Feel-good book launch goes from classy to campy

Ruben Nepales (second from right) with journalist wife Janet and guests Isabel Sumayao-Henderson, Marty Syjuco and Ramona Diaz. Photos by Elton Lugay

How is it that people who attended the May 30 launch of Ruben Nepales’ “My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood” went from being moved to tears to foot-tapping to the beat of “Ocho Ocho?”

Because Broadway actress Ali Ewoldt was there, and her soul-stirring rendition of West Side Story’s “Somewhere” gave the crowd goose bumps and left some with misting eyes. Inimitable comic Bernardo Bernardo followed with the nostalgia dance song “Ocho Ocho” that got the crowd on its feet and singing along. Like all things showbiz, the book launch highlighted the duality of Hollywood – tears and laughter, camp and class, Ali and BB.

Ali Ewoldt

Former fashion model Bessie Badilla provided more entertainment with her cheeky trio of Brinoy – Brazilian and Pinoy – music: songs with a samba beat and modern Tagalog lyrics. One of the songs, “Adik sa Facebook,” was inspired by Ruben’s wife, Janet, who had posted that she burned the dinner she was cooking because she was so engrossed posting/tagging/sharing photos of Ruben on Facebook.

It was a lively gathering. The crowd — that included the likes of CEO Loida Nicolas Lewis, George Jean Nathan awardee Randy Gener and Kinding Sindaw artistic director Potri Ranka Manis – left feeling good about a little racy humor courtesy of Bernardo and a little night music.

Among the showbiz people who filled up the Philippine Center lobby were – alphabetically now: makeup artist/singer Boots Babushka, Lyca Benitez Brown of “Dance of My Life,” Ramona Diaz of “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey,” Gigi Dement of “God of Love,” Grace Hufano-Labaguis of GMA 7, Oliver Oliveros of BroadwayWorld.com, Anna Perez de Tagle of “Godspell,” post-production supervisor Isabel Sumayao-Henderson, Marty Syjuco of “Give up Tomorrow” and comedian Air Tabigue.

Bernardo hoofs it up with 'Ocho Ocho' number as the crowd — with Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. – bobs along.

From left, Randy Gener, Bernardo Bernardo, Bessie Badilla and Boots Babushka

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