Rivalry at its finest

Blue and white or green and white… eagle or archer… Ateneo or La Salle.

Who doesn’t know the two famous schools? Known for its rivalry in basketball in the National College Athletics Association (NCCA) and the University Athletics Association of the Philippines, (UAAP), the story is now immortalized in a musical play entitled “Rivalry,” slated for January 2012.

In a press preview last April 28 at the Insular Life Theatre, Ed Gatchalian, executive producer and musical director of the play said that the rivalry of the two schools is perfect considering the history they have in the past decades.

“The rivalry between La Salle and Ateneo has been on for the longest of time, capturing the attention and imagination not just for those who studied in both schools but of the public at large. This feud has been more evident in the fiercely-fought basketball games between the two schools during the then NCAA and afterwards UAAP tournaments, but it has also spread to practically all over other areas of competition such as courting girls and later in life, in business, politics and in their professions, “ Gatchalian said.

It has been a common joke among Ateneans and La Sallians that the rivalry is beyond basketball. The rivalry is said to focus on girls, basketball , social issues , academics and the basketball championship. The New York Times even wrote a special editorial about the infamous rivalry that could be compared to the LA Lakers-Boston Celtics championships.

With this in mind, Gatchalian immediately worked on the musical, asking help from his friends from La Salle. He even joked that he got teased in the end for it but was provided with enough material to push with the musical. Knowing the challenges of putting the idea to life, Gathchalian called on Jaime del Mundo, one of today’s top theater directors to help him on the project.

Set in 1968, Rivalry revolves around two families; the Basilios and Valencias. Andrea Valencia and Dolores Basilio are sisters married to La Sallian educated Demetrio Basilio and Atenean graduate Anton Valencia. They have children; Tommy Basilio and brothers Paco and Quinto Valencia who are cousins who study in both schools and despite the animosity between their fathers are not affected by the school feud. Tommy and Paco face the idea of facing off in the NCAA games and complications arise when Reena San Jose, a Maryknoller enters the picture that will test the bonds of the cousins.

A cast of talented actors was also assembled to give life to the musical led by theatre veterans Shiela Valderama, Caisa Borromeo, Chinie Nepomuceno, Carla Guevara, Oj Mariano, Khalid Kaimo and Topper Fabregas. Nancy Crowe, who Gatchalian worked with will do the choreograph as well as Chinie Nepomuceno.

Gatchalian, who was based abroad, said that he hopes that with the musical, it will be the start for more Filipinos to love theater.

“Philippine music is more than just pop concerts. We have world-class talent. And this is what we’re trying to do — to expand the market and make theater-going a regular habit in the country,” he said.

He also adds that with the musical, he will be able to help Philippine theater by coming up with more Filipino-themed musicals that can help turn the country into a center for the performing arts in the region.

“Who knows,” he mused, “ we may finally have a Filipino musical shown in Broadway in New York or West End in London. With the immense talents and creativity of Filipino musical artists, that day may not be too far off.”

So whether you are an Atenean or La Sallian, Rivalry is a must see and find out for ourselves how it all began.

*Rivalry opens in January 2012.