Virgin Labfest, the festival of “unpublished, unstaged, untested and untried” plays, brings its unang puga (first run) to Cagayan de Oro City from December 4 to 7, 2019. This will be the first time the VLF ventures out of the CCP and into the regions to reach a wider audience.
Co-presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Liceo de Cagayan University, the Extra Virgin Labfest will feature nine one-act works, which has been meticulously selected and curated from the manuscripts submitted by regional playwrights.
For its opening salvo on December 4, 7pm, Extra VLF presents a back-to-back performance of Dominique Beatrice T. La Victoria’s “Ang Bata sa Drum,” which will be directed by Tat Soriano, and Maynard Manansala’s “Dalawang Gabi,” directed by Hobart Savior.
Featured in the 12th edition of VLF, “Ang Bata sa Drum” follows the story of a young boy who finds comfort inside a drum after he is punished by his father.
“Dalawang Gabi,” meanwhile, tells of two separate encounters between a middle-aged teacher and her former student which happen two years apart. The play was presented in the 11th edition of VLF.
The “extra virgin” plays are divided into four sets.
Presented on December 5, Set A includes: Gil Nambatac’s “Si Balaw ug ang Lablab sa Palawpaw,” directed by Roland Rivera; Darren Bendanillo’s “Banga,” directed by Zip Mercado de Guzman; and Norman Isla’s “Daang Papunta, Daang Pabalik,” directed by Pepito Sumayan.
In “Si Balaw ug ang Lablab sa Palawpaw,” the arrival of foreign invaders disturbs the lives of the indigenous community in Palaopao, Bukidnon.
“Banga” follows the story of a refugee from Zamboanga as she attempts to cross a checkpoint manned by a brutish soldier. “Daang Papunta, Daang Pabalik” is about two siblings who are caught in a rift between the military and the rebels in a war-torn region in Mindanao.
Set B, to be shown on December 6, is composed of: Mario Lendel Barinque’s “Ang Mga Babae sa Kusina,” directed by Denise ‘Honey’ Aguilar and Jesus Christopher Salon; Jim Raborar’s “Bulan,” directed by Tat Soriano and Aldren Alferez’s “Crystal Clear,” directed by Maia Poblete.
“Ang Mga Babae sa Kusina” is the story of a househelp who remembers the children she had raised in her last hours on earth. “Bulan” is the tale of five teachers in Sitio Bolol, Brgy. Asuncion, Koronadal City who try to break a curse. In “Crystal Clear,” a teacher tries to clear her name from a violation she allegedly committed against her students.
The festival continues on December 7 with Set C, consisted of: Angelo Dabbay’s “Pultahan,” directed by Hobart Savior and Kenneth Sabijon; Reil Benedict Obinque’s “Act of Contrition,” directed by Anito Librando and Jet Paclar; and Karlwinn Paitan’s “Unsay Koneksyon sa Iring,” directed by Felimon Blanco.
“Pultahan” tells about a confused man as he struggles to open a door that does not budge in a mysterious room with an unknown companion. “Act of Contrition” revolves around a young man who confronts a priest after experiencing trauma in the past. After stray cats enter their home, a minor accident leads the family to reveal their secrets in “Unsay Koneksyon sa Iring?”
Established in 2005, the Virgin Labfest aims to provide Filipino playwrights a venue to present their unpublished, untried, untested and unstaged works to the theater-going public. For the past 15 years, Virgin Labfest has redefined the theater scene with the staging of untried, untested and unstaged remarkable works by emerging and established playwrights, and started a renaissance of theater art appreciation among the Filipino audiences.