Anime Film ‘Okko’s Inn’ Director Kosaka in Manila for film talks

By Ibarra C. Mateo

Japanese anime film “Okko’s Inn” Director Kitaro Kosaka is in Manila to talk about his film to be screened on Nov. 8, 2019 at the 13th Animahenasyon: The Philippine Animation Festival, the Japan Foundation, Manila has announced.

Kosaka, the key animator of Studio Ghibli and MadHouse Productions, is scheduled to discuss his film at the Samsung Hall, SM Aura, BGC, Taguig City. Film screening is at 3:30 pm while the director’s talk is 5:00 pm.

The Japan Foundation, Manila partners with the Animahenasyon PH for the event, which is open to the public for free.

A second screening of Okko’s Inn will be held on Nov. 11, 6:50 pm at SM Megamall.

Based on the best-selling Japanese novel “Wakaokami wa Shogakusei!” by Hiroko Reijo, Okko’s Inn tells the story of a young girl named Okko who starts living with her grandmother in the countryside. Her grandmother runs a hot-spring ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn).

In the ryokan, the young girl sees apparitions of friendly ghosts who help her get used to the countryside life. Eventually, she becomes the Asami, or the apprentice in preparation for her future role as a proprietress.

For Studio Ghibli, Kosaka had worked on titles such as Spirited Away, Grave of the Fireflies, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

For Madhouse, he worked on Yawara! and Master Keaton, to name a few.

Kosaka made his directorial debut with Nasu: Summer in Andalusia which premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2003.

In 2014, Kosaka was awarded as Best Animator for Director Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises at Tokyo Anime Award Festival.

Okko’s Inn has also been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 2019 Oscars / Academy Awards.

Okko’s Inn (2018 | 94 min | Drama, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Children / Family, Animation | Color)

Images courtesy of The Japan Foundation, Manila








# MadHouseProductions

# HirokoReijo

Leonardo da Vinci ‘visits’ Manila

By Ibarra C. Mateo

Alessandro Milani, general manager of the Philippine-Italian Association (PIA), described the prominent Italian intellectual giant and artist Leonardo da Vinci as “one of the most interesting and most mysterious figures in history.”

To commemorate the 500th death anniversary of Da Vinci, who died May 2, 1519 in France, the PIA and its sponsors are launching a raft of activities from Nov. 13 to 21, 2019 in various venues in Metro Manila.

Under the banner “Leonardo in Manila,” the focus of the series of events is the work of the renowned Italian artist Massimiliano Finazzer Flory. Since 2011, Flory has been investigating the life of Da Vinci and “the relevance of his genius to contemporary generations.”

“The versatile and interdisciplinary works of Leonardo brought him to render his investigations in different artistic forms: from theatre to cinema,” Milani told a small group of journalists and writers over Italian lunch.

The Philippine-Italian Association, the Embassy of Italy, and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines are behind the Leonardo in Manila project, which includes a play, a full-length film and a short movie.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) are collaborating with the PIA in mounting Leonardo in Manila.

The project also aims to spread knowledge about Da Vinci and “the relevance of his achievements in our contemporary world,” Milanni said.

     The Oman Air, Rustan’s, and Hotel Jen Manila by Shangri-La, and EastWest Bank are also pitching in to stage the project.

Highlights of Leonardo in Manila include a play entitled “Being Leonardo da Vinci, an impossible interview” by Flory will be staged on Nov. 21, 2019, 7 pm at the CCP Little Theater.

In this play, Flory collaborates with Filipino actor, director, and screenplay writer Carlito Casaje to bring Da Vinci “to life on the stage.”

Being Leonardo da Vinci is a one-act play, which uses theater to present the Italian genius’ true life, art history, and science. Through the format of an impossible interview, Flory “physically” becomes Leonardo.

Dressed in period costumes and wearing make-up which reconstructs Da Vinci’s face, he performs in Renaissance language original texts written by Da Vinci himself, such as the famous “Trattato di pittura” (Painting Treaties).

