Monthly Archives: November 2008

Randy-a tribute to the creators of Philippine theater

      A noted columnist, Teadoro Doroy Valencia, who was know as the Drew Pearson of the Phillippines, allowed us to create a theater in Fort Santiago in less than a month.   It was not a small miracle (and Fort Santiago is a national shrine, where incarcerated Jose Rizal waited for his execution). Valencia, full of energy, took care of all of the details of the restoration of Manila during the Marcos era: clearing squatters out of the huge public square known as Luneta, sanitizing Paco Cemetery, creating a flower clock that told time, and maintaining clean public restrooms that flushed.

     Anything was possible in Teadoro Valencia’s world, or it seemed: a man who had a direct line to Emelda, then able to use his influenced he gained as a writer; now though no longer living his contributions to the Philippines and Philippine theater still are alive.

      Theadoro Valencia, as a writer, had great influence.   He used that influence to help PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association).   We can assume he knew the importance of PETA.   He saw the organization create and perform the first plays in Filipino.   From that beginning, they went on to produce over 400 plays that shaped the country’s theater history.   And I was there at the beginning.   I was amazed then and amazed now.   And they have recorded their triumph in “a collective biography” that provides a comprehensive yet intimate account” of the company’s history, from 1967-2007.

       Randy Ford

 PETA Releases ‘A Continuing Narrative on Philippine Theater’

posted on Tuesday June 3, 2008

       “After more than 10 laborious years of research, compiling, writing and editing, PETA is proud to bring to the public its 740 plus page book, chronicling its 40-year journey as a Filipino Theater company PETA Releases A Continuing Narrative on Philippine TheaterThe Story of PETA may be considered a collective biography that provides a comprehensive yet intimate account of its lifework, from 1967 to 2007.   It highlights the company’s unique approach and contribution to Philippine theater aesthetics, performance and pedagogy, and to popular education.

      “PETA began by asserting the then radical view of creating and performing plays in Filipino.   A solid record of some 400 plays written, translated, adapted, published and performed, shaped the company’s and indeed the country’s theater history, enriching it through theater forms and techniques that express local, national and universal themes.
     “PETA’s pedagogy and aesthetics for people’s theater, a unique and powerful curriculum for training in theater and the arts has inspired artist-teachers to share their skills, talents and experiences with others, directed toward individual human development and societal transformation.

     “This book presents a chronicle of the collective journey of men and women who have inscribed a powerful presence in Philippine theater history.   Woven together, their stories provide strings of hope and inspiration, a remarkable tapestry of dreams dedicated to Philippine theater, society, and nation.

    “As PETA enters its fifth decade of existence, it continues to nurture young artists who will metamorphose into artists-teachers-leaders and carry on the torch of art to inspire many to become cultural creatives.

     Launched during the 40th Anniversary Concert held at the PETA Theater Center on May 30, 2008, The Story of PETA is now available at a retail price of PhP1,499.00. For reservations and other inquiries, call PETA at 725.6244, 410.0821 or email”

Yes, this is part of Randy’s Story. I’m proud to have been around. Thank you Cecile
Guidote-Alvarez for taking me in.
Here is tribute to her found on the Internet: I hope you are getting well. With great love

and respect, Randy Ford

       “OVERWHELMING was the out pouring of love, admiration and gratitude to the magnificent Filipino Artist for Others, the Ramon Mag-saysay Awardee for Public Service, the brave founder of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and the Development Rehabilitation and Education through Arts, Ads By Google Philippines Photo Gallery   Free photos, screensavers & more! Browse our free galleries. Meet Filipino Beauties   Join Free And Browse Through 1000s Of Profiles For Friendship & More! Acting Schools   Locate Top Acting Schools.   Get Reliable Advice In Your  Media and Science (DREAMS).   Ensemble of the Earthsavers Movement and now stricken with cancer Cecile Guidote-Alvarez all in her bid to found a National Theater.       ”

The youngest RM Awardee (for Public Service) all her life Cecile has committed herself to assist in nation building, and in enhancing our national identity through the making and the workings of a national theater.

