7th Rak of Aegis
The tension between the characters of Bayang Barrios (Mary Jane) and Noel Cabangon (Kiel), revealed to be former lovers, was highlighted in duets that kept the audience glued to the musical play. Credits to PETA Theater.

Bayang Barrios and Noel Cabangon have debuted on the 7th season of the Philippines’ longest-running original Filipino musical, Rak of Aegis (Rak).

Noel Cabangon and Bayang Barrios, both multi-awarded indie singer-songwriters who have broken into the Philippine mainstream music industry, were presented on the Rak of Aegis stage in July at the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) in Quezon City.

The 7th season of Rak of Aegis, the pioneering jukebox musical theater based on the music of the iconic 90s pop-rock band Aegis, is dubbed a tribute to OPM and features artists from the Organisasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) including Cabangon and Barrios.

Noel Cabangon joined the Rak stage on July 20 essaying the role of Kiel, the shoemaker of the flooded-community of Barangay Venezia. It was Cabangon’s first time back on the PETA stage after 12 years. Cabangon, an active concert performer and recording artist, had more recently been a prime mover for the welfare of Filipino musicians through his involvement with OPM, PhilPop, and Filscap.

Bayang Barrios joined Cabangon and the Rak cast the week after on July 27, in the role of Kapitana Mary Jane. Barrios was more recently seen on the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ stage as the Musa in Balag at Angud, an original Filipino musical based on the life of protest installation artist Junyee and as Salanka in Marawi: the Musical. Barrios is an active advocate for the rights and welfare of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines being herself a Manuvu tribe member.

Good News Pilipinas witnessed how the two OPM performers interacted and played off each other’s strengths on the PETA stage, belting Aegis songs in true rockers fashion.

The Rak of Aegis storyline of a community facing a disaster was undoubtedly close to the hearts of the two performers who are also known to be advocates for human rights.

Bayang Barrios delivered her spoken and sung lines with such passion and conviction that one cannot help but sympathize with her Kapitana character’s flaws and thankfully, eventual redemption.

7th Rak of Aegis
Bayang Barrios as Kapitana Mary Jane makes us sympathize with her dilemma. Credits to PETA Theater.

Noel Cabangon was a revelation as he belted the iconic Aegis hit songs and its adaptations with his characteristic one-of-a-kind voice that carries the message of the show and strikes at the core of the flooded community’s dilemma.

The tension between the two characters, revealed to be former lovers, was highlighted in duets that kept the audience glued to the musical play. It will be recalled that Cabangon and Barrios were last seen together in a duet on the musical stage for “Lean,” the musical about the life and times of University of the Philippines activist Leandro Alejandro that was written by Gary Granada.

But this is not to say that Rak of Aegis is all grim and determined – it is the opposite of that. Rak remained brilliantly true to its rock comedy concept and rocked the stage with humorous writing for hugot lines delivered with gusto by Pepe Herrera’s Tolits, witty asides by Jimi Marquez’ Jewel, among others. The amazing flood set design itself provided a good number of opportunities for comical scenes.

Noel Cabangon himself made the role his very own, dishing adlibs and reference to the song “Kanlungan” that helped him break into the mainstream – eliciting laughs and adoration from the full house theater audience.

7th Rak of Aegis Noel Cabangon
Noel Cabangon is back on stage after 12 years. Credits to PETA Theater.

Rak of Aegis is a musical ride that all Filipinos and lovers of musical theater from all races must take. The musical play, directed by Maribel Legarda, written by Liza Magtoto, with musical direction by Myke Salomon, brings together the best of what Filipinos and the Philippines can offer – song, humor, drama, creativity, and a message that stays with you for a long time.

The gut-wrenching love songs of the Aegis band were transformed into the songs fit for any age, for the present-day Philippines, delivered by Filipino artists.

CATCH Bayang Barrios, Noel Cabangon, and the cast of Rak of Aegis until September at the PETA Theater in Quezon City and TELL US in the comments below about your favorite scenes!

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