Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ladyboys of London - Hippodrome Theatre, Leicester Square, December 29th 2014

A review by Malcolm Conlan

Earlier tonight, I was very kindly invited to watch a new cabaret show in London's West End, entitled Ladyboys of London. To be entirely honest, I was not sure what to expect. As much as I am a lover of musicals and live shows, I have never been to or even wanted to watch a cabaret or a show featuring ladyboys. I had no idea how it would work or what they would even do.

I arrived at the venue alone, I had this preconceived idea that this kind of show would be better if you were with a group of friends or after an office party. However, I was alone and it was a cold, depressing December evening outside, so was not sure what to expect.

I had been to the Hippodrome before however, back in the 80’s to watch a Filipino beauty pageant, organised by one of the original Miss Saigon cast members, Mr Jay Ibot who has since sadly passed away, he was a much respected leader and business man in the Filipino community and organiser of wonderful community events.

I have to be honest at this point and say that I do have a deep appreciation of Filipino culture and all things Filipino, however I did say to myself before the show started that I would give an honest review which would not be biased based on my love of the Philippines.

The Hippodrome itself, has an incredible history, Julie Andrews made her stage debut there at the age of 12, Harry Houdini has performed there, as well as appearances by Diana Ross & The Supremes, Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Shirley Bassey, and The Temptations, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, Lulu, Matt Monro, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, The Seekers, Stevie Wonder, Neil Sedaka and the list goes on, a dazzling array of talent.

So what did I think of tonight? The show started with a fire eating act, very talented and exciting, then we got to watch four incredible dancers, all good looking, macho guys you could say who were all very good performers, their dance moves were brilliant, perfectly choreographed and great to watch.
Geri Love

Then one of the two main performers of the night, Geri Love took the stage, in a very elaborate costume and started singing, to be honest, I have to say that I do believe that all Filipino’s have this God given talent of singing. However I have to be honest and say that I have seen a few examples recently online where not everyone can sing lol. However with a love of karaoke in the Philippines, I do stand by that previous statement that the vast majority of Pinoy’s can sing still.

OMG I was blown away by the singing as well as entertainment factor of the performance of Geri Love, she is naturally talented. We witnessed some real showstoppers, Vegas style, I have to be honest and say that I do believe this whole show has legs and will move fast. Not only did we sample the delights of Geri Love, we also got a double helping in the form of another talented Filipino performer, Dee Chanelle. As well as being very talented in singing and with some brilliant show stopping costumes’, she was also very funny.

Dee Chanelle

There was some audience participation as well, this was the first time that this act had been seen live, I do believe, it will get better and better and run for a long time, I do see the potential of the current running time of just under an hour, easily becoming 2 hours and also a touring show around the UK. There is a big gap in the market for this kind of show. A fun night out whether you are in a group or in my case alone... Had so much fun, off to bed now after a night to remember!!!

Credits for photos to Livelo and Ricky Dixon


Ladyboys of London

Monday, December 29, 2014

I HAVE always considered myself to be a British guy with a ‘Pusong Pinoy’. My Tagalog is not that good, but I think the translation is ‘Filipino heart’?

I have lived in the UK all my life. However when I was around 19, I travelled to the Philippines for the first time in my life, to visit my secret crush I guess haha. Since then, I have been ‘back home’ over 30 times. Yes, I refer to visiting the Philippines as going back home. I know that when Filipinos go back to the Philippines, they would also use that term ‘back home’ so I kind of adopted it. For me, I have been made to feel very welcome on my visits there. I generally stay in Pangasinan, in the province of my wife. I do usually spend a few days in Manila as well. In my 30 or so visits, I have never been troubled, always been made to feel very welcome and have always encountered a smiling face or friendly hello. For me, the Philippines has really become my second home.

