Heroes, whether fictional, mythical, or historical, have a hold and magic, elicit awe and wonder, stir emotions, and fuel and ignite hope and inspiration.
Cinema, literature, and theater are the platforms that gave us Darna, Avengers, Justice League, Guardians of the Galaxy, John Wick, Fernando Poe Jr., and many more. Modern-day heroes, such as overseas Filipino workers, teachers, medical practitioners, soldiers, and the many ordinary men and women with extraordinary feats, are staples as well in traditional and online news, and other forms of mass communication mediums.
A question arises: What if Filipino historical heroes came alive? One cannot help but wonder what their reaction would be to our joyful yet chaotic times.
Gat Jose Rizal, our foremost national hero, would he be appalled with the reign of greed that many consider as the culprit of the republic’s societal cancer? The Supremo, Andres Bonifacio would be revolted with the sorry state of existence of the economically disadvantaged sector? How about Francisco Balagtas, would he lament the fact that his lyrical Filipino is now considered archaic and the youth, seem to have mastered languages from other countries? Lapu-Lapu, the great datu of Mactan, would he be baffled by a foreign culture and people? The powerful feminine Gabriela Silang, would she be shocked perhaps with fun, fearless females? And the caregiver of the Katipuneros, Melchora Aquino, would she wail over the fact that her tale of giving assistance to the courageous Katipuneros, has been reduced to a believe it or not storyteller?
All these questions are answered head-on by Monumento 1896, a play by FLP Productions, written and directed by Rodel Mercado, adapted from the play written by Jenny Simon.
The theater becomes a medium of education and entertainment with this Mercado-directed play. With the creative use of magic, the innocence of a young miss who got lost in a park, a fairy that serves as the storyteller of the past and present, and statues of national heroes coming alive as they talk about their sacrifices and glory, and their bewilderment and reactions to what happens now.
What makes Monumento 1896 work big time is the weaving of its narrative, easy to comprehend, clever dialogue with attributions to people, events, places, and lingo of the present. It dared its student-based audiences to use their imagination, listen attentively, as they get a better understanding of what these heroes fought and stood for, and in this fantastical moment of being able to breathe, talk, and feel, when they expressed what they think of the realities of today, hit hard!
The play of director Mercado, as expressed by the heroes, believes that it is not all darkness and doom, that change and hope, the youth and the power that they hold, will make this motherland of our great once more.
Another plus factor of the play are the actors who became heroes. Standouts are Rey Correjado as Andres Bonifacio, he had the gravitas of the Supremo, and his costume as the Gat was historically accurate. Asean Gabat as Lapu-Lapu had a stellar stage presence, brawn, and body. And the Diwata, Dyn Atiche was a hit, especially her beauty and lightness, the dropping of punchlines on point, and she delivers the most important messages to the captive and elated student audiences.
My only quiver, the ensemble, composed of Matthew De Ubago, Karina Macaspac, Edmund Ong, Daven Noveno, RJ Tamayo, Klouney Ogatis, Carissa De Ocampo, Francheska Rosales, Arjay Tarcilo, Tonny Abad, and Rachell Baldomaro definitely had their moments on stage that their public adored, However, at some point, it became repetitive and tedious. Trimming down their stage time must be done.
Monumento 1896 is proof of the positive power of theater to inform, entertain, educate, and sow seeds of love for arts and Philippine culture.
Show schedules are slated on May 20 and 27 at the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Manila Auditorium and on June 17 and 18 at SM North Edsa SkyDome. For Show Buyers and Tickets they can call 0927-2422673 and 0915-5197779