As the last team to perform for Magpasikat 2023, which is part of It’s Showtime’s 14th-anniversary celebration, Jhong Hilario, Kim Chiu, and Ion Perez’s Team JKI made sure to cap off the week-long performance battle with an exhilarating, edgy number that fuses contemporary dance and parkour to present the sad realities of mobile technology.
Jhong, Kim, and Ion’s act is a straightforward but relevant and bold attempt to open viewers’ eyes to the flaws and threats of phone and social media misuse. As judges noted, the message was clearly delivered through a flawless production spectacle that combines elements of dance, drama, ‘buwis-buhay’ stunts – and teamwork.
The opening of Team JKI’s exhibition exudes an intriguingly dark vibe as the spotlight focuses on on-cam talents showing the evolution of communication channels. Two boys are seen playing with tin can telephones, then the others use a rotary dial telephone, phone booth, and a cordless telephone. Then the spotlight lands on a man holding the most recent version – the cell phone. In the background, we hear Jhong, Kim, and Ion speaking in their local dialects. Jhong is talking to his partner, Kim is addressing her viewers in what seems like a social media live content, and Ion talking to his sibling who informs him that he’s gone viral for the wrong reason.
The whole studio turns dark, and only the lit-up mobile phone props are seen. Team JKI uses reverse motion effects to transition from one act to another, which adds a bit of a creepy feel, complementing the theme of ‘dark side of technology.’ Throughout the presentation, dancers clad in black are shown holding their lit-up mobile gadgets in the background.
Jhong commences his solo act where he’s shown bringing his kids to a restaurant where he witnesses a fight. Following the transition effect, Jhong is seen wanting to talk to his kids at home, who are all busy with their mobile phones. He’s left alone and sees his wife having her screen time. He excitedly comes up to her but she seems more interested in her phone than his good news that he got promoted at work. The skit seamlessly breaks into a contemporary dance of Jhong and special guest Lea “Luningning” Santos acting as his wife, with each movement and breath painting the heartbreaking reality of how too much phone usage desensitizes human relationships.
Back in the restaurant setting, Kim enters the scene holding her phone to talk to her followers. She breaks into a theatrical dance. In the background plays her voice-over that reveals how she impresses her followers by faking being rich, and her perfectly curated social media photos flashed on the LED screen behind her. After putting on a show for her fans, she checks how many likes she’s got. Her mother, played by Janice de Belen, enters the scene and asks for money for her makeover. Kim is noticeably exhausted and disgruntled, seemingly struggling to set clear boundaries with her mom who keeps asking for money. “Hi, guys, it’s me your favorite girl,” she puts on a bubbly mask for her followers.
Ion then showcases his solo performance as a restaurant server, who accidentally bumps into a customer played by Bernard Palanca. Unfortunately, the customer is quick to show anger and provoke Ion. With the incident caught on camera, Ion receives a call from his sibling informing him that he’s gone viral and being cancelled on social media. Kapamilya stars like Jennica Garcia, Martin Nievera, John “Sweet” Lapus, and Jameson Blake make special virtual appearances playing as netizens/vloggers/influencers reacting to the restaurant squabble. Ion depicts his frustration through dance, the choreography expressing how the intense online hate and judgment is taking a toll on his sanity.
The trio reunites on stage, elevating the thrill of their whole performance with a ‘buwis-buhay’ parkour exhibition. They take their dance routine on a makeshift giant pegboard where they’re seen theatrically climbing and swinging and dancing without harnesses. As they showcase their breathtaking wall climbing act, their voice-over plays in the background, with each of them saying their piece about how mobile technology affected them as individuals. Jhong begs for real human connections, Kim airs her frustration over faking it as an influencer, while Ion unleashes his pent-up emotions about his viral video ruining his life.
With bated breaths, we watch them move up to the highest peak of the wall and let themselves freely fall and be caught by the dancers’ hands. The trio quickly stands on stage, and presents a valuable question, “Ikaw, gaano ka ka-responsable sa paggamit ng cellphone?”
From thrilling, the production extravaganza shifts to heartwarming as Jhong, Kim, and Ion pretend to be talking to their loved ones over the phone. Jhong acts like he’s talking to his daughter Sarina, making her a promise that he'll always be present in her life. Kim then addresses her father, expressing sadness about how life forces them to rely on virtual communication rather than personal interaction, but she promises to make it up to him. Ion then pretends to call his mom to apologize for sometimes he’s not in his best mood due to his ordeals and his sister’s passing. He also talks to his late sister, thanking her for all her sacrifices.
Jhong, Kim and Ion end their performance with a simple yet impactful gesture of raising their lit-up mobile phones while surrounded by total darkness. The 17-minute production number warns spectators that mobile phone and social media misuse and abuse can lead to extreme consequences, prompting us to reassess our reality. If the groups’ agenda is to entertain, and at the same time, make us feel guilty for abusing technology, then they have no doubt killed it.
Netizens are stoked and amazed and deeply affected – here are some comments from X (formerly Twitter):
All teams have showcased their talent and message, poured their heart and soul for It’s Showtime’s “1-4 Ever” Anniversary Magpasikat week. Now we can’t wait to find out which group got the highest score from hurados Olivia Lamasan, Jett Pangan, Apl.de.ap, Barbie Forteza, and Tirso Cruz III. Watch out for the results on Saturday, November 11, on It’s Showtime.