Latest Stories

The first cougar? Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson


PINKY Marquez: “Mrs. Robinson is what any woman would have wanted to be. Free. Not boxed up.”

Even in modern times, the character of Mrs. Robinson— from the acclaimed film “The Graduate”—remains the subject of much controversy and abuse.

She’s been called an alcoholic, a slut, a degenerate who seduces younger men, the first and original incarnation of the present-day, equally maligned phenomenon of the cougar.

And yet one wonders whether she does deserve all the mudslinging. After all, do we really know her? What does she hide in that place where no one ever goes? The mystery that is Mrs. Robinson is forever enshrined in the enigmatic Simon and Garfunkel song bearing her name, but perhaps some glimpse of an answer can be found in Repertory Philippines’ new staging of “The Graduate,” starring Pinky Marquez and Reb Atadero.

Product of her time

So, who was Mrs. Robinson?

“I don’t think you can call her a cougar,” says Pinky Marquez of her character. “Cougars go hunting for lots of different men. But in my own understanding, this was Mrs. Robinson’s first real affair. Perhaps she had flirted with the idea in her mind before, but it’s only in Benjamin that she found a young guy who would bring out her beauty, her sexual drive. She felt like a winner with him. And that’s all she wanted, to be appreciated. Every woman wants to feel that way.”

“She was a product of her time,” says director Jaime del Mundo. “We joke about it now, but in the ’60s it really was about the Stepford wife. And Mrs. Robinson rebels against that. If you look at her background you’ll see why. She was an art student, she’s a smart woman. But she’s been shoehorned into this perfect-wife role. And hence she rebels.”

Marquez agrees: “She’s really, really, really bored. She hasn’t had sex in four or five years! And this is where I think a lot of people today can relate to the play. There are a lot of bored housewives today. And there are lots of secret affairs happening all around. Like Mrs. Robinson, when you’re trapped in a sexless marriage, your libido gets so pent-up, it’s almost like it’s oozing out of you, desperate to be released.”



Reb Atadero, who plays Benjamin Braddock, offers his own perspective: “Mrs. Robinson is that friend of the family that you always found attractive… it’s just that, of course, it’s taboo, it’s wrong! And then all of a sudden, the opportunity presents itself—what do you do?”

“Benjamin is also bored,” Atadero adds. “I guess that’s what they have in common. He wants to break out of the norm of being, as he says. He finds everyone around him grotesque, perfect, corny, baduy. I guess Benjamin was just so bored that he decided to jump at the chance presented to him.”

So what does the young Benjamin Braddock see in Mrs. Robinson?

“He finds me real,” says Marquez. “All the other people were not real. I’m real. Because I did what I wanted to do. Mrs. Robinson is what any woman would have wanted to be. Free. Not boxed up.”

“This is a comedy about disillusionment,” says Del Mundo. “Everyone is disillusioned in their own particular way. But maybe one of the things I think we’re trying to say here is—in rebelling against disillusionment, a happy ending may be possible.”

And what of that famous seduction scene?

“That caused me sleepless nights at first! But now I embrace it,” says Marquez with a twinkle in her eye.

Repertory Philippines’ “The Graduate” has remaining performances this weekend and on April 27, 8 p.m., and April 28, 3:30 p.m, at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas, Makati City, Philippines. Call 2150788 or 0917-5378313; or e-mail cteshows@gmail.com for tickets.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Cougar , Mrs. Robinson , Pinky Marquez , Reb Atadero , Repertory Philippines , stage play , Theater , “The Graduate”

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. How to enjoy Buntod
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  7. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  8. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Slain officer’s ‘diagram’ rocks PNP
  • 2 contractors fined P25,000 for delays in Edsa rehab
  • Luisita beneficiaries take over renters
  • 5 years of hard work pay off for top UP grad
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • A brand for life
  • Wear a rainbow on your wrist
  • Wearing Kate Moss
  • Sail into summer
  • Life lessons from the Ultimate Warrior
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Corporate bonds sweeteners
  • Professionals in the family business
  • Foreign funds flowed out in Q1, says BSP
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over