Theater groups react to Rafael Santos’s remarks about theater actors

Several theater groups in the country—including Tanghalang Pilipino with Nanding Josef (inset, top) as artistic director and Philippine Theater Actors Guild headed by Kalila Aguilos (inset, bottom)—have issued statements in reaction to indie filmmaker Rafael Santos’s (main photo) remarks about theater actors.


Sa komento ng baguhang indie filmmaker na si Rafael "Rafa" Santos tungkol sa local theater actors na umano’y "nagulat, nagalit, at nainsulto" sa binitiwan nitong mga pahayag sa kanyang ANC interview—nauna nang nagpadala ng kanilang official statement ang PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) tungkol dito.

Nais ng PETA na hindi lamang mag-apologize si Rafa sa pamamagitan ng pagpapadala ng email sa Cinemalaya community, kundi sa harap ng telebisyon, at i-address ang nasabing paumanhin sa mga taga-teatro mismo, na siyang mga naapektuhan sa kanyang nasabi. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)

Si Rafa ay ang direktor ng short film na Samarito na entry sa 7th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival—na magsisimula sa July 15 sa CCP theaters—kunsaan bida ang theater actress na si Bea Garcia. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)

Tulad nang naisulat dito sa PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), minarapat naming kunin din ang reaksiyon o official statement—kung meron man—ng iba pang major theater groups sa Pilipinas, bukod sa PETA.

Ang mga ito ay ang mga sumusunod: Tanghalang Pilipino, Dulaang U.P., Repertory Philippines, Stages, Philippine Theater Actors Guild, at Gantimpala Theater Foundation.

TANGHALANG PILIPINO. Ang Tanghalang Pilipino ay itinatag noong 1987 bilang resident theater company ng prestihiyosong Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Now celebrating its silver anniversary, sa nasabing theater guild nagsimula at nahasa ang marami nating award-winning actors and directors sa pelikula at telebisyon.

Ang artistic director ng Tanghalang Pilipino na si Fernando "Nanding" Josef—isang noted film, theater, and TV actor—ay may sarili ring pahayag tungkol sa isyu.

Narito ang kanyang email na ipinadala through Paulo Perez ng nasabing theater group:

"Here’s my reluctant participation in the artists sector’s outcry against filmmaker Rafa Santos:

"Activists in the 70’s fought for freedom of expression. Thanks to Lino Brocka and his generation of brave freedom fighters, we are now enjoying freedom of speech and freedom of artistic expression.

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"Rafa Santos had all the right to say what he felt like saying on national television; so do all the theater artists who reacted to Santos’ irresponsible and wrong choice of words to describe what is a most passionate, dedicated and disciplined artists’ sector.

"In his insensitivity and his careless use of the spoken language, he only has himself to blame. This should be one lesson in life that he should never forget and which should guide him in his future actions and public speeches.

"If his apologies are to be believed, then he should now begin to learn how to match the words that come out of his mouth with his real intentions, and make both the words and intentions crystal-clear.

"He should also try to get to know very well the sector he is talking about, whether out of admiration or out of disgust; i.e. never, never, never again, jokingly, much more, seriously, throw any generalized derogatory remark against the theater artists.

"He should know that we are a proud, unafraid, boisterous, highly-charged, ultra-sensitive, venomous species when provoked to defend our territory. But in our sober, lucid and stable moments, we are the most generous, loving, caring, soft-hearted, decent, prim and proper, disciplined, obedient, humble and lovable human beings.

"In the impassioned growling and hurling of burning spits of fire by the slighted theater artists—Hurray! My deepest and sincerest admiration for your collective display of love and respect for our craft.

"Just a little word of unsolicited advice: after the uncontrolled theatrical arias, sometimes betraying some of our own kind of arrogance and self-righteousness, let us now settle down, take a deep breath, and figure out what all that really was.

"Why are we so indignant and so affected by the words of a neophyte, a beginning filmmaker? Most importantly, what can we do to uplift and upgrade the image and reputation of theater artists?

