated further through webisodes and ads over social media.

Queenmaker Philippines breathed new life into the event, championing authenticity by introducing the candidates barefaced. There has never been a more diverse set of contestants in the pageant’s history.

Mutya Ng Pilipinas, the original pageant organization in the Philippines and Asia, has truly evolved and kept up with the times to be a true pageant for women in this modern age. It was great to see the entire transformation on its golden anniversary.

Sharifa Areef Mohamma Omar was the grand winner for the evening. As Mutya Ng Pilipinas she will represent our country at the upcoming Miss Asia Pacific International. I will certainly be following the progress of this young lady in the coming year.

See more pics at seaprincess888 on Instagram.

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