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Theatre / Ang Huling El Bimbo

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Ang Huling El Bimbo (The Last El Bimbo) is a 2018 Filipino Jukebox Musical written by Dingdong Novenario, based on the songs of Filipino alt-rock band The Eraserheads. It is a coming-of-age tale that follows three boys at a state university in The '90s — the would-be lawyer Emman, the sensitive and closeted Anthony, the well-off film student Hector, and their poor but optimistic friend Joy, whose aunt owns a small food stand that the three frequent. Although the four friends promise to stay together forever, a traumatic event just before their college graduation drives the four apart into unhappy adulthood. However, a tragedy forces the friends to reunite and examine the circumstances that led to this point.

A slightly reworked version of the show ran in 2019.


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  • 20 Minutes into the Past: Created in 2018, set in The '90s, which is when The Eraserheads also became popular in the Philippine music scene.
  • Abusive Parents: Anthony's father, a military man who is friends with Banlaoi, is an abusive homophobe who beats him because he acts effeminately.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The entire play is basically a three-hour-long backstory for a six-minute song.
  • Age Cut: When young Joy submits to the new, sleazy lifestyle she was forced into, the stage goes black as an ensemble of crooks and drug dealers circle around her. When the lights come up and the ensemble exits, she emerges as a middle-aged woman, signifying the passage of time.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Anthony, at the beginning of the musical. He keeps mentioning the fact that he's married, and gets especially angry when Emman calls him a "queen."
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  • Artist Disillusionment: In-Universe, Hector (formerly an aspiring film student) is frustrated that he's stuck directing mediocre soap operas that are subject to the politics and nepotism of big studios with very little creative control of his own.
  • The Beard: Anthony marries a woman at the behest of his homophobic father, leading to an unhappy and unfulfilling marriage.
  • The Big Bad: Arturo Banlaoi, CMT commandant in the 1990s, sleazy local politician in the 2010s. In both decades, he's someone who sells drugs and runs a prostitution ring on the side, heavily involving Joy in these activities until her tragic death.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Although Emman, Anthony, and Hector renew their friendship at Joy's funeral and all agree to provide support for Ligaya as she grows up, Joy is dead, and it took her death for the three men to put their differences aside and come to terms with the events that tore them apart in the first place. And Banlaoi didn't get any comeuppance besides Joy's aunt Dely telling him off and refusing his dirty money.
  • Broken Pedestal: In Joy's letter to Ligaya, she admits to her daughter that she relied too much on others' love in hopes that they would better her life, but all of it was for naught. Emman, Anthony, and Hector are crushed when they realize Joy likely meant them.
  • Cassandra Truth: Joy's boyfriend, Andre, warns her that Banlaoi isn't helping her out of the goodness of his heart and breaks up with her because she couldn't see it for herself.
  • Camp Gay: The gay Anthony used to be campy and effeminate in college, but growing up forced him to become an Armored Closet Gay.
  • Dark Reprise: "Cha Dely Medley", which is sung by Dely during a busy day at Toyang's Canteen, gets a slower, sleazier reprise once the canteen is converted into a sin-infested bar with a shady clientele.
  • Decoy Protagonist: While the first 30 or so minutes of the musical focus mainly on Emman, Anthony, and Hector, Joy is the true protagonist of the musical, as the main theme is how she went from a sweet, innocent teenage girl to a single mother who, as she nears middle age, still prostitutes herself and works as a drug mule in order to provide for her aunt and daughter.
  • Dirty Coward: Deconstructed. The three men justifiably failed to protect Joy, because the men had guns. However, they did not take her to the police or the hospital afterwards and abandoned her come graduation. This failure ate away at them through their entire adult life.
  • Dirty Old Man: Banlaoi and his associate, who turn Toyang's into a sleazy KTV.
  • False Friend: The three male leads abandon Joy after the incident, never even giving her the time of day in adulthood, when she needed it the most.
  • Family Theme Naming: Joy's daughter is named "Ligaya", the Filipino word for "happiness" (and also the title of an Eraserheads song).
  • Foreshadowing: In the present day, a police officer listens to the show's namesake song on the radio. This makes Emman, Anthony, and Hector visibly upset, and they order him to turn it off. It's later revealed that this was the exact song that played the night that they were attacked and Joy was raped.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Joy's death. It's what brings the three men together. This is even more evident when you know the song's lyrics.
