The biographical musical Hamilton about an American founding father has gone far worldwide, touring multiple times in the United States, Australia, Germany, and soon the United Kingdom and Ireland. However, the Tony record-setting production has so far not witnessed anything like the crowd in Manila, its first Asian stop.

This should come as no surprise as Filipino Hamilfans have long had their very own subculture, as seen in their recurring trends like #Ham4Halalan, #Ham4Kalayaan, and #Ham4CHExit, among other online and offline acts of appreciation for the musical. Talk about obsessed.

Akina Edmonds And Elandrah Eramiha, who respectively play Schuyler sisters Angelica and Peggy in Hamilton’s Australian and Manila shows, have unraveled what it’s like to actually perform for the Philippine audience through the eyes of international stage actors.


At first, the silence of the local audience unsettled Edmonds. “It was quite jarring when we first got here, how polite the audiences were, like, to the point where we could probably hear someone open their bag. We thought no one was out there. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s happened?’”

Shred Dress by Herwin Cardoza

Someone had to explain to her that it’s customary for Filipinos to be extra courteous, especially since they waited so long for Hamilton to arrive in the Philippines. In fact, it has already been three years since a Pinoy Hamilfan first asked Hamilton‘s official Twitter page in 2019 to please come to Manila, to which the page replied “Sure!” only a few minutes later.

“When I think about that, well, I’m not trying to miss any word that’s being said. I want to be in this experience so wholeheartedly. And that’s what it feels like now. It’s like, so when there are claps and cheers, and now it’s like, ‘Oh, this is good. Hi, you’re here. Great, great, great,’” Edmonds loosened up. “But it just feels like, you know, the audience is coming along with us.”

Whereas she had a more refreshing personality, Eramiha by contrast was on the more subdued side. The latter shared the same observation of the polite locals.

Wet-Look ‘Piga’ Symmetrical White Dress by Ish Barozzo

“I feel like everyone just loves this music, and also the fans are so nice here. Can I just say, they are so nice, like so nice, the people here are so nice. I don’t think I can stress that enough, and that’s what I love. They’re just like, ‘Can you please sign this,’ or ‘Can I please,’ and I’m like, no one’s ever like said please like this so many times. Yeah, I love it. They’re so polite and so nice here,” Eramiha pondered.

The most intriguing part was how Filipino audiences would not so much as utter a sound in between performances, only to erupt in applause at the end of every number.

“I love seeing the audience mouthing the words along the way. It’s the cutest, or like once we finish a number, the way that they clap here is so intense. They’re just so happy and just so grateful to be in the room, you know, and I just really, we really feel the gratitude in the audience. Like everyone’s like, just like full straight away like this, and it’s like, it’s literally the best. I love it,” Eramiha intimates.


It is at the moment of ovation that they realize just how Hamilton and its cast resonate so soundly in the Philippines.

“If we talk about Filipinos, you know, I’m Kiwi, I’m Maori, so I feel like Filipinos and Maori have a very similar essence in terms of their souls and their hearts. So, we like to listen to hip-hop. It’s what we grew up on,” Edmonds related.

She posited that the music of Hamilton is “universal” to the point where it could efficiently unify multiple threads: genres, communities, and struggles: “There’s something about understanding what it is to create from a space of struggle. And that’s not a bad thing or anything to be frowned upon, I think. The stronger the struggle, the stronger the resilience you have. And so, the only escape is to create. Otherwise, you implode. I think that is why it’s so universal. Because every person, every culture can resonate with what it is to rise from the dust, I guess.”

Wet-Look ‘Piga’ Symmetrical White Dress by Ish Barozzo

Eramiha suggests that it’s Hamilton‘s innovative use of hip-hop in the theatrical context that allows it to discuss so many piercing themes without seeming too contrived. After all, the last thing anyone wants is a stage play that feels as preachy as it is pretentious.

“I don’t think any other genre of music can fit in like 10,000 words into like one song, do you know what I mean? I think rap music, you can literally have like, what, 20 words in I guess one sentence because of how fast rap is, which is why this musical has like 20,000 words. So I guess we have to fit it all in somehow. And hip-hop is so unique that we can do that for the storytelling and the music,” she analyzed.

