TANGHALANG PILIPINO’s Nang Dalawin ng Pag-ibig si Juan Tamad shows all the faces and phases of love — infatuation, frustration, jealousy, and heartache — through a mashup of classic Filipino folktale characters described by its director as “the Avengers of the Philippines.”

“It’s a modern translation where all our folk heroes converge in one stage, wearing a costume that is New-Age-meets-indigenous like Lapu-Lapu-meets-Iron Man. The goal is to bring them closer to today’s generation who barely even know them,” said the play’s director, Jonathan Tadioan.

Nang Dalawin ng Pag-ibig si Juan Tamad, which is on view until March 11 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, tells of the imagined love triangle between Maria Makiling, Juan Tamad, and Banahaw.

The play is based on National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin’s short story “How Love Came to Juan Tamad,” which is included in his book Pop Stories for Groovy Kids (1979). The play is a tamer version of Mr. Joaquin’s story, which makes sensual allusions (e.g.: “pagpasok sakuwebani Mariang Makiling” — upon entering the “cave” of Marian Makiling).

Rody Vera adapted the story from page to stage. He said: “It’s something for the young people to take in as a tongue-in-cheek cautionary tale on love, that amorous passion that begins with hormonal changes in their growing, increasingly self-aware bodies. And as for adults, to take it further to stretch — with pursed lips, of course.”

The play is also teeming with quotable quotes to connect with the hugot (emotional draw) culture of the youth. There’s an abundance of hugot lines that celebrate love and what it means to love and be loved, like:

Hindi hinahanap ang pag-ibig. Hayaan mong sa akin kusang dumating (Love is not to be searched for. Let it just find you).”

Lalo mong ikaila, lalong nahahalata (The more you conceal love, the more it shows).”

Wala na yatang mas nakakapagod pa sa pag-ibig. Biruin mo, bawat sandali, iniisip mo siya, iniisip ka niya, hindi mapakali, hindi makatulog, hindi makakain, laging aligaga, laging tulalaparang sinisilaban ang puwit ng mangingibig There’s nothing more tiring than love. Imagine, you think of them every minute, they think of you, you are restless, sleepless, unable to eat, constantly starstruck — it is like there is a fire in the seat of a person in love).”

Besides the hugot lines, it is the imagined characters who find themselves in a messy situation which make the story interesting and fun to watch.

Para sa akin, ito ay matagal ng kwento na kinakailangang balik-balikan upang hindi makalimutan, na minsan, lahat tayo ay naging bata at naniwala sa mga kuwentong pag-ibig (I think this is an old story that should be retold again and again so as not to forget that, occasionally, all of us become children and believe in love stories),” Mr. Tadioan said in his director’s note. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman

Nang Dalawin ng Pag-ibig si Juan Tamad has performances until March 11 at the Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City. For details and tickets, visit TicketWorld at www.ticketworld.com.ph.