Whether you are a fan of stage plays of not, I’m pretty sure you will leave the theater in awe after watching ALIKABOK. I can also sense that the audience really enjoyed the play bestowing heartfelt applause after every song performance. We even saw our little girl with her mom’s scarf dancing like a Maria Clara in some of the scenes. And I couldn’t help but sing-along with the casts while watching the only Filipino musical that I’ve grown to really love and appreciate since 1995.
While I really encourage everyone to see this play (especially the highschool students here in Qatar), I would also like to mention 10 POINTS that really captivated me with this musical performance:
Most of us, if not all, came here to Qatar because of work. And it is just amazing to see how diverse the Filipino talent is, that even a small Filipino community in Qatar could still give birth to a group of singers and stage performers. Doing all these, while maintaining a full-time job, is truly exceptional. And what makes it even more remarkable is the fact that all community organizations in Qatar are non-profit oriented, which means that whatever they will make out of these events will also go to a worthwhile beneficiary. What a heart!
THE HIDDEN MEANING BEHIND THE SONGS
When you listen to the songs, and see in your heart what they actually mean – you know that the message goes beyond its lyrics. The rich heritage of the ancestral home of the Vallejo’s is somehow compared to that of our country’s history. The lines: “Tahanang makasaysayan, atin sanang balikan!” is an invitation to revisit our colorful past.
Prior to that, there are also lines from the song during the cockfight scene alluding to the comparison of their roosters with some past historical figures, saying:
“Anung ipinagmamalaki ng inyong kampeong manok, kung saan saan ngang narating na pook. Tinawid ang mga dagat, inakyat ang bundok, ngunit mauuwi rin pala sa pinagmulan nyang sulok.”
“Ang manok na naiwan sa munting silungan, walang alam kundi mangitlog sa manukan. Di gaya ng kampeonatong lumayo sa bayan. Kanyang natuklasan ang tunay na kalayaan!”
Discover more of these meaningful lines when you watch the play.
LEARN SOME OLD FILIPINO TRADITIONS
As a nation with strong religious influence from the Spanish conquistadores, the patron’s feast and other rituals are also highlighted in some of the scenes. Catch it especially during the preparation for the town fiesta amidst the age-old beliefs about Babang Luksa (referring to a Filipino funeral customs where relatives and friends commemorate the death of a loved one).
Also, be surprised how a young teenage girl during that time can be considered an old-maid if she won’t get married on time!
KNOW THE MEANING OF THE GESTURES
Did you know that how a lady carries their handkerchief and their abaniko fan during those times will mean different things? Watch out when our Maria Claras sing “Panolitos de Abanikos”.
TRIBUTE TO THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE PHILIPPINE REVOLUTION
The overall theme of the play is definitely that of historical. And it is also a tale about the love between a rich woman and a man from the revolutionary army. It also talks about the different levels of battles – the battle of the mind, and the battle of the bolos (large knives), the battle involving force and the battle of strategic thinking.
El hombre que no quiere, que no quiere Filipinas!
No vale, no vale. No vale para nada!
El homre que no muerte. Filipinas! Filipinas!
No ae! No ae! Carga y cargada!
(A man who does not love his country is worthless!
A man who is not willing die for his country is a burden!)
BE AMAZED WITH THE SEAMLESS INTERACTIONS OF PRESENT CHARACTERS WITH THE PAST
There are several scenes that actually show how the characters in the past intersect with the present. While it would have been more pronounced with good lighting facilities but a keen eye could easily notice it with their costumes and how their lines are delivered.
The scenes from the song “HINDI AKO PAPAYAG”, and the title-bearing, “ALIKABOK” are some of the examples.
FALL IN LOVE WITH THE MUSIC
The original Filipino musical play Alikabok (Dust) is written by Noel Balmaceda with music by National Artist Maestro Ryan Cayabyab. No wonder why the love songs like “MAY ISANG PAG-IBIG”; “TAHAN NA, TAHANAN NA” and other nationalistic songs in the play are easily relatable.
FALL IN LOVE WITH THE CHARACTERS
The formidable cast of Alikabok (Qatar performance) bannered by BISING and IGNACIO will touch your heart and leave a great sense of patriotism. Both these headliners are good actors that everyone will truly adore. And how can’t you smile with the hilarious antics of NANA ROSITA (the caretaker of the ancestral house) and MR. CALIXTO (the real estate agent)? And the two characters who had a great impact on me: are GREG with his natural acting skills and great enunciation, as well as the hearty performance of NANA TERE – she just left me shedding in tears especially during the scene of Bising who backed out of her wedding to follow her beloved Ignacio. She’s just so sincere.
Overall, the cast selection is just right: the authoritarian sound of Don Simeon Vallejo’s voice (just perfect for the role), the English accent of Anna Vallejo, the subtle yet engaging performance of Salvador, plus a roster of a great chorus who completed this season’s cast of characters.
FALL IN LOVE (LOVE IN THE MIDDLE OF WAR)
The love of Bising and Ignacio which is caught in the middle of the ongoing revolution. The love of Greg and Anna which is caught in the modern-day dilemma of whether they should keep the ancestral house or not. Timeless love… in the midst of warring ideas and actual war… and of love conquering all odds.
4-YEARS IN THE MAKING!
Since all the members of the group are having full-time jobs, it is their love for music and performing arts that keep the spirit of this group alive. While faced with members going home for good and some logistical problems, it took them four years to realize this dream.
I remember seeing this group performed snippets of the musical during the Philippine Independence Day celebration at the Westin Doha in 2016 (click the hyperlink for the blog post). Since then, their vision for this play did not wither until they turn it into reality this 2019. Talk about KEEPING THE DREAM alive!
Notwithstanding some production and technical limitations, the group’s performance this year can still take your imagination to a different level and bring you “into the moment” with their vocal prowess and sincere acting skills. BIG SHOUTOUT TO DIREK Arago Tonico Robusto for a job well done!
As of this writing, the group still has another set of performances scheduled on the 6th of December 2019 at the Qatar Academy auditorium. Contact any members of Tanghalang Pinoy Overseas (TOPI) for ticket reservation.
Special credit to Mr. Hotrod Estrada Rivera and Ms. Vanessa V. AlmacenMs. Vanessa V. Almacen (click the hyperlink) for most of the photos used in this feature article. We are not in any way affiliated with Tanghalang Overseas Pinoy and all the commentaries mentioned above are based on the writer’s personal observation and experience. But as part of our continuous support to the Filipino community events, we were accorded by the group with a special mention during the program and on their official posters.