Sun, 13 Apr 2003

Insular Life Theater, a hi-tech theater in downtown Manila

James P. Ong, Asia News Network, Inquirer, Manila

It's only fitting that Alikabok, a musical inspired by an 18th century painting of Juan Luna, is being restaged at the new Insular Life Theater in Alabang.

After all, the insurance company has been one of the country's most ardent supporters of the local arts scene, its long and deep tradition starting in the 1950s when it commissioned Fernando Amorsolo to work on the themes of Philippine history, industry and family.

The result was more than 25 oil paintings, the most famous of which was the making of the Philippine flag (Confeccion dela Standarte Nacional), which has been reproduced in several history textbooks.

But the artwork many associate with Insular Life is the bas relief created by national artist Napoleon Abueva, and which used to adorn the facade of its Makati building.

It depicts the various industries that helped shape the Philippine economy-like fishing and logging; and Philippine culture-like sports, arts and dance.

That Abueva masterpiece was moved two years ago to the company's new headquarters at the Filinvest Corporate City in Alabang, where it is joined by newer commissioned sculptural works by Impy Pilapil, Jose Mendoza and Antonino Raymundo.

Another feature of the new Insular Life Corporate Center is a comfy state-of-the-art auditorium for theater performances, musical and dance recitals, chamber music engagements and even corporate assemblies. It has 524 seats and is equipped with computerized facilities.

"We would like to continue the tradition of providing a home for the performing arts in our new location in Metro Manila," says Vicente Ayllon, chairman of the board and president of Insular Life Assurance Company.

"As many know, we provided Repertory Philippines with a home for the better part of 24 years until they moved to their theater in Shangri-La Plaza. Last Feb. 28 they came full circle when they performed their gala show at our (Alabang) theater."

For its current theater season, Repertory will stage all its final weekend runs in Alabang.