I have always had a keen interest in social media and Facebook. In fact, over the last year, I have written some blogs and letters that have been shared within the community and thus have built up quite a following on social media, which I am very grateful for. Why is this relevant? I receive countless messages from Pinoys in the Philippines asking me about life here in the UK. There is such a desire from Filipinos back home to work and indeed live here. I can understand it really. The UK and especially London is often built up as this fairytale place where money grows on trees and everyone lives a life of luxury. Yes, there are jobs here, which are well paid. It is very rare for people to be starving hungry, we have a National Health Service to look after the sick and of course there is also a system of benefits, which do help people who need it. In fact, I consider myself proud to be British and love my country. However, honestly speaking, life can be very hard. Unless you have a good job and place to live, life can be tough indeed and living in London can also be very expensive.

I do still however love living here and consider myself very fortunate. I do appreciate how tough life can be in the Philippines. I have stayed in 5-star hotels and driven around in luxury cars. However I have also spent time in Tondo and slept in small wooden houses. When I was in my early 30’s, I became sick and also spent time in a public hospital, I have also heard of a situation where a young boy sadly died over Christmas as the family couldn’t afford medical treatment. So I really have seen life from both extremes.

As Christmas approaches, I have been thinking how material we have all become here. When I was younger, my Christmas list consisted of maybe a calendar, book, sweets and maybe a cassette tape. Now the average Christmas list here in London would probably contain shoes for £100, an IPhone 6, £600, X-Box games for £50 each, you get the drift.

However, in 2011, I spent Christmas back home in the Philippines with my wife’s family. The children there are happy with just a few small presents, maybe some fruits, some socks or even just a t-shirt from London. I do believe that the true meaning of Christmas has somehow been lost for some in the UK, which is sad.

The highlights of Christmas back home for me in the Philippines is the midnight Feast or ‘Noche Buena’ a time for families to come together and eat Pinoy foods and just celebrate being together. Children going from house to house, singing Christmas carols for a few pesos donation and attending a Simbang Gabi mass.

I do love spending Christmas here in the UK with my family, but also miss Christmas back home in the Philippines.

So wherever you end up spending Christmas this year, don’t forget ‘back home’ wherever that may be for you.

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!

Malcolm Conlan – A British man with a Pinoy Heart, London, UK


Home For Christmas

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why is Metro Manila such an important film in Philippine cinema history?

Today I watched Metro Manila for the 11th time. You see, I have really fallen in love with this film.

From the brilliant cinematography, with scenes filmed in the incredible Banaue rice terraces which are one of the wonders of the world to the streets of Manila and the festival of the Black Nazarene, to the powerful soundtrack and outstanding acting ability of a brilliant cast, Metro Manila has really captured my heart.

The film tells the story of Oscar Ramirez, a family man in the province played by Philippine theatre actor Jake Macapagal with such brilliance. One of the best moments in the film is the delivery of a joke during an interview Oscar has for a security job. He is able to deliver it whilst being straight faced and convincing. Oscar's wife is played by upcoming actress, Althea Vega. Since the filming of Metro Manila, Althea has gone on to play other indie films including the recently screened 'Ashtray'.

Althea has a very difficult role in the film as a bar girl or 'hostess'. Her character, is forced to choose between making a terrible sacrifice which no mother should have to go through or loose her job. This really does show in an extreme manner the harsh realities of poverty in the Philippines and is truly shocking but an important part of the film. Althea was very courageous to take on such a difficult role and plays it perfectly.

The other star of the film is Ong, played by John Arcilla, another Filipino actor who has been in the industry for over 20 years in a number of movies for both GMA and ABS-CBN.

John plays the role very well and is an excellent supporting actor. The fight scene at the security van between Oscar and Ong is very powerful.

Metro Manila is a hard hitting film about the reality of life for many on Manila's streets. I do believe that it should be given the accolade of being a relevant film in Philippine history. The film was directed by British Director, Sean Ellis. I like the fact that although the film could have easily been filmed in English, Sean chose to film the entire movie on location in Manila in Tagalog. In fact Sean asked the actors to translate the script into Tagalog. This makes it such a powerful film.

