“HI, Tito B, could you please come to my forthcoming show,” Miguel Braganza asked me recently via e-mail.
“What is it about?” I asked him back.
“Oh, it’s about Ooh La La...Filipina! It’s the same thing as our FIA.”
The FIA, short for Filipinos in America - A Musical Journey, that Miguel was referring to was about our joint collaboration in a musical production sponsored by the Philippine American Community of Bergen County, Inc. in 2008.
The plot was based on a true story written by Noel Nunez about a Filipino expatriate who left his homeland to follow his dream onto the stage of Broadway in New York City.
The storyline was about the difficulties, loneliness and achievements of Filipinos living in America — portrayed in songs and dances.
It has an impressive cast of tested stage thespians headed by Audri Dalio and May Po (of Miss Saigon, King & I & Les Misérables).
This FIA show was Miguel’s first major production outside of his professional Broadway performances in the U.S. and European venues.
In essence, the play mirrors Miguel’s life.
A theatre graduate of Silliman University, he trained in dance at the Julie Borromeo’s Dance Arts Philippines before he moved to New York.
In 1987, he was the recipient of the Walter Terry Memorial Scholarship for Dance and Choreography at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He appeared in the original cast for the Broadway Musical “Miss Saigon.”
Later on he rejoined Cameron Mackintosh Production’s U.S. tour and in North America, United Kingdom, Germany and Portugal.
We have remained friends since our first project together.
My three grandchildren actually signed up with his MB2 class in the Pearl Studio near Madison Square Garden.
One who is now a high school sophomore is an active member of the school choir and recently went to Washington, D.C. for a national high school competition.
The younger grandson is now a member of the middle school band playing flute and violin.
This school, also called MB2 New York Young Performers Workshop, holds classes in singing and ballet lessons in New York twice a week every Thursday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Three of its students have already been offered scholarships at LaGuardia Performing Arts in Queens, Professional Performing Arts in Manhattan and Frank Sinatra High School of the Performing Arts.
A grand recital by said students will be held in June 2016.
His latest super major upcoming show is Ooh La La Filipina on April 30, Saturday at 7 p.m., at the Ethel Lefrak Theatre in Queens College, New York (65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Queens, N.Y.).
It is a tribute to all Filipino-American career women and international beauty queens featuring an international cast of singers, dancers and models.
The show, conceptualized, directed and choreographed by Miguel Braganza, is a joint collaboration with the Philippine Heritage Center, the Filipinos in Arts, and the Filipino Music Ensemble.
The proceeds will be used to house the Philippine Heritage Cultural Center that soon will become the new venue for all Fil-Am shows, meetings, exhibits and cultural classes.
Among the performers are former members of Philippine Ballet Theatre, American-Swiss Ballet Company, FAME, Tatlong Rondallista, and the Philippine Dance Theatre.
In addition, there will be a number of talented singers and models from the tri-state area.
Also, in recognition of their outstanding achievements, 12 Filipino women will be recognized for their work.
Another beneficiary of the show is Braganza’s Street of Dreams Project for the Arts, Philippines.
Miguel goes back to the Philippines every year since 2011 to conduct song and dance workshops.
The project has served more than 3,000 Filipino students and out of school youth.
And because of this project, he is now known as a Filipino nationalist.
After the Ooh La La Filipina Show, there will be another ambitious project in Miguel Braganza’s calendar.
On May 29, Sunday at 2 p.m., Miguel Braganza along with Ria Serrano, there will be a grand concert to be performed by Davao City’s Young Ambassadors in a musical show “Songspell.”
The venue will be at the Cathedral High School Auditorium in Manhattan.
And soon there will be a project called Tara — a dance opera.
It is all about the Golden Tara and the Kingdom of Butuan.
This is a joint collaboration with the Philippines’ famous composer Bob Aves.
It is a wonder as to where does Miguel Braganza get all these energies.
Someone wrote, “Miguel’s life, it’s safe to say, revolves on the stage and behind the scenes of his every production. He has invested more than half of his lifetime into this career where his heart and soul thrive...that makes his existence created with a purpose; and his life filled, with meaning and a life worth living.”