Cherry Pie, Jackie Lou & Angeli in Buwan at Baril

Amadís Ma. Guerrero - The Philippine Star
Cherry Pie, Jackie Lou & Angeli in Buwan at Baril

From left: Cherry Pie Picache as the Asawa; Jackie Lou Blanco as the Socialite; and Angeli Bayani as the Babaeng Itawis

MANILA, Philippines – The play Buwan at Baril sa E-flat Major by Chris Millado (now VP of the Cultural Center of the Philippines) was commissioned by the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) in 1984, a year after the Ninoy Aquino assassination and at the height of the protests against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Often in monologues and exchanges between two actors, the play tells the stories of various diverse characters, representing different strata in Philippine society, as they narrate or dramatize their experiences and ordeals during those tumultuous years.

There is the Asawa or the wife of a slain NPA guerilla; the Socialite, who is preparing to join a rally in which she will be part of a negotiating panel; the Babaeng Itawis, narrating the injustices inflicted upon her people, speaking in her own language which is being translated by a priest, Ang Pari. There is also the Magsasaka, the Manggagawa, the Police-Interrogator and the Student.

That was 30 years ago. Now the play has been revived because of, well, for obvious reasons. It is the first offering by yet a new theater company, Sugid Productions, and is ongoing Thursdays to Sundays (3 p.m. and 8 p.m.) until Feb. 12 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Center in Quezon City. For details, call 0917-845-6200.

Andoy Ranay directs. The all-star cast is led by Cherry Pie Picache (with Mayen Estañero as alternate), who plays the Asawa; Jackie Lou Blanco is the Socialite and Angeli Bayani the Babaeng Itawis. The priest, who serves as her interpreter and who is helping the lumad, is played by JC Santos. Other choice roles are played by Crispin Pineda (Magsasaka), Danny Mandia (Manggagawa, with Reymund Domingo as alternate), Joel Saracho (Police-Interrogator, with Paolo O’Hara as alternate) and Ross Pesigan (the Student).

Excerpts from the play were performed by the cast members during a recent press launch at Alab Restaurant in Quezon City.

Director Ranay said there was no need to convince Cherry Pie or Jackie Lou to accept their roles. “I just challenged them at lumabas sila sa comfort zone nila,” he laughed.

“I am proud and gratified,” declared Cherry Pie. “I went back to my childhood dream, to be a stage actress. Mahirap ang piesa. Kaya ko kaya? So (I accepted) para makamulat sa tao, sa artist.”

Jackie Lou shared, “Ninerbiyos ako, ang haba ng (monologue). It’s a perspective from different kinds of people. I’m very happy to be with such a wonderful cast. I hope that people who watch will realize it’s for a greater cause.”

All of the cast members indicated they could relate to the sentiments and message of the play.

As Angeli put it, “As actors, as storytellers we want to affect, to reform.”

There are brilliant performances all around, with Angeli and Cherry Pie especially affecting. Seen again after 30 years, Buwan at Baril retains the power to move.

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