Many Filipinos look for greener pastures, even if that means leaving their family behind. Most overseas Filipino workers left the country with one goal – to provide a better future for their children and give a better life for their families. They juggle different jobs to earn more. Some work as nurses, factory workers, caretakers, cleaners, nannies, and any other jobs.
Based on a Philippine Statistics Authority report, there were about 1.77 million OFWs in 2020.
“Total remittance sent in 2020 reached 134.77 billion pesos, that means an average of P86,810 remittance per OFW.”
But high earnings come at a high cost. Most often, they have estranged relationships with their families and often miss out on their children’s lives. Some suffer from homesickness, even depression. Their marriages fall apart because of the distance.
These stories of sacrifices were the inspiration behind Bayan Bayanan, a classic stage play by playwright Bienvenido Noriega, Jr. Set in the 1970s, the play narrated the stories of a group of expatriate Filipinos in Switzerland. The characters share their heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking backstories, as well as their fears and their aspirations as they try to carve a better life for themselves abroad.
This year, theater and film director Anton Juan brings a fresh take on this classic play and turns it into a musical. Bayan Bayanan: Letters from Home will be staged on July 15 to 17, at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).
“I have directed this play many times before in Europe, and each time there is always something new. It grows like a pearl, and takes shape in the memory and hearts of those who perform it and those who watch it. Why? Because it is real. It is grounded on real characters we can identify with, in all their beauty and vulnerability, in all their strengths and their weaknesses,” said director Anton Juan.
The musical was part of the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Philippines-France diplomatic relations. In 1947, the Philippines and France signed a Treaty of Amity which established diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The French government had also conferred honors on Bayan Bayanan director Anton Juan. To honor his contributions to the arts, the French Republique knighted Juan Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres and Chevalier de l’Ordre National de Merit.
The play is brought to life by amazing actors, namely: theater actress-singer Banaue Miclat-Janssen who portrays the central character Manang; actress Ava Olivia Santos who plays a Filipino nurse struggling to carve a better life for herself abroad and seeking a fairy tale love; theater actor and classically trained singer Carlo Mañalac as Dino, a character based on Noriega’s life story, a scholar sent to study abroad on an international scholarship.
Soprano Roxy Aldiosa and tenor Carlo Angelo Falcis play the comically annoying couple who believe that any life abroad, even hardship posts, are better than life in the Philippines. Jacinta Remulla has been cast as Connie, the couple’s sultry and flirtatious niece.
Richard Macaroyo plays the illegal migrant Pol, while Greg de Leon is the perennially homesick Ginoong Luz, whose loneliness can only be lifted by the melodious singing of his wife Ginang Luz, portrayed by opera singer Jane Wee.
Completing the cast are Christine Angelica Evangelista, Carlo Mañalac, Timothy Carlo Racho, Kendrick Tamayo, Abigail Sulit, Jane Florence Wee, Matteo Teehankee, Karina Macaspac, and Adrian de Ubago.
The Embassy of France in the Philippines has sponsored the participation of French actress Uno Zigelbaum for a special role in this musical.
“I dedicate my direction of this play to all the migrant workers and migrant friends who ‘homed’ me, ‘nationed’ me in my times of study and work abroad, who ‘cradled’ me as they cradled each other in times of crisis and personal rollercoaster times of highs and lows; to the entire cast and the production for taking special time to share their talent and their esteemed careers, countless dearest friends who helped, and our audiences who are all part of the play because this play is about them, us, a nation outside their country,” concluded the director.
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Celebrate the National Heritage and the Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) with special free screenings on July 8 (Friday), 2:00 p.m., at the Tanghalang Manuel Conde (CCP Audio-Visual Room).
The CCP Arthouse Cinema presents National Artist Fernando Poe, Jr.’s Alupihang Dagat (1976), a film about a man’s search for truth about the disappearances of seafaring youngsters in their fishing village. Eventually, he stumbles upon the island hideout of a band of modern-day pirates who, under the leadership of a female captain named Odessa, are responsible for kidnapping and enslaving many of Gomer’s friends and neighbors.
At 4:00 p.m., there will also be a back-to-back screening of Nadjoua Bansil’s Bohe: Sons of the Waves (2012) and Emmanuel Dela Cruz’s Gabon (2007).
Gabon tells the story of how far a young Maranao girl takes to heart the promise to her parents that she will finish a school exam. Meanwhile, Bohe: Sons of the Waves is about the five Badjao boys who learn the value of mangroves in Malitam Island and their plan to save their island from sinking due to harsh weather and other man-made causes at any cost. The film puts the spotlight on Sama Palau (commonly known as Badjaos), the second-largest sea gypsy community in the world from the Southern parts of the Philippines.
The film screening aims to revisit our artists’ historical works to create consciousness, respect, and love for the legacies of the nation’s cultural history among the Filipino people and learn from these films. This is in collaboration with the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Philippine Film Archive, and the Society of Filipino Archivists for Film.