Ballet Philippines restages “Crisostomo Ibarra” on October 21 at 3:00PM, October 22 at 2:00PM, and October 23 at 10:00AM, and presents the world premiere of “Simoun” on October 21 at 8:00PM, October 22 at 6:00PM, and October 23 at 3:00PM at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).
Both shows feature original music by Jed Balsamo, choreography by Paul Alexander Morales, and the live performance of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra – a quintet for “Crisostomo Ibarra” and the full orchestra under the baton of Maestro Gerard Salonga for “Simoun”.
Top-billing “Simoun” are Ballet Philippines dancers Jean Marc Cordero, Denise Parungao, Rita Angela Winder, Erl Sorilla, Garry Corpuz, and Jemima Reyes.
“Crisostomo Ibarra” features Victor Maguad, Monica Amanda Gana, Jessa Tangalin, Eugene Obille, Ramon Victoria, and Ballet Philippines II.
BACKGROUNDER: NOLI ME TANGERE, EL FILIBUSTERISMO,
AND JOSE RIZAL
NOLI ME TANGERE
Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere is considered to be the foundational novel of the Philippines. Written in Spanish and published in 1887, the novel offers a devastating critique of a society under Spanish colonial rule, exposing the inequities of the Spanish Catholic priests and the ruling government.
Rizal’s main character, Crisóstomo Ibarra, has returned to the Philippines from abroad. He is at first surrounded by good friends, a beautiful fiancée and a supportive upper class, but a priest with a vendetta against Ibarra’s late father torments him.
Ibarra learns about the tragic circumstances of his father’s unjust death, and the history behind the animosity held against him by Friar Dámaso, yet he still chooses the higher road, avoiding revenge, only to be harassed by Damaso at every turn. Damaso sabotages Ibarra’s wedding and humiliates him constantly. Another religious figure, Padre Salvi becomes Ibarra’s enemy. Salvi attempts to kill him, lusts after his former fiancée, and stages an uprising in which Ibarra is implicated.
Ibarra is imprisoned, loses his friends and reputation, and is nearly killed, all through the relentless hatred of the two friars. At the end of the novel, he is deflated, disillusioned and weak. The bright future he envisioned for his town is shattered, and he finds himself surrounded by corruption and loss.
The two friars embody the rotten state of the clergy. They possess a mix of paternal and carnal feelings for Maria Clara, and are determined to spoil Ibarra’s plans for a school. The town philosopher Tasio notes that similar past attempts have failed, and his sage commentary makes clear that all colonial masters fear that an enlightened people will throw off the yoke of oppression.
Maria Clara enters the nunnery, refusing a marriage arranged by Padre Damaso. Her unhappy fate and that of the more memorable Sisa, driven mad by the fate of her sons, symbolize the country’s condition, at once beautiful and miserable.
A riveting continuation of Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo serves as an account of Filipino resistance to colonial rule that still resonates today, presenting themes of obsession and revenge, as opposed to the former’s themes of love and martyrdom.
The novel picks up the story thirteen years later, with its hero, Simoun. He was Crisostomo Ibarra of the Noli, who, with Elias’ help, escaped from the pursuing soldiers at Laguna de Bay, dug up his buried treasure, and fled to Cuba, where he became rich, befriending Spanish officials, and returning to the Philippines after many years. Showing a facade of being a friend of Spain, he secretly holds revenge against the Spanish authorities. His two obsessions are to rescue Maria Clara from the nunnery of Santa Clara, and to foment a revolution against the Spanish masters. Being wealthy, mysterious, and a close friend of the Spanish governor general, he uses his political influence to encourage corruption in the government, hastening the moral degradation of the country, and allowing people to become desperate and fight.
Simoun’s initial attempt to start the uprising comes to a halt, upon hearing the news of Maria Clara’s death. His moments of bereavement give him time to refine his plans for overthrowing the government. On the occasion of the wedding of Paulita Gomez and Juanito Pelaez, he is to give a beautiful lamp as a wedding gift. Only he and Basilio know that when the wick of the lamp burns lower, the nitroglycerine hidden in a secret compartment of the lamp will explode, killing all guests at the wedding, including the governor-general, the friars, and the government officials. Simultaneously, Simoun's followers are to attack the government buildings in Manila.
As the wedding feast begins, Isagani, who has been rejected by Paulita because of his liberal ideas, is standing outside the house, sadly watching the merriment inside. Basilio chances upon Isagani and warns him to go away, as the lighted lamp will soon explode. Upon learning the secret of the lamp, Isagani realizes that Paulita is in grave danger. He rushes into the house to save her life. He then steals the lamp and hurls it into the river where it explodes. The revolutionary plot is thus discovered.
Taken from an introduction by Luis H. Francia
José Rizal was one of the leading champions of Filipino nationalism and independence. In 1887, he published his first novel, Noli Me Tangere, written in Spanish, a searing indictment of clerical abuse as well as of colonial rule’s shortcomings. That same year, he returned to Manila, where the Noli had been banned and its author now hated intensely by the friars. In 1888, he went to Europe once more, and there wrote the sequel, El Filibusterismo (The Subversive), published in 1891.
Rizal’s martyrdom only intensified the ultimately successful fight for independence from Spain. Because of his role in shaping his country’s destiny, José Rizal is often described as the “First Filipino” and has since served as an inspiration to countless nationalists and intellectuals.
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