Apr 23, 2020

Renowned Filipino director Joel Lamangan offered a passionate reinterpretation of “essential worker” during a panel discussion held over the Lockdown Cinema Club’s Facebook Live event that put the spotlight on the classic “Himala.” 

The discussion of the film, which has also spurred the creation of an award-winning musical, led Lamangan to say that the magic we see created by the arts should warrant arts workers—and art, itself—to be considered essential, even more so at this time of crisis.

Indeed, as the lockdown days have turned to weeks, and weeks have turned into a month and running, people are becoming more and more aware of how big a role art plays in our daily lives. This is more apparent now that people are turning to the arts as a reprieve or outlet while in quarantine—further proof that it is an essential aspect, or as Lamangan puts it, the soul of our community.

Thus it becomes even more important now to shift the spotlight to those behind the creation of these art forms—be it music, film, TV, or theater—especially seeing as the pandemic has forced many productions to be postponed (and in the case of theater, even canceled). This has forced thousands of workers in the various fields of the arts to lose their primary source of income. Initiatives such as the Lockdown Cinema Club (for film production staff and creatives) and Open House (for theater and performing arts workers) have been put up to offer financial support.

And while many production companies and groups abroad have begun to put up their shows online to cope (and as a way of fundraising), the Philippines is not to be left behind.

[READ: Here’s where you can watch your favorite plays and musicals online]

Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), has recently put up PansamanTanghalan, an initiative to make some of their award-winning plays available for free viewing online via their YouTube channel. It also aims “to defy the limitations brought about by this crisis and with the use of the online platform, to continuously educate and awaken the cultural consciousness of Filipinos.”

“To say that this is a trying time for the industry would be an understatement. A lot of us are anxious on how this pandemic would usher in a new norm, but as artists, we have to soldier on and find ways to effectively reach our audience in dire need of inspiration,” says TP artistic director Nanding Josef. 

A Virgin Labfest 2018 original, “Mga Eksena sa Buhay ng Kontrabida” was recently made available for viewing on the CCP YouTube channel yesterday, Apr. 22. 


[READ: CCP’s annual theater festival Virgin Labfest goes fully digital this year]

Meanwhile, TP will also be posting their most recent production, “Batang Mujahideen” on their own channel this coming Friday, Apr. 24. The experimental play, which features members of the TP Actors Company, highlights the stories of the Christian, Muslim and Yakan groups in Basilan during the 2000s, at the height of the Mindanao conflict.

By May, a new monologue performed by Nanding Josef will be premiered. The monologue entitled “Doc Lolo” tackles the plight of elderly frontliners during the COVID-19 pandemic. In time for Mabini’s death anniversary on May 13, “Mabining Mandirigma” will be released for free viewing online as well. 

Aside from plays, TP will also soon be hosting online programs such as workshops by alumni, friends and partners of the company, as well as current members of the TP Actors Company.


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Read more:

Podcast musicals take the theater experience on the go

Here’s where you can find your favorite plays and musicals online

Art is protest, Tanghalang Pilipino proves with “Mabining Mandirigma”

On puppets and representation: A conversation on Tanghalang Pilipino’s ‘Batang Mujahideen’


TAGS: arts Cultural Center of the Philippines mabining mandirigma pansamantanghalan tanghalang pilipino theater virgin labfest VLF