Flory’s Da Vinci answers questions about his childhood, his civil and military activities, and how to become a ‘good painter” (bono pittore), and talks about the relationship between painting and science, painting and sculpture, painting and music.

He comments on “The Last Supper” and the figures of the apostles, replies to his enemies’ attacks, prophesies man’s flying, and finally offers maxims and aphorisms to live by in our times. 

The play has toured in the US, Russia, Japan, France, Italy, and Switzerland.

A masterclass and short film screening of “Being Leonardo da Vinci, an impossible interview” will be held on Nov. 20, 2019 at the CCP Dream Theater at 2 pm. 

“The masterclass will deal with the topic of interdisciplinarity through the conjugation of art and science, memory and imagination, tradition and technology, theater and cinema,” a press announcement said.

For more information, contact the Philippine-Italian Association through e-mail ( or telephone (+632) 8-815-1310. Interested parties for the masterclass may contact the CCP Arts Education Department via email ( or landline (+632) 8-832-1125 local 1604.




Japan Fiesta 2019: Japan’s ‘biggest charm offensive’ to promote friendship, goodwill

By Ibarra C. Mateo

The Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, together with its partner organizations, rolls out the red carpet to welcome Filipinos and foreigners based in the Philippines for the Japan Fiesta 2019.

Japan Fiesta 2019 happens on Nov. 9 and 10, at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Premier in Taguig City.

Organizers said the Japan Fiesta 2019 “is the biggest event of its kind and expected to be the flagship event in Manila to promote friendship between Japan and the Philippines.”

Members of the Japan Fiesta Council, which is at the forefront of the event, are the following: Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, Japan National Tourism Organization Manila Office, the Japan Foundation, Manila, the Japanese Association, Manila, and Primer Media.

“Japan Fiesta 2019 is the ideal event for those who want to learn more about Japanese culture and get exclusive information on exploring Japan,” organizers said in an announcement.

“Organized not just for Filipinos but also for expats in the Philippines, the event will showcase the vibrant culture of Japan with the help of both Japanese and local exhibitors, and special guests that are excited to talk about the Land of the Rising Sun,” the announcement said.

“This event aims to foster a deeper mutual relationship between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines by experiencing “all the charms of Japan,” the announcement said.

Japan Fiesta 2019 features Japanese culture, tourism, and cuisine, among others, and aims to promote “the best of Japan to Filipinos.”

Artists and performers who are popular in the Philippines and Japan are expected to be featured in the event.

Japanese Cuisine

Showcasing Japanese cuisine is a major goal of the event. Ramen, kushikatsu, miso katsu, curry udon, seafood bowls, and meat dishes prepared by participating Japanese restaurants will surely attract a lot of attention.


If you are into e-sports, test your skills against other players or battle semi-pro Japanese athletes in the e-sports area of Japan Fiesta. Jump into the fun, fast-paced, competitive puzzle action of Puyo Puyo Champions. Feel the power of football with Winning Eleven 2019. Race on high-speed roads with the real driving simulator, Gran Turismo Sport.


Among the stage performances to look forward to at the Japan Fiesta 2019 are the following: 🤗

JR Kyushu – Get to know about Japan’s Kyushu region as well as its sightseeing spots, food, nature, and culture. (November 10 only)

Pikachu – Join Pikachu and Eevee as they dance and entertain the audience

MNL48 – Sister group of AKB48, Manila’s own MNL48 will be gracing the stage and performing some of their hit singles

For more details, visit: and register to be get more updates.

IMAGES COURTESY OF THE EMBASSY OF JAPAN IN THE PHILIPPINES, PH unprecedented online art marketplace, launched

Harvest Season
Jose Rizal and the Gang

Manobo Woman
Sunset at the Valley of the Kings
Virgin and the Young People

The unprecedented online Philippine art marketplace featuring emerging and seasoned Filipino visual artists and their artworks has been launched.

