Rizal's Crisostomo Ibarra story in a ballet musical? A graceful way of telling Dr. Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere novel.
Our ticket was scheduled on 2pm but as we approached the San Agustin Gym, students (in secondary and tertiary levels) all over the City and out of town gathered to watch the ballet musical as a requirement for their Filipino, Rizal and History subjects, and of course, in support of Negros Museum's cause. We can no longer enter the gym as it was literally full (tickets were sold out). Thanks to Ihvonie of The Negros Museum informed us that we could still use our tickets for the 6pm show and it would be nicer since we could appreciate the lighting effects of the stage compared in the afternoon's show.
I was so excited upon entering the gym. My eyes were glued directly on stage (it already started when we arrived for the 6pm show) even before finding seats for us. Didn't felt bored watching the contemporary ballet play until through the ending part... if only our history and literature classes were taught to us creatively like this, I would have loved it more! It's really entertaining.
Though we don't have an air-conditioned gym in Bacolod City for this kind of events where we'll not see the ballerinas and danseurs melting with sweat, it is still such a beautiful experience.
"Crisostomo Ibarra" of Ballet Philippines is the winner of the 2010 Gawad Buhay Awards for the Performing Arts (Outstanding Dance Production and Outstanding Ensemble Performance). It is part of their National Tour celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
They also performed last July 22-23, 2011 in Dumaguete opening Siliman University's 49th Cultural Season at the Luce Auditorium. In Bacolod, they performed at the Colegio San Agustin Gym last July 25.
For those who want to watch the play you can still catch them on:
August 23 - Adamsons University, Manila
September 5 - Lyceum University, Intramuros, Manila
Their tour will take them to Singapore (courtesy of Air Asia) and key venues in Batangas, Cavite, Iligan City, TaclobanCity, Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City.
Ballet Philippines' artistic director, Paul Alexander Morales, choreographed the contemporary ballet "Crisostomo Ibarra". It depicts Ibarra's transformation from his aristocratic idealist to revolutionary pragmatist.
Music is by Jed Balsamo while the sets and costumes by Jose Melencio.
The videos as a backdrop of the set are by filmmaker Ruelo Lozendo. It is a testament to the multi-media inclination and collaborative nature of Ballet Philippines' Morales, who is also a theater director and filmmaker
Before watching the show, it is better to know the characters of the story first and a little bit of their background to understand the play better:
Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin, commonly referred to the novel as Ibarra or Crisóstomo, is the protagonist in the story. Son of a Filipino businessman, Don Rafael Ibarra, he studied in Europe for seven years.
Ibarra is also María Clara's fiancé.
Upon his return, Ibarra requested the local government of San Diego to construct a public school to promote education in the town.
Upon finding that Padre Damaso ordered that the corpse of Ibarra's father, Don Rafael, was to be transferred to a Chinese cemetery then dumped into a river, he didn't really think of revenge at the time. Ibarra didn't believe in brute force in the fight for justice. He believed that changes could be achieved through little but organized steps. He also believed that evil must also exist because it is always accompanied with kindness. Ibarra is usually able to control his temper but was once angered when his father was disrespected.
Several sources claim that Ibarra is also Rizal's reflection: both studied in Europe and both persons believe in the same ideas. In the sequel of Noli, El filibusterismo, Ibarra returned with different character and name: he called himself as Simoun, the English mestizo.
María Clara de los Santos y Alba, commonly referred to as María Clara.
She is the most dominant yet weakest representation of women in the setting. When thinking of Noli, the name of María Clara can be seen predominantly as an image of ideal Filipina women. María Clara is the primary female character in the novel. She is seen as the daughter of Capitán Tiago and Doña Pía Alba. Doña Pía died when delivering Maria Clara. The poor child only grew under the guidance and supervision of Tía Isabél, Capitán Tiago's cousin.
María Clara is known to be Ibarra's lover since childhood. When Ibarra was away in Europe, Capitán Tiago sent Maria Clara to Beaterio de Santa Clara where she developed femininity under religion.
Later in the novel, María Clara discovers that her biological father is not Capitán Tiago, but the San Diego's former curate and her known godfather Padre Dámaso instead.
In the end she entered local covenant for nuns Beaterio de Santa Clara. In the epilogue dealing with the fate of the characters, Rizal stated that it is unknown if María Clara is still living within the walls of the covenant or she is already dead.
The character of María Clara was patterned after Leonor Rivera, Rizal's first cousin and childhood sweetheart.
Don Santíago de los Santos, commonly known as Capitán Tiago, is the only son of a wealthy trader in Malabon. Due to his mother's cruelty, Capitán Tiago did not attain any formal education. He became a servant of a Dominican priest. When the priest and his father died, Capitán Tiago decided to assist in the family business of trading before he met his wife Doña Pía Alba, who came from another wealthy family. Because of their consistent devotion to Santa Clara in Obando, they were given a daughter who shared same features as Padre Damaso, who is Maria Clara.
