For the past 15 years, the highly successful Virgin Labfest has been staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), showcasing one-act plays by new and established playwrights. Now, for the first time, it is venturing out of its “comfort zone” at the CCP and heading south to Mindanao.
“Extra Virgin Labfest” (VLF) will be held at the Liceo de Cagayan University in Cagayan de Oro City, Dec. 4-7.
This was announced at a recent consultation meeting of the CCP with Mindanao partners in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental, presided over by Chris Millado, CCP vice president and artistic director.
Nine one-act plays, selected from manuscripts submitted by regional playwrights, will be presented. The festival begins Dec. 4, 7 p.m., with two plays: “Ang Bata sa Drum” by Beatrice La Victoria, directed by Tat Soriano; and “Dalawang Gabi” by Maynard Manansala, directed by Hobart Savior.
“Ang Bata sa Drum” tells the story of a boy who finds refuge in a drum after he is punished by his father. “Dalawang Gabi” is about encounters between a middle-aged teacher and her former student.
The other plays’ themes include siblings caught in an encounter between the military and rebels, a dying household help who remembers the children she has raised, teachers trying to break a curse, a guilt-stricken young man who consults a priest and foreign invaders who disrupt an indigenous community.
The plays are “Ang Mga Babae sa Kusina” by Mario Lendel Barinque, directed by Denise Aguilar and Jesus Christopher Salon; “Bulan” by Jim Raborar, directed by Tat Soriano; “Crystal Clear” by Aldren Alferez, directed by Maia Poblete; “Pultahan” by Angelo Dabbay, directed by Hobart Savior and Kenneth Sabijo;
“Act of Contrition” by Anito Librando and Jet Paclar; “Unsay Koneksyon sa Iring” by Karlwinn Paitan, directed by Felimon Blanco; “Si Balaw ng ang Lablab sa Palawpaw” by Gil Nambatac, directed by Roland Rivera; “Banga” by Darren Bendanillo, directed by Zip Mercado de Guzman; and Norman Isla’s “Daang Papunta, Daang Pabalik,” directed by Pepito Sumayan.
Theater officials hailed the staging of Extra VLF. “Mindanao talents? That’s a good idea,” said CCP president Nick Lizaso, himself a theater actor. “I support it.”
“Until now I have the highest admiration and respect for Mindanao artists,” said Nanding Josef, actor, Tanghalang Pilipino artistic director and Philippine Educational Theater Association alumnus. “They represent the Filipinos who bravely protected our cultural heritage from the onslaught of the colonizers. A Mindanao VLF will once again prove to all of us how exceptionally talented the Mindanao storytellers are.”
Maybe next year an Extra VLF in northern Luzon, with one-act plays in the Ilocano, Pangasinan, Pampango and Cordillera languages? That would extend the scope and reach—not to mention the prestige—of the Virgin Labfest.