Wounded

By Marilyn Mana-ay Robles,VERA Files

Cris Villonco and Noel Rayos lead the Walang Sugat cast

What biting wit!

Such is Walang Sugat, a sarswela written by the father of Tagalog sarswela, Severino Reyes, popularly known as Lola Basyang. Walang Sugat was written in 1898 and first staged in 1902. The play was considered subversive during the early years of American colonization.

The story line is very much relevant to this day.

A sarswela is a play which employs song, dance and poetry. For many years, this genre was used by Filipinos to express their conflicts of the heart, political fervor and resentment towards a domineering foreign colonizer. However, the advent of modern stage plays relegated sarswelas to the sidelines.

In the late ‘60s the sarswela Walang Sugat was revived and the writing of modern sarswelas was encouraged by the Zarzuela Foundation of the Philippines through a modern sarswela playwriting contest .

Walang Sugat is a love story woven within a love story. It is the story about forbidden love, the love between a lovely and privileged lass Julia and a dashing young man from the proletariat named Tenyong.

It is also the story of Tenyong’s awakening towards his dormant love for his country which was then suffering from oppression by Spanish friars. Tenyong sacrifices his love for Julia and joins the revolutionary force to topple the Spanish colonizers. Believed to have died in battle Tenyong surprises everyone as he arrives at Julia’s wedding, seriously wounded. He asks the officiating priest that he be wed with Julia as his dying wish. All those present agreed and the priest proceeds to wed the sweethearts. As soon as they were pronounced man and wife, Tenyong stands from the wooden sled where he was positioned, removes the bandages from his body while people gasped and cried out “Walang sugat!(Not wounded)”.

Tenyong has outwitted everyone, including his love, Julia. The festivity continued. But such a happy scene soon changed when another flag, that of another colonizer, covered the landscape. The Americans had arrived. The struggle continues.

The entire ensemble gathered on stage and sang with passion Bayan Ko, a song originally written as a poem to express opposition towards American occupation. It was a dramatic and moving sight. Bayan Ko is considered, unofficially, the second national anthem of the Philippines. It was first sung in 1928. It was used in Walang Sugat in the 1970 production directed by Daisy Avellana.

Cris Villonco as Julia and Noel Rayos as Tenyong are excellent stage actors. This is so because they are veterans in their own right. They essayed their roles to the hilt. At the end of the play, their faces even transformed into poised and matured individuals reflecting the purity and beauty of the characters they played.

But it is the singing of Bayan Ko that pierces the heart and envelopes the soul. Bayan Ko can and should rouse even the callous and apathetic. As the song reverberated in a theater full of young students, a number coming from De La Salle Canlubang, some attendees, graduates of the First Quarter Storm could not help but recall the instance when they participated in demonstrations to denounce the abuse and exploitation of the country by a dictator. One was seen raising a clenched fist. Deception continues. Some done by foreigners. But often times by Filipinos themselves. There seems to be no end to the pillage of Filipino ingenuity and resources.

Carlitos Siquion-Reyna

Carlitos Siguion-Reyna deserves commendation for his excellent handling of a sensitive theme. He established the conflicts, relationships and emotional beats of the characters clearly. Even the play of lights was carefully executed. The costumes were simple but telling of the Spanish era. The Actors’ Company provided admirable support to the main cast.

A stage play ends only when the curtain is drawn. Otherwise, the scenes unfold one after the other, second after second; minute after minute. It is difficult to weave a love story within a love story especially when both stories involve the expression of intense emotion. As his debut to the world of theater, Mr. Siguion-Reyna displayed sensitivity to even the slightest nuances of the story.

Walang Sugat opens Tanghalang Pilipino’s 26th season under the theme “Truth and Consequence.” Remaining performances are on August 24, 25 and 26. On the 24 and 25th, there will be two shows; at 3:00 p.m. and 8 p.m. On August 26, Sunday, the first show is at 10 a.m. The second at 3:00 p.m.

It is wise to rekindle lost patriotism once in a while.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

August 21, 2012 10:50 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Arts and Culture, Vera Files

5 Responses

  1. Ellen - August 21, 2012 11:22 pm

    My take on Walang Sugat
    Malaya:

    Try not to miss the latest staging of Severino Reyes’ classic , “Walang Sugat” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Tanghalan Pilipino this weekend.

    In his directorial debut in theater, Carlitos Siguion Reyna, who has made a name in films, made the 1920 sarswela relevant with his ending, which takes a jab, at the hypocrisy that pervades in today’s Philippine society.

