My Jagged Take on #VLF10

I am writing more than I used to about the Virgin LabFest this year compared with the past 2 years.
Virgin LabFest has been staging virgin plays for a decade now and it does call for a celebration.   Okay, the image of the cornucopia was not that festive enough for me.   They may be trying to steer clear from the sexual connotations of the word "virgin", but come on!  I think there's still a more festive way to depict this year's theme: The Harvest!   A more festive image of the cornucopia perhaps would have sufficed.

This year's mourning hits very close to home.  VLF8 was Mario O'Hara and Tony Espejo; VLF9 was Ama Quiambao.  And as of this writing, I still can't really grasp the reality that a very dear talented friend passed away.  Too fast,  too soon.   I remember how much he encourages me to write whenever I see a play, regardless if he's part of the production or not.  So, here.  Even with a heavy heart and way too many things going around.  I'll write.

This year, me and my friends decided to find the common theme among the plays on the same set.  There used to be a title for each set.  I'm not sure why they stopped having that, but it was fun looking for the common theme on our own this year.

We saw all 5 sets during the Premiere week,  8:00 PM show (except for Set D, I saw the 3:00 PM run).


I forgot how we exactly coined it,  but at least for me, the common theme is "SEPARATION".

ANONYMOUS by Liza Magtoto;  Directed by Audie Gemora

What a way to start the festival!  The story is so high strung! There's no room to relax and breathe.  Uleb Nieto was able to embody the tension that the plot brings.   I miss Cris Pasturan's hair!  I was really scared of him.  I really love how this play made me want to know what would happen next,  because I never knew.


I think this is the first time I've seen Jonathan Tadioan play a role that's subdued.   Not too strong and overpowering.  And I love it!  I didn't really like this play that much at first, but when I get to think about the lines and how the story turned out, especially when my friends showed much appreciation on how much of an impact the set (movable doors and windows) played a vital role in the story telling, it turned out to be a play I learned to appreciate.

SA PAGITAN NG DALAWANG KAHONG LIHAM by Layeta Bucoy;  Directed by Chris Millado

This is a very very exhausting play.  I have felt all the break ups I have gone through.  You get to feel tired really fast and yes, that's how it is during break ups.  Although, thank God,  not all.  If that was the goal of the play,  they succeeded.  However,  it is very dangerous,  since not all viewers would be able to appreciate that factor and I get to notice how much the actors pause after each line.

This was initially my favorite in this set because of the idea that the lines the actors are saying are from letters.  I love it on books or novels and having it on stage was nice too.

I, of course, expected blood,  one because it is Layeta and two because the stage and set was all white.  This made the ending too predictable for me, and yes, that's less pogi points in my book.


My friend, Yuyi,  named the theme of this set as "LOST HOPE".

WENDY WANTS TO BE A HOUSE WIFE by Ricardo Novenario;  Directed by Joshua Lim So

Without further ado, this is my favorite play in the whole VLF10!  I really understand what Wendy is saying the whole time.  Perhaps, if I've seen this a month or two earlier,  I would be bawling my eyes out.  No, I'm not a house wife yet.  Yes, yet! Ha!

Anyway, Delphine and Topper were amazing!  They were able to concoct the perfect blend to portray the roles.

And I wanted to stand up and cheer when the stage hands started to deconstruct the stage and egress with Mark still on stage.  Bravo, Mr. Joshua Lim So!

ANG NAGHIHINGALO by Raymund Reyes; Directed by Dennis Marasigan

I did not notice that there was something really wrong until Bong Cabrera went on stage.  His high energy woke me up from what was seemingly an okay scene and made me realize that I was about to fall asleep if it went on for a minute more.  Guido (Bong Cabrera), Doreen and Linda were the heroes of this play.  The story really was about a disaster and thank God for their talents,  the play wasn't.  

This may not be a favorite,  but it's not a not-so-favorite neither.

THE MISSING PEACE by Carlo Vergara;  Directed by Marlon Rivera

This is the disaster for me.  Or maybe my expectations are just too high. The plot was too ambitious, I think, but maybe the execution made it seem that way.  I fell asleep a little, and no, I didn't miss anything.  The reveal or confession of Candida did not feel like a confession nor a reveal at all.  I would have wanted to see the gore of how she died by the crown in the video.


Again, Yuyi themed this set, "UNFINISHED BUSINESS".

