3 things you should know about the upcoming Fil-Canadian musical ‘Ma-Buhay!’
Filipinos always go viral for their singing skills. Whether they’re randomly trying out the compact plug-and-play videoke box at a local mall or wowing audiences at a global talent show, they just seem to have that innate knack for hitting high notes.
Some people think it’s because of a mysterious aquatic force (“There must be something in their water.”) while others think it’s in our collective genes. But trust me; it’s neither. It’s all in the upbringing.
You see, being born and raised in a Filipino household means you would inevitably be exposed to a multitude of singing opportunities, whether you like it or not.
It doesn’t really matter if you grew up in the Philippines or halfway across the world. The experience wouldn’t be much different. Because regardless of our residential locations, singing will always be our number-one pastime. It’s practically a mandatory rite of passage for every Filipino child—a way to stay connected to our homeland despite being miles away from it.
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And this very experience is what the upcoming Filipino-Canadian musical “Ma-Buhay! A New Musical” aims to capture and celebrate. It’s running a 60-minute workshop presentation (yes, a sneak peek of the actual show) at the 2023 Winnipeg Fringe Festival from July 19 to 29.
The presentation features nine songs from the musical, new choreography, costumes provided by Paquin Entertainment Group, and digital design by students from Sisler’s CREATE Program.
Set in modern-day Winnipeg, the musical revolves around the lives of three young Filipinos (each from different economic backgrounds) as they join a singing competition.
From trying to hold onto their cultural roots while adapting to Canadian life to juggling expectations and their own desires, every character represents the shared journey of many Filipino immigrants.
In a nutshell, “Ma-Buhay! A New Musical” embraces the cultural richness and resilience of the Filipino-Canadian community. It weaves a story that resonates with anyone who has experienced the joys and challenges of straddling two cultures.
Written and directed by Joseph Sevillo, “Ma-Buhay! A New Musical” takes representation seriously. The decision to have an all-Filipino cast doesn’t only ensure authenticity in portraying the Filipino-Canadian experience. It also reflects the commitment to providing more opportunities for Filipinos in the world of performing arts.
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“I want to put Winnipeg Filipinos on the map and I want a show for Filipinos internationally,” said Sevillo in a 2020 interview with CBC News.
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“Ma-Buhay! A New Musical” has been in the works since 2019. It follows a three-phase development plan—with Phase 1 already completed.
Phase 2 is currently in progress. It involves introducing the musical to as many Manitobans as possible before its official premiere at Winnipeg’s Rainbow Stage next year.
If you’re unfamiliar, Rainbow Stage is Manitoba’s premier musical theater company and Canada’s largest (and longest-running) outdoor musical theater. It can accommodate up to 2,600 people.