Letters from the Team

When MVNDO closed in 2016, I always hoped that all of that was temporary, but with each passing year, with every catch-up and late dinner that became more and more sporadic, I eventually set it aside as a dream that would happen again one day

We all went down different paths; some of us have stayed in the theater world, some of us have gone on to teach art; some even left the country (and returned); and some became slaves to the corporate world.  

All jokes aside, wherever we were and at whatever point in our lives, our love for the performing arts, and our found love for each other remained – strengthened by time, solidified by a friendship that grew even after we lost what held us together. 

This has been a long time coming, to say the least, but four years later, our paths intertwine once more. We are finally back, and I am ecstatic to say that our one day starts today. 

To celebrate this small victory and mark this brand new chapter in our lives, each of us wrote a love letter, to you our dear reader, and to ScenePH, without which our lives would have a little less art and a little less flair.

Without further ado, love letters from the team:  

Four years ago, in a modest second-floor office, an unlikely group of artists, writers, and producers decided to come together, sit down, and make a magazine. And it wasn’t just any magazine. It was to be the first of its kind—the only publication in the country dedicated to performing arts. And well, the funny thing is, it actually did happen. What began was a journey into the known unknown as MVNDO Magazine chartered new territory, capturing audiences one issue at a time. But as luck would have it, in this part of the story, good things did come to a pause.

Four years later, I’ve learned that closing a business was actually not the most difficult part—it was losing people. In 2016, I had the privilege of having a job that didn’t feel like work and an office that felt like family. So much so that to this day, we’ve all become that kind of friend, the one you don’t get to see much, but when you do, it’s like nothing ever changed. 

Four years on, I’ve watched the people in this team grow, from our magazine days to the different paths we each took. And every and any success we had, I attribute to this team. Without them, there would be no publication—no ScenePH today.

Four may not be the luckiest number, but after four printed issues and four publication months, the opportunity to come back stronger after four years has made all the difference.

To say that I’ve been waiting for this re-launch for a while would be an understatement. It’s been about three years since I last wrote an article, with proper interviews and research. And while I didn’t expect the come-back process to be easy, I also didn’t expect to enjoy it as much, or even more, than I used to. It helps to have a team of passionate and dedicated people working with you, supporting you. It also helps that these same people are your friends.

The first article I wrote for MVNDO Magazine was published in the playbill of Red Turnip Theater’s Tribes, which premiered back in 2016. At the time, I was working as an intern and to see your name in print is an incomparable feeling, but to know that you somehow helped bring a magazine together is something else entirely. At the end of the day, this is why, when we decided to bring this group back together, there really was no other option for me but to say yes. 

In Red Turnip Theater’s Tribes, one of the things you realize is that each person belongs, in one way or another, to a tribe, a community. If anything, I found that community in the six other people that comprise this team and to know that, even after years of not working together, we all still shared the same vision for this project, albeit with more experience and knowledge in how to navigate ourselves in a larger community of creatives. My one wish is to see this passion project grow bigger than what we initially aspired for it to be. 

Starting a theater magazine four years ago was one of my most fulfilling moments. We were creating something totally new and we were working with some of the most inspiring and the most talented local artists. I had the best time!

Running MVNDO was also crazy stressful though. I’m not sure if it was our naivete or just poor business decisions, but we underestimated the difficulty of running a print magazine in a digital age. With a heavy heart, we decided to close down the business after just a handful of issues.

To pay the bills, I’ve been doing odd jobs online as a freelance virtual assistant. As an introvert, this was perfect, but I was not happy.

One of the things I’ve missed the most about working with MVNDO is the joy that collaborating with people I love and admire brings, and so, I attended improv classes and have since been performing improv comedy with my groups. But, with the lockdown brought to us by the pandemic (and by our government’s mismanagement of the situation), I find myself retreating back to my shell with the worst mental and emotional distress I’ve ever experienced.

So when the idea of bringing the MVNDO team back together was brought up, of course I had to say yes. Not only do I get to work with some of my best friends, we also get to put the spotlight back on artists who have kept us sane these past few months. 

These are toxic times, but I hope we get to create something beautiful with Scene PH.

Discovering art is the best thing that’s happened to me. It took me places, real and beyond. Four years ago, it led me to a bunch of amazing people who shared my passion. Together, we created something we were really proud of, but not everything went as planned. So, we had to take a break hoping to revisit it when we were ready.

They say: find something you love doing and do it for the rest of your life. You might even find people to do it with you along the way. You’ll experience some highs and lows. But, if you’re really lucky like me, you get to do it all over again.

I started working for MVNDO just weeks before my graduation; It was my first job. I counted myself as the luckiest fresh grad for that.

I was 22 then, I’m 26 now. Four years and a couple of other jobs later, I still believe that it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had despite how it ended. MVNDO taught me what it truly meant to pursue our passions and to take everything as a beautiful learning opportunity to be better. I met some of the kindest, most talented, and most amazing people that I am glad to call true friends and mentors.

I considered MVNDO to be the best gateway into the adult world. I wanted not only to succeed myself, but also, for the entire publication and the team to be successful. I learned so much from them and all I truly wanted was to give back the kindness they showed me tenfold. 

When we stopped and released the last magazine to officially declare its closing, I cried in the car as my mom drove me home. I remember that day vividly, and wondered if there was something that could’ve been done.

We don’t stay in the past though. We don’t count our regrets or our disappointments. We move forward. We build better things and we learn from our experiences. That is what Scene is to me: a product of our long-lasting friendship, and how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown up.

During the early stages of quarantine, I learned that every theater has a ghost light. A single source of light inside an empty theater, a ghost light is used to prevent accidents. If you believe in superstition, they say the ghost light is left on to please the theater ghosts.

MVNDO was the last company I interned for, and the first one I worked for full time. Right from the start, I knew that I wanted to work with people that placed as much importance into the performing arts as they did for the art of editorial. Without any assurance that they were going to accept me, I turned down internship offers from different agencies and companies following this gut feeling that I had to do whatever it took to ensure that I would work with them. And things just clicked.

A few months later, our managing partners announced that MVNDO would stop operations, and I was absolutely crushed. During the announcement of our closing, I thought all our lights were dimmed, in our case: our MVNDO. But I realized that in the four years MVNDO was apart, our stage – although beat down and a little worn out – was still present. 

Kitkat, Ansis, Tej, Lara, Jem and Nikki were always there – for my full time job rants, to freelance frustrations, to little anecdotes about my dog Bubba (a.k.a my pride and joy), for the times I needed art advice, and for just when things got so tough personally and professionally.

The curtains never closed; the front of house will once again be packed with people waiting, and there, in the darkness after all these years: our ghost light, brimming with hope and enthusiasm, continues to shine. 

Our ghost light: ScenePH. The light that never went dark.