CCP launches Pista Rizalina: A Festival of Arts and Ideas
More than 40 years ago, in 1976, a 23-year-old student of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) disappeared. She was arrested, tortured, raped and eventually executed. She was Rizalina Ilagan, who was named after our national hero Jose Rizal because she was born on June 19.
Today, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) honors her by naming a festival in her honor: Pista Rizalina: A Festival of Arts and Ideas, which runs from September 8 to 24.
Bonifacio Ilagan – the older brother of the honoree of this festival – wrote Pagsambang Bayan right after his release from prison. During a press conference at the CCP, Ilagan said that since books were banned in prison during martial law – and he was only allowed to read the Bible – he read it from cover to cover. This served as his impetus to write Pagsambang Bayan which he says, is structured like a real mass.
During the press conference, he revealed that Behn Cervantes the original director of the play (which was staged over 40 years ago), was eventually arrested on account of the play, and so was its musical director Susan Tagle.
Bulatlat.com says that “It was the first play during martial law that challenged the military regime in a way that no theater piece had dared to do then. It was performed over and over again in schools, churches and communities… They had 19 performances.”
Pista Rizalina: A Festival of Arts and Ideas "engages the arts with current social, political and cultural issues. The festival selects a particular artistic expression as the main platform and engages it with a topic of urgency, relevance or potentially high engagement with the public… It brings together artists and thought leaders in conversation with the public to map out the terrain of issues and stimulate a public discourse in the most participative, accessible and creative way,” according to a press release issued by the CCP.
The featured plays of Pista Rizalina are: National Artists F. Sionil Jose’s Pragres, and Bata, Banta, Bantay, Tayo, Tayog, Bantayog, by the PHSA Student Ensemble – which which will be staged only once: 3 pm on Friday, September 8 at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (THB); Rody Vera’s Indigo Child directed by Jose Estrella; Maynard Manansala’s Tao Po, directed by Ed Lacson, Jr.; Reuel Molina Aguila’s Maliw, directed by Chris Millado; Nick Pichay’s Isang Araw sa Karnabal, directed by Chris Millado; Chris Millado’s Buwan at Baril in EÞ Major, directed by Andoy Ranay;Bonifacio Ilagan’s Pagsambang Bayan: The Musical directed by Joel Lamangan; Nicanor Tiongson’s Aurelio Sedisyoso (a season production of Tanghalang Pilipino).
Inspired by the story of Adora Faye de Vera, Indigo Child explores the life of a New People’s Army amazona named Felisa who is caught by the military in the late 1970s, and is tortured and raped by a military man. Years later, “she confronts her past with her son Jerome, now all grown up,” according to the CCP press release.
She may be known for her alter ego Juana Change, but in Tao Po, Mae Paner does 4 monologues: those of a zumba instructor, photojournalist, a policeman/hit man and a tokhang victim. These monologues were crafted after “several days of immersion trips and interviews of families and people involved in the issue of extrajudicial killings (EJK).”
Set B: “Extra-judicial feelings”
Maliw shows how a mother (Sherry Lara) – together with her husband (Bembol Roco) – confronts reality 5 years after the forced-disappearance of her eldest daughter (Lhorvie Nuevo).
Isang Araw sa Karnabal is “a funny but poignant play about two former activists who – both missing loved ones – meet again after a long time and attempt to mend broken ties.” It stars Yul Servo and Sheenly Vee Gener.
Buwan at Baril in EÞ Major, tells the stories of people (a worker, a priest, a socialite, a wife, and a police officer) “whose lives intersect at a crucial juncture in Philippine contemporary history: the height of the anti-dictatorship struggle.” The stellar cast includes Jackie Lou Blanco, Cherry Pie Picache, Cinemalaya 2017 Best Actress Angeli Bayani. Also in the cast is JC Santos – who goes back to his first love, theater – after the box office success of 100 Tula Para Kay Stella where he portrayed the role of Fidel, a poet smitten with his muse.
To be screened during the festival – free of charge – are the following films: Aureaus Solito’s Pisay, Joel Lamangan’s Sigwa, Chito Roño's Dekada ‘70, Mike de Leon's Sister Stella L, and Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil's Indigo Child.
Documentaries from GMA News and Public Affairs such as Busal, Alaala, and Ilaw ng Marawi will also be shown on Sept. 14.
Livestream Talkbacks with playwrights/writers, directors, and casts of the plays and films will be held after every staging/screening.
The re-enactment of Escalante Massacre by the Escalante community and the Negros Theater League will be live-streamed from 11 am 'til 1 pm on September 20.
The feast also features a festival of art works, public conversation, interactive exhibit and flash performances. Master kulintang player Aga Mayo Butocan and a guest kulintang ensemble will also perform during the fiesta.
Tickets are available at all TicketWorld outlets. For inquiries, call the CCP Marketing Department at 8323706. Check out the CCP website for the full schedule. – Rappler.com
Susan Claire Agbayani is a freelance writer who contributes to newspapers, magazine, and websites. She is finishing her thesis, an unauthorized biography of a Filipino band, for her MFA in Creative Writing at De La Salle University. She lives in Quezon City with her son Gide and their cats.