“The Kundiman Party” castwith director Dexter Santos (left, standing), and playwright Floy
Quintos (left, seated) who is appealing to Filipinos “to hold on to higher values, to aspire to be our
better selves and to keep on resisting the breakdown of society.” —IRENE PEREZ
Peta’s ‘Kundiman Party’: Collective catharsis in post-midterm elections
‘We are driven to a point of hopeless despair and frustrated anger, but the fight to regain our humanity goes on’
The midterm election results are in, and Peta is throwing a “party.”
“The Kundiman Party” is back as a protest play because, as director Dexter Santos said, “someone has to do it.”
Featuring piano arrangements by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab, the show will have a limited run May 24-June 2 at Peta Theater Center in Quezon City.
Playwright Floy Quintos said the piece “just came” to him at a time when he was “feeling very worried about the country, with all the division and polarization happening in society—even among artists.” Quintos also warned the cast of “major rewrites due to the timing and urgency of the material.”
He added: “The play’s central message is that we must strive to reflect our own humanity in everything we do, in our own circles, in our work, in the simplicity and effectivity of our own efforts.”
UP Playwrights’ Theatre produced the successful “Kundiman” run in 2018.
Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino is reprising her role as Maestra Adela Dolores, a retired opera singer who teaches at home. Playing the diva’s amigas are Frances Makil-Ignacio as the feisty Tita Mayen, Stella Cañete-Mendoza as the kind Tita Helen and Jenny Jamora alternating with Missy Maramara as the spunky Tita Mitch.
Young soprano Miah Canton is back as promising music student Antoinette, as well as Rica Nepomuceno as the struggling kundiman singer Melissa.
New cast members are National Music Competitions for Young Artists winner Gabriel Paguirigan as comic accompanist Ludwig, Boo Gabunada as activist Bobby Valderama and Nonie Buencamino as the shady senator Juancho Valderama.
‘Kundiman’ for millennials
The Peta rerun has two goals: to reintroduce the kundiman to millennials; and to promote patriotism among Filipinos.
Nepomuceno defined kundiman as a “musical expression of deep devotion” rooted in the kumintang war songs. The genre, she added, is a collection of community songs for lullabies, social functions, praise and patriotism, like the anthem “Bayan Ko.”
Musical director Krina Cayabyab arranged compositions by Nicanor Abelardo (“Bituing Marikit,” “Mutya ng Pasig,” “Nasaan Ka Irog,” “Kundiman ng Luha)” and Francisco Santiago (“Pakiusap,” “Pilipinas Kong Mahal”) for weaving into the narrative.
There will be new scenes, said Quintos.
Shamaine, who’s now a grandmother, said her performance would be richer and, hopefully, more inspiring so that young Filipinos can be more socially conscious: “We have to nurture our love for the country. We are so lacking in that.”
Canton agreed. “Kundiman still has an impact. The play discusses how social media affects a voter.”
But how do they deal with political trolls? “Ignore! Block!” Jamora said, adding that the play serves as a collective catharsis after the polls.
As director, Santos believes in the power of theater “to move things. We have seasoned actors who don’t do this for money. We are given a chance to do this play again, and it’s our responsibility as artists to open discussions.”
Quintos earlier announced that “The Kundiman Party” is his swan song, the final piece he’ll ever write: “I have no pretension of my work ever being a classic, it has never been my concern. I think for the here and now.”
He added: “The play is hopeful and poignant in these times, because we are driven to a point of hopeless despair and frustrated anger, but the fight to regain our humanity goes on. And those of us who choose not to give in must continually find ways to assert ourselves, just as Maestra Adela and the Titas do in the play.”