Virgin Labfest 11: Birtwal, Kublihan, Hintayan ng Langit

Virgin Labfest is an annual festival of new, unpublished, and unstaged works by some of the young playwrights of the country. Dubbed as "Sariwa", the 11th year of Virgin Labfest is featuring and staging 12 plays out of the 156 total entries at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

It is my first time to watch Virgin Labfest and it is a big regret that I didn't get to see all the entries this season. When they were introduced, I was actually shocked that the writers are very young! I definitely can't wait for the next season and I'll make sure that I'll watch all entries already.

Without further ado, here's my review of the Set C entries:


CAST: J-Mee Katanyag (Girl) & Ron Capinding (Boy)
PLAYWRIGHT: Jose T. Garcia
DIRECTOR: Audie Gemora
Why do people have to pretend just to please the others? Why make up a character that's totally your opposite? Those are just some of m realizations after watching the show.

Birtwal is a story about two "cyber" lovers who decided to finally meet in person after being in a "virtual " relationship for 9 months. They had a hard time finding one another in their meeting place because, apparently, the way they described themselves through their conversations are totally the opposite of what and who they truly are. Both didn't have the courage to personally talk to each other after finding it out. Though there’s disappointment, they still managed to have good laughs and conversations. However, good things come to an end when they both decided to just remain…”birtwal". 

The show, being true to its title and story, have very limited dialogs between the characters and most of their conversations are through text that messages that are displayed in the LCD screens. Also, the story is very timely and relatable. With the rise of social media, we’ve heard stories of partners who happened to have known each other first online. There are happy endings and, of course, there are disappointments. If you are to meet someone online, would you rather tell the truth and wait for someone who can accept who you are? Or give what the other wants to hear and just be prepared for the consequences?


CAST: Joshua Tayco (Mike) & Abner Delina (Julio)
PLAYWRIGHT: Jerome Ignacio
DIRECTOR: Guelan Luarca
Kubilhan is a story about two high school students who have been really good friends despite of their differences and gap - one being a senior student and the other, a freshie. Julio, the senior student, met Mike, the freshie, during the Freshmen orientation where the latter got bullied and the former found him in the Overview (a hidden place in their school that’s overlooking Marikina) and was there to the rescue. Well, it’s not explicitly mentioned that Mike got bullied but with everything that happened to him before, wounded and wanted to commit suicide, I just assumed he was. The story is mainly about reminiscing the time they spent together as Julio is about to move on to a next chapter as a student - the college life. Different emotions were shown by the two characters as they recall how they first met and the problems they’ve faced and are facing. Each one of us have a different way of coping up with things. Mike, being quiet and timid knowing that he’ll be left alone again, and Julio, being loud and jolly as if he cares about nothing. Though it may seem exaggerated, probably that’s how Julio can hide all the pressure he’s facing from his parents and the fact that he’ll be leaving Mike soon. 

The playwright did a good use of the Overview and the bench as the boys’ comfort zone. There, they can be true to themselves. No pretentions. No pressure. No judgements. Hence, the title Kublihan.


CAST: Edna Vida Froilan (Lisang),
Nonoy Froilan (Manalo) &
Ronna Sabelina (Bantay)
PLAYWRIGHT: Juan Miguel Severo
DIRECTOR: Raffy Tejada
Hintayan ng Langit is about ex-lovers who met in the waiting room (purgatory) and as they were forced to share a room together, issues in their past relationship resurfaced. Apparently, they didn't have a closure before they both went on separate ways and focused in raising their own families. Just so you'll have an idea, they got separated when Lisang thought that Manolo won't be returning anymore after working abroad. She eventually got pregnant and married her husband, Nestor. There were arguments and revelations that clarified everything and helped them patch things up. What touched me most? It was when Lisang revealed to Manolo that she did terrible things while in the waiting room just to prolong her stay because she doesn't want Manolo to accuse her of not waiting for him again. 

I am really amazed with the playwright's imagination and the metaphors he used in the story: the usage of a sauna-type waiting room as the purgatory, a remote control to monitor the happenings in the world of the living, a telephone that is the means of communication to heaven, and that small hole that Lisang created in Manolo's room that forced them to share a room together. All these really helped in building a very good plot and there are so much discoveries as the story progresses. It never gets boring. With the witty lines from the characters and the "PBB Teen-ish" acts (if you get what I mean) of the ex-lovers, I'm sure everyone who watched the play had a good laugh and brought a big smile as they leave the theater. It's such a feel good play.  
Edward Santos

EDnything is a lifestyle and entertainment blog featuring great deals and happenings in the Philippines. It also features food reviews, gadgets, showbiz, movies and theater plays, and more!

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