This is also the only Filipino film ever to have been screened on British TV screens. The film was screened by Film Four and as well as winning an audience award in the 2013 Sundance Film festival, Metro Manila was also nominated in the Oscars as the best film in a foreign language. The film didn't win the Oscar, however this is still the first ever Filipino film to have received such international acclaim.

I would highly recommend every Filipino family to keep a copy in their DVD collection so that they would be reminded of the harsh realities of life back home and this I hope will one day encourage an OFW to return home to the Philippines to maybe run for office and hopefully make the Philippines a better place to live for our children.

Malcolm Conlan Shares His Thoughts On The Movie "Metro Manila".

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Sweet Spot of the Philippines
Malcolm Conlan shares his thoughts on where he wants to go this 2015!
Sweet Spot of the Philippines

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

I have heard so much Negros Island throughout the years I have known Filipinos.  Some of my dearest friends come from there.  In fact, the only Filipina who ever worked in the Royal Household and attended Prince William and Duchess Kate's wedding comes from Bacolod City.

I have to say that all these stories about Negros Island lead me to say, "I am absolutely charmed!".

I am told of a unique mix of East meeting West in Negros Island.  The Western influence on the island comes not only from the domination of the Spaniards as early as the 16th century but also largely due to the onset of the sugar industry in the 19th century.  The production of sugar drew the attention of Europeans including a Frenchman, Yves Leopold Germaine Gaston.

Gaston arrived at the port city of Silay in 1840, where he found the soil conducive to planting sugarcane. Gaston was the first to bring in an iron mill, which at that time was virtually unheard of.  This iron mill allowed him to begin commercial production of export-quality sugar.  The business of sugar drew not only the Frenchman Gaston, but also attracted another notable figure in the person of Nicholas Loney.

Balay Negrense, the house of Yves Leopold Germaine Gaston

British gentleman Nicholas Loney was the son of an admiral in the Royal Navy who left home at an early age to travel.  His serendipitous journey to the Far East through a work engagement in Singapore led him to the Philippines and later became the British Vice Consul in the Philippines.  Loney was another Westerner who helped carve the sugar industry for which Negros Island is known for.  The ensuing lifestyle, culture, and cuisine which evolved in this island called Negros is a product of various influences from the west which makes me say, "What a fascinating melding of cultures!".

With this and all the wonderful sights to see, the world famous Masskara festival, dolphin watching in Bais, and the tasty Bacolod chicken barbecue called inasal, Negros Island is indeed the place I want to visit in 2015.

Why I Want To Visit Negros Island in 2015

The land of sugar, the SWEET SPOT of the Philippines, Negros Island awaits you in 2015.  Relive the charm of European influence in the historic city of Silay.  Enjoy the cool breeze in the highlands of Salvador Benedicto.  Frolick in the beaches of Sipalay.  Take a boat ride alongside dolphins in Bais.  Gaze at the art deco mansions on Millionaire's Row.  Wander along the boulevard of Dumaguete.  Dance to your heart's content during Bacolod's world famous Masskara Festival.  Most of all, meet the genteel and fun loving people of Negros Island.

2015 is the year to experience Negros Island.  The SWEET SPOT of the Philippines!

Malcolm Conlan talks about why he wants to visit Negros Island in 2015.

2015 is Visit Negros Island Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

As I celebrate Christmas here in London with my family, I am mindful of the many millions of Overseas Filipino Workers around the globe who are not able to spend Christmas with family due to them being abroad. I am also aware that several million of them are not actually able to celebrate Christmas at all, due to working in countries where they don't celebrate Christmas.

I do find it very sad many in the Philippines are encouraged to go abroad from an early age, to be educated in a certain way or apply for a certain course, so that they could work overseas. Isn't it time that more jobs were available within the country? Isn't it time when working overseas would be a choice, not a necessity?

