The Philippines’ national hero may no longer be that of ‘impact’ to the recent times particularly to the youth even if he has been quoted a gazillion times with his motivational line that says: “The youth is the hope of our future.” Yet, with Floy Quintos’s musicale ‘Isang Panaginip na Fili’ that was once staged in 2008, attempts to awaken the consciousness of its audience particularly the youth with a timely message.
The singer-actor, Franco Laurel reprises his role as Pepe Rizal, the author of the controversial novel and a sequel—El Filibusterismo.
If high school students were exposed to the early works of Rizal and how he contributed to the whole spectrum of liberating the Filipino minds from being a ‘hostage’ of its ‘described’ captors—the Spaniards back then; this musical is but a fitting vehicle to furthering Rizal’s cause.
Dreaming of Bad Dreams
In a room at Hotel Fleur de Madeleine in Paris, year 1891, where Pepe shared its rental and other expenses with an ‘illustrado’ named Tunying Ibañez (played by Francis Reuben Uy, OJ Mariano, and Nazer Salcedo), a fictitious character that Quintos created for this musicale to act as the narrator. Tunying gets to have a glimpse to Rizal’s struggles and thoughts while writing the second novel ‘Fili’ when it stayed with him in the hotel room he rented. He got intrigued with what’s bothering with the author of ‘Noli’ and ‘Fili’.
While engaging Rizal in a conversation and being able to read the pages of the former’s writings, Tunying ‘somehow’ gets into those ‘dreams’ that were part of the development of an explosive and subversive writing piece. Tunying assumed Rizal’s main character—the protagonist—Simoun.
Tunying was transported into the ‘world’ that Rizal created for his novel and met the characters that were featured—the likes of Basilio, Juli, Isagani, Kabesang Tales, Padre Salvi, Padre Camorra, Doña Victorina, Paulita Gomez, Juanito, Maria Clara and more.
Each character played a major role in fleshing out the plot of Rizal’s novel and highlighting what he wanted to show the Filipinos about a bad dream for his fellow countrymen were experiencing during the Spanish era in the Philippines.
Songs of Awakening
What is notable about this musicale is the selection and incorporation of songs. Ceejay Javier’s original music and additional music arrangement by Jeffrey Hernandez provided a tone of awakening.
Songs like ‘Ciudao Kayo Diyan!’, “Daing ni Tales’, ‘Pagsubok at Pagpili’ are considerably persuasive—presenting the horrors of being under the Spanish regime.
Powerful Cast to Watch!
OJ Mariano as Tunying and Franco Laurel as Pepe Rizal, respectively were successful in effectively infecting the kind of emotions for the audience to feel and embrace.
The duets of in the musicale were moving as well, particularly the one with ‘Patay na ang Puso Ko/Sa Alaala na lang’ where Simoun and Basilio (Floyd Tena) showed a feeling or disorientation after all plans broke loose and failed. Although, the inclusion of Maria Clara in the part where she sang a line—sa alaala—elicited a different eerie feeling. The sad plight of the characters in the scene became a bit ‘ghostly’ or a horror-themed flick. At least, for that part only. It could have been apt to just drop that part where Maria Clara (Karla Gutierrez) made a brief duet with Pepe.
A remarkable voice that stood out in this latest Dulaang UP presentation is Floyd Tena’s. He only didn’t just give justice to Basilio’s character, but he evoked the pains and struggles of a man who lost his one true love—Juli (Mica Pineda).
Having Laurel reprised his role, which gave him the Best Actor in a Musical award in 2008 Aliw Awards is already more than enough to catch his interpretation of the master puppeteer Pepe Rizal. He was able to sketch the character’s thoughts and emotions while writing the second novel.
OJ Mariano as Tunying, the narrator was a great way of presenting himself onstage after his stint in the ‘Rent’ (February 2010) production as Tom Collins. He provided a refreshing approach of Tunying’s character and the handsome and mysterious protagonist in Rizal’s novel.
Ces Quesada as Doña Victorina was both comical and allegorical while Mitoy Sta. Ana as Padre Salvi was disturbingly convincing.
Included in the ensemble are: Red Concepcion (alternate to Laurel); Inno Martin (the other Basilio); Janine Santos (Pineda’s alternate for Juli); Greg De Leon and Dondi Ong (Kabesang Tales); Jean Judith Javier and Nicole Aldiosa (Maria Clara); Meynard Peñalosa, Mac Amarante, Jules Dela Paz and William Elvin as the friars; Emlyn Santos (Quesada’s alternate for Doña Victorina); Emman Feliciano (Gob. Heneral); Earle Figuracion (Ben Zayb); Allen Diansuy, Nicolo Magno, Ross Pesigan and Vincent Pajara took turns as Isagani and Juanito.
‘Isang Panaginip na Fili’ showcases not just acting talents, but the artistic choreography of Dexter Santos, which fitted well with the movements he created for the ‘Tulisans’ and the ‘Illustrados’. Eric Pineda’s costume design was breathtaking. Floy Quintos made an excellent execution and direction of the whole ensemble and was assisted by Jomari Jose.
Tunying’s last words served as a challenge for the audience and it made Rizal’s second novel and life still poignant.
Remaining shows slated on December 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater, U.P. Diliman, Quezon City contact Cherry Bong Edralin at 09177500107 or the Dulaang UP Office at (632) 9261349, 9818500 locals 2449, 433-7840. Weekday shows are at 7pm and Weekend shows are at 10am and 3pm.