Post 500

The life of Rosa Henson is not relegated as mere tragedy but is celebrated in the play Nana Rosa for her bravery. As a war victim, she suffered immense pain from foreign soldiers and persecution from people judgemental of her character and history. And most agonizing was the conflict within her self. Peewee O’Hara starred in the play written by Rody Vera and directed by José Estrella.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 497

The La Madre Filipina statue representing Gratitude has been a witness of the change of the times in Manila. It survives for nearly a century now, having gone through the devastation of the Pacific War. Now it is installed back to its original location atop a plinth on Jones Bridge with the other three Las Madres.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 481

When epic poems take the form of modern-day musicals, the erstwhile  imagination limited to an individual listener brought by orality turns into something visually performative enjoyed collectively by an audience. Here in a scene of the musical version of the Ilocano epic Biag ni Lam-ang, the hero is swallowed to his death by a giant fish.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 479

Fuente Ovejuna, written by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, features the collective action of a whole town to murder their tyrant overlord. Here, the oppressed couple Frondoso (Tristan Bite) and Laurencia (Hariette Damole) listen to the tortured villagers as they withhold the names of the plotters of the murder. Instead, they unitedly testsify that “Fuente Ovejuna did it!”

This was staged by Dulaang UP, directed by Tony Mabesa.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 476

For nearly five decades, the atrocities of Martial Law survive and evolve to new forms. The end of the Marcos regime has not sealed wounds of Martial Law as its scions and political enablers are now in power.

This is a scene from the musical version of the Lualhati Bautista’s novel Dekada 70, wonderfully adapted and directed by Pat Valera.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 475

The Spanish setting of Federico Garcia Lorca’s La Casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba) easily fits the Philippine social environment because of the common conservative Catholic experience.

Bernarda Alba (Frances Makil-Ignacio) torments her all-female household with her controlling nature, which is influenced by the prevailing repression against women.

This was staged by Dulaang UP, directed by Alexander Cortez.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 472

The dysfunctional political climate of the Philippines has its origins in the formation of the first republic, the obvious theme of the musical Mabining Mandirigma. Apolinario Mabini (Monique Wilson) counsels President Emilio Aguinaldo (David Ezra) who repeatedly falls for the schemes of the ilustrado elite.

Mabining Mandirigma was directed by Chris Millado from the libretto by Nicanor Tiongson and music by Joed Balsamo.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 470

If He Doesn’t See Your Face by Suzue Toshiro is a domestic story set inside the strict Japanese prison visiting facility room. Here, the couple – the man being the prisoner – talk about family life and son, and reaffirm their love.

This was staged at the Areté arts hub of the Ateneo de Manila University, directed by Ricardo Abad, and starred by Brian Matthew Sy and Delphine Buencamino.

Photo by I.R. Arenas