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Getting to know Aguinaldo

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By Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Reporter

THEATER
Miong
Presented by Repertory Philippines

TWENTY-ONE years after it was first perfomred, Miong, the musical based on the life of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, has returned to the stage as Repertory Philippines’ first production for its 82nd season.

It follows Miong (Aguinaldo’s nickname) from his early life — a young boy who promised his dying father to become a gentleman, to dropping out of school to get into business, then being appointed as cabeza de barangay at the tender age of 17 (the result of his mother’s finagling with a priest) — to his role in the Philippine Revolution, fighting battles both political and against the Spaniards.

The musical was first staged in 1998 for the centennial celebration of the country’s declaration of independence; Repertory Philippines is restaging it this year to coincide with Aguinaldo’s 150th birth anniversary on March 22, 1869.

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Tim Pavino suitably embodies Miong, first as young and indecisive boy then the mature and independent leader. The cast brings life to the story with its catchy songs and energetic revolution sequences which are reminiscent of Les Miserables. The musical is sung-through in English (just in case you expected it to be in Filipino).

Joy Virata, the play’s writer and director, noted in her director’s message that she shortened the play to an hour and 40 minutes from the original three hours to achieve fast-paced storytelling.

The quick transition of events was able to focus on details of Aguinaldo’s political rise from cabeza de barangay to kapitan municipal of Kawit, Cavite, his recruitment into the Katipunan, and the revolts that led to the declaration of independence.

Ms. Virata noted that messages of unity and strength are valuable takeaways from the story.

“If you ask a lot of young people now, they really don’t know about this part of history. And so I thought it was right to do it again,” she told the press after the media preview on Feb. 15.

“There was this boy who was really, really ordinary and he made himself, out of love of his country, into something great.”

At a time when Gen. Aguinaldo is often depicted as a controversial character in history — think of his portrayal as the less than honorable president of the first republic in the popular movie Heneral Luna — the restaging of Miong gives audiences an opportunity to know more about his life.

“Movies, including this — a dramatic performance — is partly fiction,” Ms. Virata said, saying that the events in the story are based in history, while the songs are the production’s original outputs.

“If you create something, you can create whatever you wish. In this case, I am creating the life of Aguinaldo up to when he declared independence.

“If they want an enjoyable and entertaining musical to watch, so come and watch. And they’ll learn something else besides what they learn from movies,” she said.

Miong runs until March 10 at the Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1. For tickets and schedules, contact TicketWorld at (www.ticketworld.com.ph, 891-9999).

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