Capitán Tiago owned many properties in Pampanga, Laguna and especially, in San Diego. He also managed boarding houses along Daang Anloague and Santo Cristo (in San Diego too) and had contracts for opening an opium business.
He is with the priests because he gave lump of money during ecclesiastical donations and always invited the parish curate every dinner. He was also with the government because he always supported tax increase whenever the local officials wished. That was the reason he obtained the title of gobernadorcillo, the highest government position that a non-Spaniard could have in the Philippines.
Later in the Noli sequel, El Filibusterismo, Capitán Tiago loses all his properties and becomes addicted to opium, which would eventually lead to his death.
Dámaso Verdolagas, or Padre Dámaso is a Franciscan friar and the former parish curate of San Diego. He is best known as a notorious character who speaks with harsh words and has been a cruel priest during his stay in the town. He is the real father of María Clara and an enemy of Crisóstomo's father, Rafael Ibarra. Later, he and María Clara had bitter arguments whether she would marry Alfonso Linares or go to a convent. At the end of the novel, he is again re-assigned to a distant town and is found dead one day.
In popular culture, when a priest was said to be like Padre Dámaso, it means that he is a cruel but respectable individual. When one says a child is "anak ni Padre Damaso" (child of Padre Dámaso), it means that the child's father's identity is unknown.
Eliás came from the family which the Ibarra clan downtrodden for generations. He grew up in a wealthy family until when he discovered something that changed his life forever.
He is Ibarra's mysterious friend and ally. Elías made his first appearance as a pilot during a picnic of Ibarra and María Clara and her friends. He wants to revolutionize the country and to be freed from Spanish oppression.
The 50th chapter of the novel explores the past of Elías and history of his family. In the past, Ibarra's great-grandfather condemned Elías' grandfather of burning a warehouse which led into misfortune for Elías' family. His father was refused to be married by his mother because his father's past and family lineage was discovered by his mother's family. In the long run, Elías and his twin sister was raised by their maternal grandfather. When they were teenagers, their distant relatives called them hijos de bastardo or illegitimate children. One day, his sister disappeared which led him to search for her. His search led him into different places, and finally, he became a fugitive and subversive.
Doña Victorina de los Reyes de de Espadaña, commonly known as Doña Victorina, is an ambitious Filipina who classifies herself as Spanish and mimics Spanish ladies by putting on heavy make-up. The novel narrates Doña Victorina's younger days: she had lots of admirers, but she didn't choose any of them because nobody was a Spaniard. Later on, she met and married Don Tiburcio de Espadaña, an official of the customs bureau who is about ten years her junior. However, their marriage is childless.
Her husband assumes the title of medical doctor even though he never attended medical school; using fake documents and certificates, Tiburcio practices illegal medicine. Tiburcio's usage of the title Dr. consequently makes Victorina assume the title Dra. (doctora, female doctor). Apparently, she uses the whole name Doña Victorina de los Reyes de de Espadaña, with double de to emphasize her marriage surname. She seems to feel that this awkward titling makes her more "sophisticated."
Don Tiburcio de Espadaña
Don Tiburcio de Espadaña is a Spanish Quack Doctor who is limp and submissive to his wife, Doña Victorina.
Padre Bernardo Salví
Padre Bernardo Salví the Franciscan curate of San Diego, secretly harboring lust for María Clara. He is described to be very thin and sickly. It is also hinted that his last name, "Salvi" is the shorter form of "Salvi" meaning Salvation, or "Salvi" is short for "Salvaje" meaning bad hinting to the fact that he is willing to kill an innocent child, Crispin, just to get his money back, though there was not enough evidence that it was Crispin who has stolen his 2 onzas.
Narcisa is the mother of Basilio and Crispin. Shows how Filipino mothers love their children.
Sisa, Crispin, and Basilio represent a Filipino family persecuted by the Spanish authorities. Narcisa or Sisa is the deranged mother of Basilio and Crispin. Described as beautiful and young, although she loves her children very much, she cannot protect them from the beatings of her husband, Pedro.
Tia Isabel is Capitán Tiago's cousin, who raised Maria Clara.
Sinang is Maria Clara's friend. Because Crisostomo Ibarra offered half of the school he was building to Sinang, he gained Kapitan Basilio's support.
Teniente Guevarra is a kind Spanish Lieutenant. He is a close friend of Don Rafael Ibarra (Crisostomo Ibarra's father). He reveals to Crisóstomo how Don Rafael Ibarra's death came about.
Ballet Philippines' Crisostomo Ibarra Synopsis:
Scene 1 - ALON (the waves)
Crisostomo Ibarra a young illustrado sits alone a ship deck en route to Manila from Europe. He is in deep mourning, having cut his studies short with the news of his father's sudden death at home.