  • How We Got Here: The musical opens with the three men being given news of Joy's death before flashing back to The '90s, when they were all friends in university.
  • Humble Goal: Joy just wanted to find a man who wouldn't hurt her, but her friends inspire her to find a new dream, which is to finish her studies. Becomes a Tragic Dream since she never accomplishes it.
  • Introductory Opening Credits: A unique variation is used to introduce the cast in the filmed version; the main cast members are introduced with their playbill headshots (complete with a portion of their bios) while the entire ensemble is pictured in a collage together. Even the crew and creative team are featured with their very own headshots.
  • Jukebox Musical: The story is built around the songs of the band The Eraserheads.
  • Karma Houdini: Banlaoi, who's heinous actions ultimately led to Joy's downward spiral and eventual death, walks away with no consequences in the end, save for a brief confrontation with Tiya Dely.
  • Minor Character, Major Song: Joy's military boyfriend Andre only shows up for a single musical number, a duet in which he breaks up with her due to his suspicions regarding Banlaoi. This is one of the first steps that puts Joy on track of her destined path.
  • Mood Whiplash: During their road trip to Antipolo, Joy and the boys park under the stars and sing a sweet little rendition of "Fill Her" with Hector on guitar. Before they finish the song, they're suddenly cut off by a gang of thugs who proceed to harass them, vandalize their stuff, and eventually rape Joy.
  • My Greatest Failure: The three men failing to protect Joy during and after her rape ate away at them through the years.
  • The One That Got Away: In adulthood, Hector has a string of women who share his bed but whom he can't emotionally commit to, implied to be because he's not over Joy.
  • Pinky Swear: Emman makes one with Joy, promising to never abandon her, no matter what. He breaks this promise. This causes him to breakdown when Ligaya offers one to him.
  • Rape as Drama: Joy's rape during a night out is the turning point of the musical, set at the end of Act I. It drives the friends apart and is only the beginning of her Trauma Conga Line.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Early in the show, the three boys make a mutual promise to achieve their dreams and master their fates, sealing their vow by raising their hands in the air. At the end of "Alapaap/Overdrive", they raise their hands again in reference to the vow, while Joy notably keeps hers down. While the guys were able to find success in their adult lives (albeit under unfulfilling circumstances), Joy does not. Shown once again in the final scene with the same setting as "Alapaap/Overdrive" except this time, Ligaya sits on the hood of the car. While the guys raise their hands again in accordance to their vow, and Joy keeps hers down, Ligaya raises two hands up, showing that she will achieve Joy's dreams as well as her own.
  • Sell-Out: What the three primary male characters have become in adulthood. Idealistic and folksy Emman has become overly absorbed with his low-paying job and has mostly lost his provincial accent. Anthony has been forced into marrying a woman and has yet to officially come out, even as his wife confronts him over being seen with another man. And Hector, who went to film school in New York, is a director of cheap soap operas and a womanizer who can't commit to anyone. None of them are happy about their lot in life.
  • Single Mom Stripper: Joy is eventually forced into prostitution by Banlaoi, and she continues for her daughter and because he pulls a gun on her when she tries to quit.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: As Joy is being raped and the thugs hold the three boys at gunpoint, an especially jaunty, cheerful-sounding version of "Ang Huling El Bimbo" plays in the background. This same rendition plays in the police station right before the boys, now men in their early 40s, meet Banlaoi, now a low-level politician, for the first time since their college days.
  • Timeshifted Actor: The four friends are played by different actors in their university years and in the present.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Joy begins as The Cutie, a bright and optimistic binding force for her three male friends. And then she's raped, her friends abandon her, her aunt loses her business, she is forced into prostitution to provide for her daughter, and eventually is killed in a hit-and-run.
  • Tuckerization: Hector Samala is named after Eraserheads bassist Hector "Buddy" Zabala, while Emman Azarcon's name is based on the full name of the Eraserheads' drummer — Raimund Emmanuel Parcon Marasigan.
  • Two-Act Structure: The grim opening aside, the first act is a lighthearted college story... until the last moments, where Joy is raped. The second act is much darker.
  • Uptown Girl: Joy (poor) strikes up a romance with Hector (rich) that is eventually cut short.
  • We Used to Be Friends: When they reunite in adulthood, the three former close friends are not on good terms.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: As an adult, Emman is overworked at his firm, rarely sees his son at home, and misses his anniversary with his wife.