The launch of ( coincided with the physical exhibition “Sariling Sining: A Showcase of Contemporary Filipino Art,” which was held at the Art Circle Gallery, 3L Ayala Malls Circuit, Makati City, on Oct. 25 – 27, 2019., led by its CEO and Founder Yuri Stegeman, together with the six exhibiting artists Armenius Aralar of Binangonan, Rizal; August Punzal of Taytay, Rizal; Hermel Alejandre (guest artist) of Camarines Sur; Jose Ehric Egualada of Boracay Island, Aklan; Pamela Lei Bermudez of Las Pinas City, and Ryan D. Orig of Pandacan, Manila/Iloilo City, expressed their support to the new digital platform. has been created to help Filipino artists to be seen by a wider audience and for art lovers to have easier access to art, an announcement about the launch said.

“People are diverse and so is art. By being accessible online, provides plenty of space to showcase this diversity and the Filipino’s exemplary artistry,” the announcement said.

One of the featured artists, Aklan-based Egualada said “Art in my region is extremely popular. Even though I live by the beaches of Boracay, I’ve been hoping that my art will be able to reach even the outskirts of Manila. My art pieces recreate a society centered on faith, nature, and people. It’s an honor and privilege to share my works with other people. Thanks to, I can make these things possible.”

“Of course, physically seeing an artwork in real life is and should be a different experience than seeing a representation online, but considering the benefits, it’s a very good alternative for perusing and buying such,” Stegeman said.

“I’m very happy that art fairs have become increasingly popular; it shows that art is important to Filipinos. But even in those fairs, they often showcase the more established artists whose artworks are quite inaccessible to many because of their prices,” he said.

“ takes away those boundaries by showcasing a whole lot more artists and offer prices for every Juan. And if an original piece of art is still inaccessible because of the price, we also offer prints via our partner, No Blank Walls; it’s a less expensive way of getting beautiful art into your home, office, or personal space,” he said.

Developed by Internet solutions company Chanz Global, currently features curated contemporary artworks such as painting, drawings, and mixed media – sculptures and photographs will be available, too, in the coming months. has been receiving hundreds of art submissions from all over the country.

About the Artists Supporting Launch-Exhibit
Armenius Aralar

Expressionist, Binangonan, Rizal
Armenius only realized this passion for arts at a later age. His art revolves around freedom and expression; he believes that everybody has their interpretations of everything, which includes his art.

August Punzal
Abstract Artist, Taytay, Rizal
A former banker at a top firm, August presents his art in the abstract form – with a twist of enthusiasm for what is life beyond his home country, such as in Egypt and elsewhere.

Hermel Alejandre (Guest Artist)
Cubist, Expressionist, Camarines Sur
Inspired by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, Hermel is an artist born to fulfill one thing: to bring forth happiness in his audience. Strength, passion, and integrity are his main ideas to reflect on his art

Jose Ehric Egualada
Expressionist, Boracay Island, Aklan
Raised in a religious family along the beaches of Boracay Island, Ehric channels his creative flow into art pieces that recreate a society centered on God, nature, and people. He is also an art educator and critic.

Pamela Lei Bermudez
Expressionist, Las Pinas City, Manila
A graphic designer and painter, Pamela’s artworks are visual representations that pay tribute to some of the most respected occupations of Filipinos.

Ryan D. Orig
Portrait Artist, Pandacan, Manila/Iloilo City
Ryan’s works creatively portray the lives of our fellow Filipinos in the rural areas. Launch-Exhibit had been made possible with the help of industry partners: online property portal; art and craft company The Craft Central; courier service company SNDT; high-quality photo printer No Blank Walls; Art Circle Gallery-Circuit, and Ayala Malls Circuit.

