I went to the ISM Elementary School’s children’s bookfair and the direction of the entire year changed after I grabbed all 12 books in the Mga Kuwento Ni Lola Basyang series of Anvil Publishing. The concept of “book-to-ballet” translated into the triumphant world premiere of Tatlong Kuwento Ni Lola Basyang, a trilogy of one-act ballets based on these delightful children’s tales. Our first three story ballets were: Ang Prinsipe Ng Mga Ibon (The Prince of the Birds), Ang Kapatid Ng Tatlong Maria (The Brother of the Three Marias) and Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin (The Magical Violin), which ended up to be Tony Fabella’s last choreography before he passed away. This highly successful trilogy marked my first venture into choreographing for the company… and BM’s first all-Filipino box-office hit!
This was also a catalyst year for the scholarship program that the Ballet Manila School began in 1994. (To be precise, it began informally with Osias and I providing free ballet training for boys way before Ballet Manila was founded.) Now dubbed Project Ballet Futures, we conducted an intensive audition process to select 40 children between the ages of 10 and 12 to become our first batch of scholars. Among them are current company members Jamil Montibon and Jessa Balote, who have become fitting symbols of how the program had successfully changed the lives of these underprivileged but talented kids.