YOUNG LOVE with all its sweetness and heartache is the focus of Teatro Tomasino’s Unang Dalaw, staged last Sept. 16 and 17 at the Albertus Magnus Auditorium.

Written by Eduardo Perez and directed by Niña Belle Gavan, Unang Dalaw tells of the triumphs and troubles of the sisters Lucia, Clarita, and Barbara as they find themselves caught up in the unsettling dynamics of love and growing up.

The story is set at the turn of the 20th century during which societal norms dictated that Filipinas be strictly conservative and demure, suppressing their desires and sentiments.

Barbara has just turned 12 and experienced her “unang dalaw” (menstruation); she falls in love with Bisero, a Katipunero whose name means donkey, the lad’s mirror image. But Barbara overlooks Bisero’s unfortunate looks and is attracted to him because of his principled conviction and bravery.

Barabara’s sister, Clarita, meanwhile, yearns for the timid Menandro, who has saved her and Barbara from the attack of a wild boar. She pursues Menandro, who is a man of few words. The eldest of the siblings, Lucia, however, dismisses her sisters’ pursuits as mere infatuations. In retaliation, her two younger siblings plot to make Lucia reveal her secret longing for her first love, Ginoong Batukling. The young ladies’ persistence pays off as Lucia slowly comes out of her shell, ending up narrating how she and Ginoong Batukling got together.

The three are reminiscing their own love stories when they hear gunshots out of nowhere. They hide behind a bush, until Barbara comes out, screaming and bleeding. The sisters are horrified. Later on, they find out that the blood was not caused by a bullet; it was Barbara’s first menstrual gush.

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Unang Dalaw describes a simple story of growing up and falling in love. But coupled with superb acting, the play transformed a simple storyline about young Filipinas and their sexual awakening. Rieze Rose T. Calbay

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