Because of his intelligence and perseverance, Jess Resureccion (Marco Viana) has overcome extreme poverty to become a doctor. He now wants to run as mayor in their poor fishing village, in a sincere desire to bring real change and progress to the place where he grew up as a child. However, Dr. Jess's boorish, barely educated cousin, Boy Pogi Resureccion (Jonathan Tadioan), was running against him, obviously as a nuisance candidate in order to confuse voters because of their similar surnames.
The play followed the events of one fateful day when Dr. Jess went out of the way of his campaign trail to visit the seaside hovel where Boy Pogi lived with his parents, the drunkard Papang (Nanding Josef) and patis-maker Mamang (Sherry Lara), and his wife Elsa (Llorvie Nuevo), a former prostitute Boy and Jess knew (in the biblical sense) since their teens. Dr. Jess wanted to convince Boy to willingly withdraw his candidacy, so he, Jess, would have a better chance to win against the current incompetent mayor.
The one-act play "Doc Resureccion, Gagamutin ang Bayan" by Layeta Bucoy first hit the stage in Virgin Labfest 2009. The next year, it was one of those selected in the Revisited category of the same theater festival. In 2012, the play was re-staged once again by Tanghalang Pilipino as part of their “Eyeball” production, which featured four of the best short plays from previous Virgin Labfests. Unfortunately, I had never seen any of these previous productions of this famous play, until now.
This year, 10 years later, during a most heated presidential election period, Tanghalang Pilipino has decided to revive this play yet another time, in its advocacy for voters education. It hopes to push its dark, hard-hitting story about underhanded political machinations during elections which will shock Gen Z first-time voters, as well as jaded veteran voters alike. This new iteration of the play was filmed as it was performed live on the stage of the CCP Main Theater directed by Dennis Marasigan, and is being presented online via Ticket2Me.
The opening conversations between Jess and Boy may seem like playful banter about the stark contrast between their two lives. However, you can already hear the underlying bitterness and contempt beneath all of Boy's brutally profane anecdotes about his father's shaking hand or his wife's fishy privates. While Viana played his idealistic clueless straight man wearing his sincerity out on his sleeve, Tadioan skillfully delivered his lines with a jolly face and demeanor, and yet still have them drip with an unmistakable sense of danger.
The significance of this play in the current election season cannot be denied, and its precautionary message about the election process is sobering. Having it premiere Sunday morning because of the parallelism between the name Resureccion and Easter was already a nice touch.
However, the sheer coincidence of having the premiere of a play about a toxic nuisance candidate to coincide with one illogical nuisance of a press conference, could not have been timed more perfectly.
"Doc Resureccion, Gagamutin ang Bayan" will be streamed on the Ticket2Me platform until April 30.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."