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Philip Roth and the three ‘ginoo’

News of the passing of Philip Roth brought me back to the 1970s when he was at the height of his powers as a novelist and a pop culture figure. He may be best remembered for “Portnoy’s Complaint,” which focused on the sexual obsessions of an American Jewish male, although he won a National Book Award in 1959, the first of many others, for the short story collection “Goodbye Columbus.”

But I remember him best for an obscure early work: “When She Was Good” (1967), which, in one blurb on the back cover, described the heroine as a “ball-busting bitch.”

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This was in the early days of feminism, but to me the book was a basic manual on how women are treated in contemporary society and how they can confront their oppressors.

“When She Was Good” alternately moved me to tears and to cheering. And it reflected completely my own budding resentments at being female in a male-dominated society and how getting back at the vicissitudes of fate can be fraught with danger.

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The latest story I read about Roth was how, for many years, his publisher would urge him to fly to Sweden, where the Nobel Prize for literature was awarded, only to be disappointed time and again. In 2012, he announced his retirement from writing.

Here’s to Roth, then, an early personal instructor on feminism, though that may not have been his intention when he set out to write about a “ball-busting bitch.”

Rain and music are, in the Filipino mind, invariably linked. This is because of the folk belief, which lives on in jokes and teasing, that bad music, especially out-of-tune singing, provokes the rain to fall.

Which is why naming a concert “Bagyo,” Filipino for “storm” or “typhoon,” is a singular act of courage and daring in these parts. After all, who would risk going to a concert that promises singing so bad it results in a storm?

But “Bagyo ng Musika” (Storm of Music) is so named not only because it takes place at the start of the rainy season, but also because it promises to raise a “storm” of funds for the people of Marawi City, specifically for the children who are facing the threat of malnutrition because of the poverty endemic in the region and the added hardship and deprivation that resulted from the recent siege.

Maybe the concert’s producers were also confident that their performers were sufficiently talented to merit the presence of a sizeable audience who would willingly shell out hard-earned money for a worthy cause.

Headlining “Bagyo ng Musika” are three gentlemen, who call themselves “ginoo,” gifted with an affinity for song. But maybe it’s the three gents’ day jobs that will really draw their friends, supporters and the merely curious. The three “ginoo” are: presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, corporate lawyer and former press secretary Mike Toledo, and former senator and president of The Manila Hotel Joey Lina.

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Lina was once part of the “Three Tenors” alongside the late defense secretary Angelo Reyes and former Metro Manila Development Authority chair and now congressman Bayani Fernando. The three had staged a number of concerts at their prime, so Lina could very well be the lead singer at “Bagyo.” Mike Toledo I’ve heard numerous times mainly because of his penchant for giving in whenever called upon to render a number during business socials. I’ve not had the “pleasure” of listening to Panelo, but I could be convinced to come to the concert if only to check out his wardrobe choices. Jenine Desiderio is a special guest. Accompanying them is no less than the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra led by Maestro Rodel Colmenares.

Directing the three “ginoo” is noted stage director Freddie Santos, who was roped into the endeavor because he ardently supports the cause: a feeding program for undernourished Grade 1 and 2 pupils in Marawi in cooperation with Gawad Kalinga’s “Kusina ng Kalinga” antihunger program. Part of the funds raised will also go to the government’s antihunger program in other parts of the country.

“Bagyo ng Musika” goes onstage on Independence Day, June 12, starting at 7 p.m. at the Fiesta Pavilion of The Manila Hotel.

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TAGS: author, Bagyo ng Musika, literature, Music, Philip Roth
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