MANILA – What started as a commissioned work to teach financial responsibility has become the Christmas offering of theater group Tanghalang Pilipino.
For the most part, “Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog” still looks and feels like an advocacy play for young students that can be easily toured to different campuses – from the simple set that can easily transform to suggest various locations to the engaging direction that includes audience participation.
Palanca-winning playwright and Virgin Labfest veteran Eljay Castro Deldoc admitted that it was a challenge to expand his own work. But through his collaboration with young director Abner Delina, “nailuwal ang isang higit na makabuluhang kuwento ukol sa kung ano at sino ang tunay na binibigyang halaga ng tao,” he said in his playwright’s notes.
Indeed, there is no better time to be teaching about the importance of saving money than at Christmas.
“Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog” revolves around teener Gwyneth, who after receiving cash gifts tells her parents that she will take care of paying for the application fee to her dream college. But before they even get to the school, she gets tempted to spend on food, clothes and travel despite the protestations of her best friend Jing-jing.
Despite the educational nature of “Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog,” Deldoc and Delina made sure that the lessons are entertaining yet always real. They use colloquial Filipino used by today’s young millennials for much of the dialogue and even added touches of fantasy, like when Apolinario Mabini, Jose Rizal and even a civet come to life for to dispense some timely advice.
Changing the setting to Christmas also made the preaching more palatable since “Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog” isn’t just about material wealth but ultimately about love and family. It also allowed them to include some familiar carols (but with new lyrics) on top of the play’s catchy theme song to spread some holiday cheer to the theatergoers.
“Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog” also benefited from the game cast, mostly members of the TP Actors’ Company. After their critically acclaimed work in the serious drama “Ang Pag-uusig,” the actors, led by Blanche Buhia and Eunice Pacia as the best friends, showed that they also have a knack for comedy.
This low-key advocacy piece may just be the Christmas play we all need to see to realize the true meaning of the season.
“Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog” runs until December 17 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Little Theater.