1. “Pagkalipas ng maraming taon, di na tayo nagkita. Balita ko’y may anak ka na ngunit walang asawa. Taga-hugas ka lang ng pinggan sa may Ermita. At isang gabi nasagasaan sa isang madilim na eskinita.”
English Translation: “For many years, we didn’t see each other. I heard you have a child but still unmarried. I heard you were working as a dishwasher in Ermita (Manila). And one night, you got run over a car in a dimly alley.”
—Ang Huling El Bimbo by Eraserheads
2. Hello WordPress! I’m back! This is a Review of Ang Huling El Bimbo: The Musical. Be warned that this contains spoilers.
3. The musical began with a woman who is a victim of a hit-and-run, with the police getting her phone from the crime scene. Prior the accident, the woman, named Joy, called three men: Anthony, Hector, and Emman (Ang Huling El…Bimbo? A quick google search will give you that bimbo means “an attractive but unintelligent or frivolous young woman”). The three were then “invited” to a police station and this became their college reunion.
4. A Parallel Story? There was a falling out between the four when they were in college, giving the Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruku Murakami vibes. In the book, Tsukuru was cut out of his high school friends circle. His friends were keeping a secret from him and they decided to cut him off because he seems to be capable of bouncing back from it, an echo of Anthony’s comment to Joy after what happened to her in an incident during their college days. Tsukuru was banished because they were keeping a secret from him. The three ran away from Joy because they also wanted to keep a secret which all of them knew. I will go back to this later.
5. We then go back to the 90s where the three guys were still young college students living in a dormitory. On the other hand, Joy was not as fortunate as they were. But like them, she wanted to enter college and “graduate”. But for the meantime, she is stuck with working in an eatery. This is where she got to know these three.
6. Joy became good friends with them. Anthony became her best friend; Emman as her kuya (elder brother); and Hector her lover.
7. Like the Ang Huling El Bimbo, this musical has two parts: the flashback (Act One) and the tragic story (Act Two).
8. The Eraserheads’ song is about a Paraluman-look-a-like girl who loves to dance and the boys attraction towards her. The musical’s first act was a story of the three guys’ struggles in identity (Anthony), involvement in social issues (Emman), and pursuit of arts (Hector) during their college days. And in the case of Joy, she has yet to enter college first as we audiences do not even know yet what she really wanted to do achieve in the future except to graduate in college. But she’s adorable and very positive in her outlook despite her being underprivileged.
9. Just as the audience are already emotionally invested with the protagonists, hooligans will then rock the friendship of these four when they crash into their out-of-town joyride, point guns on the guys inside Hector’s car, and rape the helpless Joy. (How it pains me to type this line.)
10. Instead of bringing her to the police station to file a blottter or have Joy treated in a hospital, they agreed to just bring her home and just forget everything about the incident. This I cannot really comprehend. What were these three guys thinking?
11. My limitations: Probably you have seen other reviews on this musical about the LGBT rights (regarding Anthony), toxic masculinity, degrading views of women, rape culture, etc. I will not quote or discuss them here. While reading them, I realize there’s no way for me to be as nuanced and precise as them with their choice of words. For the love of our country, they even conected the musical to what is happening now in the Philippines. As for me, my views and limited vocabulary will fall short. Besides, I am not versed in political and social discourse. Also, I know nothing about the intricacies of acting, singing, technicalities of a musical. I leave it to the experts.
12. But one thing I know is being a friend. That’s what I will focus on later. Is the end of the musical a happy ending? Did “love” or friendship reigned in the end?
13. Male figures in Joy’s life: Notice that there are no male figures inside Joy’s family. She was adopted (is she? I might be wrong on this), we didn’t know anything about her father, and she doesn’t even know who is the father of her daughter. We saw the three guys’ parents. All of them alive! How about Joy? Where is her father? Uncles? Male cousins? Grandfather? Great grandfather?
To be continued…
P.S.: This is a draft but I’m publishing it so I can go back to it later. I have to go to sleep early. I have online classes later this morning.