Source: Manipur Mail
Imphal, January 09:
"...de yin de..." thus singing and dancing they came on the stage, and as they swayed to the beats of this lilting tune, the actors engaged the audience gathered at the 'Shrine', in small conversations and in no time had them clapping and dancing along.
And thus trie artistes of the Mebuyan Peace Project Inc warmed their way into the hearts of the audience as a prelude to their performance of Panaw - the Journey.
The Journey here refers to the one undertaken by Rosario, who decides to climb a mountain to find peace of mind.
She has come back to Philippines, after nine long years from abroad where she went to work and over time, gets married.
But in marriage, she becomes a victim of domestic violence.
And when she finally frees herself from this violent marriage and comes back home she finds all her family members have either died or have gone away.
Rosario's physical journey up the mountains is also a symbolic journey of self discovery and self renewal.
Up in the mountains she meets a tribal priestess, Bae Malimlim who takes her to the realm of goddess Mebuyan.
There she meets the restless spirit of her mother Delia (killed in her bid to protect the sacred mountain Malakiny from logging), who cannot take her final journey to Gimokudan, riddled as she was, with a great sense of remorse over her failure to guide and equip her daughters with strength and courage to face the challenges of life and instead asking them to escape.
Seeing the spirit of her mother thus, forces Rosario to reflect on her past life and this process of reflection cleanses her, renews her and fills her with a resolve to take control of her life.
Panaw, a musical or 'Music-Theatre' is based on the myth of Mebuyan, the goddess of the underworld.
She refused to ascend the sky and with it a place in the 'sun' along with her brother Lumabet, but instead choose to stay behind, establish her own domain and rule over life and death.
This aspect of the Mebuyan myth is of extreme significance for the playwright, since she sees it as sign of women empowerment.
Mebuyan's domain can also be seen as the domain of ideals towards which, all of us must strive and the priestess, Bae Malimlim, as some kind of a facilitator in this journey towards the ideal.
The music score we are informed is fusion of three music styles - Phillipino tribal music, Spanish folk and American pop.
And the musical styles blend so seamlessly, so effortlessly creating music which is at times, soulful, and at other times rhythmic, vibrant and full of energy.
The musical presence is so powerful that there are moments when one almost felt as if the whole auditorium is enveloped in musical notes.
The musical instruments used were mostly from the south of the Philippines - Mindanao (of which the gong or our Sembung figured prominently) except the guitars and the African drums.
All the gestures and the body movements stylized, with very step precise and measured." Another significant feature of the play is that from the beginning to the end of the play, the actors never left the stage.
The change of costumes is even 'preformed' in the stage itself.
At the end of Rosario's 'Panaw' (journey), as the chant of "..de yin de..." rant the auditorium signaling the end the spectators did quite leave their seats as if they haven't quite had their fill of the 'spectacle'.