Latest Stories

Nonon Padilla returns with ‘Lorenzo’


“LORENZO” producer Laumond at 0917-5514378. Christopher de Leon, director Nonon Padilla and composer Ryan Cayabyab. The book and lyrics are by Christian Vallez and Paul Dumol.

While a Filipino worker languishes in an Arab jail, awaiting execution, he decides to spend his days doing a play about another Filipino from a different century who also left the Philippines and suffered in another country: Lorenzo Ruiz.

The fate of these two Filipinos intertwines in the contemporary musical “Lorenzo,” with book and lyrics by Christian Vallez and Paul Dumol, and music by Ryan Cayabyab.

Director Nonon Padilla got interested in the project after meeting with Dumol and the producer, actor Christopher de Leon.

After going over the first draft of the libretto, Padilla put in his own idea for the musical: “I suggested to Paul to combine a contemporary character. I thought it would be a lot more interesting to relate the problem of the saint to today’s issues. Boyet (de Leon) wanted the production to appeal to a young audience. That is the reason we decided on a musical format. To relate it to an OFW, to Pinoys living abroad or in exile, would give it an interesting angle, raising spiritual problems confronted by Pinoys who feel the loneliness of separation, of raising a family far from home by proxy, and all the myriad consequent repercussions.”

Wonderful melodies

Working with composer Cayabyab was a breeze, says Padilla. “Ryan works very fast. When he says he wants to do a project, he sits down and composes. I think he did the main bulk of the music within two or three weeks of full concentration. He asked Paul to indicate, for every part in the script, the general mood or quality of music that he as a writer envisioned. He wanted a guide. Paul obliged by giving general descriptions of mood and the rhythm or tempo needed for the scene or aria.”

“To me, this is Ryan’s masterpiece,” adds Padilla. “The music is inspired. It isn’t difficult music. It is accessible, with wonderful melodies suited to the subject. You know, Ryan has an instinctive talent for theater, a quality that we rarely find these days. He has a feel for the drama in terms of music. He knows how to musically drive the scene forward, to make the scene or song pulsate with emotion.”

Padilla knows the challenge only too well: “Musicals are just different from straight plays. So many elements of theater are combined—dancing, singing, speaking, wild sets and colorful costumes, all are combined to create immediate combustion!”


Lifetime achievement

A recent recipient of the Philstage Gawad Buhay! for lifetime achievement in theater, Padilla started at the Philippine Educational Theater Association in the company of Lino Brocka and Cecile Guidote Alvarez in the ’70s, but debuted as a stage director much earlier, in 1968, at a Dulaang Sibol playwriting contest launched by Onofre Pagsanghan at the Ateneo de Manila.

The play was “Hoy, Boyet,” written by Tony Perez. It placed only third, with a Paul Dumol entry getting the plum award. But Padilla and Perez had what looked like their comeuppance when the likes of J.D. Constantino, Alfredo Roces and Bien Lumbera hailed “Hoy, Boyet” as the most exciting new production in Manila that year, and Perez as a new Balagtas.

Working in Peta in 1972, in the company of Lily Gamboa as chairman and Brocka as executive director, Padilla became artistic director of the Kalinangan Ensemble.

“From the beginning, our passion was to establish a repertory company of actors, much like the Royal Shakespeare Company, or the British National Theater, or the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota,” he recalls in the speech he made at the Gawad Buhay! festivities.

“It didn’t take long for Lino (Brocka) and myself to clash over choice of plays. I wanted to concentrate on the classics. He wanted popular plays. Those were the Marxist years when every choice had to have relevance to political life. And nationalism was defined by the sickle and the hammer.”

Tanghalang Pilipino years

He took a respite from theater and tried an alternative career as a visual artist and printmaker. In 1987, he founded CCP’s Tanghalang Pilipino and started the Actors’ Company, which has produced the likes of Nonie Buencamino, Irma Adlawan, Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, Pen Medina and John Arcilla, among others.

“For 16 years, we managed to present an average of six to eight plays per season,” says Padilla. “In one season we managed to do 12 plays. Budgets were always tight. Even if we wanted to expand our training program, hire more teachers and directors, we had to double up functions to make ends meet.”

He decided to leave CCP and TP over what he says was the horror of seeing an art institution eventually run not by artists but by politicians and bureaucrats. The last straw for Padilla was when the then CCP dispensation allotted P1.3 million to produce a gay version of Nick Joaquin’s “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.” The amount was already TP’s budget for eight productions per season at the Huseng Batute and CCP Little Theater venues.

More relaxed

Leaving CCP proved to be a balm for the stressed-out director. He directs at a more leisurely pace these days; his last production was Peta’s “Haring Lear” in early 2012. But while Padilla says he’s more relaxed now at age 63, the call of the theater remains strong. “Paul and I have shared a passion for theater since our high school days. I don’t think we have wavered since.”

The Manila theater audience being what it is, he hopes that those excited over the musical “Wicked” will also have time to watch “Lorenzo.”

“Lorenzo is the first Filipino saint. He will show us the way out of our spiritual rut. Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish film director, in his last interview before his total retirement, said ‘Let us not talk of God, but rather let us dwell on the holiness within man. Through prophets, saints, poets and musicians, we’ve been privileged to be enlightened about other worlds. Especially through music!’”

“You will love this musical!” says Padilla.

“Lorenzo” runs at the SDA Theater, De La Salle College of St. Benilde, P. Ocampo St. (formerly Vito Cruz), Malate, Manila, on Sept. 5-7 and 12-14, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. For tickets, contact Crissi Laumond at 0917-5514378.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Christian Vallez , Christopher de Leon , contemporary musical , Lorenzo Ruiz , Nonon Padilla , Paul Dumol , Philippine Educational Theater Association , Ryan Cayabyab , Theater , “Lorenzo”

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  9. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions