From Brgy. Venezia to the World: Phenomenal Musical ‘Rak of Aegis’ Sails to the Virtual Stage

PHILIPPINES — In a highly-anticipated crossover to the digital platform, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) has finally announced the upcoming online release of the iconic and culture-shaping musical, “Rak of Aegis“, to the delight of theater and music fans. The decision comes following a year of careful consideration and assessment of the association’s digital capabilities—a shift in focus that the theater and arts community has been pushed to explore, learn, and thrive in given the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

With this, PETA, together with Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang–Aawit (OPM), The Philpop Musicfest Foundation (Philpop), PLDT Home Fibr, and foodpanda, takes pride in bringing the “Rak of Aegis” experience to Filipino and global viewers via a limited run pay-per-view streaming on July 31, August 1, 7, 8, 2021, through www.ticket2me.net.

The story of Aileen, the unapologetic dreamer who wishes to hit the jackpot and be known globally as the next big thing in music, makes its way, even closer to more theater and music fans. The “Rak of Aegis” streaming cast includes OG Aileen, Aicelle Santos, Pepe Herrera, Poppert Bernadas, Isay Alvarez-Seña, Robert Seña, Joann Co, Jimi Marquez, and Gie Onida, together with the ensemble cast of John Moran, Matel Patayon, Marynor Madamesila, Lemuel Silvestre, Teetin Villanueva, and Rafael Sudayan.

This online streaming special is mounted as part of the Linggo ng Musikang Pilipino (LMP) 2021 celebration. With the much-awaited return of the musical, now on a virtual format, the association aims this theater event to springboard bigger efforts to #TakePETABeyondCOVID, a campaign aimed at raising funds to keep the association alive amid the strain brought by the unprecedented global health crisis.

Pepe Herrera and Aicelle Santos. Image courtesy of PETA.

“As a non-profit organization that operates with the narrowest of margins, PETA has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lack of a steady income source for a year now has had some devastating effects on our company and our people,” opened up PETA President Cecilia B. Garrucho in a press statement.

Garrucho added, “Despite our best efforts, we had to let go of 20% of our staff, while implementing across the board pay cuts for over a year. While we are proud that we have been able to keep going, we are painfully aware that there are over a hundred people–our community of artists, production staff and crew, who have lost so much work during the pandemic, because of all our cancelled workshops, events, and shows.”

During its recent media conference, Garrucho highlighted this initiative as a declaration of the association’s continuing effort not just to survive as a company but to serve as a source of intangible food for people deeply affected by the pandemic, with culture as its source of nourishment. She noted, “We refuse to raise the white flag of surrender. We’re thinking of ways how to keep the company afloat, how to stay alive.”

Santos and Jimi Marquez. Image courtesy of PETA.

She continued, “But apart from this, we, at PETA, are passionate about our work. We believe that culture can offer intangible food for our audiences, the same way that there are community pantries mushrooming all over the country. We think that we should put up a cultural pantry from which our audiences can draw food to tie them over—intangible food that will give them joy, hope and even inspiration to go on especially through times of incredible hardship.”

PETA Artistic Director and “Rak of Aegis” director Maribel Legarda shared the creative and logistical journey that the association has undergone amid the pandemic, leading to this anticipated showing. She shared, “We have tried our best throughout this year and a half to adapt and to shift our work in the digital platform. We did a lot of that by starting with free workshops at the start of the lockdown in April, webinars, and we also had performances with the three-month Festival of Windows where we featured our partners in the community and we also had KE-Pop where we streamed plays from the past, ‘Caredivas’, ‘1896’, and ‘Juan Tamad’ (ang Diyablo at ang Limang Milyong Boto) and then we also streamed new work and experimentations on this new medium.”

She added, “It’s been an education. It’s been hard, but we’ve learned something. But it’s still not enough. We generated funds but the challenge has even become greater. Therefore, we find ourselves here today, which we hope will help support the company in the months to come.”

Pepe Herrera. Image courtesy of PETA.

Following the success of last year’s streaming of another jukebox musical, “Ang Huling El Bimbo“, fans were quick to make a resounding call to see the Philippines’ longest-running and most successful musical, “Rak of Aegis” to sail to streaming platforms. The process of doing so has, of course, been met with many considerations, both artistic and technical, that called for a mastery of the digital format, an entirely different science and art, altogether.

Executive Director Beng Cabangon disclosed, “Immediately after the lockdown, PETA tried to shift online. In the early months, we were also trying to establish and find our way around, how to handle digital programming, among other things. We also wanted to build our confidence in online sales. It’s something that’s not part of the core competence of PETA prior to the lockdown. We are so used to doing our marketing and our sales face to face, and all of a sudden, we have to do it online and master the different platforms. We also had to observe companies, both local and abroad, how they’re doing it.”

Aicelle Santos and Isay Alvarez-Seña. Image courtesy of PETA.

But the arduous journey that led to this upcoming virtual event is a testament to PETA’s unwavering spirit to support not just its people but those who are looking for a glimmer of hope in a time as bleak and uncertain as this.

Garrucho furthered, “That’s the function of art. We all need to come up for air and take in a breath of beauty and hope through the arts. And that’s what Rak will do for all of us. all of us, the while world, we are down on our knees, we have taken such a bad hit because of COVID but here are the people of Barangay Venezia who are so down like the rest of us, but they are so determined to find a way not just to survive but to prevail.”

Rak of Aegis” is written by Liza Magtoto, with musical direction and arrangement by Myke Salomon, choreography by Gio Gahol, set design by Mio Infante, lights design by Jonjon Villareal, costume design by Carlo Pagunaling, and shoe design by Maco Custodio. 

Aegis. Image courtesy of PETA.

Last May 7, tickets have already been made available online via www.bit.ly/rakofaegisstreaming

Audiences can choose from the following viewing options: 

Livestream at Php 350 – 8:00 P.M to 11:00 P.M. (Philippine Standard Time)

Video On Demand at Php 500 – 24-hours streaming from 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. the next day (Philippine Standard Time)

Video on Demand Premium at Php 1,000 – 24-hours streaming from 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. the next day (Philippine Standard Time) plus exclusive access to the Rak with Aegis LIVE virtual concert on August 8, 8:00 P.M., featuring the Aegis Band and select cast of “Rak of Aegis“.

Those looking to make even more of an impact can make an additional donation to PETA through www.ticket2me.net (for donations 500 and up), or through PETA’s Gcash account.

For bulk tickets and partnerships, contact Mitch Go, mitchgo@petatheater.com, 0917-5391112.

For more information, follow PETA’s social media pages: Facebook www.facebook.com/petatheater; Instagram @petatheater; Twitter @petatheater; YouTube  www.youtube.com/petatheateronline or visit www.petatheater.com/rakofaegis.

Rank Magazine is an official media partner of “Rak of Aegis” Online