RIZAL would have been very proud.
As part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has lined up various activities to commemorate his life and works.
From June 14 to 17, a series of film screenings, exhibits and lectures were held to show the youth why Rizal has become a hero and“larger than life”icon for the country.
Thirteen episodes of CCP‘s telemovie, Noli Me Tangere, by National Artist Eddie Romero, were shown at the CCP Dream Theater, complemented with lecture-discussions for teachers by prominent resource speakers. Mga Kwentong Rizal, a storytelling session for children/youth was also held at the CCP Multi-Purpose Hall. In addition, Malou Jacob‘s documentary, Si Jose at Si Andres, was made available on line for public viewing thru the CCP website.
An exhibition of paintings on Rizal by J. Pasena and a mural exhibit by Pilipinas Street Plan were on display at the Main Gallery and at the second floor hallway of the CCP, respectively.
The highlight of the celebrations was a special program entitled J.P., Ang Gig ni Rizal was presented on June 17 at the CCP Main Theater. It featured nearly 500 performers, including prominent artists and performing groups led by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Olivier Ochanine, Ballet Philippines‘Candice Adea and JM Cordero, Tanghalang Pilipino, Philippine High School for the Arts, and a 300-voice choir conducted by Jai Sabas Aracama.
Directed by Chris Millado, the show also included performances by Rachelle Ann Go, Erik Santos, John Arcilla, dance group Philippine All Stars, soprano Myra Mae Meneses, and Mae Paner a.k.a. Juana Change.
According to Millado, the show was actually an initiative of the group of Sister Mary John Mananzan, Tanghalang Pilipino’s Fernando Nanding Josef. and social activist Jun Lozada.
“They wanted to look back at Rizal’s life and show the youth why he is still very relevant today, especially in our current situation where we need champions of truth―and Rizal exemplified that even at the cost of his own life,”explained Millado.
“In order to do that, we decided to put together a show that will combine his works of literature, his poetry and music and present it in a way that even today’s modern generation will appreciate, he added.”
The show started with the “Overture: Jubilate” by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra that captured the grandness and importance of the celebration. It was then followed by a modern dance performance by the The Philippine Allstars to the mix of “Warriors of the Sun” that reflected Rizal’s love for contemporary dance.
“Bayani,”choreographed by Jay Cambay and Canto Patiotico de Maria Clara, was then performed by soprano Myra Mae Meneses and the UP Concert Chorus.
The show then took a humorous turn with the showing of a short film about an Overseas Filipino Worker who has a strange encounter with Rizal that starred Mae Paner.
In one of the most memorable performances of the night, Paner then took the stage for a monologue assuming the persona of Rizal’s “Dulce Estranjera,” Josephine Bracken, as she made some amusing revelations about her “husband.”
“Nobody’s perfect. We are all human beings―and human beings make mistakes,” she began
“Bracken” then began talking about Rizal’s “humanity,” how he had many imperfections, and committed mistakes, even poking fun at some politicians who were imitating the wrong side of Rizal―his womanizing ways.
Beneath all the humor, however, she challenged the audience to strive to become heroes, not just in their youth but throughout their lives.
“Nobody’s perfect, but everyone can be a hero–but you will need conviction. You still have a long way to go and your path will be filled with traps, I just hope you would be able to resist the temptations of wealth and power and preserve your honor until the end,” she said in Filipino.
“Not now not ever. Walang ku-corrupt.”
After a performance by ballet Philippines “Crisostomo Ibarra” and a medley of songs (Itchyworms and Hallelujah) by the 300-voice choir and Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the 35 Mga Bagong Rizal Awardees were then presented. (See side story)
In his speech 2009 CNN Hero of the Year Efren Peňaflorida, quoted a line from “Como se gobiernan las Filipinas” (How one governs in the Philippines), published in La Solidaridad (15 December 1890):
“Filipinos don’t realize that victory is the child of struggle, that joy blossoms from suffering, and redemption is a product of sacrifice.
“Upang maranasan natin ang ganap na tagumpay, kailangan natin itong pagsumikapan subalit sa panahon natin ngayon gusto natin madaliin ang mga bagay bagay. Ang nasa isip ng mga Pilipino ngayon ayos lang ang mandaya, makuha lang ang position na gusto nila. Okay lang ang under the table dahil tanggap na ng ito sa sitema kahit alam ng marami na ito ay mali.”
He then urged the awardees to appreciate the value of hard work and live by the principles of our heroes in thoughts, words and actions.
The show ended with “Awit ni Maria Clara,” a duet by Erik Santos and Rachelle Ann Go, followed by a moving rendition of Mi Ultimo Adios by John Arcilla, and a finale of “Bayan Ko” by the entire ensemble.
Director Millado described it as a “milestone,” and for those who watched the show, it was definitely a “gig”worth rizal’s heroism.