"Pilipinas Circa 1907" depicts power struggle during the American regime


Miguel Castro and Lani Ligot (from left, standing) alternate with Arnold Reyes and Ana Guillen Feleo as Emilio and Leonor in the sarswela Pilipinas Circa 1907, which will be staged by Tanghalang Pilipino from August 10 to September 2, 2007.


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first Philippine national elections held on July 30, 1907. In time for this historical event, Tanghalang Pilipino revives the landmark sarswela of Dr. Nicanor G. Tiongson for the theater company’s 21st season opener.

Pilipinas Circa 1907 will run at the CCP Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino from August 10 to September 2, 2007. The production, set in the period prior to the national elections in 1907, dramatizes the political conflict and family relations getting in the way of two pairs of star-crossed lovers when America was more in the heart.

This production caters to all ages and persuasions, but more specifically for music theater enthusiasts and students of Philippine history, literature, political science, and the humanities.

Dennis Marasigan, artistic director of Tanghalang Pilipino, explains the significance of this year. "Ang 1907 ay isang napaka-importanteng taon sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. ‘Yon ang unang-unang pagkakataon na nagkaroon ng eleksyon sa Pilipinas, isang daang taon na ang nakakaraan.

"Meron ding mga pagtatagisan ng lakas, na kung minsan sa mas maliit na paraan di ba, sa loob ng isang pamilya, kahit sa loob mismo ng isang tao...’yon ang gusto naming pagtuunan ng pansin."

Pilipinas Circa 1907 shows the strife between the opposing forces of the Federalistas and the Nacionalistas during the time of the American regime. Don Pardo, a candidate of the Federalistas, is campaigning on a pro-American stand, advocating the assimilation of the islands into the American union of Federal States. On the other hand, Emilio, a poet and journalist, is a candidate of the Nacionalista Party that is seeking immediate autonomy from the Americans.

Dennis, the director of this sarswela, points out the issues of the country’s autonomy that cause the division of the family. "Ang magkakaaway diyan sa totoo lang pareho ang pamilya, magkapatid, mag-tiyo. Kasi ‘yong tiyo [Don Pardo] gustong maging [part ng] Estados Unidos ‘yong Pilipinas pero ‘yong pamangkin naman niya [Emilio] ’saka ’yung kapatid niyang babae, mas gustong manatiling malaya ’yung Pilipinas. Kaya kahit medyo may pagka-politikal, ang nag-aaway mismo ay nasa iisang pamilya."

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Leading the remarkable cast are two of Manila’s finest sopranos alternating as Leonor, Ana Guillen Feleo and Lani Mabilangan Ligot. Arnold Reyes and Miguel Castro, alternate as Leonor’s lover, the poet-journalist Emilio. Classical singer Nazer Salcedo and Tanghalang Pilipino Actors’ Company member Bong Cabrera alternately play Andres, the supervisor of the family’s tobacco factory. Alternating as Pura, Andres’s object of affection, are Aliw Best Supporting Actress nominee, Wenah Nagales and Sugar Hiccup lead vocalist Jeanette Reyna.

The bane to the star-crossed lovers is Don Pardo, played by character actor Dido dela Paz, the Federalista who’s at political odds with his family. Doña Pilar, the family matriarch, is alternately played by Mia Bolaños and Clotilde Lucero. Veteran actor Lou Veloso and comedian Garry Lim lend their comic talents as the balikbayan trumpet player Porong. Also in the cast is Andrew Cruz and Bong Embile (Juan/Pedro), Eric dela Cruz and Roeder Camañag (Robert), Jean Judith Javier (Dorothy), and the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors’ Company.

Performance dates:

August 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31, September 1, 2007 8:00 pm

August 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, September 1, 2, 2007 3:00 pm

Venue: Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater), Cultural Center of the Philippines


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