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"And it also makes me wonder what the outsiders, the ’uzis’ (mga usisera), the non-artists and the critics of the artists make out of this free-for-all, uncensored and free-flowing downpour of expletives, name-calling by the artists against another artist, albeit a beginning artist.

"Does our public outcry and courageous display of anger and disgust give our admiring public and our critics a positive or negative image of us, the theater people? Time to reflect, maybe, and then act."

Bilang resident theater group ng CCP, sa CCP theaters din gaganapin ang taunang Cinemalaya filmfest na nasa ika-pitong taon na this year.

DULAANG U.P. Mula naman sa Dulaang U.P., ang theatre arm ng University of the Philippines, may "personal statement" ding ipinadala si Professor Alexander "Alex" Cortez, artistic director ng nasabing theater group na kinabibilangan mostly ng U.P. students at U.P alumni.

Ipinadala ito ni Cortez sa pamamagitan ng text message sa PEP:

"We deplore any acts/statements that will insult theatre actors, artists, and staff.

"We thrive on ’pakikisama’ without being exploitative. We only have respect for theatre artists whose real consolation, after a grueling work, is the adulation and satisfaction of his peers and co-workers.

"Any irresponsible statement derogatory to the theatre profession will not be tolerated."

REPERTORY PHILIPPINES. Mula naman sa Repertory Philippines, isa rin sa mga hinahangaan at pinagkakapuring theater group sa bansa, nagpaunlak si Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, associate artistic director, ng kanyang sariling pananaw o opinyon tungkol sa isyu.

Tulad ni Cortez, nilinaw ni Yulo na sarili niya itong pahayag o personal statement at hindi ito "official statement" na kumakatawan sa buong grupo nila, na si Baby Barredo ang artistic director.

Ipinadala rin ito ni Yulo sa pamamagitan ng text message:

"Well, let me just say, it was a poor choice of words, and yes, it was offensive, although he obviously meant to praise us theatre actors.

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"It was a joke gone bad. But he has apologized and so, let’s move forward. Theater has bigger problems..."

Si Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo ay isa ring respetado at mahusay na theater actress.

STAGES. Samantala, tila nakahanap ng "kakampi" si Rafa Santos in the person of director Audie Gemora, president ng Stages, isa pang major theater production sa bansa.

Text message ni Direk Audie (batikang stage, film, television actor-director, head ng talent management division ng TV5):

"I saw the clip [video of Rafa]. He was in fact complimenting theater people. I got the humor. If said on Leno, Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and the like, his comment would have been kuwela.

"Kaso, dito (sa Pilipinas), Asian ang sensibilities ng tao. Tapos, sensitive nerve pa because showbiz truly takes thespians for granted.

"Rafa will learn fast that everything here is relational. Praise is always better than patama.

"The boy apologized. I urge fellow theater folk to be gracious. We all have had a foot-in-mouth moment."

PHILIPPINE THEATER ACTORS GUILD. Kung cool at on the positive note ang tono ng mga pahayag nina Menchu at Direk Audie, sumasabog naman ang galit at disappointment ng grupong Philippine Theater Actors Guild (PhilTag o TAG), na may maraming members.

Dahil sa pumutok na isyu, isang importante at mainit na meeting ang naganap sa pagitan ng mga aktibong miyembro ng nasabing Guild kagabi, June 29.

Pagkatapos nilang isangguni ang kanilang "official statement" sa kanilang legal adviser, pormal na nila itong ginawang "public" sa pamamagitan ng pag-tag sa Facebook sa kanilang members, industry key players, at concerned media people; kabilang na rito ang writer na ito.

Mula kay Kalila Aguilos, president ng Philippine Theater Actors Guild, at isa ring mahusay na theater, film and TV actress, nagkaisa ang kanilang samahan upang manindigan sa kanilang prinsipyo nais ipaglaban.

Ang nasabing official statement ay pirmado ng 21 members, and as we go to press, ito ay kasalukuyang umiikot sa mas marami pang miyembro upang lumagda.

