This essay is a close reading of The Care Divas, a Filipino musical revolving around the struggle of five Filipino caregivers in Israel who also struggle with their sexual identities as bakla (Filipino homosexual). The analysis is both an affirmation and a critique of the performance. In the affirmation, the musical is argued to present a social reality that is intended for and in need of interrogation: the Filipino bakla. The musical implicitly features the bakla as a cosmopolitan. At the outset, this cosmopolitan disposition comes from the fact that the characters are migrant workers (caregivers). But more importantly, the cosmopolitan character is from a responsibility toward the other anchored within a genuine caring as implicated in the affective labor of these caregiver characters. In the critique, the essay marks some problematic limitations in the treatment of the bakla. In doing so, the musical, despite its attempt to present a social reality, is a problem play, a social drama touching social issues—realistic in approach, but the representation seems like an editorial. In the final analysis, The Care Divas is argued to seemingly fail because artists are not able to see the complexity of their chosen subject in a bigger picture.
Staged annually at the Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Papet Teatro-Museo, Papet Pasyon is the onlysinakulo in the Philippines performed in puppetry to date. In this essay, the puppet play is proposed to be an entanglement of three cultural forms: the literary form of the pasyon, the theatre form of the sinakulo, and the art of puppetry. The bases for the text of this puppet play are foreign sources namely a children’s Bible from Europe, the passion play from Oberammergau in Germany, and the dramatic tradition of the Western musical. Though originally a Western-based text, Lapeña-Bonifacio crafted and encapsulated the puppet play into an hour and a half show that highlights the story of Christ’s passion, is written in a Philippine language, and is understandable to young audiences. Its manner of presentation, on the other hand, was inspired by the very rich puppet traditions of Asia, particularly the Japanese bunraku and the Indonesianwayang golek. The essay begins exploring this proposal of entanglement by introducing Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio, founder of Teatrong Mulat, and her vision of a children’s theatre in the archipelago with productions based on and inspired by local folktales and various theatrical forms in the Asian region. This is then followed by a narrative on the genesis of Papet Pasyon, which like most Teatrong Mulat productions, is a product of mixing and matching local and foreign influences. The bulk of the paper is a preliminary analysis and a close reading of Papet Pasyon as a cultural text and performance of entanglement because, generally, the play is a concatenation of the pasyon, the sinakulo, and various forms of puppetry.
Set in Makati, the central business district of the National Capital Region, Welcometo IntelStar is a monodrama satirizing the call center industry in the Philippines.The performance is an exemplar in positioning a diasporic consequence ofglobalization vis-à-vis nationalism because it calls on a national sentiment to theextent that the play illustrates resistance to globalization’s economic and neoliberalattachments, often perceived as the destructive force of cultural diversity anduniqueness. In relation, the performance used a recurring trope in Philippineculture, which is called in the essay as the Americanization issue: the conception ofthe Filipino/a as a master mimic of other cultures, particularly the American one.Overall, Welcome to IntelStar falls short in its criticism of globalization becauseit isolated the phenomenon within the politics of the market. But nevertheless,the play allows the Filipino body, through its protagonist Chelsea, to be “visible.”With her “expertise” at imitation, Chelsea’s visibility destabilizes the global order.Chelsea’s mimicry is not simply about wanting to be like those who are imitated,but a strategy to assert a sense of self. This imitative performance implies selfconsciousnessand intimacy to the one being imitated. In this way, mimicry as selfactualizationis a creative strategy and has the potential to overthrow hierarchies ofglobalization in neo-colonial and neo-imperial orders.
This essay proposes cosmopolitan entanglement as a conceptual framework for the understanding of the Philippine pista (fiesta). The pista is a cosmopolitan phenomenon because communities engage in a disposition of cultural openness with the strange and the stranger. It is a performance of entanglement because it is a complex cultural phenomenon projected to be solemn yet secular, a festivity that neither the State nor the Church is in an ultimate position of authority, a parade of divinity, and a procession of spectacle. In arguing for cosmopolitan entanglement in the pista, the essay explores the 2007 Agawan festivity in Sariaya, Quezon, some 120 km south of Manila, as a case study. The first part is a conceptualization of cosmopolitanism as related to the pista using the Catholic dogma as lens. The analysis of Catholic dogma is necessary because in the Philippines the pista has its origin in Catholicism, its celebrations often coinciding with the feast day of a community’s patron saint. The second part examines the pista as a performance of entanglement. The final section describes the Sariaya pista via the Agawan festival as a case of cosmopolitan entanglement. The pista in Sariaya is an exemplar of cosmopolitan entanglement because community members perform cultural openness, which is also a mixing and matching of different performance activities, a strategy of combining the secular and the sacred, and a welcoming gesture to both the familiar and the stranger.
This essay reflects on globalization as a phenomenon that connects and influences the world’s socio-cultural and political spheres, similar to how some academics explore the nature of the global. In particular, the essay interrogates how globalization is mediated in the theatre. The motivation in the inquiry is based on a presumption that theatre artists are also actively participating in defining what globalization means. At the same time, it comes from an assumption that theatre artists are also actively performing what it means to be global. Many artists engage with the global by either collaborating with artists of different nationalities or using globalization as a central theme in their theatre works. In reflecting on globalization, the essay analyzes Chris Martinez’s monodrama Welcome to IntelStar, staged at the Studio Theatre of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2006. This play proposes that globalization is a trap. In this alignment of globalization and “the trap,” the entrapment brings forth a dichotomy: the global and the local. This dichotomy is strongly imagined in the staging of IntelStar, where the local is presented as the prey or the victim in the entrapment. But in the f inal analysis, the performance mediates the sociality between the local and the global and ultimately performs an entanglement of the local and the global as a reference to an attraction and repulsion to globalization. However, in such treatment of globalization, the Studio Theatre also becomes a model of the trap where artists become the hunters and the audience members, the victims.
This article critiques the komedya vis-à-vis its institutionalization as national theatre form and proposes a cosmopolitan alternative in the critique. It argues that the imposition of a nationalist perspective in the reading the form falls into the trap of territoriality and “othering” because of its Roman Catholic and Tagalog-centric orientations. The cosmopolitan critique is necessary because it embodies a middle-path alternative to the essentializing and territorializing character of popular nationalism and the anarchy of pluralism. The discussion of cosmopolitanism comes from the irony that komedya could have offered a cosmopolitan possibility when Filipino artists began its indigenization. The efficacy of this possibility was overpowered by methodological nationalism based on the hegemony of the center (The Greater Manila Area) and its central religion – Catholicism. Thus, the komedya was contextualized as a Catholic theatre form and strengthened a particular hostility against non-Catholics, especially the Muslims.
This essay interrogates the traditionally gendered Filipino female domestic helper vis-à-vis her “constructed” role in transnational relations and the idea of globalization represented in the 2007–2008 musical The Silent Soprano. Through this musical, the essay explores how globalization and transnational relations are experienced and mediated on the stage of the developing city of Manila, which claims to be a cosmopolitan one. It is posited that the representations of transnational relations and globalization are predicated within methodological nationalism, inscribing a fear of participation in a globalized and cosmopolitan living.