‘Ang Pilipinas pagkalipas ng isandaang taon…’What has happened to the Philippines a century after the execution of Gat. Jose Rizal? To find the answer to this question, Lightning, Sam-chan (yes, she’s new) and I decided to watch Dulaang UP’s latest offering, Rizal X, yesterday. And so, since we ‘decided’, we had to brave the rainy weather to watch the play at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater in UP Diliman.
Lightning was late so Sam-chan and I went into the theater first. Thankfully, we got great seats — third row from the stage. What welcomed us was this really large white curtain hanging from the ceiling which, according to Sam, was so ‘chaka’. For the unacquainted, ‘chaka’ is Philippine gay lingo for ugly. A few minutes before the show began, Lightning arrived. With our comfortable seats and center view, we were ready for anything.
Or so we thought. Rizal X surprised its audiences in more ways than one. First, the play is a musical. The moment the curtain was let up, we were welcomed by singing and choreography executed by adults dressed up as toddlers. It was a scene of the youth in their innocent, carefree ways. True, Isang Panaginip na Fili is also a musical, so a Rizal musical isn’t really that new anymore.
Second, it has no plot. Yep, it follows no solid story line whatsoever. The audience is presented with different ‘chapters’ which are based on Rizal’s writings and poems. It’s like watching a variety show. You move from one segment to another. What connects them is that single underlying theme which the audience has to figure out for themselves. (If you think about it, it’s actually quite subjective. You’ll find an underlying theme which may be different from mine. Teehee~)
Third, it tackles Rizal in a manner that appeals to every type of audience. The use of song, dance and stage props that vary from Spanish era clothing to makeshift iPads and Nintendo Wiis are some things that any age bracket can relate too. Director Dexter Santos’ use of mixed media proved to be quite effective in sustaining audience interest. And it made the whole business a lot more enjoyable.
Lastly, Rizal X, as in any other Dexter Santos productions, touches its audiences with the play’s whole point at the very end. What with all that singing, dancing and drama in between, you’ll forget what it really was about in the first place.
In the last scene, we are shown an old woman in a wheelchair, with all the cast surrounding her holding out little gas lamps. We are reminded that we are, just like in the story, little moths attracted to the flame. But then, the old lady tells us, ‘‘Wag kayong matakot na matupok.‘ Do not be afraid to get burnt. Stand up and let the Rizal within everyone one of us live. Because in the end, we are still the children of our nation. We are its youth. We are its hope.