Tales On Toes

If you find yourself getting subjected to a tongue-twisting challenge with the title of this Sunday’s column, my sincere apologies.  Believe me, it was not intentional. However, I deliberately tickled your curiosity in line with my newly found love and appreciation for the performing arts and culture through Ballet Manila’s 20th Performance Season entitled “From Page to Stage.”

Just very recently, I received an invitation from The Society for Cultural Enrichment, Inc. (SCEI), an organization dedicated to the quest for conserving, promoting and developing culture and the arts headed by Angola Consul Helen Ong as president and chairman and Secretary Mimi Valerio. I courageously breezed through stormy weather to catch the wave (pun intended) at Aliw Theater and join the members to witness the season opener’s performance of “Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang” season opening. 

Ballet Manila, headed by Lisa Macuja Elizalde, merited a standing ovation from the mesmerized audience at Aliw Theater during opening night. Encore!
The magical world of Lola Basyang  in “Ang Kaptid ng Tatlong Marya.” 

Our gracious host, Ballet Manila’s Lisa Macuja Elizalde, treated us to a cocktail reception prior to the performance (to the delight of SCEI members).  We thoroughly appreciated the kind hospitality bestowed on us. It was the beginning (just to whet our appetites) of a bigger spectacle that awaited us. 

Ballet Manila through the leadership of its artistic director, Lisa Macuja Elizalde, presented three enchanting tales of love, fantasy, and adventure from one of the most beloved Filipino storytellers – Lola Basyang – which is actually the nom de plume of Severino Reyes.

An enigmatic scene during “Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya.”
There is beauty in form with the three Maryas of “Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya.”

Long before the advent of the so-called digital age, children gathered around the radio for the evening’s story telling session with Lola Basyang (yes, the old-school radio series).  The stories were read straight out of Lola Basyang’s massive anthology of enchanting and enthralling tales.  Back then, radio listeners were transported to the vast limits of their own imagination as they created vivid images of characters and fantasies without boundaries.

“I got a fill of fantasy worlds and magical adventures from the fictitious Lola Basyang.  I don’t think there’s any child who grew up in the Philippines who has not been touched by her stories,” shared Lisa Macuja Elizalde. 

Lola Basyang (played by veteran actress Luzviminda Fernandez) with an avid audience of kids.
Ballet Manila’s Lisa Macuja Elizalde welcomes Nonie Basilio during the cocktail reception.

She added, “Whether published in books, serialized in komiks, acted out on radio, television and film, or retold by parents and teachers, these tales will forever be part of our Filipino heritage.”

Most importantly, amidst all the magical twists, Lola Basyang’s stories abound with life lessons on good morals and values that engaged and captivated its audience. 

Which leads me (on a side note) to this recurring question: I wonder, given such circumstances, what generation shaped the smartest, most productive and highly responsible citizens of this country then? (Hmmm…) But that’s another (an idea for a thesis, perhaps?) story.

Bound by love for the performing arts:  Winnie Powell-Mueller, Princess Monjiera Disini, Tessie Luz and Susan Macuja.
The “ladies who lunch” and appreciate ballet (from left) – Anna Litton, Tes Choa, Chichi Laperal, Lita Recto and Baby De Jesus.

Expect to be captivated, no less!  A whole new generation will appreciate the splendid choreography and visual masterpiece of Ballet Manila as it tells the tales of Lola Basyang through the magic (with powerful toes on point!) of dance.  The timeless tales of “Ang Prinsipe Ng Mga Ibon,” “Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya,” and “Mahiwagang Biyulin” were visually stunning and beautifully choreographed with precision and enigmatic artistry accompanied by music that feeds the soul.  Truly, I was in the moment of utter rapture as I was transported to another world!

SCEI members Edwin Madella and Gudy Lim support Ballet Manila.;
Ballet Philippines director Joey Soriano with Princess Monjiera Disini.
Atty. Frankie Adriano, Susan Macuja and Annabelle Adriano during the opening cocktails.;
SCEI’s Patty Jalbuena with granddaughter Samantha Concepcion, SCEI Secretary Mimi Valerio and Nonie Basilio.

“For this very special year filled with celebration and gratitude, we have chosen the theme ‘From Page to Stage’ – promising you a carefully selected repertoire of enchanting ballets based on timeless stories that first came to life on the pages of a book,” expressed Lisa Macuja Elizalde on the occasion that marked the beginning of their 20th performance season. 

Join Ballet Manila on their (by far) most exciting season. In my book, they are fascinating storytellers on toes!

 The family that watches ballet together (stays together). The Boccone family (from left):  Karen, Steven, Alexa and Tatiana.;
Guardians of the arts and culture. SCEI’s president and chairman, Consul Helen Ong with daughter Marian Ong-Nuguid.
Maritess Pineda; 
Agile Abastillas-Zamora at the cocktail reception with Lisa Macuja Elizalde in her perfect form as background. 

(Catch their 20th Performance Season from now until March 2016.  For tickets, call 891-9999 or visit  For inquiries, call (+63 2) 400 0292)


Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @francis_deleon8. 

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