After good friend Gibbs Cadiz won much-deserved PBA honors for his blog, the newspaper's editors asked around for a "short news feature" on him. Was only too happy to help train the spotlight on the Inquirer's own "drama king."
Published on September 28, 2008
Inquirer drama critic Gibbs Cadiz has a deep passion for Philippine theater. How deep? In 1991, in his very first job, he used his first-ever paycheck to buy season’s tickets to Repertory Philippines.
“The first ticket I bought was for the musical ‘Stop the World, I want to get off,’ at Rep’s Insular Life Theater in Makati,” he remembers.
That abiding passion was recognized last Sunday, in properly dramatic fashion, when Cadiz, a desk editor of Inquirer Lifestyle, became the first arts and culture honoree of the Philippine Blog Awards. Because the PBA ceremony at One Esplanade had no provision for that most theatrical of traditions, the acceptance speech, Cadiz wrote one and posted it on the blog.
In it, he gave thanks to a growing community of readers, but made special mention of “the Filipino Theater Artist, because he/she is what I write about mostly in post after post after post. It is a thrill to be a fan of some of our country's best talents; it is a privilege to be able to honor their hard work and heroism with this blog.”
In barely two years, his eponymous blog, at gibbscadiz.blogspot.com, has generated over 140,000 page views; it has also earned the patronage of theater artists themselves. Lea Salonga, for instance, is a regular reader; through the blog, Joanna Ampil in London found out about the auditions in Manila for West Side Story. Industry professionals have also learned to use the blog to spread the word about upcoming plays. After Cadiz encouraged other theater-goers to blog about the plays and even the movies they’ve seen, by giving away tickets or handing out prizes out of his own pocket, theater organizers added the routine to their marketing playbook. Now, through Cadiz’s blog, they give free tickets away, in exchange only for the ticket-holders’ commitment to blog about their play-watching experience. (Call it blog ‘n play.)
The core of Cadiz’s blog is the regular theater reviews he has written for the Inquirer since 2005, which he usually posts only after they see print. But it is an increasingly narrow core, because Cadiz has added more types of post (a video interview with acclaimed Asian-American playwright David Henry Hwang, for instance) and more features. “Gibbs Cadiz” is the one place to go on the Internet if one wants to view or hear excerpts from memorable Filipino musical productions, including “Katy,” “Rama at Sita,” “St. Louis Loves Dem Filipinos, the Musical” and “Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah.”
The result, as can be gleaned from the comment threads, traffic statistics and links to other blogs, is a growing community of theater lovers, drawn together by a newspaper editor’s long-running obsession.
WHERE’S THE MAGIC
That obsession allows Cadiz to wax critical. Last month, for instance, Cadiz reviewed three very different plays.
“‘Cinderella’ at the CCP Main Theater, ‘Noli at Fili: Dekada 2000 (Dos Mil)’ at the PETA Theater Center, and the recently ended ‘Hinabing Pakpak ng Ating mga Anak’ at the Guerrero Theater in UP Diliman do not qualify as incompetent productions. On the contrary, they evince much thought, planning, care and skillful stagecraft. But that they fall distressingly short of any artistic transcendence is telling. The commitment is there; the magic isn’t.”
But he allows his enthusiasms free rein too. In a review of Tanghalang Ateneo’s “Otelo, ang Moro ng Venecia,” he wrote: “Shakespeare supplies reasons for Iago’s mischief–his thwarted promotion, Othello possibly messing with his wife Emilia (Rachel Quong, good)–but the way Vera mouths them, even he sounds unconvinced by such pretexts.
Instead, the watchword of his performance is malice–a pure, angst-free peevishness that takes impish delight at his evolving ability to upend lives and bend the truth to his will.
None of that homoerotic, slithery stuff. This Iago, for all his outward ease and jauntiness, is at heart a misanthrope, and Vera dispenses poison with charismatic exultation.”
The other finalists for the arts and culture award were “Dalityapi Unpoemed,” “pamatay homesick,” “Perlas Design Studio” and “Pinoy Power.”
Other winners named during the 2nd Philippine Blog Awards included “Pinoy Web Startup” for Business, “Creature Lover” for Commentary, “The Professional Heckler” for Entertainment, “tonyocruz.com” for News and Media, and “Atheista” in the Personal category.
The complete list of winners, including the recipients of Special Awards, can be found on the PBA blog, at www.philippineblogawards.com.ph.