From left: Marcos, the protesters on the steps of Palma Hall, and Cortez at curtain call.
Culture Spotlight

Apologies, opinions, rage: After the flash protest against Marcos presence in ‘Bernarda Alba’

The esteemed playwright Floy Quintos, who has written many of his plays for Dulaang UP, shares his views on the flash protest against Irene Marcos’s presence at UP’s Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater Friday night, and the call to boycott the theater group’s efforts.
ANCX Staff | Sep 11 2019

Award-winning playwright Floy Quintos took to Facebook last Saturday to express his opinion and sentiments over the flash protest that took place at the opening night of Dulaang UP’s production of The House of Bernarda AlbaAs was reported by ANCX that Saturday, a group of students protested the presence of Irene Marcos, daughter of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in the audience. The group of about 30 students identified themselves as members of Anakbayan UP Diliman and STAND UP or Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP. The group repeatedly chanted: "Marcos, Hitler, Diktador, Tuta!" during the play’s intermission. 

Director Alexander Cortez (seated in the middle wearing black long sleeved shirt) with the cast and crew members of 'The House of Bernarda Alba.' On his left is Banaue Miclat-Janssen, DUP artistic director. Photograph by Totel V. de Jesus

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“Hindi po kami pumapayag sa kawalang hustisya at di pag-amin ng mga Marcoses sa kanilang nagawa laban sa sambayanang Pilipino," said a student that ANCX contributor Totel de Jesus spoke to. “Hanggang ngayon wala pa ring resulta sa mga kaso ng desaparecidos, mga estudyante ng UP na hindi pa rin nakikita ang mga katawan.” 

News of the protest has reached the online community, and some are calling for a boycott of Dulaang UP plays, while some are questioning the extent of Irene Marcos Araneta’s support for the theater group. 

"The theatre stage is one of the most powerful and effective tools in affecting change in society, which is why any Marcos' presence is an insult not only to the audience and the UP community, but most especially to the actors and the staff," said the statement from a campus org called Spectacle which is under the department of speech communication and theater arts. "Honor and excellence should transpire in everything we do as Artista ng Bayan, and there is no honor nor excellence in welcoming any member of the Marcos family in our university."

Dulaang UP issued a statement last September 8, apologizing to the UP community and the public for Irene's presence at the gala performance of Bernarda Alba. The group also apologized to the members of the audience for the disruptions during and after the performance. "Individuals in DUP may have differences in political leanings," the letter said, "but we wish to assure the UP community and the public that DUP will be more discerning in its actions in the future. We have not forgotten the atrocities of Martial Law and we are one with community in its protest against human rights abuses."

Quintos is one of the stalwarts at Dulaang UP. He has written a lot of plays for the esteemed theater group, among them the acclaimed St. Louis Loves Dem Filipinos and Angry Christ, as well as the recently restaged The Kundiman Party, which touched on the middle class’s view on the government’s war on drugs. 

In his social media post, Quintos lauded the students for practicing their rights but also encouraged the theater group to keep on doing the service that they do. Below is Quintos’s post in full. He says that the statements are his views entirely, and are thus “in no way reflective of the Official DUP position and statement on the issue.”

A scene from 'The House of Bernarda Alba,' which is the final masterpiece of Spanish playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Photo from the Facebook page of Dulaang UP

“Once again, a proud  UP tradition was upheld. Personally, I am happy that the convictions of UP students were so quickly ignited and acted upon. It is their God-given right. It is in the finest tradition of the University. 

“Though I was not there personally during opening night (having seen the dress tech a few nights before and given my own critique), I was told that the demonstrators quieted down during the acts and resumed protesting only during intermission and at the end of the play. If this is indeed true, Bravo to all of you who stood your ground. Your respect for the endeavors of your fellow students is commendable. You have much better manners than many 'educated' audiences who use their celphones while watching a performance.

“I have seen many posts that say that DUP was insensitive to allow Irene Marcos- Araneta into the Guerrero Theater. I have been told that apologies for having hurt the sensibilities of the UP community and explanations as to why she was allowed to attend are in order. From what I see on my feed, a witchhunt for 'loyalist and crony' directors is going on in Social Media, calls for a boycott of DUP productions are mounting.

