For the one-act play “Doc Resureccion, Gagamutin ang Bayan,” actor Jonathan “Tad” Tadioan prepared for his role as Boy Pogi Resureccion by living in marginalized communities.
“I pretended to be a social worker and studied the people in order to understand the character,” he said. “But I clarified with them later that I am an actor researching for a role.”
Written by Layeta Bucoy, the short piece “Doc Resureccion” debuted in the 2009 Virgin Labfest, the annual festival of unpublished works held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Tanghalang Huseng Batute (Studio Theater). It became a crowd favorite and was later restaged in 2010, and in 2012 at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater).
For its 2022 edition, “Doc Resureccion” was staged and shot in Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater), marking its evolution as Tanghalang Pilipino’s (TP) first film project.
On Easter Sunday, “Doc Resureccion” started streaming on ticket2me.net (ticket2me.net/e/34853, [email protected]), and will do so until April 30.
Doc Resureccion is Jess Resureccion, played by Marco Viaña, an idealistic young doctor running for mayor in a poor fishing village. He has good intentions and a solid plan to provide running water, electricity and other essentials to the community.
But his slacker cousin, Boy Pogi Resureccion, also wants to be a mayor. Jess sees Boy Pogi as a nuisance candidate backed by political operators who just want to confuse voters and split the votes. Boy Pogi insists he is part of the community and actually knows what’s going on among his constituents, unlike Jess, who left the town a long time ago.
Jess’ political promise is “Doc Resureccion, Gagamutin ang Bayan,” which Boy Pogi vandalized to read as “Pogi, Gagamutin ang Bayan.”
Playing Boy Pogi’s parents are TP artistic director Nanding Josef as Papang and veteran actress Sherry Lara as Mamang; Lhorvie Nuevo is Boy Pogi’s wife Elsa.
The actors and director Dennis Marasigan had a talk at the recent dress and technical rehearsal held at the CCP. It was a reunion of the cast and the artistic team who have been limited to Zoom rehearsals, and also a comforting moment for the limited audience composed of members of the media and students who had missed being in an actual theater.
“TP does not turn its back on live performances,” Marasigan said. “But over the pandemic, there was a realization that showing a play online meant reaching more people, and that all performances must be filmed in high resolution for posterity moving forward.”
Lara said since all the actors have television and film background, shooting for film was “not really new.”
“But we get wounded now,” Viaña said, laughing.
Nuevo said the shoot was still “treated as a theater production,” but hearing a live audience laugh and cheer after two years was rewarding. “The challenge for the actors is to deliver the same reaction to the people watching online because we won’t hear how they would be affected by the play,” she said.
Tadioan, the only original cast member since 2009, said he ran a fever after his first in-person rehearsal: “I was very excited, and it was like I crammed a couple of years into one day.”
One can almost smell the sea and stench from the coastal set with rundown shanties designed by Ohm David. Costumes are by Daniel Gregorio and music is by TJ Ramos. Assistant director is Antonette Go and director of photography is Pong Ignacio (“Heneral Luna,” “Rakenrol,” “Liway”).
Josef said it was important to run “Doc Resureccion” online before the coming May 9 elections, but clarified that it was not meant to endorse any candidate.
“It invites the audience, especially the younger ones, to look into the history of past elections and the social realities, to look at why the poor are still in the same situation,” Josef said.
“It challenges the viewers to think, to be more critical so they can assess what is right and wrong, and to be able to make a decision based on what they have seen and felt after watching the play.”
As to how TP, CCP’s resident drama company, would be affected by the result of the coming elections, Josef said he’s “idealistic.”
“I leave room for the weakness of human nature. We are not sure that whoever would be in power would not change—power corrupts, so no guarantees,” he said.
“That’s another challenge: for us to have our own sense of responsibility and to not idolize national leaders because many of the solutions actually rest on us.”
As a line in the play said: “’Pag maayos ang pamumuhay, mas maayos ang pagpapakatao,” roughly translated to “better living conditions make better people.”
Bucoy’s little play has a big impact. “Doc Resureccion, Gagamutin ang Bayan” is barely an hour long but it is nuanced and manages to present political perspectives and environment issues, while at the same time serving as an appeal to stop inequality by voting for the right leaders. INQ “Doc Resureccion, Gagamutin ang Bayan” is streaming via ticket2me.net and is available online until April 30.