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Spreading Ninoy Aquino’s ideals through street plays

/ 10:13 PM September 20, 2011

Running for just 10 minutes and designed to be performed on a street or in a cramped area, a skit on the life, ideals and martyrdom of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. has captured the admiration of young leaders, including his nephew.

Premiered on the 28th death anniversary of Aquino, the play by Teatro Fernandino sent Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV to tears.

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“It’s one of the best presentations I’ve seen on the life of my uncle,” says Bam, when he began to speak on what Aquino meant to the Filipino youth.

“It was very touching, a world-class presentation,” he told the audience of mostly college students. “Naiyak ako (I cried).”

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Bam, whose father Paul is a younger brother of Aquino, thanked the performers—Pearl Lagman, 22; Kelvin Vistan, 21; and Pax Manabat, 23.

Like a Greek chorus, the three artists entered the stage posing this question in Filipino: “Life is so difficult and we have so many practical concerns. Do you still have time to think about Ninoy?”

Then they changed characters, becoming ordinary persons.

Who Ninoy was is revealed as they scurried to get the P500 bill they found on the street.

Familiar techniques

Using the techniques of street plays familiar during the rule of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, the trio employed body movements and sounds to shift from scene to scene, from comic to tragic.

They recited some of Aquino’s touching statements that were written during his almost eight years in prison, pushing the story until it reached that part where Aquino, despite pleas by his mother Doña Aurora and wife Corazon, made his great leap of faith in the capacity of Filipinos to effect change.

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Taking turns in wearing a pair of eyeglasses—dark-rimmed and square frames similar to Aquino’s trademark eye wear—they asked the audience, “Kamukha ko na ba si Ninoy? (Do I look like Ninoy now?).” Some in the audience, adults or younger ones, replied “No.”

Tough act

The actors said Aquino’s sacrifice was a tough act to follow. “We won’t be like Aquino in our own ways unless we have gone out of our way to make small and big sacrifices for the Motherland, for others and for God,” they chorused.

Bam said his uncle’s story is a “story of transformation.” He was 6 years old when Aquino, returning from a three-year exile in the United States, was shot dead as he stepped out of a plane that landed at the then Manila International Airport on Aug. 21, 1983.

For Bam, Ninoy and Cory were “never shadows.”

“They are guiding stars we could emulate,” he said. “Let us remember their sacrifices, decisions to serve the country and their bravery.”

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