MANILA — Several big-name stars gathered virtually on Tuesday in a nearly three-hour special featuring songs and stories from the iconic film "Himala," fittingly as a platform to lend financial aid to displaced workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Seen as the biggest streamed program since the lockdown spurred a shift in showbiz productions, "Gabi ng Himala: Mga Awit at Kuwento" offered intimate performances from artists who self-produced their contributions from their respective homes.
A common thread through the numerous interpretations was applying the original's story to today's extraordinary circumstances.
"Himala," the 1982 Ishmael Bernal film written by Ricky Lee, is set during an epidemic where desperate villagers cling to the promise of a miracle in the person of Elsa (Nora Aunor).
In an enduring film moment, Elsa confesses to the townspeople, "Walang himala! Ang himala ay na sa puso ng tao!"
The classic scene was performed as a monologue by different actors, directed by established directors, in the program that streamed live on Facebook and YouTube.
Marian Rivera, directed by her husband and fellow actor Dingdong Dantes, gave a stirring take on Elsa's speech before the villagers of Cupang. In a second, more intimate treatment, Rivera made the confession as a frontline worker to her family through a video call.
Directed by Dan Villegas, Jericho Rosales' confession as Elsa was meanwhile restrained and personal as he addressed the camera directly.
Iyah Mina and Nadine Lustre, directed by Sigrid Bernardo and Petersen Vargas respectively, also gave heartfelt interpretations of Elsa's announcement.
Aside from Elsa's revelation, other memorable scenes were given fresh takes by Tom Rodriguez as the priest, directed by Ricky Davao; Jodi Sta. Maria as Elsa and Piolo Pascual as Orly, directed by Joyce Bernal; and Maja Salvador as Elsa and Angelica Panganiban as Nimia, directed by Olivia Lamasan.
Acclaimed director Lav Diaz, meanwhile, shared a short film in his signature style, titled "Himala: Isang Dayalektika ng Ating Panahon," which shows the reactions of everyday Filipinos to Elsa's speech — from behind their respective devices. The likes of Agot Isidro, Shaina Magdayao, John Lloyd Cruz, and Raymond Bagatsing were among its cast members.
From the stage adaptation by Lee and Vincent de Jesus, Elsa actress Aicelle Santos channeled the character anew in her opening number of "Walang Himala!", while Broadway star Lea Salonga delivered a rendition of "Gawin Mo Akong Sining."
Bituin Escalante, meanwhile, sang "Sapagkat Mahal Kita," also from the musical, as a tribute to film industry workers whose livelihood have been affected by the lockdown.
Hosted by Bianca Gonzalez and Ryan Agoncillo, "Gabi ng Himala" also featured in-depth discussions with those involved in the film, including Lee, Aunor, Charo Santos-Concio, and Joel Lamangan.
"Gabi ng Himala" is an initiative of ABS-CBN Film Restoration, Lockdown Cinema Club and the Ricky Lee Scriptwriting Workshop.