He strives to remain standing even as the ship sways from side to side, buffeted by strong winds and the big waves of the open sea.
The other passengers on deck mix with characters from his mind; his ideal love, the personified dream for his country, his father's ghost who as of yet he cannot see.
Scene 2 - KWADRO (the frame)
Captain Tiago holds a dinner party at his house to celebrate the return of Ibarra.
Friars, priests, Spanish officials and the local affluent including the ridiculous Doña Victorina and Don Tiburcio are all invited.
As Ibarra presents himself, he is welcomed with a cold shoulder by Padre Damaso who Ibarra remembers as being his father's closed friend.
Scene 3 - SALAMIN (the reflection)
After the party, a kind Spanish Lieutenant reveals to Ibarra the true circumstances of his father's death.
We glimpse into the future of his quest as he searches for his father's grave. From a gravedigger he finds out that the body was finally just thrown into the sea, denied a Christian burial.
He confronts Padre Salvi, the new village priest thinking that he is to blame for the tragic fate of his father. Padre Salvi points his finger to Padre Damaso making Ibarra realize that the former village priest is in fact the person who is behind his troubles.
Scene 4 - AWIT (the song)
Sisa is accosted by the local guardia civil who are searching for her children.
Meanwhile in Manila, Maria Clara prepares herself to meet her betrothed, Ibarra. At first, she feels disheartened but Sinang and Tiya Isabel pushes her out to face him.
In Ibarra's heart she is the song of hope, an ideal in her fragility. Their childhood memories start to connect their shy hearts. Maria Clara reminds Ibarra of the leaves she gave him before he left and he shows her that he has kept the leaves in his wallet. Maria Clara then in turn shows Ibarra the letter he gave to her before his departure that she kept all this time close to her heart.
Reading the letter reminds him of his sad duty to his father. As he is about to leave, she offers him a bouquet of flowers for his father's grave.
Scene 5 - LARO (the game)
Padre Salvi takes a peek at the ladies who are playing in the river.
Later at the gathering, Ibarra plays chess with Don Basilio. The game ends happily for Ibarra who receives a telegram informing him that his project to build a school has been approved.
Sisa begins to wander through the town. She has lost her mind together with her young children.
At the church, Padre Damaso essays his fire and brimstone version of faith. Maria Clara gives her bejeweled locket, out of pity to a leper. Meanwhile, Elias approaches Ibarra to warn him about a plot to kill him. Through his help, Ibarra survives the accident at the groundbreaking for the new school. Later at the luncheon the tension between Padre Damaso and Ibarra causes panic among the onlookers as the latter threatens the life of the priest. Maria Clara puts a stop to it and Ibarra surrenders the weapon to her. They leave Ibarra alone.
Scene 6 - PALABAS (the show)
Ibarra is now excommunicated by the church and alienated with Maria Clara.
Nonetheless, the annual town fiesta is celebrated with pomp and pageantry including guest performers from Manila whose repertoire includes the chase of the Princess and the Giant.
Meanwhile, Padre Salvi organizes his own spectacle, a failed revolution that paints Ibarra as the mastermind, an insurekto.
Padre Salvi has managed to pry Ibarra's letter from Maria Clara, in exchange for the letter that names the true identity of her father. The evidence of the letter seals Ibarra's fate and he is jailed.
Scene 7 - HALIK (the kiss)
Managing to escape prison with the help of Elias, Ibarra visits Maria to give his forgiveness and to say goodbye. She tells him the truth about her real father, again asking Ibarra for his forgiveness.
Finally he understands. They embrace each other and kiss. He leaves her alone at the balcony.
Scene 8 - AGOS (the current)
Padre Damaso and Maria Clara continue their warm relationship; as a priest and as one of the faithful hiding their now mutual knowledge of their true relationship.
Sisa and Elias succumb to their wounds and sacrificing their lives to their causes.
Escaping Manila by water, Crisostomo Ibarra dons different disguises and slowly changes identity. Adrift again on the raging seas, Ibarra's fate is once again coupled with the raging winds of change.
Crisostomo Ibarra is presented in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts NCCA in celebration of the Philippines as the ASEAN Cultural Capital for 2010-2011. It top bills Jean Marc Cordero reprising Crisostomo Ibarra; silver medalist in the recently concluded International Ballet Competition, Candice Adea, as Maria Clara; Kit Trofeo, Angel Gabriel, and Carissa Adea lead the cast. The Ballet Philippines touring group also includes Bacolod's Macel Dofitas.
This production is Ballet Philippines' second offering for its 41st season, Hero's Journey. An excellent artistic and educational supplement for students taking Filipino and Rizal classes, Crisostomo Ibarra brings together history and ballet in this new interpretation of the novel that shaped a nation.
--- with infos from the Negros Museum and Ballet Philippines; en.wikipedia.org | photos by Dustin Mijares (shots taken without flash due to the play's house rules and set restrictions)