Artwork images from

Backgrounder on the newest CCP theater venue: the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez

By Ibarra C. Mateo

Former Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero scholar donates new theater to CCP

First Published at GMA News Online on January 25, 2016


Businessman Ignacio B. Gimenez, a scholar of influential playwright, director, and actor Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero, has donated a new theater to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to honor his mentor, “to give back” to the Filipino people, and to encourage local business community leaders to engage more in Philippine theater.

Informally called “the new CCP Black Box,” the theater is expected to be unveiled in January or February 2017 with an inaugural season featuring new and original Filipino works.

Rep’s Quest for the Adarna gives new life to Ibong Adarna tale

By Ibarra C. Mateo

Repertory Philippines’ Creative Director Joy Virata compared the theater company’s children’s musical productions to a “gym for empathy.”

Quoting American playwright Lauren Gunderson, Virata said, in a Rep Facebook page post, that “theater is a space where we can build up the muscles of compassion, to practice listening, understanding, and engaging with people who also practice caring.”

In staging The Quest for the Adarna: An original children’s musical, Rep is providing kids “the gift of experiencing the wonders of theater.”

The new production “teaches kids unforgettable lessons about family, courage, forgiveness, and love, all wrapped in an entertaining stage production,” the Repertory said.

The Quest for the Adarna runs from Sept. 14, 2019 to Jan. 26, 2020 at Onstage Theater Greenbelt 1 in Makati.

With new twists, adventures, and songs, The Quest for the Adarna is breathing fresh energy and vibrant life to the old tale of Ibong Adarna, which has captivated generation upon generation of Filipino children.

The Repertory Philippines’ Adarna is in English language but promises to be a colorful tale. It is produced through the Repertory Theater for Young Audiences (RTYA).

“The play takes place in the peaceable and prosperous kingdom of Berbania, which is ruled by the beloved King Fernando and his equally loved wife, Queen Valeriana, the Repertory said in an announcement.

“They are blessed with three sons – all mighty warriors. The eldest and heir to the throne is the pompous Prince Pedro; the second son is the dashing Prince Diego; and, the youngest, the kind-hearted Prince Juan,” the statement said.

However, their idyllic life is shattered when King Fernando is struck by a mysterious sickness and can only be healed by the song of the mythical bird, Adarna.

Anyone wanting to capture the bird must travel to its home on Mount Tabor, a journey that is difficult and fraught with danger. After his first two brothers failed on their quest, Prince Juan bravely takes on the task to save his father.

“An enduring epic that remains one of our great cultural treasures, the Ibong Adarna story is reborn as an entertaining play with original music,” the announcement said.

Suitable for children of all ages, The Quest for the Adarna is an original RTYA production under Virata, who is assisted by co-directors Jamie Esteva Wilson and Naths Everett, with music by Rony Fortich and book and lyrics by Luna Griño-Inocian.

Cast members are Carla Guevara-Laforteza, Andrea Monique Alvarado, and Cara Barredo playing the role of the titular Adarna.

Joining them are Arion Sanchez, Jim Andrew Ferrer, Ade Valenzona as Prince Pedro; Vinni Todd, Luis Marcelo, Andres Borromeo, and Sean Nolasco as Prince Diego; and Leo John Guinid, Diego Aranda, and Neo Rivera as Prince Juan.

The Quest for the Adarna will showcase bright, colorful costumes, fun, child-friendly music, and not to mention its new English translation of a Filipino classic.

The Quest for the Adarna closes the Repertory season 2019.

For inquiries, please contact Repertory at 451-1474 or 0966-905-4013. Tickets maybe purchased tickets by calling Ticketworld at 891 9999, or through

For updates and show schedules, log on to, or like and follow repertoryphilippines on Facebook and Instagram.

Upstart Productions stages Sondheim’s Company

By Ibarra C. Mateo

Joel Trinidad’s Upstart Productions’ staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Company opens on Sept. 13, 2019 at the the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC Arts Center in Taguig.