      “The accolades, fittingly enough began in the Holy Mass officiated by Rev. Fr. James (Mr. Theaterman) Reuter, S.J. who said in his homily: Cecile has three (outstanding) qualities talent, courage and sensitivity of soul.

     “Well represented in the program were the numerous people whose lives she had touched and influenced in one way or another.   And their names are legion, as Soxy Topacio was to call them, Ceciles children, childrens, children, and childrens childrens childrens and more.

      “The program entitled KAPATID: A Tribute to Cecile Guidote Alvarez was held at the Rev. Fr. James Reuter, S.J. Auditorium in St. Pauls College, Quezon City to which the guests had trooped, after relishing a light dinner.

       “Directed by Anton Juan, it reeled off with a brief theatrical offering by Frankie Riveras Sining Kambayoka Troupe come all the way from Marawi City in Mindanao.

      “Recounted were often-humorous anecdotes about the speakers brushes or encounters with tonights honoree a customarily adamant, relentlessly demanding woman of the theater Cecile Guidote-Alvarez.

      “National Artist for Literature Dr. Alejandro Reyes Roces recounted how he had always looked upon her as his adopted daughter ever since he had learnt that Cecile had never seen her biological father, like Anding, himself a guerrillero in World War II, Ceciles Dad (Mauricio Guidote, a USAFFE guerrilla captain) had died while she was still in her mothers womb.   And her mother Caridad Reyes had bravely submitted herself to a ceasarian operation without benefit of anesthesia in order that Cecile might be born (Talk about courage).

      “Actually, Cecile has three surrogate fathers Fr. James Reuter, S.J. who initiated Cecile into the broadcast theater that saw its full flowering in Balintataw; Dr. Alejandro Roces, who linked the efforts she pioneered in PETA to UNESCO for international cooperation; and Teodoro Doroy Valencia, who was hospitable to the concept of a Peoples Theater by allowing them to identify creative spaces for the public particularly Fort Santiago and Paco Park.

      “Bibot Amador of Repertory Philippines founded at about the same time as PETA (of which Cecile was the founder and director) sent a message which was heartily read by Joy Virata and ended truthfully with Cecile may not be a National Artist but she (definitely! LOG) is a National Treasure (as Bibot herself, is.   Too, there is still tomorrow and she may yet be come a National Artist, CCP President Nestor O. Jardin having been in the audience).

     ” Critic/playwright Dr. Isagani Cruz gave examples of how persistent Cecile can be as when Cecile called up Gani in their house and his child answered the phone and Gani told the child to say that he was out, and afterwards the child asked who is Cecile and he answered she is my best friend the child asked again   But, why didnt you talk to her if she is your best friend.   But still Cecile will call again and again until she will be able to talk to me.   And now that I have a cellphone I cant do that anymore.

      “PETAs artistic director Soxy Topacio related, that one time they had a show in Mara

     “PETAs artistic director Soxy Topacio related, that one time they had a show in Marawi City, they arrived at the airport but the plane had just left, so they call Cecile to inform her about the citation and Cecile told them to still go to Marawi in any way adding: If Mao-Tse-Tung could cross the Yang-Tse River, why cant you?   It was good they didnt leave the airport because the plane had to come back because of engine trouble, so they were able to go to Marawi City.

      “Excerpts from the works of PETA that we viewed, included those from: Bayaning Huwad; Dona Clara; Larawan.   Songs by Ateneo Glee Club Alumni with Rev. Fr. James Reuter, S.J. conducting and Rev. Sr. Sarah at the piano, a song by Joy Soler and a song and dance number by the DREAMSEarthsaver Movement composed of street children, resident of Smokey Mountain and disabled persons.

      “Among Ceciles may other children are Lino Brocka, Mario OHara, Rita Gomez, Lolita Rodriguez, Lutgardo Labad, Lorli Villanueva, Malou Jacob, Angie Ferro (although older than Cecile), Lily OBoyle, Bonjin Bolinao, Cecilia Bulaong Garrucho, Joy Soler, Pilar Garcia, Frankie Rivera, Soxy Topacio, Tommy Abuel, Nanding Josef, Nick Lizaso, Noel Trinidad, Jonee Gamboa, Leopoldo Salcedo, and many more.

