June 19, 2011, Luneta. I remember softly screaming and telling Alison, Sipat Lawin’s company manager that we did it. ‘Shet! Nagawa natin! Nagawa natin!’.
It was the 150th Birthday of Jose Rizal. Drenched in an upcoming storm, we were determined to penetrate Luneta, greet Jose Rizal a happy Birthday and show to the ‘world’ that we will follow Jose Rizal’s footsteps in reverse and march backwards to his prison cell in Fort Santiago.
Armed with more than 20 participants with the rest backing out before the parade because of heavy rainfall in the morning, we won’t allow anything to rain on our parade, except for the rain, of course. We were wearing swimsuits. Leeroy New, our production designer together with his team were dressing everyone in water resistant orange conduits. The mind-set was this: one gets wet for 5 hours in the beach and not get sick, then why can’t we be wet for 5 hours in a public park. The ensemble players were restless, excited restless. Red flag signals were given. Everyone fought and struggled to find their center; zen mode is the way to go.
Days prior to the parade, we have a media team covering our preps from costume-making to rehearsals in Fort Santiago. We are about to get featured on television as a performance company celebrating Rizal’s birthday in a very different way. Dubbed as ‘Strange Pilgrims: Rizal +150 Reverse Cosplay Parade Edition’, the happening is an open event encouraging the public to join the Ensemble’s reverse parade from Luneta to Fort Santiago while costume-playing in futuristic Rizal-inspired costume. The initial intention or idea is to re-imagine, re-create and re-think Jose Rizal and his iconic characters for the present and future generation, for another 150 years. We did the rounds of interviews for different news shows. The media were interested and we were carefully directing how we want to be framed, at least. Wink In the eye. This will turn out to be our first large-scale public intervention after a few years of developing site-specific works in parking lots, living rooms and at the Virgin Labfest festival of new works at the Cultural Center. Almost a hundred confirmed attendance, the storm lashed us down to a little more than 20. Still, we insisted to do the march from Luneta and burn our moth effigy at the Fort Santiago. 5pm, we started our pilgrimage.
The plan is to offer synthetic flowers to Rizal, sing a happy birthday song and start the backward march. We were stopped by the Luneta Park police and asked us if we have permit to perform and shoot. We told them that we were permitted by the Rizal family (headed by Ms. Liza Bayot a direct descendant from the Saturnina line). The guards insisted that we don’t have legal permits and we also insisted that we’ll just offer flowers to Rizal as encouraged by the park. Heated conversation followed until our prod manager Tara asked the assistance of our police entourage (yes, we had a police entourage courtesy of Rizal family). The guards were intimidated and the crazy bunch advanced to the statue with their police and media entourage. Upon approaching the monument, an eerie sense of wonder, almost ethereal, etheric, almost holy, came to me. We were inches close to the National Hero. We were singing the Happy Birthday song. This weird bunch of wonderful beautiful god-knows-what-f- they’re-doing creatures paid respect to the national hero. I was softly screaming, a little louder than the rain, ‘Shet! Nagawa natin! Nagana natin.’
The Ensemble then started the reverse walk. During the 30-min procession, I ran towards Bec, the reporter in charge of the coverage and told her about that eerie feeling of wonder, that epiphany that I had at he park. It wasn’t just really about re-imagining, re-creating, re-interpreting Rizal and his images, It wasn’t just about adapting Rizal for the present time, audiences and for the future. The whole event, the whole happening, the whole act is just simply about creating possibilities, showing possibilities and moving possibilities. No rationale will be released but the interaction and even the coverage, no matter how it will be framed, is a testament of something different, deviant for some, relevantly irrelevant for plenty. The image of this ‘unusual’ bunch doing their ritual with the national hero is unimaginable until it done, performed, acted upon by this ‘unusual’ bunch. If the relevance of Rizal’s birth and life is about creating, showing, and moving possibilities, then we were able to honor him the best way we can.
We can start simply with that: to create, show and move possibilities to jump start more possibilities for audiences in different communities. The act is for that young boy in the province watching tv with his imagination taking flight. It is for that unknown, unseen, unnamed to know that it is possible, there are things that are just possible, one just need to act upon it.
This is where we intend to bring the theater and we had just started.
To more soft and not so soft screams! To sense of wonder! To powerful and meaningful interactions! To more crazy and unusual bunch of players. To boundless borderless possibilities! To feeling and sensing and moving. To life, dynamic! Join us.
2012. Sipat Lawin Ensemble. Posible.
*raw file habang naglo-load ang video ng Rizal +150 sa Fb at dahil nais kong ibahagi sa ating lahat na naniniwala sa kakayahang lumikha, magkakasama. edit ko ‘to bukas. 🙂