THE FIRST time National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera acted in a play was in school, when he was a boy. He has never done it again for more than 70 years – until now.
The play is one close to his heart: a disturbing drama that connects the Marcos dictatorship and the current times. Dr. Lumbera was a political detainee during martial law. The play Hindi na Muli (Never Again) takes us back to the historic three months of the turbulent 1970s, now remembered as the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and on to the martial law years — and 2016. The play boldly examines the so-called Marcos legacy in connection with vice-presidential bid of the late dictator’s son and namesake.
Hindi na Muli is twin billed with Sanlibongan (Sanctuary), a timely portrayal of the plight of the Lumad Filipino. It sheds light on the roots of the current conflict in the south that has made victims of our indigenous brothers and sisters. The play poignantly relives the tragedy and hopes of three women members of the tribes Mandaya, Manobo, and Bagobo as they impact on their communities.
The two short plays comprise the production of Inang Lupa, Inang Bayan by the Tag-ani Performing Arts Society. Running in March, which is International Women’s Month, the production’s leitmotif is – you guess it – the image of “the woman engaged in the making of history.”
Tag-ani’s Inang Lupa, Inang Bayan is an affirmation of our right to the land of our birth, which is both lupa, as in ancestral domain and patrimony, and bayan, as in country. In this production, Tag-ani ties the knot binding two seemingly disconnected works into one theater experience.
Aside from the venerable national artist, popular impressionist Wille Nepomuceno takes on a part, with a cast of professional actors and student talents.
Multi-awarded artists compose the artistic pool for Inang Lupa. Inang Bayan. Music for Sanlibongan shall be performed live by the acclaimed Kontra-GaPi of the University of the Philippines. Lucien Letaba provides the score for Hindi na Muli. Indigenous artist and scholar Carlito Camahalan Amalla is choreographer. Katsch Catoy, formerly deputy director of the CCP theater operations department and theater director of the University of the East, is lighting director.
Overall director and playwright is Bonifacio P. Ilagan, a multi-awarded scriptwriter and director who was conferred the Philippines Centennial Honors for the Arts by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1998. Karen Gaerlan co-directs.
Inang Lupa, Inang Bayan is a cooperative production of Tag-ani, Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, and the UP Sigma Alpha Nu Sorority – Diliman. Shows run on March 14 to 19, 7PM, at Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon Avenue, behind Centris, near corner EDSA.