A rising star in Hong Kong Disneyland
Dot Ramos Balasbas-Gancayco (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - I started writing this article while in Boracay attending a Rotary District Mid-year Conference where foreigners and Filipinos alike were very much impressed by a local acoustic group at the idyllic Boracay Terraces Resort and an all-genre Filipino band at the popular beachfront restaurant, Casa Pilar. European tourists mesmerized by the latter group watched them every night for the rest of their stay. “You Filipinos are amazingly talented. Is there any Filipino ever who could not sing and dance well?” they ask incredulously. Such a scenario is not exclusive to the Philippines. Go anywhere in the world where there is great entertainment and, for sure, Filipinos are making it happen.

In Hong Kong, at the so-called “happiest place on Earth,” Disneyland, there is one young Filipina who makes us all proud with her incredible talent. Christine Allado is one of the multi-talented Pinoys who work very hard everyday to give genuine entertainment in Hong Kong Disney. She is a musical theater actress who not-so-long-ago thought that making a living out of her art was a farfetched idea.

Singing You’ve Got A Friend In Me during the staging of The Toy Story

Music is in her blood. Born to two equally brilliant singers, former MWSS administrator Jojo Allado and the former Letty Guevarra on July 15, 1995, Christine was only 18 when she passed the rigorous auditions for Hong Kong Disney. Prior to her moving to Hong Kong, Christine had quite a promising musical career happening back in Manila. After years of training under various vocal and acting teachers (Jaime del Mundo, Fides Cuyugan-Ascencio and Diohanna “Sweet” Plantado-Tiongson, to name a few), she broke into the Manila theater scene. She played Amber Von Tussle in Atlantis Production’s staging of Hairspray and received many rave reviews for her spunky and smart portrayal of the character. She played one of her dream roles in the Baguio centennial production of Phantom on the Lake as Christine Daaé and played Alice in Kids Act Philippines’ Alice in Wonderland; she was also Kelly, in Rexona’s Kelly Kelly!

Although I have seen her perform here in the Philippines at several functions and even on TV when she was chosen to be a member of the Palmolive Circle of 10 and finalist for GMA 7’s Next Big Star, I never realized how astonishingly talented the girl was. Seeing her perform the lead in the Golden Mickeys (a musical stage show that features Disney classics in an awards show format), I was reminded of the young Lea Salonga when I watched her two decades ago as Kim in Miss Saigon. Christine’s character, Bebe, is the feisty and fresh reporter (speaking fluent Cantonese!) who witnesses and takes part in the different scenarios that showcase values embodied in Disney classics — friendship, heroism, adventure and romance. At the finale of Golden Mickeys, Bebe turns into a princess and is told by Mickey and Minnie themselves, that with a little “Faith, Trust and Pixie dust,” all her dreams can come true. The whole show features Christine (as Bebe) singing, acting and dancing along with well-loved Disney characters. Aside from the main role of Bebe, she also plays the Tarzan Singer who belts out Son of Man from the Broadway musicale version of Tarzan, her original role. For the role of Bebe, she spent six months learning basic Cantonese to know how to use and differentiate the six tones in the language. Her role is demanding, to say the least, and if you are a Filipino in the audience, you, like me, would want to shout out loud that, “The star of the show is Filipina!”

Exhausting as the Bebe role is, Christine still spends half the week singing on an open-air parade float that travels to the castle front, where the entire park can watch as the High School Musical Live! is performed. In this revue type show, Christine, again as the lead female, teams up with a male vocalist to relive this high-energy musical extravaganza. I was most fortunate because on the day I visited with my family, I was able to watch her giving life to this popular musicale. We all screamed together, “Christine!!! We love you Christine!!!” like crazy fans out on the loose. We snapped photos of her, shrieked and waved at her until our arms and bellies ached.

Our country has had a Filipino hostage taker and a clan who may have blackened our image in the international scene. But in Hong Kong Disneyland, Christine and the other 50 percent of the Hong Kong Disney entertainment cast members who are Filipino are giving Chinese, Asians and other foreigners world-class entertainment. They, together, with the Filipino artists I watched in Boracay give us honor in doing best what they are good at, working hard and honestly, and all hoping that one day, we Filipinos will regain our self-respect and dignity as a nation.

 (E-mail me at celebrationsdot@yahoo.com or text 0927-5000833)

ALTHOUGH I AMBER VON TUSSLE ATLANTIS PRODUCTION BEBE BORACAY BORACAY TERRACES RESORT CASA PILAR CHRISTINE GOLDEN MICKEYS HONG KONG DISNEY
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