Directed by Topper Fabregas, the Upstart version of Company features OJ Mariano as Bobby, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (Joanne), Michael Williams (Larry), Ariel Reonal (Peter), Nicky Triviño (Susan), Trinidad (Harry), Sweet Plantado (Sarah), Chino Veguillas (David), Jenny Bianca Lopez (Jenny), James Uy (Paul), and Cathy Azanza-Dy (Amy).

Using vignettes as a narrative technique, the stories of Bobby and his friends unfold into a dark romantic-comedy.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, the audience is transported on the eve of Bobby’s 35th birthday in 1970s New York.

One description of the award-winning musical said: “On the night of his 35th birthday, Robert struggles to think of a wish to make as he blows out his birthday candles. The lone bachelor, surrounded by ‘those good and crazy people’ — his married friends — Bobby is uncertain whether he should simply be happy with his lot or whether he should wish for his own romantic partner. Over a series of dinner parties, first dates, and thoughtful conversations, Bobby attempts to understand the pros and cons of marriage from his diverse and frequently hilarious friends, and begins to make sense of his own persistent bachelorhood.”

It also said: “Company, Stephen Sondheim’s groundbreaking modern musical, is a mature, intelligent, and wildly funny look at relationships, vulnerability, and being alive.”

The Upstart production of Company comes after the group’s mounting of Monty Python’s Spamalot, which was well-received by the theater audience.

Company is running presently at London’s West End. It among Sondheim’s popular works such as Into the Woods, West Side Story, A Little Night Music, and Passion.

Since the show’s debut in 1970, the Company’s productions in Broadway and the West End have garnered praises and awards, including multiple Tony and Olivier Awards.

“Fabregas was very particular about finding new, unexplored performers, and held open auditions for all the parts,” a Company announcement said.

Trinidad was surprised by the number of those who auditioned, the announcement said.

Fabregas is joined by Rony Fortich, who is the former Hong Kong Disneyland musical director, and New York-based and Fordham University Theater Program Faculty Joey Mendoza handles the production design.

Following is what the artistic and cast members have to say about the Company:

Cathy Azanza-Dy: “No one captures the scars, the ache, and the beauty of friendship and love quite like Stephen Sondheim.”

Caisa Borromeo: “It’s timeless and relatable to anyone who has loved, has wanted love, or has been afraid of wanting love. It’s a big fat hug that will make you appreciate the people in your life more.”

Maronne Cruz: “The different characters and relationship dynamics in Company are helping me process my feelings about friendship, love, commitment, and marriage.”

Fabregas: “Company was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. There’s nothing like it.”

Fortich: “Company has, I think, some of the most beautiful lyrics from musical theater.”

Lauchengco-Yulo: “I don’t think you can say you have been challenged musically until you’ve tackled Sondheim.”

Lopez: “Company digs deep on love, friendship, and marriage. I just love how real it is. One of the best musicals by Sondheim.”

Mariano: “If Bobby is your spirit animal, Company is your therapy.”

Peña: “Company is timeless. It’s one of those pieces that every generation — of any age — needs to see.”

Plantado-Tiongson: “Company … real people … real emotions … A beautiful marriage of music and words.”

Reonal: “Company validates my belief in the age-old saying that ‘no man is an island’. Single or not, admit it: We all need company.”

Trinidad: “Company speaks to me like no other musical before or since. It’s funny, poignant, and unflinchingly honest.”

Triviño: “I love Company, It’s simple and deep.”

Uy: “First time I watched Company, I thought they were telling my story. Saw it a second time and I’m convinced they were.”

Veguillas: “Sondheim’s gift for expressing such complex feelings so simply has always amazed me. ‘Being Alive’ is one of my favorite songs from any musical.”

Williams: “Everyone is on a journey towards love and companionship. Company tells the story of that journey.”

The Company runs on all Fridays at 9 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm; and Sundays 3 pm and 8 pm, from Sept. 13 to 22, at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC Arts Center.