The play started with Miguel's (played by Gerard Pizarras) pilgrimage to the Mountain of Revelation to see Sister Emily (played by Sharmaine Buencamino), a devotee believed to have visions of the Virgin Mary and rose petals miraculously falling from the heavens. He was accompanied by Lobo (played by Jerald Napoles), a Tasaday who was projected to be from the Stone Age. Lobo is a representing face of the duplicity and has dawned the burden of change and fraud when the media exposed his tribe to be frauds. Miguel was not at the mountain to see Sister Emily and witness a miracle but to see the lies enveloping the devotee. He wants to learn how she does her tricks and how she makes people believe. At the mountain, he met George (played by Richard Cunanan), a pilgrim all the way from New Jersey, came to see Sister Emily for healing of his knee which has mysteriously afflicted with an unknown disease. While George explains his religious beliefs and conviction, Miguel was laughing and unashamed of his disbelief.
Miguel and Sister Emily
When Sister Emily came, Miguel challenges her and surprisingly, agrees of what Miguel thinks of her, as a fraud. It was an internal struggle of holding on to one's faith and the actual truth and believing in your own truth when for others it is a lie.
Act Two stages the forgeries of Jose Marco (played by Leo Rialp) of the Code of Kalantiaw and La Loba Negra. Miguel goes home to place of his teacher, Jose Marco, in Pontevedra in Negros Occidental. Welcomed by the wife of the late Marco, Concepcion (played by Alya Honasan), they both recalled the day William Henry Scott (played by Paul Holme) came to see Jose Marco and confronted him of the lie he made up and the false history Filipinos believe.
Henry William Scott and Jose Marco
Miguel reflects how he as a young child (portrayed by Ross Pesigan) regarded and respected Jose Marco and deemed him to be his professor. The unfateful day of the confrontation killed Marco's emminence, also left Miguel an empty skeptic, after finding out that what he believed as true is actually a lie told by a great storyteller. Concepcion, deceived and a betrayed wife, felt she didn't know the man she married.
Simple props of big rocks and a balete tree, costumes, lights, powerpoint presentation and sounds come together to bring flavor to Act One while tables with loads of books and antiques gave reality in Act Two. Held in a small theater of Teatro Hermogenes Yllagan at the Faculty Center, the small venue became an advantage giving the audience an intimate experience. The entrance of the venue is also the entrance of the cast thus no late comers are welcomed in the theater. I was seated next to an extended part of the stage where characters of Kalantiaw (Jerald Napoles) and the La Loba Negra (played by Karen Gaerlan)do their spiel, and I could feel the excitement of their roles like they popped out from a book.
Good thing Kat and I were from Negros ourselves and understands Hiligaynon. Act Two made the play more real when Kalantiaw did his lines in pure and deep Hiligaynon. Even Marco and the young Miguel are very spontaneous and had the correct diction and pronunciation of the Hiligaynon language.
Jose Marco and his forgeries: Datu Kalantiaw and La Loba Negra
A powerhouse cast led by Joel Lamangan and Leo Rialp alternating as Jose Marco gave a great portrayal of the old man trying to redeem his credibility. Other tv personalities like Ces Quesada (plays Concepcion), Sharmaine Buencamino (Sister Emily) and Gerard Pizarras (Miguel) made the Php 250 ticket very affordable. Veteran thespians like Richard Cunnanan (George), Alya Honasan (Concepcion) and Paul Holme (William Henry Scott) joins the roll. Young and rising thespians, Karen Gaerlan (La Loba Negra), Ross Pesigan (young Miguel), and Jerald Napoles (Lobo and Kalantiaw) are also commendable.
We all have to believe in something. It may be religion, it may be words from a reputable man, whatever they may be, we have to believe in something. Fake makes you reflect on faith and truth and what is essential amongst the two. But what is more important is your conviction on something you deemed to be real especially at times when the truth you believe in tested and challenged by other people. And even after these difficult times, while not all things are true and all was left are burns and scars, there is still that need to cling on to something so as to continue life with a purpose.
UP Playwrights Theater
August 17-21, 2011
7PM Wednesday to Friday
10 AM and 3PM during Saturdays and Sundays
Tickets are available at the Dulaang UP office
Ticket Price: Php 250
Php 160 for UP students. Kindly present your ID.