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Musical Review: ETO NA! Musikal nAPO! by Globe Live x 9 Works Theatrical

When I found out 9 Works Theatrical and Globe Live would be mounting an original musical featuring APO Hiking Society songs, I was mildly surprised. I liked some of their songs, but those I knew were the modern versions, not the originals. And while I knew of APO, I didn’t really understand how big a role they played in the rise of Original Pilipino Music or OPM.

On the other hand, when I told Vince about Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!, he got that wide-eyed look on his face. Of course I had to bring him along. To complement my take as a relative APO newbie, I asked him to write his own review as a fan—another He Said/She Said like what we did for The Lion King. But first, some facts:

5 Things You Should Know Before Watching Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!

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Photo courtesy of Leo Castillo

    1. APO Hiking Society, better known as APO, was one of the pioneers of OPM. Composed of Danny Javier, Jim Paredes, and Boboy Garrovillo, APO helped push fellow musicians to create Filipino songs instead of simply covering American ones.
    2. Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! is the first original musical collaboration between 9 Works Theatrical and Globe Live. I first heard about it during last year’s press preview for A Christmas Carol, when Globe Live’s Joe Caliro teased us about their next big project.
    3. While Robbie Guevara has a track record of directing musicals, this is his first attempt at penning one himself. Robbie got the idea from APO member Boboy as early as 2013, and he decided to build it around the story of how the group started and evolved. Taking on the enormous role of musical arrangements and orchestrations are Daniel Bartolome and Orly dela Cruz.
    4. Following a group of college friends vying for a singing and songwriting competition, Eto Na! stars Mark Bautista, Jon Philippe Go, Jobim Javier, Alfritz Blanche, Jef Flores, Jon Abella, and Vyen Villanueva. Joining them are Rita Daniela, Marika Sasaki, Sab Jose, Raul Montesa, and Noemi Gonzales.
    5. The remaining shows are on August 11 and 12, 17-19, and 24-26, 2018, at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Bonifacio Global City. Friday shows start at 8pm while Saturday and Sunday shows run at 3pm and 8pm.

She Said

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Photo courtesy of Leo Castillo

I went inside the theater just hoping to enjoy good music and have a break from reality—and that’s exactly what happened. From the moment the band started playing an instrumental medley of songs, the music kept coming at us. Some, I recognized: classic favorites like “Panalangin,” “Ewan,” “Pumapatak ang Ulan,” “Nakapagtataka,” and “Batang-Bata Ka Pa.” Others took me by surprise, like “Di Na Natuto” and “When I Met You,” both of which I hadn’t realized were APO originals. Of course, there were those that were completely new to me. Luckily, Eto Na! provided the perfect opportunity for me to get to know APO music better.

The plot may be set during the time of Martial Law, nationwide curfews, and pay phones, but it still feels relevant today. Eto Na! covers themes of love and family, patriotism and personal ambition, and tying them all together was that solid bond of friendship. As I play it back in my mind, I find some gaps in the story, but I hardly noticed in the moment. The storytelling was so engaging, with witty remarks that underlined how different things were back then. There was just the right amount of quips to set us into laughter, timed at just the right moments. After the music, that’s probably my third favorite thing about the show.

Right at the top for me has to be the cast. Each of the actors brought something special to the stage, whether it’s Jobim Javier‘s outlandish charm as Butch, Alfritz Blanche‘s deep, rolling voice and adorable dramatics as Sonny, or Rita Daniela‘s magnetic performance and amazing vocal control as Anna. More than their individual talents, it was their chemistry as a group that really shone through. The entire cast made it so easily to believe the love and conflict they sang about, and they sang it all so well.

This here ranks among my most enjoyed musicals, and it makes me so proud of Pinoy talent. Definitely a must-watch!

He Said

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Photo courtesy of Leo Castillo

I first came across APO’s music when they released their Kami nAPO Muna and Kami nAPO Muna ULIT albums around 12 years ago in collaboration with the biggest local acts back then. Listening to “Nakapagtataka” and “Tuyo Na’ng Damdamin” sang respectively by Sponge Cola and Silent Sanctuary really got me hooked. Soon, I was listening to the entire albums, and then next thing you know, I was listening to the original recordings by APO themselves. So yes, I consider myself a millennial fan of APO music. And I’m glad to be one.

Learning about Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!, I instantly wanted to watch it. So it was quite a pleasant surprise when I found out Marian was invited to the press preview of the show with me as a plus one. Finding out that my college friend, Jon Philippe Go was part of the cast as Ray, made it triple the treat.

Fast forward to how I feel, I can without a doubt say that the show was amazing. From how they incorporated the songs to the story and to the topnotch performance of ALL the cast members. I laughed with “Blue Jeans,” felt lovestruck with “Panalangin,” utterly heartbroken with “Tuyo Na’ng Damdamin” and “Nakapagtataka,” felt the frustration of “Batang-Bata Ka Pa,” and was left longing with “Awit ng Barkada.” It was an emotional roller coaster that I would ride over and over again. Nothing but a standing ovation at the end.

I would recommend everyone to watch it. If you’re an APO fan, it’s a must. If you aren’t, then great! It’s an ear-opening experience of the epitome of OPM music.

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Photo courtesy of Leo Castillo

Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! is only running this August, so don’t miss your chance to watch it! Get your tickets on Ticketworld before the best seats run out.

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