The Inbox

Senioritas laugh their way through loneliness

The cast of “Sayaw ng mga Seniorita”: (standing) Doreen Bernal, Christian Paul Meteoro, Chase Cervera, Johnron …

By Joseph Cortes, VERA Files

If there is anything that man fears more than death, it is loneliness. Death comes at the end of a life, or suddenly as in an accident. But loneliness stares you in the face your whole life. It is hard to evade its gaze. The thought of growing old and dying alone is the reason behind the need to be a couple. It is this longing for companionship, driven by the desire for self-preservation, which fuels all relationships.

Loneliness and ageing are at the heart of "Sayaw ng mga Seniorita," which was Gantimpala Theater's production in the recently concluded National Theater Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Written by award-winning writer and director Jose Javier Reyes, "Sayaw" looks at how five gay men, some of them seniors—hence, the seniorita in the title—have lived their lives as they celebrate a friend's 60th birthday. This discourse on death, old age, loneliness and love is couched in laugh-a-minute comedy that lightens the impact of Reyes' story. How else would you make the play's serious theme palatable to an audience that already finds much to relate with in this story?

Trust that gay men put a widely divergent spin on loneliness. That they can still be catty and at the same time caring of their friends and their follies is tribute to the camaraderie homosexuals have with their kin, no matter their age. Rading de Guzman (Soxie Topacio), a well-off antique dealer and collector and the evening's celebrant, has found love and companionship in the arms of Oliver Samson (Chase Cervera), his nurse and live-in partner of more than 15 years.

Terry Mangubat (Joel Lamangan), an affluent businessman, evades loneliness through numerous random encounters with escorts and masseurs. Romeo Cajanding (Arnell Ignacio), a talent manager and male bikini contest organizer, finds solace in the arms of his talents, mostly minors seeking a break in show business. Dr. Gerry Almario (Manny Castañeda), aesthetic surgeon to stars, has prepared for old age by marrying and siring children who will guide him in old age, while living a secret life. Raquel Villasor (Bb. Gandanghari), a transsexual socialite, has found comfort with an Arabian sheikh who has given her the world.

Rarely has the Batute been filled to the capacity for a performance. Indeed, "Sayaw ng mga Seniorita" is stellar, the only show with a cast of established television and film actors among all NTF productions. The repartee between the five leads was in perfect sync that they manage to turn a few missed lines into witty moments. At times, they seem not to be acting at all nor reciting lines the way the banter flows naturally among them.

PosterJun Pablo, who directs the production, must have had an easy time guiding his actors all of them veterans. It is fascinating to see Lamangan, who has gone into directing full time, act again; his spot-on delivery a la Nora Aunor during key moments sent the crowd giggling.

Topacio, also a well-known director, merely sashayed into his role with his three costume changes, so much more than Gandanghari who wore the same gown all night. Gandanghari, in her first stage appearance, did not disappoint, inhabiting a role that hews closely to his showbiz persona. In giving his character a true feminine similarity, he had to tone down his voice, which sometimes rendered him inaudible to those sitting at the back. Manny Castañeda brought his flair for comedy to the fore with his shifts from the swishy doctor and patron of physique contests to devoted, masculine husband; his is a familiar character. Ignacio, a last minute replacement for two other actors, was the most flamboyant; his character is the most familiar to those who patronize male pageants.

"Sayaw" is a sweet diversion, just a little under two hours, which some might find too short. When the audience finds itself relating to the material at hand, the minutes seem not to matter. Many of the jokes and cues in this play are based on stories within the gay community, and the characters would be familiar if you move within this milieu. However, one's appreciation of this show is not dependent on an acquaintance of this world. Just come to the show prepared to have lots of laughs and a good time; you'll surely get that at the end of the evening.

Be warned, though, that the show is for a mature audience only. The whole play is peppered with cuss words, references, gestures and simulations of sex, including a reenactment of a bikini contest toned down for PG consumption. The frank discussion of Raquel's gender and apparatus is also a delicate topic that might not sit well with some.

Lending support in this production are Doreen Bernal, China Cojuangco, Paul Jake Paule, Johnron Tañada, Royce Chua and Christian Paul Meteoro. Justine Ferrer alternates for Bb. Gandanghari in some performances.

Gantimpala Theater's production of "Sayaw ng Mga Seniorita" will have additional performances at the AFP Theater in Camp Aguinaldo on Nov. 23 and 24 and Dec. 1, 7 and 8. For ticket reservations and inquiries, call 998-5622 or 0939-9087633.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. However, there is no word yet if the Philippines will specifically ask Tokyo to join calls for China to stop its massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. …

  • CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike
    CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) appears to have released erroneous data on the allowed tuition and other fee increases in Metro Manila for the incoming academic year. On the list of the 51 approved higher education institutions (HEI) allowed to impose hikes, CHED pegged the average increase in tuition at P32.34 per unit and the average increase in other fees at P34.79. However, a Philippine STAR re-computation showed that the actual average approved tuition increases in Metro Manila …

  • Leni Robredo may run for senator
    Leni Robredo may run for senator

    The widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo admitted that running for higher office in 2016 had crossed her mind. Camarines Sur Third District Rep. Leni Robredo said she is focused on her re-election, but there is always the possibility that she would seek higher office. “There is always that possibility… because the filing (of certificate of candidacy) is in October yet,” Robredo said in an interview after her speech during the 23rd Girl Scouts of the Philippines Council …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options