MAPAGBIRONG HAPLOS by Kevin Tabora;  Directed by Melvin Lee

I am a fan of Melvin Lee's direction and this  not an exception.  This is also one of my favorites. I really like it when the story is not really a love story.  Meann Espinosa was really amazing and so is Crispin Pineda.  Their roles are demanding and other actors may have the tendency to overdo it, but they both were able to find the balance between their character and what is happening in the play.

LAST 10 MINUTES by Joy Icayan;  Directed by Tami Monsod

Okay, this is also a favorite.  It's like a deconstructed "20 Questions", waaay more mature and kinda reversed.  Ha! Mayen Estanero and Nor Domingo were perfect.  How I wish this was part of the plays that would be Revisited next year, because I would love to see it again... or maybe get a copy of the script at least.  Ironically, the other plays in this set would be Revisited, except for this one. :(

ANG GOLDFISH NI PROF. DIMAANDAL by Eljay Deldoc;  Directed by Roobak Valle

It was fun and I smelled that this would be Revisited next year, but personally, it did not made the cut for me.  Honestly, this is my least favorite play.  For me it was desperately trying to be subtle in not becoming preachy, but still ends up scolding.  I'm not saying that fun is not good nor that the actors were bad.  Maybe,  this was just not my cup of tea and this year,  all the plays are really great and thus, being last on the list doesn't necessarily equate to being terrible.  Yes, this is just by preference.


This set was kidded to be The Sipat Lawin Ensemble and Friends Set just by looking at the artists involved in the plays.  ;) But after seeing it, I themed this set,  "CLOSURE".

SA LILIM by Reya Laplana; Directed by Jenny Jamora

The plot was predictable.  Allison Segarra was really good.  I wish I could see her perform more in the future.  I find this play cute.

BAGO ILIBING by Maynard Manasala & UZ Eliserio; Directed by JK Anicoche

This is such a Sipat Lawin Ensemble production.  It was such a difficult set up,  but really necessary.  

True to the theme of writing of Manasala and Eliserio, it was again incest, but I prefer this waaay more than the other one.  All the actors were amazing and I really loved how Sarah Salazar and of course, Meila Romero-Payawal portrayed their roles.  I really like how JK Anicoche would have the audience involved and every minute of the play, even during the set up,  is part of the whole performance.

BETANG by J-mee Katanyag;  Directed by Ed Lacson Jr.

It was a creative and imaginative plot.  Sherry Lara is so fabulous here!

Since this is the last of the Virgin plays I was to see, I thought I wouldn't be shedding any tear.  But Betang proved me wrong.  During the run of the play, I was in my usual elation whenever I see stage plays, I thought it was nothing out of the ordinary goodness of a well written play.  And then, when I thought it was a sad ending... Betang is about to exit the stage.. she coughs!  Boom! BETANG!  Waaaah!  The tears could not help but pour out.  That's why I slapped J-mee and if Ed and I were close,  I would have done the same to him.

Soooo... if I was to choose which plays get to be Revisited next year, it would have been (in no particular order):

- Wendy Wants to be a Housewife
- Last 10 Minutes
- Betang


I usually don't write about the Revisited plays, but I just wanted a few special mentions.  Besides this is the Kiki Baento set anyway!  :p

Last year, I was not a fan of Isang Daan nor Imbisibol and everybody loved Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady.  I still feel the same way for Isang Daan. Imbisibol is way better this year.  Bernardo Bernardo and Ces Quesada really made it extra special this year.  And I like Amando Quintana Jr. a lot better this time around.   Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady still managed to capture my heart this year.  I guess I will never get tired of this production.   Kiki Baento,  Skyzx Labastilla and Hans Eickstein were still great.  And it was nice that Hans already knows how to wait for the screams to die down a little before he deliver his lines.  :p I will miss this production and it is such a good thing for this to be the last play to see to cap off Virgin LabFest's decade of untried, untested, unstaged plays.

This is also the last night I saw you... this is the last night when we smiled at each other.. you told me to wait and that we'd talk later.. However, later came with you in bed in the hospital and me trying my best to give you my best smile and support..  I am glad to have seen you later than that.. Even for one last time.

It has been a decade and with the Filipino talent still ablaze,  the next decade of virgin plays is something worth looking forward to.   I sure hope you were able to catch this year's festivities.  If not, don't miss out and hope to see you next year!

What's your favorite this year?  Let me know in the comments!

The Jagged Barn

Your oblivious but observing blogger.


  1. thank you for watching all the plays and for taking the time to share your comments. see you in next year's VLF 11!

  2. Thanks, Sir Dennis! Hope to see more of your works in the future!

  3. Hi, I enjoy reading your site! Is it okay if I contact you through email? Please email me back.