“Alright, this is where things will get prickly for me.

“I have my own strong convictions against the Marcoses’ return to power and the erasure of all human rights violations that occurred during Martial Law. 

“But I am just as passionately AGAINST barring anyone from coming to watch a performance. Anyone who makes the effort to come to the theater, pay for a ticket, and share in an artistic vision of any theatrical endeavor. That for me goes against the highest and noblest aim of the Theater to engage an audience in the experience of a live performance and the ideas that a play espouses. To bar anyone from buying a ticket and watching a performance would be an act of Fascism just as grave and as terrible as any other.

While commending the protesters, Quintos strongly expressed his view that everyone must be allowed to watch theater. Photograph by Medal Elepaño

“In this day and age of easy entertainment fixes, DUP has sought, through 45 seasons, to mount both world classics and original Filipino works. My best work as a playwright has always been reserved for DUP because I believe in the sanctity of its vision and the audience accessibility of its productions. Any theatergoer will tell you this. DUP tickets are still the most inexpensive, the season offerings are the most intellectually adventurous, the standards of excellence a notch higher than other more commercial ventures. The number of respected Theater professionals—actors, directors, playwrights, designers, technicians—who have learned their craft at the Guerrero theater are among the most respected in the country. 

“More importantly, through countless seasons, the plays have ranged from the difficult classics of the World repertoire to new work by Filipino playwrights. These works have examined the human condition, the politics of Left, Right, and Center, the highest aspirations of the ages as well as the most base instincts of human beings. At DUP, commercial viability of a play is never the primary concern in the selection. What DUP values most is the experience of Illumination. For the students and artists who bring a play to life. It is an experience that CANNOT BE DENIED to any one who is interested enough to come all the way to Diliman and pay for a ticket.

“Alright, the counter argument to this is that DUP operates within the University system and that the feelings of the academic community must be respected. Well and good. THEN MAKE IT A MATTER OF POLICY. Let the UP Board of Regents or the Chancellor decree UP off limits to these individuals (and this goes for all academic institutions that claim to truly represent the sentiments of the students and the academic community). Make it an Official policy to bar the Marcoses and whoever is deemed unfit to enter or is offensive to the community. Officially and as a governing body of the University, state their names and declare them Persona Non Grata. The University authorities should do this now and with the conviction and finality that the academic community expect.

'The House of Bernarda Alba' is about a widow who keeps her six daughters from having relationships with men. Photo from the Facebook page of Dulaang UP

“Have the conviction enough to set the policies for us because AS ARTISTS OF THE THEATER, our consciences tell us this: Our discourse, the discourse of the Theater, should always and forever be open to all. This is our respect for the intellectual freedom that the Theater, at its very noblest, espouses.

“And please, let us stop these chidish comparisons between the Ateneo Arete issue and DUP. Both campuses have been enriched by the collaborations between DUP and Tanghalang Ateneo. But it irks me to hear UP students saying, 'Arete apologized and one faculty member resigned!'—implying that DUP must do the same.

“DUP has been here, servicing the academic community and Filipino society and bringing the University pride for some 45 years, way longer than Arete has.  

“Whatever else happens with this issue, it is my hope that DUP chooses to uphold the democracy of the Theater and the sacred freedom of making the ideas of a play or any Art experience open to all.

“As for the popular BOYCOTT DUP hashtag going around, again, it is the sacred right of any member of the academic community to push this agenda. But it is also DUP's mission to continue servicing Filipino society by pushing on with its season of plays and inculcating the discipline of the Theater to those enrolled in the program. 

“My sincere hope for DUP is this: that this experience strengthens the resolve to continue. 

“I hope the performances proceed, boycott or no.

“I pray the lights will go up, whatever the political spectrum of the audience. 

“Whatever else, the show—and the discourse—must go on.”

 

Floy Quintos
Playwright
The Kundiman Party/  Angry Christ/ Ang Huling Lagda ni Apolinario Mabini/ Ang Nawalang Kapatid/Collection/ Fluid/ Fake/ Isang Panaginip na Fili/ Shock Value/ Atang/ St. Louis Loves Dem Filipinos. (All works written for Dulaang UP)