The Philippine theatre industry is growing steadily, and theatre productions are now more available and accessible to Filipinos who want to experience contemporary theatre.
Last Saturday, Bobby and I were invited to watch a beautiful play from Julie Borromeo’s Performing Arts Foundation Inc. called Guadalupe The Musical. This Filipino original musical is a take of Le Virgen de Guadalupe’s story as she appeared to a simple Mexican farmer, Juan Diego. With this ghostly apparition, a skeptical bishop, a forbidden love story, a brutal overlord and a dying man brought back from the brink of death — you wouldn’t expect that the play would turn out the way you might expected it to be.
Sharing the stage with Laurel are theater stalwarts Lorenz Martinez, Shiela Valderrama-Martinez, Onyl Torres, and Miguel Vasquez, with Noel Rayos, Kyla Rivera, and the aforementioned Joel Trinidad covering various major roles. Joining them all are talented up-and-comers Arman Ferrer, Chaye Mogg and Kuya Manzano; all part of a cast of more than thirty actors, singers and dancers.
Personally speaking, when I got the invitation, I actually thought [based from the title itself] it would be about something connected to or set in Metro Manila ~ maybe it would be about life in the Guadalupe-Makati area. At one point, I also thought it would be a woman’s story of struggle in the 1970’s - something dark and nasty. It was only a few days before Saturday when I actually took the time to read through what reviews and learned what it was about.
Imagine the surprise on our faces upon reading that it was centered on Our Lady of Guadalupe’s miraculous appearance in Mexico. Apart from the fact that all our theories were wrong, we admittedly got worried because it was something connected to religion and faith. If you knew us, you’d know why we felt this way.
Let’s fast forward to the day of the play.
At first, we thought we were gonna get bored or probably sleep... but to our surprise, we were so engrossed. The 1st act was a bit draggy but I did love the vignettes showing pre-Hispanic Aztec culture, which led to the eventual invasion by the Spanish conquistadores. I loved the character of Archbishop Juan De Zumarraga (played by Lorenz Martinez) who was just on-point with his acting and comedy. The woman behind the narrator/Virgin Mary (played Sheila Valderrama-Martinez) also captured my attention. Her voice was so heavenly and impeccable. Later on I found out they were married, pala! GOSH so much talent.
I’m not a theater person so I don’t know how critique the play based on technicalities. Plus it is my first time to watch a play, also Filipino original one. So from a simple, normal spectator, let me list below my takeaways from this.
things we learned from guadalupe:
Don’t judge a play by its title. True enough, I shouldn’t have judged. Though the play was about a religious figure, the story wasn’t focused on that. Instead, it highlighted realities from the time the apparition happened, the truth behind skepticism and emotions towards miracles, and much much more.
Everything happens for a reason. When it seems like no one believes you, there's always a silver lining. Maybe that silver lining isn't visible right now, maybe it'll take impossible things until that silver lining shows itself, but it'll always play out the way it's supposed to.
There’s always a first for everything. It was my first time to watch a play that wasn’t a requirement for a class. So it was an experience that made me feel so sosyal but cultured.
Appreciate Filipino original plays. If you live in the Philippines, you need to watch original Filipino plays. Filipinos are so talented and we should love our own. When it comes to theatre and performing arts, Filipinos are never far behind.
[ALSO] Observe proper etiquette inside the theater. I forgot that it’s considered rude to use mobile phones inside the theater (whether or not it is completely dimmed out). I know it’s common sense to observe basic etiquette when watching a play, but sometimes we just forget, right? Fear not ‘cause we’ve taken the liberty to show this cute video on theatre etiquette 101 for those who plan to watch something soon!