I came to a crash course in history and filipino when I came to watch a play of PETA just this afternoon. In highschool, we never finished discussing Noli Me Tangere, then we shifted to El Fili in our graduating year but had it half done. I got the gist of the novel in the synopsis and help books for Noli and Fili.
Now, Noli and Fili of the late Rizal does reflect the cancer in the 1800s but through PETA's Noli and Fili inspired play, it's audience had a modern vivid picture of the sickness of our society.
Noli at Fili Dekada 2000 (Dos Mil) is set in the town of Maypajo in the province of San Lorenzo in Southern Tagalog. The newly elected Mayor, Ibarra Marasigan, naïve and idealistic, plans in his term to terminate the deforestation of Sierra Madre. His idea was greatly supported by by Fr. Ino (Father Florentino), the parish priest of Maypajo, Mr Atanacio (Pilosopo Tasyo), the principal in their local highschool, Brgy captains and his childhood friend and fiance, Clarissa Santos (Maria Cristina), the daughter of the governor of their province.
Soon, as he set on to execute his plans for the town, he found out that the society he is in is trapped in a web of corruption. The big men in his province like his future father-in-law and godfather Gov. Santiago Santos (Kapitan Tiago), the Provincial Commander Colonel Salvador Salvatierra (Father Salvi), the bishop of the diocese of San Lorenzo, Monsignor Damaso (Father Damaso), were into protecting those people who put them into office and power. These people are the big companies conducting illegal deforestation.
Things got rough, Ibarra was removed from office after a lot of revolutions (supported and financed by the corrupt officials) and after being framed-up, was put in jail. Clarissa, blackmailed, married Col. Salvi. And his childhood friend, Elias, a great leader of the National Liberation Army (NLA) died when he helped Ibarra escape from prison.
The story of the novel in Fili started three years after. Ibarra, after escaping from prison, rose up as a leader of the NLA, now as Kumander Simon. He has lead mission after mission against the people directly involved in his downfall as Mayor.
Written by Nicanor G. Tiongson
Directed by Soxie Topacio
One piece of advice for this play: WATCH IT. Not because you would reminisce on your highschool days of how you have studied or not studied Rizal's novel nor I recommend this for you to understand the novels in case that you don't or unpreviliged like I do to finish reading them. I recommend this play for awareness and for understanding. Because every now and then, the novels of the great National hero reflects the cancer, the leech, the catastrophe in our society that even a 100 or so years had passed, it is still one and the same. Nothing has changed, one single bit of it.
There is still corruption. If years ago, it was the Spaniards doing them and the Filipinos were the victims, sadly it is worse now. It is the elite or the powerful Filipinos who are doing corruption and the lowly or middle class in our society are the victims. There are still people behind each political terms and they play the puppeteers to their puppet politicians. And not until they'll be stripped of the power to turn things around in the government, Philippines will not go anywhere but down.
There is still selfish acts or actions for personal gain. Not only depicted in the characters of Salvi and Damaso or the governor, but even for the ideal Ibarra turned Simon. And each time, selfishness rule, it would root to downfall and would suffer the lives of many.
That is where everything has to begin. If we want change, if we really want to improve our lives, if we want to improve our society, it has to begin with us, with each of us. Hope is flickering for the Philippines, really. And we have to act now before that hope dies down.
Quite frankly, I have not thought about the parallelism of the novel and our society in the recent generation. So this is a good lesson for me.
Once again, PETA's production doesn't failed to impress me. The opening act started with a flashflood and PETA reinacted that with true cold water!!! It was awesome! Line of actors were quite superb too with Lex Marcos playing Ibarra, Robert Sena doing Col. Salvi's role and Bembol Roco doing Bishop Damaso. Other actors are also at par with the lead actors especially Elias and Salome.
A lot of tongue lashing and bad words were part of the play's lines, but frankly, you have to put them in to emphasize that this social and political cancer is worth to be called with those words.
Two thumbs up for PETA's Noli and Fili Dekada 2000!