The University of Cebu has maintained its reputation as a stronghold for arts and cultural activities. Its resident cultural organizations, Theatre, Dance Co., Cheerdance, Symphonic Orchestra, and Chorus, have made a mark here and abroad through their excellent creative performances. Last February, the UC Dance Co. represented the country at the Cultural Olympiad held at Pyeongchang, South Korea.
This stamp of excellence in culture and arts has rubbed off on the UC Senior High’s Arts and Design Class. In celebration of the National Arts and Culture month, Arts and Design students produced Alampat: Perlas sa Inahanong Gugma, an original Cebuano musicale performed on February 17 and 18 at the Cebu Coliseum. The opus was produced and performed by the students as a final requirement of their subject in Performance Arts Production and Immersion.
The musical travelogue re-traces the different eras of the Philippine history by utilizing symbolism and iconic figures. Anchored on the theme “No one is victorious in war,” the drama centers on the life of Tawalisi, the personified motherland, and her three children Lusong, Srivijaya, and Misana, who symbolized the major land groups of the country. The family faces their struggles under the three foreign colonizers: Guerero the Spanish conquistador, Sam the American Army General, and Gen. Hakai the Japanese Kempeitai — and how the wars that were harbored by these colonizers brought on misery, social injustice, moral crises, poverty and death to a lot of Filipinos. The play concluded with the final statement of the narrator Babaylan Sibil thrown to the audience if indeed the Filipinos have achieved the ultimate peace that our forebears have fought for, or have we as Filipinos become our own enemies — waging a war that has resulted to moral, social and spiritual decay, ignorance and low tolerance of our own culture, callousness of the soul, becoming more materialistic, and have slowly turned us to be a land of hopeless people?
Playing the main roles were Vea Joyce Rago as Tawalisi, Cecile Anne Auxtero as Lusong, Ray Anne Bulay as Srivijaya, Mona Marie Bustamante as Misana, Harold Laborte as Babaylan Sibil, Mikaela Roldan as Sarawali, Crissa Mae Piad as Sinagmaling Diwata, Jossel Carbos as Sinaklang Bulawan, Jade Makawili as Guerrero, Paul Niño Bonghanoy as General Sam, and Cailyne Jeniel Cabañero as Commander Hakai.
The music, which was composed by Chris Deric Berdon together with Playwright and Lyricists Agnes Rose Sala and Ronbert Epe, was a consonance of traditional and contemporary musical genres. Utilizing chants, and adapting melodic patterns and rhythms which were significant and reflective of the era. The very opulent production designs were executed by Set & Props Designer Kateryll Shazneigh Maneja, Costume Designers and Master Seamstresses Sharrie Gail Villaver and Bench Bernaldez, together with Hair & Makeup Artists Ian Lepon and Kinley Soco. The production design was thoroughly studied and executed to the detail which turned the whole musicale into a relevant visual feast and a total work of art.
The performance as a whole received a fair amount of pats on the back and admiration. The two and a half months preparation and backstage work were as dramatic as the presentation. As one member of the production claims “A lot of sacrifices were invested into it. Some important things had to be given up including going out of our comfort zones – we were taught how to do research and to build artistic concepts which were monitored by our mentors. We were never spoon fed – we had to plunge into the creative process and discover for ourselves the right temper that would best fit the production. It was a lot of collaborative work. More than anything, we became better individuals. We were transformed to become more concerned with each other’s needs, focused on our assignments and responsibilities, to be punctual at delivering our deliverables, and to be able to share the love – love for theatre, arts, the craft and each other. We became creators! Misunderstandings and conflicts were met, but through time, became a learning journey for us in conflict management. In the end, what mattered was the camaraderie among each one. After all, no triumph is sweeter without trials. Our rehearsal was not meant only for the stage, but had prepared us for the real life ahead.”
Completing the creative team, the musicale was directed by Paula Rose Sardovia, Production Manager Sofia Lee Limbasan, Stage Managers Roy Tristan Ingente and Rogen Bolambao, Dramaturges Kateryll Shazneigh Maneja, Sharrie Gail Villaver, and Cristine Arellano, Choreographers Kyryne Dela Torre, John Forrosuelo, Sigrid Suerte, Cliff John Dela Calzada, and Frelyn Yuson, Sound Director Josh Lanree Gonzaga, Lights Directors Arron Jason Nuñez, Graphic Designer Danielle Mirador, Marketing and Promotions Felix Deguma and Thonter Adobo, and House Manager:Lyonel Maraasin. Mentoring the group was Rudy U. Aviles.
Applying all the lessons learned over the past two years in the Arts and Design track was a challenge in itself. The students’ skills in the arts were not only the set of skills being put to the test, but also the marketing and budgeting skills needed in the financial aspect for an event that huge. The pressure to make the event the most grandiose yet in Arts and Design history pushed the students to the limit considering that the event was organized by the pioneering batch.
The students of the University of Cebu—Main Campus Senior High School Arts and Design will always be thankful for the opportunity of a truly incredible experience for they had polished not only their skills needed for their future careers, but also learned chapters of life lessons guaranteed to guide them as they pave their way through life. May they keep the fire burning because Alampat: Perlas sa Inahanong Gugma was just the beginning. /PR