The Broad­way mu­si­cals in New York

The Freeman - - OPINION -

MAN­HAT­TAN, NEW YORK – What our na­tional mu­sic icon and jewel Lea Sa­longa started in New York (and later in Lon­don) has el­e­vated the stature of Filipino singers, dancers, and mu­si­cians to a much higher level now. Pi­noys are much re­spected to­day com­pared to the years be­fore Lea did ex­ceed­ingly well in “Miss Saigon” and “Les Mis­er­ables.” Nowa­days, for­eign­ers look at Filipino artists with re­spect and even envy. When­ever I am in the gallery view­ing Broad­way mu­si­cals, and there are Filipinos in the cast I feel proud when for­eign view­ers stand up in ova­tion to Pi­noy en­ter­tain­ers.

The Philip­pines is now be­ing looked up to by the en­ter­tain­ment world as the mu­sic cap­i­tal of Asia. Our coun­try is the num­ber one sup­plier of mu­si­cians and en­ter­tain­ers in Amer­ica, Asia, Europe, and Africa. Aboard lux­ury cruise lin­ers in the At­lantic and Pa­cific coasts, Pi­noy singers and band mem­bers in­spire tourists with their songs, dances and spon­ta­neous and un­re­hearsed per­for­mances. They tell sto­ries of vic­to­ries af­ter strug­gles, of tri­umphs af­ter de­feats, and hopes amidst a world of gloom and doom. In Broad­way, you will see Asian-look­ing cast mem­bers and mu­si­cians. No, they aren't Chi­nese or Kore­ans; they are Pi­noys from Cebu, Bi­col, or Metro Manila.

We just saw “Hamil­ton,” an epic bio of one of the great­est men in Amer­i­can his­tory, Alexan­der Hamil­ton, cho­sen by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton as his Trea­sury Sec­re­tary, equal to the Cab­i­net mem­ber han­dling Fi­nance. Hamil­ton was a very as­tute and gifted tech­no­crat and po­lit­i­cal an­i­mal. He could have been pres­i­dent if he wanted. Hamil­ton was def­i­nitely bet­ter than John Adams and maybe as great as Thomas Jef­fer­son. This mu­si­cal gives us in­sights on pol­i­tics, gov­er­nance, eco­nom­ics, and the en­tire spec­trum of gov­ern­ing a na­tion. I rec­om­mend that Pres­i­dent Duterte and his Cab­i­net, es­pe­cially his eco­nomic team, see it. To me, Hamil­ton was the great­est US pres­i­dent the Amer­i­cans failed to have.

My fam­ily and I have seen a lot of Broad­way mu­si­cals since the ‘70s. I have seen Miss Saigon twice, just to lis­ten to Lea or any other Filip­ina pinch-hit­ting for her. I have seen “Les Mis­er­ables” too many times and also “Cats,” “West Side Story,” and “Mama Mia,” even the famed “Evita,” where I was so much touched by the singing of “Don't Cry for Me, Ar­gentina.” But “Hamil­ton” is much su­pe­rior to them. I learned much more pol­i­tics and gov­er­nance and much more in­sights on hu­man be­hav­ior.

Just as I rec­om­mend to all Filipinos to save enough to travel even once to Is­rael, Rome, Lon­don, Paris, and Geneva, I strongly sug­gest each one should lay aside money to go to New York. Go­ing there is not just see­ing the Statue of Lib­erty or the UN head­quar­ters, it is, above all, Broad­way. And to wit­ness how Filipino artists win the world with their mu­sic and artistry.

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