    Nanding Josef, the CCP’s artistic director , invites the public to watch how Siguion Reyna “meticulously unwraps the bandage on the wounds of Philippine society.”

    Josef said the audience would see that “the same wound has remained unhealed until today.”

    Walang Sugat is a sarswela, , a theater form that uses songs,spoken words and dance.

    Creative writer and professor Nicanor Tiongson said Philippine sarswela traces its roots to Spain. He said it usually contains five acts “depicting the vagaries of romantic love among idealized Filipino characters and often incorporating contemporary social, political, economic and cultural issues for relevance and interest.

    Reyes (Feb. 11-1861- Sept.15, 1942), who used the pen name “Lola Basyang” has written 26 sarswelas earning for himself the tag “Father of Tagalog sarswela.”

    Walang Sugat is set during Philippine revolution against the Spaniards. Siquion Reyna’s ending shows that the struggle has not ended.

    For tickets, call 832-1125 local 1620 and 1621; 0917-7500-107; 0918-9593-949;891-9999 (Ticketworld).

    http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/opinion/11291-siguion-reyna-sharpens-severino-reyes-walang-sugat

  2. Ka Enchong - August 22, 2012 3:35 pm

    Napanood ko ang pelikulang “Walang Sugat” na nagtampok sa batikang si Mario Montenegro bilang Tenyong, na sa gabi’y lumulusob sa mga kutang Kastila habang nakamaskara’t nagtatago sa alyas na “Hatinggabi”.

    Luma na at black and white pa ang pelikula. Mabuti na lang at nagkataong ipinalalabas noon any mg a pelikula ng LVN bilang paggunita sa ika-100 kaarawan ni Donya Sisang.

  3. Tilamsik - August 22, 2012 6:27 pm

    Seen the stage play in my college days…. NAPAKAGANDA.

  4. arvin - August 23, 2012 10:26 am

    Nabasa ko sa isang site ay humingi daw ng apology sa MMDA si Carabuena. Kahit pa humingi na ng apology dapat pa rin na siya ay maparusahan. Kasi kung hindi iyan parurusahan ay marami ang gagaya na ayos lang pala kung gumawa man ng hindi maganda kasi pinapatawad. Sa panahon ngayon hindi na po puwede iyong malambot ang puso. Dapat lahat na magkasala ay parusahan sa naaayon sa batas. Walang magandang patutunguhan ang bansa kung laging may pagpapatawad.

  5. cha-cha - August 29, 2012 11:20 am

    http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=21132

    Dula at pelikula
    ni Rolando B. Tolentino

    rebyu ng Walang Sugat, (Carlos Siguion-Reyna, direktor; Tanghalang Pilipino; 10 n.u., 26 Agosto 2012 na pagtatanghal)

    Madalang akong manood ng dula, pero by choice ito. Malaking risk ang panonood ng dula para sa akin. Walang excitement sa maraming pagkakataon—namimilipit ako sa upuan, iniisip, “Ano ba ang ginagawa ko rito?” Tila hindi nakahabol ang dulaan sa iba pang pagkaunlad ng mga sining, lalo na ng sining biswal, pelikula, at multi-media na panitikan.

    Kaya medyo mabigat ang paa ko nang manood ng Walang Sugat. Pero nagkamali ako. May inobasyong ginawa ang production team sa pangunguna ni Carlos Siguion-Reyna: nakapagpasok ito ng impluwensya mula sa pelikula kahit walang gamit ng mismong medium sa pagsasadula.

    Sa tatlong tier na expresionistang entablado ni Tuxqs Rutaquio, nagkaroon ng tatlong one-dimensyonal na sub-entablado si Siguion-Reyna, na nakakapagtampok ng pangunahing eksena na humahalaw sa karagdagang pwersa mula sa dalawa pa. At may cinematic flow mula sa sing-song ng pangunahin at pagpapayaman ng dalawa pang sub-entablado.

    Sa texturang talon sa background, ang primaryong kulay ng pag-iilaw ni Katsch SJ Katoy ay nagbigay ng batayang meditasyon sa itinatampok na kaganapan. Sa unang awit pa lamang, ang pagbuburda ay ipinakita bilang subersibong aktibidad dahil sa ilalim ng mga tela ay ang mga primaryong kulay ng bandila—na ang displey ay bawal sa panahon ng Amerikanong kolonialismo—na naglalaman ng mensahe para sa rebolusyonaryo.