      “The evenings scene stealer, however turned out to be that great actress, person, and theater woman, Cecile Guidote Alvarez, herself, when she delivered her tearful Pasasalamat.   She admitted to being afflicted with cancer and to having lost her hair.   When she found out that she had been cancer-stricken she asked: Why, Lord?   Is it not enough that I look after your blind, deaf, lame, street children, underprivileged, drug addicts and would-be artists?

      “So buoyed up was the honoree with all the warmth and love demonstrated her this evening, that she found the answer to her question: For this Tribute, this overpowering acclamation from all of you here tonight, might never have been.   And my hair is growing a little a sign that I am getting better… Then, this unflappable, untouchable, incomparable Grande Dame of Philippine Theater took off her shoes and danced (although my toes are black) and then she sang like Joy Soler, in a highly appealing manner.

      “The people kept on shouting We love you, we love you, we love you!   A glorious finale to a glorious albeit tear-jerking evening.

     ” We salute Cecile Alvarez (nee Guidote) a girl with a mission who gave it her all a magnificent artist, and above all, a great Filipina heroine.

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.”





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Randy Author-’tis Thanksgiving. Get over it!

      It was as a social worker that I earned a living.   And I hadn’t been educated or trained in that field: a creative mind served me better, and my empathy for the disabled, the homeless, the abused, and the mentally ill kept me going.   And it was as an innovator that I started programs that in one form or another are still helping people today.

      There had been a disabled person with spina bifida, and for most of his childhood his father denied him freedom by taking away his wheelchair.   One thing this person and I did together was to climb a mountain, a risky adventure for both us given that he didn’t have the use of his legs.   But there was his strong will.   And when we made it to top, after pushing and pulling a wheelchair together, there was a celebration and the biggest grin on his face.   He said the experience changed his life.   Then we had to get down, and that was just as harrowing.

      From that experience came the idea for an outdoor education program for disabled people, not unlike Outward Bound.   Deaf people went on a bicycle tour and from that a school for the deaf and blind established their own adventure program.   With pride I look back on that.   And on days when I lament where I am with my writing it helps to look back on that and other worthwhile diversions, a living skill center for the disabled, a number of programs for the homeless, and working to protect children.   But it’s not my purpose here to brag about any of this.

      This is how I’ve spent most of my life; a description of who I am; both substantial and fulfilling.   I should be satisfied.   But the writer in me won’t allow me to rest: I speak now of all of the material I have; and that’s the excuse that I gave for all of my diversions.   Forty years later and I wonder where has all the time gone?   But I need to relax.   Chill.   Even if I never write another play or story, I’ve had several full lifetimes, and on this Thanksgiving, it is something I’m thankful for.

      There is another connection this Thanksgiving between my past and me brought home by CNN yesterday and today, as they covered the tragedy at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai.   This place, when my wife and I walked in front of it a number of times within a week, was peaceful enough, and we had no idea of its significance.   More important to us was the coffee shop, where we would have our breakfast of dal.   In those days, in an arrangement that demanded our attention, there were people who slept on the sidewalks, as though they were logs put there for us to step over.   Since then, India has obviously changed, with the greatest acceleration of change (in front of the Taj Hotel) occurring within the last forty-eight hours.   ‘Tis sad people can’t get along.

Randy Ford

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Randy-Writing: “it will be slow in coming…”

      In one important way Harley Granville-Barker and Paul Baker thought the same way about the creative process.    The process, with all of its variations, is different for each individual.   Both men stressed this.   (See DIRECTORS ON DIRECTING edited by Toby Cole & Helen Krich Chinoy p.201 and INTEGRATION OF ABILITIES, EXERCISES FOR CREATIVE GROWTH by Paul Baker)   Yesterday, after reading Granville-Barker’s essay DIVERSITY INTO UNITY, when I was very aware of my own limitations as a writer, I overhead a woman talk about how earthshaking the realization was to her that she would never be a great actor or writer (even though she said was “good” at both endeavors).   She was very critical of herself.   Her criticism seemed to have had an enduring effect on her and seemed to have limited her.   This made me feel sad.   But I’m afraid she is not alone.   I’ve been there and was sympathetic, with my feeling impatient and seeking results, which means if I continue to think this way I won’t get where I want to go.   Baker was against quick results.   Granville-Barker wrote, “as related alike to the actor as to the play” (and I say playwright/writer), “it will be slow in coming to birth: the more unconscious the process the better…for it does not work alike with everyone, never at the same pace, never to the same measure.”   “It does not work alike with everyone.”   The phase is worth repeating.   And even remembering, while we rush to become somebody.   What are we trying to do anyway?   Isn’t it enough to be involved with the creative process and see what happens?   Or are we primarily after publication, recognition, fame, etc?

      It is as mentors I look to Baker and Granville-Barker.   And, as a teacher at Baylor University, Trinity University, and the Dallas Theater Center, Baker personally encouraged me, and his philosophy has helped me throughout my life.   And it was as an innovator that he most inspired me.   I highly recommend his INTEGRATION OF ABILITIES: EXERCISES FOR CREATIVE CROWTH.   (Copyright 1972 by Trinity University Press Library of Congress Card Catalog Number 73-169606 SBN# 911536-38-8)

      “The teacher is dealing with the god in the student.   His creative self is his god, usually never exercised or given a voice.   Each god has a different shape, a new sound; expresses itself in a rhythm, movement, color different from those of any other god.   It is impossible to understand the mystic depth of that god, its background, its many facets, its beginning before birth, its relationship to the whole anthropological history of mankind.   But you can know the student as god; you can enjoy with him discovery of the expressions emanating from that god.   You can speak to that creative act with love and understanding.   You can keep your own ego out of it.   You can encourage when you feel or see a glimmer of something new.”  Paul Baker

      And that’s what Baker did for me; he encouraged me with “love and understand.” He produced my plays. Thank you.

Randy Ford

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Randy-How to stick with a writing project

      It was not easy for James Joyce…with failing eyesight and a daughter with major mental problems…to finish FINNEGANS WAKE.   It had been an impossible task to begin with.   But he never gave up, and without much encouragement at that.   Then it hadn’t been easy for many other creative geniuses with similar problems: take for instance Beethoven and what he accomplished after he lost his hearing.

      Then there are the rest of us.   This has nothing to do with our trying to accomplish an impossible task.   It has everything to do with sticking with something which, because we were dissatisfied with the results or having listened to criticism, we set it aside for a while; and, after a little while longer, we had to admit we weren’t going to pick it up again.   The project had excited us once.   We had started it with a great amount of enthusiasm and spent many hours on it in front of a computer.   The story took form; it had a beginning, middle, an end; we had every intention of finishing it; then something happened.   It could be as vague as that.   And it would not have been all that hard for us to start again…even after losing momentum…but the story remained unfinished, destined for the closet.   This scenario has been all too common.   But it didn’t need to turn out that way.   Only a change here and there, getting back to the routine, was all that would’ve been needed; sitting down, finding the manuscript, reading what’s there, and changing a sentence or two.   Then we would have no trouble getting back on track and, yes, finishing it.   Oh, yes, it ‘s often the simplest things that make a difference.

      So I should be able to pick up and start over all my old unfinished projects. My biggest hurdle is procrastination and fear, yes, all kinds of fear. Okay, so I need to be fearless and not care so much. You’ve heard this from me before.

      Randy Ford

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James Joyce-News Flash: “brain pan” discovered in FINNEGANS WAKE


      “In the name of Anem this carl on the kopje in pelted thongs a parth a lone who the joebiggar be he?  Forshapen his pigmaid hoagshead, shroonk his plodsfoot.  He hath locktoes, this shortshins, and, Obeold that’s pectoral, his mammamuscles most mousterious.  It is slaking nuncheon out of some thing’s brain pan.  Me seemeth a dragon man.  He is almonthst on the kiep fief by here, is Comestipple Sacksoun, be it junipery or febrewery, marracks or alebrill or the ramping riots of pouriouse and froriose.  What a quhare soort of a mahan.  It is evident the michindaddy.  Lets we overstep his fire defences and these kraals of slitsucked marrogbones.  (Cave!)  He can prapsposterus the pillory way to Hircules pillar.  Come on, fool porterfull, hosiered women blown monk sewer?  Scuse us, chorley guy!  You tollerday donsk?  N.  You tolkatiff scowegian?  Nn.  You spigotty anglease?  Nnn.  You phonio saxo?  Nnnn.  Clear all so!  ‘Tis a Jute.  Let us sop hats and exheck a few strong verbs weak oach eather yapyassard abast tht blooty cheeks.”

      “Jute – Yutah!”

                          Finnegans Wake p. 15-16

      “EXHECK A FEW STRONG VERBS” INDEED!  “some thing’s brain pan”  “Scuse us”  “Come on, fool…”

Randy Ford


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Randy-an author on where to begin and how to proceed

      Autobiographers and biographers might begin their books at birth.   And chances are that was where their story began, “in the beginning God created’ someone.

      But this beginning generally does not offer the kind of hook that will move the story forward. Authors often start too soon and tell too much.   Choices…about structure, about where to start, and most importantly, about what to leave out…have to be made early on, whether to tell through exposition or action, or not at all.   Everyone expects the author to make these choices; and most beginning authors start too soon.   There is always a struggle here.   Objectivity often gets lost; the author becomes enamored with what she or he has written and wants to keep it all.   The plan disappears.   It simply happens like that, and often we don’t even get to where we should’ve began. (When the two brothers actually start hitting each other, the plot can easily progress from there.)   And from there the struggle can easily be identified.   To see the two brothers fight is to know that there is something-serious going on.

      But a playwright can’t accept what is accepted from a biographer of a famous person.   The biographer’s canvas is broader.   The playwright must work with condensed material; and given that he or she most probably will have to begin much later in the story than a biographer.   Suddenly, perhaps for structurally reasons, or because an audience will demand it, the playwright has to move from exposition to the struggle.   He or she has to decide to leave out much of what had seemed critical in the beginning and leave much of the back-story for the actor and the director to create.

      The happiest playwright believes in collective genius.   He or she must learn to trust other people. He or she must let go; he or she must be ready to accept the ideas of other people, rather than be the ultimate authority on his or her work.   I like to take the stance that I know nothing.   When asked, I like to say, “I don’t know.”

      A few of my biases, Randy Ford

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Randy-a writer’s block

      Writing today, when I got to it, was not easy for me.   But by my writing every day I have shown I can usually come up with something.

      There were three or four starts about my father.   Nearly all of my concentration on my mother was negative.   I wasn’t interested in being negative.   Started with a word.   Pulled words out of the air. Ideas follow words; they usually do.   Today they didn’t.   “Do your penitence, I get it”: I usually do, but writing every day is a commitment; it ‘s about not getting block and creating something (anything) every day.

      With the loss of sleep, and pretending to be asleep, the direction this would take changed many times.   I am a writer.   I can write.   I am not concerned when the words don’t come; when my brain doesn’t work; and…with the pressure of writing every day…when I repeatedly tried and came up with nothing.   I want to be writer, and I won’t give up trying.   I am engaged in constant games with myself, which seems to indicate that I’m trying too hard.

      To be who I am and where I am is to be in touch with my community and my country; and so I should have plenty to write about.   And in our country we have just elected for the first time an African American president, and we are faced with some of the biggest challenges of our lifetime. “Two Wars and an Economic Collapse.”   That’s something, but it is also something everyone else is writing about: original ideas about something usually don’t out of thin air and require time to evolve and a lot of thought.   And so today was not a creative time or as creative as it could’ve been had I been more patient and allowed my brain to work without pushing it.   (Recently I came up with some new ideas about acting; and a few weeks since then and I’m well on my way to creating a new method.)   Isn’t that how it works?   Now I’m cooking.  Now I can sleep.

Randy Ford

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