Our Lost Culture in 3 Stars And A Sun
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
Mang Okik (Bodjie Pascua): Basta alam ko. Pinalaya tayo ni Rizal kaya siya pinatay. Dianne (Giannina Ocampo): Sino si Rizal? Mang Okik [sobs]: Yan ang pinaka malungkot na tanong na na rinig ko sa araw na to!!! Dianne: What is the big deal it’s just a scarf? Mang Okik: Scaaaaarf? Scaaaarf? Watawat ito ng Pilipinas! Sol (Nicco Manalo): Watawat? Pinipilinas? Mang Okik: Dati Pilipinas, bayan natin. Pangalan nanggaling sa dating hari ng Espanya. Nung unang panahon bago nagtayo ang lecheng stormdome nato. Anung klase kayong Pilipino? Nazty (Anna Luna): Ano yon? Mang Okik: Pilipino mga nakatira sa Pilipinas sa mahal nating bansa diyan sa labas!
Sol: Sa labas ng dome? Dianne: You’re hallucinating, poison gas nasa labas ng dome. Mang Okik: There was a time, wala na kasi kayong history. Nung nagka nuclear war at kinulong natin ang sarili sa storm dome. Pumigil ang kasaysayan at ito na walan ng saysay. Ginagalang ito at di pinapasayad sa lupa. Hawakan ng mabuti at tutupiin, dahan dahan, tatsulok tatsulok. Dianne: What is that? Sino si Rizal? Mang Okik: Rizaaaaal! Ipapakita ko sa inyo!
3 STARS AND THE SUN the PETA musical based on the music of Francis Magallona has opened to rave reviews. The megahit musical is running from February 5 to March 2016. This early on though with previews and press nights of the musical, some dates have been sold out due to the enthusiasm and reception of show buyers. So go to ticketworld and official PETA website to ensure that you will be able to watch this very special musical event. RAK F AEGIS was a tough act to follow for PETA as a monster hit. But this early stage 3 STARS has already exceeded it creatively, especially with its relevance in the upcoming elections.
Bodjie Pascua could not be more perfect as the old hermit Mang Okik. Sometimes, I guess in my mind, he would revert to Kuya Bodjie mode and talk about lost Philippine history. At the end of that dialogue above he astounds the audiences with his rapid-fire rap Gloc 9 would be proud of. He may have been the most applauded cast member of the night. And the role needed someone like him, someone to eloquently explain our past not to the imagined futuristic youth but for all of us today.
The ignorance of history, the loss of appreciation and love for our traditions and culture that make us distinctly Filipino is happening here and now. Just last September PNoy was shocked to find out that young students were completely unaware that Apolinario Mabini was a paralytic. Social media was abuzz with students wondering why ‘The Sublime Paralytic’ in the film HENERAL LUNA did not stand up.
Our language, traditional forms of music, dance and theater even cinema are all taken for granted, not just by the youth but Filipinos in general. That’s why yearly events such as the PASINAYA where these activities come together are so important. Include Cinemalaya, Cinema One, Virgin Labfest even the controversial MMFF. Ballet Philippines, Ballet Manila, the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, Bayanihan Dance Troupe, the Madrigal Singers should be as commercially successful as One Direction, Madonna or androgynous K-POP stars. Keyword is should be, they’re not any less talented that’s for sure.
3 Stars Playwright Mixkaela Villalon admitted as much, “Activism has fallen out of fashion among my peers. It’s not completely our fault—it’s been a global trend in the past few decades. Massive materialism coupled with the technological boom to broadcast our consumerist lifestyles have made us more uninvolved and isolated from each other.”
To be fair it’s not isolated with this generation. She was talking about the global trend in technology rather than the colonial mentality that existed during my or past generations. It is this APATHY that Francis Magallona fought against his whole life through his music. Bringing back national identity, pride, if not our language was something that Francis believed in. For him it wasn’t enough to remember but we have to be inspired by it.
Science Fiction On Stage
From the many patriotic and socially conscious songs of Francis Magallona (MGA KABABAYAN KO, 3 STARS AND THE SUN, KALEIDOSCOPE WORLD) young playwright Mixkaela Villalon, co-writer Rody Vera, director Nor Domingo were able to conceptualize an apocalyptic, science fiction version of the Philippines. Also based on Francis M’s music was a film called KALEIDOSCOPE WORLD. It was produced with Sef Cadayona and Yassi Pressman for the 2013 MMFF. It had the expected hip-hop theme and even had the Phil ALL STARS, Manoeuvres, The Crew and singers JayR, Johnoy Danao, D-Coy.
3 Stars playwright Mix, Rody & longtime PETA actor Nor Domingo deserve a lot of credit for having a novel but riskier approach especially with a genre that speaks to the youth of today. With the success of the HUNGER GAMES, STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS, MAZE RUNNER, THE GIVER it’s a genre that young people are familiar with.
But local theater has almost never seen the genre. The closest from recent memory is HARING LEAR directed by Nonon Padilla and translated by National Artist for Literature Bien Lumbera. The simple but very effective set and production design of also a post-nuclear King Lear was by Gino Gonzalez. This time Gonzalez was more elaborate in his set design for 3 STARS.
Totalitarianism & Duterte
Korean film SNOW PIERCER is an acknowledged influence for Mix and Rody for 3 STARS. In it there was inequality between 2 groups. Here we have the Lumino vs the Diliman residents. Apart from the inequality there is that constant use of violence to keep people in line. The overriding need to keep the peace and order is always greater than individual human rights. There were several scenes torturing and ‘reconditioning’ rebels captured. This almost seems like a direct statement against the platform of peace and order from current presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte.
Director Nor Domingo explicitly stated during the press con that 3 STARS is not specifically against ANY particular candidate. “Personally I am not endorsing for or against anyone. It’s to urge the youth to think very well about our country and hopefully inspire them to make the right choice whatever it is for them. You just have to hope that the way we teach them when they grow up they will make the right choice. But we cannot just stop educating inspiring. We’re hoping the music of Francis M and this play will do that. Especially for the coming elections and for the first time voters sana maraming manood.”
Mix also added that almost every sci-fi story deals with some form of Totalitarianism, “Sir Rody he mentioned a loophole of a lot of science fiction is that they almost always lean toward a Totalitarian transit. I asked is there a story where the state was always right? And it almost never happens. Either it’s a leftist dystopia or a rightist dystopia. The state is always wrong. It falls to the characters to fight whatever system is there. For everyone in PETA we agreed on the ending. It’s all up to us. Let’s leave that to the audience. Just make a choice.”
The danger, however, of electing someone like Digong Duterte can be clearly seen in 3 STARS & THE SUN. In reality once elected as president how do we know he would respect other rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of expression when he so easily tramples on other basic human rights? When and where does it end? How can he possibly tolerate open and honest criticism when his platform is repression? Personally I don’t even want to find out. When he repeatedly goes over the line, how will we stop him as president?
Another candidate Jejomar Binay on the surface is supportive of the poor. He identifies himself with the masses and yet in actual fact has several cases of corruption against him and his son Jun jun Binay. He exploits the poor for their votes in the same way that Lumino rulers abuse Diliman residents.
Mar Roxas is branded with the ruling class, not just because of his family background but also as the designated candidate of the administration. Worse is his terrible performance as NDRRMC Chair post Yolanda where hundreds of thousands of families suffered the mismanagement of national government. Added to this was his lack of knowledge in the SAF 44 incident as DILG Secretary. Roxas has been proven as an ineffective leader time and again.
These are the issues that every Filipino should face and think about, now while we have the chance to choose our leader. Those who are educated, who know better cannot and should not sit idly by while candidates intentionally mislead our people. Francis M spoke the truth in his music; we should listen and put them into action.
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