However you are able to celebrate Christmas where you are, even if you are not able to celebrate it at all openly, my Christmas wish is that you would be blessed at Christmas with a better situation. I also wish each and everyone of you a blessed and prosperous 2015.

Thank you very much for all your support of Fil-Event.com this year.

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon.

Pinoy at heart

Malcolm Conlan talks about a little gesture which may lead to a big change.

A Christmas Message from Malcolm

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I have always been a fan of Philippine TV and Film. The first Star cinema movie I watched was around 9 years ago called 'My first romance' staring Heart Evangelista and Jon Prats. The second movie was 'Two hearts' with John Lloyd and of course the one and only Bea Alonzo. (I'm quite a fan haha)

Since then, I have probably watched over 20 Star Cinema films. It's pretty cool to see these movies on DVD and then actually get to meet the artists!!

I have had the pleasure to meet:

Bea Alonzo
John Lloyd Cruz
KC Concepcion
Gabby Concepcion
Daniel Padilla
Kathryn Bernado
Vhong Navarro
Vice Ganda
Angelica Panganiban

All of whom have been wonderful and actually still remember me. Still star struck.  LOL!

I have to say one of the most charming and funny artists I have met is the incredibly talented and charming Piolo Pascual. As well as meeting Piolo in London, got to meet him in Yorkshire. In a lovely town called Ripley. I actually got to walk around the town with him and got to chat to him. Also had dinner on his table as well, he is so charming.

In fact, one of my wife's best friends, Magielyn is also a big fan and he actually agreed to greet her over the phone. I heard her screaming in the background. Was so funny, in fact Piolo had to move the phone away from his ear as she was so loud lol. When she went on to get married, Piolo actually signed her wedding greetings card which was simply incredible.

I guess I had the pleasure of meeting Piolo around 5 times now, whenever I go back home and watch shows at ABS-CBN, Piolo always takes the time to acknowledge me when he sees me. Also got to meet his mum, who is also lovely.

Piolo is also a very versatile actor, he can play the tough guy as well as the romantic type.

I have and always will be a loyal kapamilya and a massive fan of TFC. Thanks ever so much ABS-CBN for helping to bring happiness to the lives of Pinoys worldwide.

Yours Truly,

Malcolm Conlan
Pinoy at heart

Malcolm Conlan talks about a little gesture which may lead to a big change.



Meeting Piolo

Monday, December 22, 2014

From my post in Fil-Event a few months ago:

Just got back from watching Miss Saigon again, having watched it over 50 times in the past, from the opening few weeks 25 years ago, to the 10th anniversary performance, the last ever night in Drury Lane, on Broadway and around the UK. I guess that makes me a fan lol

This is my 4th time to watch the new version and I am still rapidly falling in love with it. I was able to be part of the audience for the 25th anniversary gala performance as well as attend the gala party. I didn't think it could get much better than that evening to be honest!!!

However, tonight once again, I was totally blown away by the incredible performances of for me the perfect cast!



Looking Back at 2014 : Miss Saigon - Still so emotional

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Malcolm Conlan talks about a little gesture which may lead to a big change.


A Small Gesture Can Lead To A Big Change

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Thank you for taking the time to visit and I hope to share my latest project, Fil-Event and Travel  ( http://fil-eventandtravel.blogspot.com ).  I had always wanted to write a blog.  I did have a blog section on Fil-Event.com, however certain blogs did not really fit well with my site.

I do sometimes enjoy writing letters or commenting on social issues and I expect to continue to do so. I am very sure that in 2015, I will be able to keep all of my friends and followers up to date with the very latest Filipino happenings around the UK and I hope the wider world. Thank you for your support in 2014, looking forward to what I hope will be an exciting and prosperous new year for us all.

Thank you.

Malcolm Conlan




On the new blog, Fil-Event and Travel

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