"Beautiful!": PAMANA impresses critics on preview night

QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES - On a bare stage with just the skeletal structure of the set and a makeshift video screen, the full run of PAMANA was shown to the public after two months of preparation.

Friends and members of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), the Ninoy & Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF), and Indie.go media attended the PAMANA critics' night held August 14 at White Space in Makati.

Present were renowned musical composer Ryan Cayabyab, Father Manoling Francisco, S.J., and daughter of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, president sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz. They stayed not only to watch the preview but also to give their thoughts and suggestions to beef up the production in time for its opening gala on August 21, 8pm at the Meralco Theater.

"It's beautiful," Ballsy said. "I would give it a ten out of ten."

PAMANA is the country's first docu-musical, a form that mixes video footages of the People Power, sound bytes of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, set to music by Cayabyab and Father Fransisco, with a powerful mix of performers that brought the stage to life.

The production lasted for about an hour and a half, showing scenes from the present day interspersed with flashbacks from the 70s up to the early 2000s. Weaving these scenes together were a mix of actors from PETA and other theater groups, led by Malou de Guzman, Jett Pangan, Bodjie Pascua, and Kakki Teodoro. The singing group Viva Voce was also part of the ensemble, lending the musical numbers a powerful voice.

The play's music was well-loved by its first public audience. Some were brought to tears as they recalled the 80s with a Jim Paredes original, "Handog ng Pilipino Sa Mundo."

The music is crafted from the stanzas written by playwright Rody Vera.

"Rody's words when read aloud already help create the shape of the melody," Cayabyab said. "The only challenge left is how to make the song help the story move forward while creating the right atmosphere and emotion needed in the scene."

Cayabyab expressed how pleased he was with how musical director Vincent De Jesus worked the music into the play.

"I wouldn't change [the music]," Cayabyab said. "I like it the way it is."

PAMANA looks back at the last thirty years through the eyes of three generations within a family, ordinary people who became part of those times - the enlightened character of Lola Azon who witnessed EDSA I, the cynical character of Edgar who witnessed a government worsened by prevailing poverty and corruption through the years, and hopeful character of Trina hoping to witness the coming of a better tomorrow.

"We will try our best to be both - for the show to be enjoyable and entertaining while being content-heavy," said Maribel Legarda, the stage director.

"It brought the message home," said Kiko, a grandson of Cory. "The ending was subtle, and that’s how Lola Cory was."

After a successful preview and only a few days left  before the opening, PAMANA promises to be a performance that will not only help generation remember but also prepare them to move for the future.

PAMANA is co-presented by PLDT and is made possible through the support of Meralco, One Meralco Foundation, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Philex Mining Corporation and Directories Philippines.

PAMANA runs from August 21 to August 25 at the Meralco Theater. For tickets, contact PETA at 725-6244 or Ticketworld at 891-9999,  www.ticketworld.com.ph.

The Jagged Barn

Your oblivious but observing blogger.

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