THE VERY first production to be presented in the newly restored Metropolitan Theater since it closed it its doors in 1996 will be a musical on Lapulapu and the first circumnavigation of the world.

Lapulapu, Ang Datu ng Mactan will stream online on Oct. 24, 6 p.m.

A production of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the musical is part of the Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines, and National Indigenous Peoples’ Month.

“The Met is standing ready again to continue with its mission as a structure that will bring together artists and cultural workers and people to have an experience of Philippine culture and arts,” NCCA OIC-Executive Director Marichu G. Tellano said during an online press conference on Oct. 12.

“As a contribution to the National Quincentennial Celebration on the 500th year of the first circumnavigation of the world and the Battle of Mactan, we offered the Met as a venue for this production,” she added.

The production had been postponed twice — it was originally scheduled to premiere on April 28 this year along with the opening of the theater, then on Aug. 30 alongside the celebration of National Heroes’ Day. Both times, the show did not go on because the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way.

With libretto written by award-winning poet and lawyer Nicolas B. Pichay set to music by Krina Cayabyab, Lapulapu, ang Datu ng Mactan is directed by Dexter M. Santos (Ang Huling El Bimbo; Orosman at Zafira) with choreography by Stephen Viñas and Kenneth Torres. NCCA Chairperson Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso is the production’s artistic director.

“In this play we look back and give clarity on how Lapulapu became instrumental to our independence. It is also the story of our people who are not written in history books,” Mr. Pichay said.

The play unpacks the many events commemorated this year, including the victory at Mactan in 1521, as told from the point of view of the mysterious Lapulapu; the circumnavigation of the world, as told from the point of view of the trip’s chronicler Juan Sebastian Elcano; and the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines, as seen by Reyna Juana.

The musical explores how history — and what people choose to learn from it — contribute to cultural identity and to the strength of any nation.

“In writing the play, I included elements of history, myths, and the mysterious elements of time,” Mr. Pichay said, adding that the story includes themes of courage and unity.

“I hope the play helps in unifying us as a steadfast nation and courageous people,” he said.

Leading cast is theater actor Arman Ferrer, who plays Lapulapu, with Andre Tiangco in role of Ferdinand Magellan, Red Nuestro as Rajah Humabon, Cara Barredo as Reyna Juana, Natasha Cabrera as Babaylan, Paw Castillo as Enrique de Malacca, Robert Barbers as Juan Sebastian de Elcano, Al Gatmaitan as Antonio Pigafetta, and Ivan Niccolo Nery as Pope Alexander XI and Padre Pedro de Valderrama.

The production team includes Adriana Agcaoili as creative director, Gino Gonzales as production designer, Dennis Marasigan as lighting director, and GA Fallarme as video designer.

Aside from the main theater which seats 990 (reduced from 1,600), the newly restored Metropolitan Theater includes a cinema with a Dolby Atmos audio system. The Met’s grand opening is now scheduled on Dec. 10 (

Lapulapu, Ang Datu ng Mactan will be streamed simultaneously on the official Facebook pages of The Metropolitan Theater, the NCCA, Radio Television Malacañang, the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the National Quincentennial Committee on Oct. 24, 6 p.m. Streaming dates on platforms, TFC, and iWantTV will be announced at a later date. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman