Tag Archives: Philippine Theater

Marili Fernandez-Ilagan- People’s cultural movement in Mindanao

Marili Fernandez-Ilagan is an “artist-teacher-organizer-researcher”, honing her artistry in the vibrant people’s cultural movement in Mindanao since the 1980s. She has performed the gamut of theater work in rural and urban settings, in the Philippines and many parts of the globe. Her well-rounded practice is attributed to her immersion with Kulturang Atin Foundation, Inc., Mindanao Community Theater Network, and Kaliwat Theater Collective, Inc. Among the aspects of her performances, workshops and interactions abroad was an artistic residency with the drama department of the Flinders University in South Australia. Now based in Metro Manila, Marili puts to good use her theater background in live musical productions, video and television pieces as performer, musical scorer and production consultant. She hopes to eventually document her experiences and insights towards a more enlightening and relevant involvement in theater.

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Marili Fernandez-Ilagan- Maranao drama, theater, reality, defiance and confidence


By Marili Fernandez-Ilagan

Tkaw a miakasold si Potri sa tulang oanda matatago si ina iyan a bae a Rimparac akatataboan na ptinda sa ingabai. Si Potri na mataid a 16 i-idad a bago-a-raga. Si
Rimparac na 72 i-idad, mao pembongawen. (Potri bursts into the kitchen where her grandmother Rimparac is preparing dinner. Potri is an athletic and attractive 16 year-
old incoming college freshman. Rimparac is a senile 72 year- old woman.)

Kaoto ba! Ptiaro akn den ba! Imanto na langon siran mabababaya Pakipangaroma
ako iran siiko sadn sa pakalotang sa btang rakn. Bai, ogapi akong ka! Di ako makipangaroma. (That’s it! Just as I thought! Now, all of them are happy. They want
me to marry anybody who can afford my dowry. Grandmother, you must help me! I
don’t want to get married.)

Thus goes the opening scene of the play “Kiatukuwan (Revealed),” performed by the all-Maranao theater group Odiata, which means “dialogue” or “deep discussion.” Odiata was organized by Sittie Jehanne Mutin-Mapupuno, who also wrote and directed the play. Together with the Tag-ani Performing Arts Society, Inc. and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Odiata co-produced the premiere show of “Kiatukawan” at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City last December.

“Kiatukawan” is a story of three Maranao women of different generations struggling to make sense of their lives, and trying to hit a balance between culture and religion in their present situation. One of them is the defiant Potri, who sees herself as the contemporary woman all set to conquer the world. Elite Maranao women were once kept in special chambers or “lamin” preceding marriage, and royally presented at their weddings. Potri’s family belongs to the elite and her being kept in the “lamin” may have contributed to her rebellious nature. She rebels at the thought of being clothed and donned with jewelry to magnify her beauty and nobility and, therefore, her marketability as a bride. Boxed in by such rules, Potri is now pushed by her unwanted marriage to put up her own rules against the dowry.

Potri’s impending marriage prompts her grandmother Rimparac to confess about her own forced marriage, to which, in order to save her family, she agreed. The marriage eventually failed. The confession encourages Potri to counteract her mother Bolawan’s pretenses that peace and wealth reigned in the family.

Astagfirullah! Na antonaa pen anan a sosoluten ka? (And what, in God’s name, is
that you’re wearing?)

Bangkala? Giya I petalowan a uso Ina. (Clothes? This is the trend, Mother.)

Mommy. Soden so trapo. Watako, di ka pesayansa orobarang. Antonaa den a
pikiren a manga tao? A daden a pirak tano? A di tano pakalotang sa manga
bago a ditaren? (Mommy. It looks like a rag. Honey, you can’t look like a rag.
What will people think? That we don’t have money? That we can’t afford to
buy you new clothes?)

The confrontation involving Potri, Bolawan and Rimparac during Potri’s marriage proposal triggers not only revelations but also a funny mix of conflicts and crises.

So dingka di taroon. Ago angkaya a preparasyon. Baa den a pakaradiyaan?
(The yelling! And all these preparations. Are you having a party?)

(Pakabaya-baya). Inipangingisa i Mayor siPotri. Di manokaw-tokaw o aden a
migagaray den ki Potri. [(Excited). The Mayor has asked about Potri. He wants
to know if Potri is still available and not engaged to anybody.]

Na pkandorii ka? (So you are throwing a party?)

Kabaya iyan na makapangaromo kon den sa magaan angkoto a wata iyana si
Kamal. Di niyan di pangatod-atod. (He wants his son, Kamal, to marry soon.
He is looking for a suitable bride.)

Na inoka pekandori? (So why would you throw a party?)

Aykah dingkaden! Maratai- paras omakatalingoma saya angkoto a pagawid na
amai kakowan na taroon niyan a dato tano siran slaslaa, odi na marsik a walay
tano, o antonaon san pen. (Just because! I don’t want the negotiator to come here
and report back that we are not hospitable, or that our house is not clean, or

As a story of a Maranao family in dispute, “Kiatukawan” is so true-to-life, mixing humor and misfortune as these actually happen. In the end, the three women learn that life is what we make of it, and that the family is more important than one’s ambition.

“Kiatukawan” challenges two assumptions about Maranao women: one, that women can only marry those who can afford their dowries; and two, that women are protected even as they are marketed as brides.

In “Kiatukawan,” the playwright-director dramatizes her understanding of the nature of the oppression which permeates the innermost being of a woman, as well as the time-honored conventions, such as the dowry. The play risks abetting a great controversy, especially among the conservatives. But controversies have always been a vital element in the process of change, including in the arena of women’s rights.

“Kiatukawan” illustrates the link between the development of the individual and her political self-determination. There seems to be no aspect in the realm of the “personal” that which cannot be analyzed, understood and, if need be, changed, even if the process proves to be slow and painful. The play also somehow reaffirms that “the personal is also political.” In this connection, it is interesting to note how the playwright-director summed up her experiences in the mounting of “Kiatukawan” while addressing the issues in the home and family (where the struggle takes place in private, behind closed doors). As the play of defiance unfolded in its premiere showing – it could very well be the first to be both written and directed by a Maranao woman in the Maranao language, one woman — at the very least, gained confidence in being what she is.

But since Sittie Jehanne Mutin-Mapupuno happens to be a playwright-director, the contagion may be difficult to contain. ###

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Randy Ford Author-on changing attitudes in Manila

      My teaching a class at Assumption College, the most exclusive girls’ school in Manila and possibly in all of the Philippines, had be justified in my mind…in other words I had to say to myself that these girls would soon become leaders of their country.   The reasons we entered the Peace Corps and went to the Philippines had more to do with helping the less fortunate than the upper-class, but I ended up working in the theater with movie stars and in school with students who were relatively well off.   No amount of explaining, however philosophical, could change the fact that my Peace Corps experience was not typical.   My experience, taken even the context of my being a part of the creation of a national theater, the first in the Philippines in the vernacular, will always have to be explained: drama is not what the Peace Corps is about.

      I was good at adapting, and my idea of taking upper-class kids into the tenements of a slum was an example of that.   In fact, I said, it was a chance for these students to experience how the lower-class lived, while they improvised skits, drawn from what they learned from the tenants on each floor.   What the tenants saw in a personal way…from the dramatizations…were themselves, or in those dingy halls that were always public and cold…a connection between the two worlds came alive.

      Before I did this, my upper-class students had had virtually no contact with slum dwellers.   And you could tell from their reactions that they at first were very uneasy about going into the tenements.   I have wondered what my impact was.   The reason was that I saw some immediate change.   I saw reluctance turn to willingness.   I did, and from that, confidence.   I also saw the smiles and excitement on the faces of the tenants.   I trust it had a lasting impact.   But I have no idea if it did, whether any of my former students later used those experiences.   At the time I thought the idea had merit; I thought it had substance and could shape lives, and that, in my estimation, made the Peace Corps and my project a fit.

Randy Ford

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Tony Perez-to be remembered by Tony is amazing to Randy Ford

      TONY PEREZ is a creative writer, playwright, poet, lyricist, psychic journalist, painter, and fiber artist.   He is one of the 100 Filipino recipients of the 1898-1998 Centennial Artists Award of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.   His other awards include the 13 Artists of the Philippines , four National Book Awards from Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board, and the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas from the Writers Union of the Philippines .

       While some of his works in Filipino have been translated into English, Tony Perez has had works written and published in English, as in Naomi Shihab Nye’s “This Same Sky.”   He was also featured in “Asian Enigma: Psychic Detectives” on National Geographic’s Discovery Channel, and in “The Chronicle of Higher Education.”   Among his works performed abroad are “Trip to The South” Off-Broadway in New York and in Singapore; “On The North Diversion Road” in Melbourne, Australia, and in Singapore; and a dramatic reading of his short story “Paskil,” translated by Matthew Cunningham as “The Poster” from the French translation “L’Annonce” by Heloise Magannon, during the “Documenta 12 Magazines Lectures” bienalle in Documenta Halle, Kassel, Germany on August 30, 2007.

      His mentors in literature and drama were Onofre Pagsanghan, Rolando Tinio, Bienvenido Lumbera, Nicanor Tiongson, Virgilio Almario, Cecille Guidote, Nestor Torre, and Randy Ford.   His plays for radio, television, and film were directed by Sonia Roco, Lino Brocka, Lupita Concio, Mitos Villareal, Nick Lizaso, Joey Gosiengfiao, Gil Portes, Maryo de los Reyes, Frank Rivera, and Anton Juan.

      Tony Perez’s published books include “Albert N.: A Case Study” and the five volumes in the Cubao Series titled “Cubao 1980 at Iba Pang Mga Katha”; “Cubao Pagkagat Ng Dilim”; “Cubao Midnight Express”; “Eros, Thanatos, Cubao”; and “Cubao-Kalaw Kalaw-Cubao” by Cacho Publishing House.   His Anvil Transpersonal Psychology Series includes “The Calling: A Transpersonal Adventure”; “Beings: Encounters of the Spirit Questors with Non-human Entities”; “The Departed: Encounters of the Spirit Questors with Spirits of the Deceased”; “A Young Man Cries for Justice beyond His Grave” (Volume I); “Stories of the Moon: Further Adventures of the Spirit Questors”; “Songs of Sunset: Incantations and Spells by the Spirit Questors”; “Mga Panibagong Kulam”; “Mga Panibagong Tawas”; “Mga Panibagong Orasyon”; “Mga Panibagong Orasyon Sa Magica Cantada”; “Mga Panibagong Ritwal Ng Wicca”; and “Mga Panibagong Kulam Sa Pag-ibig”. His literary series for Anvil include “Maligayang Pagdating sa Sitio Catacutan” and “Malagim Ang Gabi Sa Sitio Catacutan”.

      Tony Perez’s artworks have been showcased in more than 20 individual and group art exhibits.   Among his art teachers were Araceli Limcaco-Dans, Brenda Fajardo, Virginia Flor Agbayani and Ben-Hur Villanueva of University of the Philippines’ College of Fine Arts, Florencio Concepcion and Fernando Sena of The Saturday Group, and Rafael del Casal.

      Mr. Perez holds an A.B. in Communications and a Cand. M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Ateneo de Manila University, and an M.A. in Religious Studies, magna cum laude, from Maryhill School of Theology in New Manila. He taught as adjunct lecturer at Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Saint Scholastica’s College, Maryknoll College and the Philippine High School for the Arts.    His master’s thesis, titled “Pagsubok sa Ilang: Ikaapat na Mukha ni Satanas”, was published by Anvil Publishing, Inc. in 2005.

  Mr. Perez has two sons, Nelson I. Miranda (a dentist) and Chito I. Miranda (a licensed mortician), and three granddaughters, Angelique Pearl Miranda, Nielsen Tegelan, and Aubrey Rose Miranda. His daughters-in-law are Agnes Tegelan and Ivy Vercacion.   They live in Cubao, Quezon City, where Mr. Perez has resided since 1955.


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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 petampro@yahoo.com.”

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.  www.Away.com Meet Filipino Beauties   Join Free And Browse Through 1000s Of Profiles For Friendship & More!www.FilipinaHeart.com Acting Schools   Locate Top Acting Schools.   Get Reliable Advice In Your Area.DoTellAll.com  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-a playwright looks back in the third person

       More than forty years ago, in the Texas town of Dallas, a young playwright with some success decided to leave his theater home.   He had no idea what that would do to his career (to instead of for), because he didn’t think twice about leaving.   That was when his plays stopped being produced. He intended to stay in the theater; in Manila found a rewarding position in the Peace Corp teaching drama at the University of the Philippines and working with Cecilia Reyes as she established a national theater at Fort Santiago.   There was no hint at that time that he wouldn’t continue to have a promising career in the theater.

      Many years have passed.   The playwright continued to write and to make a living began working in the helping professions.   He also read, in spurts, authors he thought would help him in his writing. He began with Hemmingway, and concentrated on Faulkner and Joyce.   Plays did not interest him as much, but he still called himself a playwright.   It happened that he still had a strong desire to work in the theater, but his tenacity didn’t match his desire.

       The playwright, however, demonstrated tenacity in other areas.   He helped many people and used his creativity in that way.   He started programs, not only programs but non-profit corporations, that did a lot of good.   Quite suddenly, after a successfully stint as a Child Protective Services investigator, the playwright retired.   Only retirement presented him with a dilemma; and he realized that he could no longer runaway from his writing.   Runaway, indeed, a curious word for him to use after so many years of writing.   Hadn’t he paid his dues?   What does it take?   He had been trying, but now there was greater urgency.   Only he knew he couldn’t go back and start over, and has wondered if he’s missed out.

      Opportunities were missed.   The playwright, older and less agile, works on his thinking; he never considered himself a thinker.   The playwright has started several projects.   He jumps around not knowing what would interest other people.   He has tried many things and has had a hard time settling on one.   The playwright writes everyday and reads until he falls asleep late at night.

       Struggling today, Randy Ford

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