    Itinuloy ang diin sa mga kulay sa kabuuan ng dula. Sa aking pagkaalaala, minsanan lang lumabas ang pula sa sandali ng pakikipagdigma. At matapos, ang kaisa-isang imahen sa background—ang tangke mula sa war ship ng Amerika sa Manila Bay—ay nanakop din sa mga kulay at naging meditasyon at kaganapang nauna rito.

    Ang koreograpiya ni Nonoy Froilan ay may postmodernong sipa. Ang tigas at tibay sa kilos at galaw sa politikal na dula ay nagkaroon ng feminine na rendisyon, tulad sa eksena ng “Bayan Ko,” na ang epekto ay ang sabayang alienasyon at humanisasyon ng kondisyon ng mamamayan at ng mismong politikal na eksena.

    Itong bersyon ng Walang Sugat, isa sa tinaguriang “seditious Tagalog sarsuelas,” ay ang pinakamasinop sa paglalahad ng naratibo, inobatibo sa ilan nang pagsasadula nito sa ilang dekada, at marahil, pinakapulido sa rendisyon ng musika’t awit. Pinakatampok ang staging ng eksena na siempre, sa unang pag-awit ng “Bayan Ko,” ang signature song ng dula.

    Sa eksena, ang tatlong bahagdan ng entablado ay namaximisa para sa nakakapunit-puso’t nakakaantig-damdamin na epekto sa manonood. Isang paslit ang unang nagboluntaryo, at dumaloy ang sumunod na aksyon na malinaw ang pagtatampok at pagpapayaman mula sa ibang bahagdan. Sa una’t huling pagkakataon, ang kolektibong desisyon ng pag-aalsa ay makatarungan at napapanahon. Na sa susunod pang paggamit ng kanta ay nagmumukha nang elehiya sa pagyao sa unang dakilang pagkakataon para sa independensya.

    Masinop ang paglalahad ng naratibo. At ang inaasahan sa tradisyonal na porma ng dula—ang pagturing na ito ay natatanging porma—ay nanatili kahit pa sa mga inobasyon mula sa pelikula. Pangunahin sa sarswela ang dulaang simboliko dahil dito lumalabas ang politikal na mensahe na hindi lubos na kayang i-stage, lalo pa sa panahon na ipinagbabawal ito.

    Nandito na nga ang pagsilip sa kulay ng bandila, ang pagkakahiwalay ng iba’t ibang sangay ng kapangyarihan sa lipunan sa tulong ng stage design—lalo na ng konsolidasyon ng maykaya laban sa mamamayan sa pagpasok ng Amerikanong manananakop, at ang pagwawakas na call-to-arms dahil nga sa hindi inaasahang maniobra ng bagong mananakop.

    Nandito rin sa dula ang “suyuan sa ilalim ng hagdanan” ng mga katiwala na nagpapakita ng hayag na malayang sexualidad at hindi aral na talino kumpara sa impit na pribilehiyadong orientasyon ng kanilang magsing-irog na amo. At sa panahon ng telenobela at komersyal na pelikula, patok lang ang serialidad ng exposisyon at rebelasyon sa pagtatapos.

    Kapuri-puri ang akting at tinig ni Cris Villonco, na nabigyan-buhay ang babae sa panahon ng masidhing pakikipagtunggali para sa kanyang irog at ligaya. Ang komedikong akting naman ni Jonathan Tadioan bilang katiwala ay isa pang natatanging pagganap, na kay daling naiangat ang galing sa akting kumpara sa gumanap sa kanyang among lalake.

    Ang mainstream na dulaan ay kailangang manguna sa paghahalaw ng impluwensya mula sa pinagkaunlad sa iba pang mga sining. Hindi ibig sabihin nito ay higit pang (Third World) Broadway-ish na nagiging direksyon nito, na ang mga tradisyonal na porma at akda ay biglang nagiging parang pinagnakawan lamang ng idea, at ang bagong lenggwahe ng dulaan ay ang pomp-and-pageantry ng komersyal na dulaan ng Kanluran.

    Kasabayan kong nanood ang mga mag-aaral mula sa pribadong high school. Maingay ang mga ito, at nag-running commentary pa sa mga tagpo’t eksena na nakakuha ng kanilang interes. Pero inisip ko na lang, kung sa panahon ng pagkadula nito, ganito rin naman kaaktibo ang ordinaryong manonood—na ipinagbawal na sa sine’t sa mismong mainstream na dulaan. Kaya natanggap ko na lang na bahagi ito ng viewing package—na sa loob ng tatlong oras, makabuluhan at malikhain nahuli ng dula ang interes naming manonood.

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