by Nickie Wang
Funny animals, bright colored costumes, and lively music are the perfect ingredients for a musical play that appeals to children of all ages. And these are the same components that makes Virgilio Almario’s Dugtong-Dugtong na Sumbong (Ang Hukuman ni Sinukuan) a live musical treat to watch out for.
The story, which is adapted for the stage by Liza Magtoto, combines two legends: the mosquito encircling the human ears; and the dispenser of justice known as Mariang Sinukuan and her kingdom in Mt. Arayat. The production promises to be a fun and exciting feast where set pieces ingeniously transform into costumes that also turn actors into different characters right before the audience’s eyes.
“This is the first legitimate production of this literary work,” says Almario, a National Artist for Literature.
Almario who graced the press launch of the musical play told the Standard Today that several stage adaptations were done in the past, like schools doing a choral presentations and stage plays. But this particular musical play is the first time that the story why the mosquito flies encircling the human ears and how Mariang Sinukuan weighs her judgment is produced in a bigger scale and fully supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
“I believe this production will help me have more readers. They might be interested to find the titles that I wrote,” he adds.
Dugtong-Dugtong na Sumbong (Ang Hukuman ni Sinukuan) is just one of the over a hundred stories that Almario has written. The tale is set in Mt. Arayat and begins when distraught little bird, Martines, cries out that her nest and eggs have been destroyed. She accuses Kabayo of leaping and demolishing her home. Mariang Sinukuan immediately calls her court into session to find out what happened. One by one, the animals are questioned. From Martines to Kabayo, to Palaka, to Pagong, to Alitaptap, to Lamok, and finally to Talangka—she steadily uncovers the bizarre chain of events that caused such havoc to her kingdom. Sinukuan then hands out her sentence to the culprit and justice is served. The animals learn that whatever they do affects others and that they should take responsibility for their actions.
“This explains the interconnected of life, bawat bagay na nilikha ay magka-ugnay. The story also reflects patience. Like a good judge, matiyagang nag-imbistiga si Mariang Sinukuan to know the root cause of the problem,” Almario emphasizes.
The artist, who is also known as a poet, a critic, an educator, and a cultural manger, believes that writing children’s literature is a very crucial task. He said that any literature intended to young audience must be values-oriented because as we know, children imitate what they see and hear.
“But writing stories for children is a very rewarding task; you can see their reaction right away. At ‘pag nagustuhan nila, they would ask you to read the story again,” he beams.
The production will be staged under the artistic vision of Tess Jamias, an alumna of the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Company. The cast of multi-talented performers include Nina Angela Rumbines (as Mariang Sinukuan), Abner Delina, Marc Anthony Falcon and Michael Ian Lomongo.
The Dugtong-Dugtong na Sumbong (Ang Hukuman ni Sinukuan) premieres Nov. 12 at 3 in the afternoon. It will run for two weeks at the CCP Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater) until Nov. 21. For ticket reservation, booking of special performances and other information, call the Tanghalang Pilipino office at 832-3661 or 832-1125 locals 1620 and 1621, CCP Box Office at 832-3704 and Ticketworld at 891-9999 .
Science Film Fest
Another treat to young students is the Science Film Festival, a regional festival that will take place simultaneously in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia from Nov. 16 to 30.
The Science Film Festival is first presented in 2005 by Goethe-Institut, a non-profit German cultural institution that operates worldwide. The festival, which will be staged in the country for the first time, showcases films that effectively combine education and entertainment, demonstrating that science communication and learning can be fun at the same time.
In addition, the festival offers a platform for intercultural exchange through which different approaches to the world of knowledge converge. This mandate was further emphasized this year with the regionalization of the event. Since the films are intended to reach in particular pupils and students, all films are synchronized into the local languages to provide greater accessibility.
As a pilot project in the Philippines, admission to the festival is free. Screenings will be held in various venues like the Museo Pambata, SM Science Discovery Hall (Mall of Asia), National Museum, National Library, Philippine Science Centrum, Quezon City Science Interactive Centrum, ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, and at the Ateneo de Manila.
“With a long list of organizers and organizing parties in the region, it is considered as the biggest film festival in terms of audience figures,” says Richard Kunzel, director of Goethe-Institut Philippine.
With over 112,000 visitors last year the festival strengthens its position as the most visited event of its kind in the world and serves as a significant initiative for the support and popularization of science film and television in Southeast Asia. It presents a variety of films in the following categories: Family Edutainment, Ecology and Environment, Natural Science, Life Science and Technology as well as Culture and History to serve all age groups.
Kunzel furthers that this year the Science Film Festival received over 170 films from 24 countries, of which 47 films from 17 countries are in the official competition (and 28 of them are adapted in Filipino). He also underlines the objectives of the event which are to facilitate regional exchange, demonstrate science literacy, and engage students to become more interested in science and technology.
Science education in the Philippines
According to the data given by the organizers of the Science Film Festival, the Philippines produces one of the biggest numbers of college graduates. However, it is among the countries that generates the smallest numbers with science and engineering skills.
Lack of basic information and government support are two of the principal reasons why the country does not have a strong and vibrant science culture. In fact, the government spent only 0.11 percent of its gross domestic product for research and development between 2000 and 2005 compared to what neighboring countries like Malaysia (0.69 percent), Singapore (2.25 percent), and South Korea (2.64 percent) allotted for the same function.
“The Science Film Festival is an opportunity of intercultural exchange as different views on science and technology will be showed, we will have an idea on how other cultures view research and development. Sharing best practices is also one of our main goals,” says an official from the French Embassy.