, September 13, 2005 
(MALAYA) PARTICIPANTS and other personnel involved in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 23rd Southeast Asian Games will hold a cluster dry run beginning this week.

Renowned director Maria Montelibano, head of the program and ceremonies group of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee, said rehearsals should have started as early as last week but had to be moved to a later date since some of the choreographers and musical director Ryan Cayabyab had to attend to an earlier commitment.

"Humingi sila ng konting buwelo dahil nga tinapos muna nila `yung concert ni Gary Valenciano," said Montelibano.

She vowed there will no longer be any hitches in the program preparations with less than three months before the region’s biggest sports gathering formally kicks off at the Luneta Grandstand.

"Nagtipon-tipon na `yung mga choreographers and already gave inputs about the program. So, tuluy-tuloy na `yung rehearsals," she added.

At least some 3,000 people, including 400 dancers, are set to participate in the elaborate presentations in both the opening and closing ceremonies. Montelibano said the programs will run for at least two hours.

"Working behind the theme ‘One Heritage. One SEAG’, our team has already drawn a blueprint presentation that will showcase the Filipinos’ spirit and hospitality which we have been known for," Montelibano added.

Cayabyab is working on the program’s musical score in coordination with the internationally acclaimed San Miguel Corp. Philharmonic orchestra.

Tapped to handle the lighting aspect is veteran fashion coordinator and director Robert Tongco while doing the arts and creative directing is the duo of Bebot Pondevida and Poas Mendoza.

Overall technical director is Jaime Godines, known for handling some of the biggest concerts held in the country involving both foreign and local artists.

Other members of the program and ceremony team are Ernesto Pambuan, security and broadcast coordinator; Lito Nadal, executive for promotions; and Wowie Meloto, art and make-up director.

Montelibano will co-direct both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 11-nation meet set Nov. 27 to Dec. 5.

A total of P50 million had been allotted by the Philsoc to the program and ceremonies group although president Jose Cojuangco said the amount may still be reduced as part of the cost-cutting measures adopted by the organizing committee.

"Budget constraints might be a problem of sorts but this would not dampen our spirit. With the trust and confidence given by the Philsoc to our group, we assure the Filipino people of a worthy and meaningful opening and closing programs," said Montelibano.

She said negotiations are going on with some of the country’s top artists such as Bayang Barrios to perform during the festivities that will follow shortly after the traditional march past of nations and fireworks display.

Simultaneous opening programs will be held in satellite venues in Cebu City, Bacolod and Subic Bay Freeport.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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