Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My First P.E.T.A. Acting Experience

Bohol's cultural and literati set were all agog the last few days before November gave way to December back in 2009.

You see, news came out that F. Sionil Jose, great Filipino novelist- writer, was arriving in Bohol to celebrate his 85th birthday

"Who is F. Sionil Jose?" You might ask. Good question. 

F. Sionil José or in full Francisco Sionil José is one of the most widely-read Filipino writers in the English language. 

F. Sionil Jose


His works which have been translated into 22 languages including Korean, Chinese, Indonesian, and Russian have won for him fame and recognition.

His most important awards include the 1980 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts and of course, the National Artist Award for Literature bestowed on him in 2001

For that momentous occasion, the Bohol Arts and Cultural Heritage Council (BACH) prepared a series of activities that would showcase Bohol's literary richness and honor F. Sionil Jose's legacy and body of work.

In particular, I was very proud that two of my colleagues from HNU, Dr. Ramon Boloron and Ms. Socorro Revilla now Mrs. Zaluaga were the facilitators of "The Traditional Literature of Bohol" and "Boholano Culture in Literature, “How Are You?”.",respectively.

For one productive and stimulating day, Dr. Sionil Jose interacted with close to 50 writers and more than 200 Literature teachers and students.

His novels and short stories depict the social underpinnings of class struggles and colonialism in Filipino society.

Born on December 3, 1924, F. Sionil Jose is one of the most widely-read and highly- regarded Filipino writers in the English language.

But what I was really excited about was the fact that I was cast by Teatro Bol-anon through Gardy Labad for a re-interpretation in Visayan of excerpts from F. Sionil Jose's "Balikbayan"

It was to be one of PETA or Philippine Educational Theater Arts’ acting and dircting stalwarts, Melvin Lee and assisted by California-based Center Theater Group’s Lorely Garrote Trinidad.

I got one of the meaty parts after a read through for "Dong-Ao", the second act of Balikbayan.

Dong-Ao is the traditional Ilokano ritual wailing usually performed by friends or relatives of the deceased during the wake and before the coffin is lowered into the grave

ACTING CHALLENGE  And the role? Don't laugh now but I got the part of Col. White Sidewall! But there was a minor problem though; I wasn't really that comfortable and at ease with the Visayan script so a compromise was made.
Mine was mostly in English with a sprinkling of Bisaya here and there. Noted stage luminary and theater arts mentor Rose Rara- Sarabosing also helped me understand the nuances of my character
ACTING JITTERS  Another challenge was the mere three days for memorizing the lines, remembering the blockings and getting the role right!

And all these have to be squeezed in a tight full- time teaching load and event organizing gigs

It was truly an honor to be part of a powerhouse cast that included Jun Camacho, Disi Yap Alba and Nanay Nila Itac

It was truly a learning experience and a privilege to be directed by a very talented and incisive director.

He taught us a lot about character internalization, stage blocking and voice modulation

Hats off to Direk Melvin Lee!


And so December 3 came and I was up and about already despite that cold & biting December morning.

I was so giddy the night before that I couldn't sleep. "What if I would forget my lines?" "What would be the reaction if my voice would crack?" Those were my most anxious moments actually

I then reported to the Bohol Cultural Center before lunchtime for the last- minute prepping up and to internalize the role and went through my lines in a futile attempt to memorize it

I was the most nervous that evening especially when I saw movers and shakers of Bohol's cultural and performing arts scene and the more when I saw some of my students in the audience 

Adrenaline Rush as Col. White Sidewall 

The time came for our performance.

Surprisingly, I was able to do it despite flubbing some of my lines and doing instant improv on the spot

Finally, it drew to a close and we were greeted with applause

The comic relief came from F. Sionil Jose who remarked to me that before the play, he thought I was a real military officer who was there to provide security!

Respected historian and HNU Cultural Arts Director Marianito Luspo summed it up when he approached me and remarked 
" Raul, you know what?F. Sionil Jose said that your performance was up to par with that of the actor who essayed the role in the Cultural Center of the Philippines!
And to think I've always thought that you were only good for hosting jobs! " 
Wow! I was speechless

 Photo Opportunity with my HNU Theater Arts class. 
With us is Dr. Disi Yap- Alba
COLONEL WHITE SIDEWALL (Laughs): These silly religious people, these priests and nuns, always believing in their righteousness. How many battalions does the Cardinal have? Is the pen, the cross mightier than the sword, Father? Never. The sword is all powerful, as you can see. (Fr. Jess shakes his head and walks back to his seat. White Sidewall continues)
 I could have told you a long time ago when I was just a first lieutenant that you did it all wrong. All wrong, do you hear? We have the answers because we have the gun. You do not think this is so? Let me know if there ever was a country that progressed without a very strong army.
Look around you, in Southeast Asia, in the East. It is the gun which made Korea, Japan, Taiwan prosperous. Reject that and you reject the logic of history. You think only you and your kind love this country? Have you forgotten that we love her, too? Our soldiers—they fought in Tirad Pass, in Bataan. And now, we are fighting to preserve that Republic, to keep it safe from the likes of you—communists, rightists, fascists, you are all the same! What does order mean to you? The Constitution? Can any nation progress if it has no stability? A credible government? Impossible! How can you say that only you can speak for the poor? For the oppressed?
 Aren’t our soldiers poor, too? Look at them—the children of farmers, of factory workers. If they had a choice, they would not join the army. They joined because it is a job, because it means three meals a day. You think they are well cared for? Look at their food, their rations!…vegetables and dried fish! So I am now a colonel!
 Pero hinumdumi, pobre ang akong mga ginikanan. Ang akong amahan panday, ang akong inahan, siya namaligya og halu-halo sa merkado. But I was good in school—passed the exams for the military academy. Most of us who graduated from there came from poor families. Do you understand? Poor families.
 In this country, anyone who is bright though poor can always succeed. I never had enough to eat when I was a kid. And, of course, I can eat anything I want now. But I have to keep fit, because my job demands that I be physically strong. To fight and to live longer, and enjoy my pension when I retire. 
Pamati. Walay paglaum kining nasura ug ang katawhan niini. Wala kung ang mga Pinoy sige lang ug hunahuna para lang sa ilang mga kaugalingon ug sa ilang hinakog nga mga motibo! Nagtuo ka nga ang mga Pinoy maka-angat sa ilang naandan sa panghunahuna, ang natisok nga kultura nga nalubag na pag-ayo? Dili nila makita nga ang ilang kaugalingon ang ilahang kinagrabehang kontra!
 Democracy – when did this nation ever have democracy? The leaders who go up the narrow escalator could have given meaning to democracy. But look at your nationalist phonies. All these leaders, they are the ones who make this country destitute. They do not emphasize real nationalism, vision, dreams. They are land-based and you know these caciques, all they do is sit on their fat asses the whole year, doing nothing creative, just waiting for the harvest. As for the young, look at all your friends in the past, in 1972. Where are they now? They are now in Makati, working for the oligarchs and they go to the best restaurants, and all of them now wear fancy suits. 
Listen, the future is with us for we hold the gun, and we are big enough to fight everyone, even the Church! 
Kami ang makamugna og tabula rasa. Ni- Latin na, kahibalo ka unsay ipasabot niana? Mag- mugna mi ug bag-ong katilingban. Nganong wa man nimo gamita ang imong ulo? Ang imong kawsa, wala na.
 Nasayod ka niini sukad pa sa sinugdan, nga ikaw usa lang ka pinung bato sa baybayon. Dili nimo masagang ang mga balud. Magpadayon sila, mohapak sa kabaybayonan, ug mobanlas sa mga pinung bato, ug mopatidlum nila ngadto sa kahiladman. Ug ang mga kabus, magpabilin silang kabus tungod kay dili sila makakita ug latas sa ilang kaugalingon, dili sila makahugpong, dili nila matugkad nga adunay grabeng bikil sa ilang pagkasila, gani, dili lang sa ilaha kun dili sa tanan nato.
 We will change all of this by exploiting these flaws, our weaknesses, and we will do it with the institutions already in place. We will do it. Ha! You never thought of this, did you? We will do it with the army because we have the guns, because we are motivated, and because we know the good life is ahead of us!
 Listen, I will tell you something which should make you very, very angry. No, not with us, but with your comrades. How were we able to get you and others like you? Our superior intelligence? We do have one, you know, although we try to cultivate the perception that we don’t have a good one. Military intelligence is a contradiction. That is what you say, and we make you repeat so that you will believe it, so that you will drop your guard, so you will become careless. But even then, it is not superior intelligence that did you in. We have millions for it, and we do not have to account for every centavo. We spend it the way we see fit. Nights out on the Boulevard, in the casinos, with our mistresses. And the pittance—that is what we give to informers, to traitors. 
Oo, barato ra ang mga Pinoy. Makapalit mi bisag unsay among gusto, ug usahay, di gani namo bayran, kay ang mga Pinoy mobudhi sa ubang Pinoy tungod lang sa simpleng kalampingasan, tungod sa kaselos, kabastosan.
 Pamati. Gibudhi-an ka. Ug kinsay naghimo niini? Usa nga suod kanimo, imong gisaligan, imong giampingan. Ang binuang anaa kanimo, Pepe Samson.

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