MMFF 2017 Feature | ‘Ang Larawan,’ a musical

Most of the cast of "Ang Larawan" after the press screening held at Promenade, Greenhills. (Photo by Stephanie Mayo)

The Metro Manila Film Festival is just around the corner, and one of the most anticipated entries is “Ang Larawan,” a musical film with a powerhouse cast.


It’s a musical film set in Intramuros 1941, in a big house where two unmarried sisters in their 40’s, Candida and Paula, live with their recluse father, Don Lorenzo, a famous painter and a contemporary of Juan Luna. The sisters also have a handsome lodger, Tony Javier, who is convincing them to sell Don Lorenzo’s last painting and rescue them all from poverty.


“Ang Larawan” is based on a 1950 three-act English play by National Artist Nick Joaquin, “The Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.” Described as Joaquin’s “most popular play” and “the national play of the Philippines,” “The Portrait” premiered on stage in 1955 at the Aurora Gardens of Intramuros, Manila, by the Barangay Theater Guild (BTG), and was directed by Lamberto Avellana.

Numerous renditions followed—both on screen and on stage, in English and in Filipino. In 1997 came the first musical stage adaptation produced by Musical Theater Philippines (now Culturtain Musicat Productions Inc.), headed by Celeste Legaspi, the singer/actress daughter of National Artist for Visual Arts Cesar Legaspi, and the pioneer of OPM.

The 1997 musical was staged at the CCP and was directed by National Artist for Theater Rolando Tinio, with music by celebrated composer Ryan Cayabyab, and libretto by Tinio.

Now the musical comes to the silver screen in this year’s MMFF, but this time directed by award-winning Broadway theatrical set designer and director, Loy Arcenas. The film is produced by Celeste Legaspi and Girlie Rodis, with Alemberg Ang as supervising producer. Candida is played by famed West End performer Joanna Ampil, and Paula is played by multi-awarded singer and actress Rachel Alejandro.

“Ang Larawan” was first released in Japan in 2017 as part of the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) under the title “The Portrait.”


Rachel Alejandro as Candida. (Photo by Stephanie Mayo)
Rachel Alejandro as Paula. (Photo by Stephanie Mayo)

CANDIDA – Joanna Ampil
PAULA  – Rachel Alejandro
TONY JAVIER – Paulo Avelino
MANOLO – Nonie Buencamino
PEPANG – Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo
DON PERICO – Robert Arevalo
DONYA LOLENG – Celeste Legaspi
BITOY – Sandino Martin
SUSAN – Cris Villonco
VIOLET – Aicelle Santos
ELSA MONTES – Zsa Zsa Padilla

Also with Bernardo Bernardo, Jaime Fabregas, Noel Trinidad, Dulce, Nanette Inventor, Rayver Cruz, Cara Manglapus, Jojit Lorenzo, and Leo Ralip.


Paulo Avelino as Tony Javier. (Photo by Stephanie Mayo).

Meet the cast, live, of “Ang Larawan” tomorrow, Dec. 16, Saturday, 7:00 p.m., at Glorietta 4, Makati. You can also catch them at the MMFF Parade of Stars on Dec. 23, Saturday, at 3:00 p.m., in Muntinlupa.

 “Ang Larawan, the Musical” is a vital element of our country’s Centennial celebrations. It is significant for our people to look back and remember our culture and heritage as we look forward to the future….”

Nick Joaquin, National Artist for Literature

“Ang Larawan” opens Dec. 25, 2017 in Philippine cinemas. Movie review here.