Shred Dress by Herwin Cardoza

On that note, the musical is able to discuss relevant themes like gender and patriarchy, which likewise hit close to home in the Philippines — where abortion and divorce are not legalized. Strong yet complex female narratives like those of the Schuyler sisters, including Rachelle Ann Go’s Eliza, interestingly make Hamilton a progressive platform especially since it was set two and a half centuries ago.

“Well, I guess [it is] because we are doing a period piece where women at that time weren’t progressive at all,” Eramiha contextualized. “But now we’re slowly segueing into a time where we are progressive, where women are telling stories. So I feel so privileged to play a woman. All women in this show can speak up, tell stories, and have a voice. And it’s so important for our females, our little girls out there to see strong characters like this. I certainly never had that growing up, so it’s amazing that I can be a part of that change.”


As for the cast and crew, both Edmonds And Eramiha were entranced by their Schuyler sister, Go (or “Shin” as they know her fondly), singling her out as one of the best people they have worked with in the business.

“Rachelle Ann Go…is the kindest, most beautiful human. We call her the pride and joy of the Philippines. Like, secretly. She is so beautiful, and she gives us all of the, like, have you tried this? Have you tried adobo? Have you tried, like, all of these things? I love it,” Eramiha expressed.

Wet-Look ‘Piga’ Symmetrical White Dress by Ish Barozzo

She then took a moment to acknowledge all of the dressers, crew, and company members, namely the local team: “They’re just so beautiful, and so, so, so nice, and just so caring, and just want to do everything for everyone. And it’s been such a beautiful experience. And yeah, they’re just so nice. Everyone’s so nice. I love it, yeah. They’re so cute.”

Edmonds similarly shared some sweet sentiments for Go. “Shin and I, we, we connected really strongly. Quite quickly, actually. And I think that’s a thing. I’m Maori-Japanese. So there is, there’s that Asian aspect in my blood. But also, I’m the eldest of seven. So there’s that maternal instinct, anyway. And yeah, food, like she’ll bring me in some eggs.”

Ultimately, the hospitality of the Philippine population, from the audience to her fellow Hamilton colleagues was a replenishing reminder of her home. “There’s a sense of respect and reverence, just in being and greeting. And, you know, again, Maori and Filipino, we don’t want to get in the way, we just want to be helpful. And we want to be hospitable, but not get in the way… so communication is is very gentle here.”

She compared her experience working with some American cast members. “Americans are completely opposite. I’ve had to learn to be a bit more um, forward-coming. I am the black sheep of the family. I’m very outspoken.”

Edmonds then mused about the lasting impression the local team members left on her. “You know, no idea what you just said, but I already understand the energy. So yeah, I, our Filipino company backstage, very, just want to do a good job. Just want to get the job done really well. People are traveling from so far away. Like you need a passport almost just to travel from your home.”

Edmonds: White Shred Dress by Herwin Cardoza, Eramiha: Wet-Look ‘Piga’ Symmetrical White Dress by Ish Barozzo

In the interview’s background, she casually asked the other Filipino production members where they lived, from Quezon City to Manila. “So far there’s like an hour commute and that’s without traffic.”

Call the Schuyler sisters honorary Filipinos, because they ticked off every box on the Pinoy-core bingo card. In their brief stay in the Philippines, performing some eight times a week, they have gotten to know the Philippines a great deal just by interacting with the Hamilfans and everyone who completes the Hamilton experience. 

“I love being here. I’m sad I haven’t got to know Manila as much as I’d like to. These audiences are amazing and we can feel their presence and appreciation, even when they’re being polite, so to speak. And the standing ovation is perfect. It’s really nice that we get to celebrate each other’s energies,” Edmonds concluded.

Creative direction by Kenneth Dimaano. Sittings editor Bret Jackson. Photographed by Jan Mayo. Styled by Quayn Pedroso. Shoot coordination by Mika Cruz. Photographer assisted by Sherie Bolo & Myc Priestley. Shot on October 2023 at Parañaque City, Philippines.