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Bibeth Orteza tackles socially relevant issues in Katsuri

by Rommel Gonzales
Sep 29, 2019
Acclaimed director/screenwriter Bibeth Orteza (with husband Carlitos Siguion-Reyna) talks fervently about her creative muse for Katsuri, the Tagalog stage adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic novel, Of Mice and Men.
PHOTO/S: Rommel Gonzales

Ikinuwento ni Bibeth Orteza kung ano ang naging inspirasyon sa paglikha niya ng Tagalog adaptation ng classic literary masterpiece ni John Steinbeck na Of Mice and Men.

Lahad ng acclaimed screenwriter/director at PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) columnist, “When I first read Of Mice and Men in high school, hindi pa ako politicized nun, e.

“For me at that time it was just another… another story.

“But in college, ibang-iba na yung perspective ko nung nabasa ko ulit yung dula.

“Kasi nabasa ko yung short story nung high school 'tapos dula na noong college. And then dahil sa nangyayari ngayon sa Bacolod, truth had no choice.

"Truth begged that the adaptation be written in such manner, especially as iyon sanang magiging point person ng Tanghalang Pilipino pagpunta sa Bacolod sa research, was assassinated just before the election.

"His name is Bernardo Patigas, ang palayaw niya Toto.

"So when we sought to Philippinize the names also in the material, it was fitting that to honor Tatay Toto, we changed the name of Lennie, from the original Lennie to Toto.

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“Kasi kung Ilonggo ka, you know, Toto is a pet name. It actually means Señorito but not Señorito always na Señoritong mayaman, ‘no? But ikaw ang Toto ng bahay niyo, ikaw ang spoiled sa bahay mo.

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“And that is also the relationship that Toto in Katsuri has with George. Siya ang Toto ni George.

“So it’s a play about relationships. It’s how people relate to each other, how people relate to the farming tools, to the farming implements, and it’s what is really going on there...

“Na iisipin mo, tao pa ba ang mga tao doon? O naging katsuri na talaga sila?

“Ang katsuri kasi technically, hindi talaga daga, ha? It’s more like the shrew, not quite rodent, not quite mouse.

“Pero ang mga sakada din kasi also, not quite human anymore, e!

“So doon, iyon ang springboard ng adaptation ng kuwento and katakut-takot na luha ang lumabas sa akin nung sinusulat ko yung adaptation.

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“But I really take full credit, I want to thank the original author but most of all I want to thank the marvelous, daring, all the people in Tanghalang Pilipino who come up with a material like this.”

Ang Katsuri ay ang Tagalog adaptation ni Bibeth ng nobelang Of Mice and Men ni John Steinbeck.

Mga bida rito sina Jonathan Tadioan (bilang Toto) at Marco Viaña (bilang George),

Nasa Katsuri rin sina Antonette Go (bilang Inday), Fitz Bitana (bilang Kulot), Lhorvie Nuevo (bilang Carling), JV Ibesate (bilang Payat), Doray Dayao (bilang Atorni), Ybes Bagadiong (bilang Nognog), Eunice Pacia (bilang Monang) at Monique Nellas (bilang babae).

May espesyal na partisipasyon naman dito sina Michael Williams (bilang Boss) at Nanding Josef (bilang Tatang).

Ang Katsuri, na mula sa Tanghalang Pilipino, ay tungkol sa pakikibaka sa buhay ng mga sakada (sugar plantation workers) sa Negros.

Ito ay mapapanood mula October 4 hanggang 27 sa Tanghalang Huseng Batute ng Cultural Center of the Philippines.

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Ito ay sa direksyon ng kilala at mahusay na film and stage director na si Carlos “Carlitos” Siguion-Reyna.

RELEVANT THEME

Malapit sa puso ni Bibeth ang kuwento ng Katsuri.

“It’s pretty much up in the news, because also, I’m half Ilonggo, e. My father is Ilonggo, my mother is Waray so we used to have a property there na nawala din sa mismanagement, so I’m very, very familiar with what’s going on there.

“And it’s really close to me.”

Patuloy pang kuwento ni Bibeth tungkol kay Toto Patigas, “He’s from there, he’s a survivor also of the Escalante massacre. He’s from Escalante, and around the time he was a candidate kasi for councilor in Escalante, and then he was in a motorbike, binaril yung motorsiklo.

“Gulong muna para tumigil yung motorsiklo 'tapos nilapitan siya at niratrat pa ng ilang bala hanggang mamatay.

“So the production is actually, we all agreed to dedicate the production to Toto Patigas.

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“Why do I want him immortalized thru this play? Because Toto Patigas was shot in front of a school, his murder was seen by students in the area! We cannot let these things just happen.

“So that’s how important he is to the material.”

WORKING WITH FAMILY

On a lighter note, tinanong namin si Bibeth kung ano ang advantage at disadvantage working on a project like Katsuri with her husband?

Aniya, “Ang masasabi ko lang, kung magaling akong pumili ng asawa, mas magaling siya!

“No, but… wala, we’re so used to working with each other because sa family, when he was working with his mother, they were always fighting.’

Ina ni Carlos ang namayapang aktres at producer na si Armida Siguion-Reyna.

Patuloy niya, “When we are working together we always fight!

“Kasi ang bottomline naman, yung pamilya buo, so yung professional relationship is a professional relationship. So we keep it at that.

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“Meron lang kaming isang ampon sa bahay, Rafa ang pangalan na nakakaaway din namin,” ang pagbibirong pagtukoy ni Bibeth sa anak nila, ang aktor na si Rafa Siguion-Reyna.

“But seriously, work is work. We’re able to separate the professional relationship from doon sa bahay. Kasi hindi naman uubra yung, ‘O, gawa na yung script ko, punta tayo sa Hong Kong!’

“Walang ganun sa amin.”

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Acclaimed director/screenwriter Bibeth Orteza (with husband Carlitos Siguion-Reyna) talks fervently about her creative muse for Katsuri, the Tagalog stage adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic novel, Of Mice and Men.
PHOTO/S: Rommel Gonzales
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