UP Productions

Sa Kaharian ng Araw [To the Kingdom of the Sun]
Book by Onofre Pagsanghan
Music and Direction by meLê yamomo
Additional Lyrics and Choreography by Karen Camposuelo

Albay Astrodome, Legazpi City (2003)
Sinag Arts Studio (2002 )
Pundaquit Festival of the Arts, CASA San Miguel, Zambales (2000)
GANAP Theater Festival, Quezon City (2000)
University Theatre, University of the Philippines-Diliman  (2000)
With the UP Integrated School (1999)
Cultural Center of the Philippines (1997)

Director’s Notes for the 2002 Performance

The first decision that I had to make when we did our 2000 theatre tour was to make Ponce and Paolo speak in Southern Tagalog accent. It was after five years of sojourn in the metropolis that I began to search for my roots and identity. Interestingly, as Pagsi’s lyrical verse drama remains to speak to me of a poignant point in life, it provokes me to juxtapose the play’s narrative to our own history. I have earlier on written an article about Kaharian in a Historical and Geographical Perspective (which I later on conveniently submitted as a paper for my Literary Criticism class). I had to go through Soja, Foucault, Benjamin, Adorno and Tadiar to piece together the postmodern re-interpretation of the play. While Pagsanghan brought the play in various spaces of the allegorical kingdoms, and while I attempted to explore the multi-spatiality and multi-dimensionality of the theater stage, Neferti Tadiar points toward virtual space that our nation is heading for in the fast-growing global/internet age. It is in this complexity of the postmodern age that we long greatly to find our identity, our roots and our soul as a people and as human beings. With the rise of the “modernist project” of economic-efficiency embodied by industrialization and high-capitalism, the human soul proportionally diminished. Pagsi speaks through Paolo,” Kahibangan! Tao ang sa pangarap mo’y kabayaran,

Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief (2006)
UP Abelardo Hall, in celebration of the 90th anniversarry of the UP College of Music


Tanya Corcuerca, Miss Todd
Gabriela Francisco, Laeticia
Michele Sullera, Miss Pinkerton
Zuriel Valbuena, Bob

Ferdinand Bambico, Piano

Vina Gonzales, Musical Direction
meLê yamomo, Artistic Direction

The Philippine premiere of
Maurice Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortileges (2006)
University of the Philippines – Abelardo Hall
November 22 and 23, 2006

A production of the UP Opera Workshop,  UP Dance Company, and AWIT

Production Design: Otto Hernandez
Choreography: Angela Lawenko
Musical Direction: Vina Gonzalez
Artistic Direction: meLê yamomo

Director’s Notes

At the height of the French colonization in Indochina, Maurice Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortileges was first staged in Paris in 1925.  A year after the establishment of French protectorate in Cambodia, Paris Musée Indochinois opened in Trocadéro (now the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques in Musée Guimet).   The “Arts d’Extrême-Orient” Collection of the museum became the repository of the most important collection of sculptures and bas-reliefs from the Angkor Wat.  These brought the culture and mystical philosophies of Cambodia to the artistes and cultural intelligentsia of the Late Romantic and Modern Paris.  In music, Debussy and Ravel were fascinated by the Asian musical modes.  Debussy painted images of meditating Buddhist monks and pagodas in his impressionistic piano pieces.  We hear in L’enfant’s opening scene contemplative pentatonic melody which I place more in a rural Cambodian village than Collette’s original Normandy setting.    

Two Christmases ago, I remember meeting a young Buddhist monk on the topmost tower of the great Angkor Wat, who upon learning I was Filipino excitedly blurted the names Ina, Jericho and Powers.  Clueless as I was to TV culture (even of our country), I stood there listening to him break out into singing “Pangako sa ‘yo.”  Last Christmas, the introverted me, found myself stuck in my hotel room—my first Christmas snow falling outside and I watching a video of Nederland Ballet Theater’s staging of  L’enfant et les Sortileges on my laptop.   I was dreaming of warmer Philippine Christmas and thinking about how far we are from seeing opera posters on billboards, buses and subway stations like in Seoul, instead of the endless underwear ads in Manila. 

Today, in our postmodern world – postcolonial for most Southeast Asian nations – the politics and dynamics of intercultural encounters constantly shifts and reconfigures.  Media and the arts cross cultural boundaries in unprecedented rate and means.  How am I supposed to react to a Buddhist monk in his saffron robe in the high temple of Angkor Wat talk to me about Philippine soap opera?  Or should I be amazed that my closest experience to the Old Soviet Russian Ballet would be watching Nutcracker in Seoul choreographed by Oleg Vinagradov, former artistic director of Kirov Ballet now relocated in Korea as the artistic director of Universal Ballet?  

Following the tradition of critical and scholarly art practice, I’d like to look into Ravel in the postcolonial framework.  In a globalizing world where multinational capitalist culture could easily confound us, I’d like to revisit Schechner contrasting the “internationalism” of the 70s cultural practice to the current practice of “interculturalism”.  He points out that “the real exchange of importance to artists was not that among nations, which really suggests official exchanges and artificial boundaries, but the exchange among cultures which could be done by individuals…and it doesn’t obey national boundaries.”  Or to Barucha’s critique of the particular Euro-American theatrical trend to borrow across cultures uncritically.  I hope to give honor to the profundity of our culture and talent as Southeast Asians who throughout history have equally enriched the Western art and music in their creation and our interpretation.  And vice versa.