Since our childhood days, we are very familiar with the Philippine folklore introduced to us by the Spanish friars namely: the tikbalang, aswang, mananaggal, kapre and the like. Who would have thought that these creatures are in fact friends of the animals commonly around us and act as guardians of Mother Earth? This brilliant idea spawned from a short story written by Gilda Cordero-Fernandez entitled The Magic Circle and amazingly performed by the Dulaang UP last December.
Basically, the story revolves around Jepoy, a boy living in the forest with his banished mother Aling Barang, and his journey within the depths of the forest to attend a mysterious wedding of fabled creatures. Jepoy is accompanied by his dog Galis, which can walk upright and talk inside the forest. He is welcomed by Doña Geronima, the leader of the magical creatures and Aling Pacqui, a dwarf and later on introduced to the kapre, Kap.
I liked how the play was acted. Being a theater enthusiast, I also commended the beautiful set onstage and how they made colorful costumes out of recycled materials, especially Doña Geronima’s. My favorite character was the humorous but kind Aling Pacquita. She was very funny and I find her walking on her knees tiresome but very effective in portraying her character as a dwarf. But they could have cut down on the miscellaneous actors, (except for the three heads).
I found them disturbing sometimes. I didn’t like the use of sprayers to show rain. I guess I expected more. The lesson of the story is about saving the environment. The story reached the resolution later in the play. Before the play ends, Jepoy, the main character, finds him as a certain “chosen one” by the magical creatures and asks him to be their representative to help save the environment.
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Because of being just a poor boy, with no one but a hysterical mother to live with, he hesitated to accept their request. At that point on, the creatures along with the animals helped convince Jepoy that he can make a change no matter how small he may seem to be. He accepted the request after that. The lesson wasn’t just exposed due to the development of the story but also through the nonverbal cues that helped the audience understand it better. These nonverbal cues were present in all of the characters but Kap had the most distinguished one. He displayed a body motion known as an illustrator. His action, slow movements and frequent nodding of the head showed his sadness to the previous treatment of humans to him.
He also displayed paralanguage where his voice was hoarse and frequently disturbed by wheezing and coughing showing how old and sickly he was. Lastly, the environmental factors when Kap was talking were very evident. The lighting, the sound and even the expressions of other creatures showed how they really need Jepoy’s help to save our environment. In conclusion, the play Umaaraw, Umuulan Kinakasal ang Tikbalang is an effective and wonderful play that would renew our love for nature and respect it, too. The only thing left for us to do is help Jepoy in his task. Let’s show our love and appreciation for the mother that nurtures us all: Mother Earth.