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One of the best plays I’ve seen this year (half of it) is Floy Quintos’s Angry Christ (directed by Dexter Santos). It is about the American painter, rather of Filipino descent, Alfonso Ossorio’s period of artistic metamorphosis while doing a mural in their family’s chapel in Negros island. The play’s book is rich in real and imaginative details of the struggles for identity and expression (both artistic and gender).

Photo by I.R. Arenas

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This is a scene from Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, staged by Tanghalang Pilipino. Here, Orpheus (Marco Viaña) returns to the underworld, clueless of the second death of his wife Eurydice (Lhorvie Nuevo). As memories are impermissible in the underworld, they can no longer recognise their bond in the living world nor feel the warmth of their short-lived love.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

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The Philippines – long inhabited by the Austronesian people and had interacted with its Asian neighbours for thousands of years – got its name from a foreign royalty, Felipe II of Spain. Ever since its colonisation, its culturally scattered people have tried to determine their collective identity which is now muddled with the prevailing globalised culture.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

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Roxane (KL Dizon) and Christian (Edward Benosa) meet at a war encampment, while Cyrano (Boo Gabunada), who secretly loves Roxane, looks from afar. Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac is translated and adapted into Filipino as the musical Mula sa Buwan. Unrequited love seems a universal motif in stories that proves to quell the pangs of heartbreak, as one learns that others endure the feeling, too.

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Photo by I.R. Arenas

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The Philippines celebrates every 30 December the martyrdom of Jose Rizal, considered to have inspired the revolution of other nationalists. Rizal is a man of capabilities, including being a sculptor. Here is the terracotta figure La venganza de la madre (The Mother’s Revenge, 1894) which he made while in exile in Dapitan town.

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Photo by I.R. Arenas