While I was trying to focus with the zoom webinar, there goes our group chat springing back to life with an unusual interest to an OPM theater play – Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical. Though quarantine has turned many people into pandemic specialists, chefs, fitness buffs, and lawyers, there goes my friends doing some theater criticism.
Couldn’t blame them though. For a generation who has been reared with the songs of the hit 90s Pinoy band, Eraseheads, Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical, is such a nostalgic memory of the sweet and heartbreaking moments of our childhood. The two-hour play transports us to the carefree summer days when we wrote down lyrics of our favorite songs on our precious notebooks and wait for them to get played over the radio – after numerous phone calls and requests. The youth of today will never understand the patience of waiting and the joy brought about upon hearing those favorite tunes on MYX and MTV.
Eraserheads has undoubtedly helped shape the music scene of the Philippines. They’re even labeled as the “Beatles” of the country. And while it seems that their songs are just those upbeat hits that we sing along to, Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical, has shown the underlying depth of the songs that we have come grown fond of.
Ang Huling El Bimbo tells the timeless tragic story of the song itself made relevant with socio-political issues chronicled through the cleverly pieced together tunes of Eraserheads. It follows the joyful years of four friends – Joy, Hector, Anthony, and Emman – back in college and the ugly and unresolved issues they had over the years.
At first sight, Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical, would look like a beautifully-woven story of all iconic hits of Eraserheads – “Pare ko”, “Without a smile”, “Tindahan ni Aling Nena”, “Toyang”, “Spoliarium”, “Alapaap”, “Ligaya”, and of course, “Ang Huling El Bimbo”. But as you sing along to these songs, you will be prompted to reimagine and unpack further the hidden messages of the lyrics, to see underneath the underneath. Most importantly, it will allow you to reexamine the perennial issues of society in relation to politics, drug trade, sexual harassment, and many other social controversies and inequalities – often left unsolved and trampled over with “more important” news.
Believe me, you’ll never be the same person again after watching this musical. And you’ll never be singing the songs like you used to. The songs will no longer be your usual jams because you’ll begin to resonate with the hidden darkness of its theme, more powerful than your teenage angst.
I hope we get to see more of these theater plays when this pandemic ends. And I hope you get to watch Ang Huling El Bimbo the Musical as well. You can watch it for free on Youtube and also donate to those who are tremendously affected by this pandemic.