• the first revelation of labfest 6: missy maramara in debbie tan's balunbalunan. what a fierce, brave, generous performance. bravo.
• labfest day 2: three 2-character plays, three generally well-acted and well-staged prods. it's turning out to be a good run...
• makil magnifico! frances makil-ignacio is a must-see in floy quintos' 'suor clara' at the virgin labfest 6.
• labfest pink festival: d. teodosio's 'carmi martin' runs away with the set, and its actors ariel diccion and paul jake paule are GOOD.
• the 'banyaga' part of the labfest is a winning set. the indonesian play, in particular, is brave, vivid and thought-provoking. love it.
• the 3 plays from last year's labfest were my personal top 3 choices as well. tonight's set reconfirmed for me why i rooted for them.
You've got one more week to see the plays--and join the blog contest this corner is holding for the duration of the Labfest. Feel free to disagree with my instant verdicts above; your honest opinion about what you saw is what's important.
Anyway--about that Cory Swatch watch I'm giving away as the second prize in the contest. I didn't buy it. Jaime Zobel de Ayala gave it to me. Look:
Yep, the Don Jaime himself sent me the watch, with a handwritten note to boot: Dear Gibbs, it said, it was such a nice lunch with stories and natural chat--just the way I like it! Thank you so much for your support for our 'Bravo' series. Most sincerely, JZA.
Ah, the graciousness--something that has virtually vanished from our world nowadays.
In truth, until now I'm still not sure I had earned the privilege to receive this gift. A week or so before it arrived in the office we the Lifestyle staff were invited to an exclusive lunch presscon with him and some Ayala executives where they would talk about Mr. Zobel's brainchild, the Bravo Filipino series of performances at the Ayala Malls.
As you may have heard, Bravo Filipino, now on its third year, is a four-month-long annual program that aims to extol the Filipino talent through live performances, art exhibits, lectures and other events at the various Ayala Malls. It was Mr. Zobel's idea that if the malls were now the agora or town plaza of the urban populace, the one place that is sure to gather a big chunk of the community at any one time, then he'd use the family-owned chain of malls as a venue to bring opportunities for art appreciation closer to the everyday shopper or mallgoer. (Exhibit A: Ayala Museum in the center of Greenbelt.)
I had met Mr. Zobel before, when I interviewed him and wrote a story on the reopening of the Ayala Museum in 2004. I didn't think he'd remember me after all these years, and, anyway, during the lunch, it wasn't me who held sway at the long table. Alex, our senior reporter, had been designated to write the piece about Bravo Filipino, so it was he who had to take down notes and ask questions of Mr. Zobel and his executives. I was there, more or less, as a warm body. But it was quite an experience, nonetheless, to be in the same room and share the same oxygen with one of the country's wealthiest and most influential people.
The article came out that same week, I went back to work and forgot about the lunch--and then got the package one afternoon. What a pleasant shock it was to open the nondescript brown envelope with the limited-edition Cory Swatch watch inside it, wrapped in gold foil. Accompanying it was the handwritten note--in which Mr. Zobel addressed me by my first name.
After the euphoria of the moment, the sober realization: But I'm not a watch person. (I'm not even wearing one right now.) Where and when do I wear this? My family isn't into bold, attention-grabbing watches, either. It's definitely a collector's item to cherish. But, like many rare things that come my way, I'd probably end up keeping this timepiece under lock, key and a mound of mothballs, unopened and never to be used for fear of wear and tear.
Or I could give it away as a prize. It was an easy decision to make. Rather than keeping this watch as an heirloom piece in my locker, I'd let someone else have the pleasure of owning it. But he or she has to win it fair and square in a manner that also supports a passion of mine. Hence this contest.
Mr. Zobel and his family are among the staunchest supporters of Philippine arts; while I'm pretty sure he doesn't read this blog, I sure hope he wouldn't mind that I'm now using his gift--which he himself designed!--to help generate more interest in and appreciation for an essential branch of those arts--local theater and the much-deserving artists behind it.
Wanna have this watch? Join the contest--watch the Labfest and blog about it. However, I'm keeping the note.