Rak of Aegis, Pepe Herrera and Aicelle Santos.

THE FLOOD (33 drums worth of water) returns and the residents of Barangay Venezia once again sing Aegis hit songs for a limited time this year in the rainy months of July and August. This time, the hit jukebox musical Rak of Aegis goes digital, not only for a local audience but also worldwide.

Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) together with Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-Aawit (OPM), the Philpop Musicfest Foundation (Philpop), PLDT Home Fibr, and Foodpanda, present the pay-per-view streaming of the jukebox musical Rak of Aegis on July 31, Aug. 1, 7, and 8 via www.ticket2me.net.

The story of Aileen, who aspires to be an online singing sensation and uses her platform to help the impoverished community of Barangay Venezia, which has been submerged in floodwaters for two months, was written by Liza Magtoto and directed by Maribel Legarda. Musical direction and arrangement of the songs by 1990s rock band Aegis used in the musical is by Myke Salomon, while choreography among the village’s shanties, catwalks, and flood — themselves created by set designer Mio Infante and lit by Jonjon Villareal — is by Gio Gahol. The costumes are designed by Carlo Pagunaling, and shoes — an important point in the story — are by Maco Custodio. 

The musical’s streaming is a testament to the “resilience of those in Villa Venezia [which] exists not only in the play, but also in the Filipinos trying to navigate through the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, and in the artists who have strived to survive and thrive despite the crisis currently faced by the local theater industry,” a press release from PETA said.

“I know that it will not be live but there are still many other elements to it that audiences can enjoy,” PETA Artistic Director Maribel Legarda said during an online press launch on May 7 held via Zoom. Ms. Legarda said that online streaming not only allows audiences to re-watch the show, but also gives access to first time viewers globally.

The Rak of Aegis streaming cast includes Aicelle Santos, Pepe Herrera, Poppert Bernadas, Isay Alvarez-Seña, Robert Seña, Joann Co, Jimi Marquez, and Gie Onida, together with John Moran, Matel Patayon, Marynor Madamesila, Lemuel Silvestre, Teetin Villanueva, and Rafael Sudayan in the ensemble.

Over the past year PETA Theater studied models on how other local and international companies operate digital streaming, marketing, and partnerships.

“In the early months [of the COVID-19 pandemic], we were trying to find our way around how to handle digital programming,” PETA Executive Director Maria Gloriosa Santos-Cabangon said. “Much later, when we were already considering streaming shows with tickets, we also wanted to build our confidence in online sales.”

Prior to the decision to stream Rak of Aegis, the theater company held a three-month Festival of Windows 2020: Locked But Linked and the K.E.-POP: Kalinangan Ensemble-Performers Overcoming a Pandemic digital festival.

The Rak of Aegis online streaming is part of the Linggo ng Musikang Pilipino (LMP) 2021 celebration, and is the banner project of the #TakePETAbeyondCOVID campaign, a fundraising drive that aims to help PETA survive this unprecedented time.

“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,” PETA President Cecilia B. Garrucho said in a statement, adding that the company laid off 20% of its staff in the past year.

“We believe that culture can offer intangible food for our audiences. The same way that community pantries are mushrooming all over the country,” Ms. Garrucho said during the online press launch. “We think that we should put up a ‘cultural pantry’ from which our audiences can draw intangible food that will give them joy and inspiration to go on through times of incredible hardship.”

Tickets to Rak of Aegis are now on sale via www.bit.ly/rakofaegisstreaming. The viewing options are: Livestream at P350 (8 p.m. to 11 p.m., Philippine Standard Time or PST); Video On Demand at P500 for 24-hours streaming from 10 a.m. to 10 a.m. the next day (PST); Video on Demand Premium at P1,000 for 24-hours streaming from 10 a.m. to 10 a.m. the next day (PT) with exclusive access to the Rak with Aegis live virtual concert on Aug. 8, (8 p.m.), featuring the Aegis Band and select cast members.

To donate to PETA Theater, visit www.ticket2me.net (for donations of P500 and up), or through PETA’s Gcash account. For bulk tickets and partnerships, contact Mitch Go at mitchgo@petatheater.com or 0917-539-1112. 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. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman