AWARD-WINING steampunk musical “Mabining Mandirigma,” opened last Aug. 16 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Little Theater.

The musical by Tanghalang Pilipino, the resident theater company of the CCP, was under the direction of the center’s vice president and artistic director, Chris Millado.

On its fourth run, award-winning Mabining Mandirigma, a tribute to Apolinario Mabini, the Philippines’s first prime minister, proved to be timeless four years since its first staging in 2015. The libretto was by Nicanor Tiongson, and the music was written by Joed Balsamo.

The musical revolved around Mabini’s humble beginnings, showing the obstacles he had to surpass, such as poverty.

Mabini joined the Philippine Revolution using his intellect and conquers the indifference of his contemporaries despite his disability.

It showed that issues hounding the nation might have taken different forms, but have not really changed.

It tackled, for instance, many sensitivities of Filipino identity, such as the use of the Filipino language over English and the suffering of Filipinos in the hands of foreign invaders.

The musical was different because Mabini was portrayed by a female actress (Monique Wilson and Hazel Maranan) who stood out from the rest of the cast both musically and metaphorically.

The voice of a woman among a cast of males gave Mabini the advantage in vocal range and justified the idea that he was excluded by his contemporaries, as women were excluded, too, that time.

“Originally, ‘yong umpisa ng Mabining Mandirigma, hindi musical. ‘Yong idea na magkaroon ng cast iyong isang female actress sa role ng isang male character ay nagmula doon sa pangangailangan ng desisyon na maging musical,” Millado said in a press interview.

Kailangan namin ng isang boses na mangingibabaw doon sa ibang boses na mostly male characters, doon sa play,” he added.

Mabining Mandirigma” ran until Sept. 1. M.J.T.L. Nepomuceno


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