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Bukod kay Aguilos, sa 21 members na ito, kabilang dito ang mga mahuhusay na theater actors tulad nina Ricci Chan, Vincent de Jesus (isa ring award-winning musical director), actor-director Andoy Ranay, Angeli Bayani, etc.

Tulad ng PETA, nagde-demand ang grupo ng public apology mula kay Rafa Santos on national TV, partikular na sa "same venue" o sa ANC show na yun kunsaan siya lumabas.

Narito ang kanilang pirmadong official statement:

"We, members of the Philippine Theater Actors Guild (TAG), are outraged.

"The insensitive statements of Rafael Santos do not only demean our craft as actors but reinforce the prevalent view with which society, the entertainment industry in particular, regards theater actors and artists—as mere commodities in the realm of television and filmmaking. Rafael Santos has now become the very image of the contempt and ridicule thrown our way as a community.

"We have had enough!

"As theater actors, we go through intensive training and harness our discipline to hone and continually develop our craft. It is this same discipline we bring to any project and share willingly in every endeavor we are involved in.

"The ’cat food and Sky Flakes’ metaphor speaks of the crumbs fed to us, which we have been forced to endure.

"We have had enough!

"The controversy sparked by his irresponsible remarks, intended as a joke perhaps, but one that failed terribly, is a reflection of an industry that has long lost its soul to commercialism and profit. The theater artist has become an aliping namamahay—a slave to a fiefdom ruled by commerce and mediocrity.

"We have had enough! We are now claiming our space.

"We demand an apology from Rafael Santos. We demand that this apology be addressed to all theater actors, and be made in the same venue that he has maligned us.

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"But beyond this controversy, it is imperative to set the direction that TAG envisions for our community: a community of professionals that is respected and acknowledged in the art and entertainment industry.

"We are united in our diversity and determined to collectively act and realize our dream—respect for the theater actor.

"In the end, we dare claim that a society who respects its artists is a society that keeps its soul.

"Signed:

Abad Santos, Ana

Aguilos, Kalila

Atienza, Jojo

Boonggaling, Don Melvin

Bayani, Angeli

Chan, Ricci

De Jesus, Vince

Del Rosario, Rico

Gesmundo, David Cosico

Guanzon, Gwyn

Hernandez, Jeff

Lorenzo, Jojit

Pambid, Karla

Ranay, Andoy

Saracho, Joel

Serrano, Peter

Tagudin, Jojo

Teodoro, Kakki

Tolentino, Neil

Valdes, Joaquin

Yabut, Jack"

Dagdag na impormasyon ni Aguilos sa kanyang post sa kanyang Facebook account, "People on the theatre guild page are now signing this document. We intend to get as many signatures as possible."

GANTIMPALA THEATER FOUNDATION. Kung galit at matapang ang stand ng Philippine Theater Actors Guild, ganoon din ang paninindigang gustong ipagdiinan ng Gantimpala Theater Foundation (dating Bulwagang Gantimpala).

Ang Gantimpala Theater Foundation, isa pang lehitimo, prestihiyoso, at highly-respected theater foundation sa Pilipinas, ay naglabas din ng kanilang "official statement" na kumakatawan sa buong grupo nila.

Ang theater stalwart na si Mr. Tony Espejo ang founding president and artistic director ng nasabing theater foundation.

Narito ang kanilang official statement, sent via text message, in full:

"Although Mr. (Rafa) Santos wrote his apologies, we, the artists of Gantimpala Theater, are still up in arms!

"We have been in the business of giving good theater for more than 3 decades and this is the first time that we find ourselves assaulted insensitively by someone who has not even proven his worth yet in the field of cinema.

"Indeed, you had your 15 minutes of fame with your arrogance and callousness. Shame on you!"

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Samantala, bukas ang PEP para sa panig ng kampo ni Rafa Santos kung may nais siyang ipahayag kaugnay ng mga nailathala sa artikulong ito.


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