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Franchezca C.

Enriquez Professor Jmes Loreto Piscos


1 – CLM

Tales of The Manuvu

March 23, 2019 was the day the Legal Management section of 1 – CLM was given a once in
a lifetime opportunity to watch Tales of The Manuvu which centered on the skill of Ballet
Philippine dancers. It took place on the Cultural Center of the Philippines, 7:00 p.m. where I was
seated at Lower Box, seat 7. The presentation was both choreographed and directed by the one
and only National Artist for Dance and Ballet Philippines Alice Reyes. It is inspired by the creation
story of the Manobo Tribes of Mindanao. It is considered a rock – opera ballet because of the
different instruments involved during the play and as well as the 70’s rock song that were
wonderfully performed. The music by Dero Pedero which he worked with the rock band
Afterbirth confessed that most of them “played by ear”. The itinerary of talented rock bands
performing included Radioactive Sago Project. One band member is a four – time palanca award
– winning writer and two – time Gawad Urian awardee for best music who is Lourd De Veyra.
Francis De Veyra was in – charge of bass and was the musical director, together with alumni from
UP College of Music Jay Gapasin who is in – charge of drums. Instrument experts like: Juni Lema
on guitars, Pards Tupas on trombone, Arwin Nava on percussion, and Wowie Ansano on trumpet
also contributed to the sounds that made the night. Special additions to the band were made for
Tales of The Manuvu, and these were: Nikki Cabardo, TJ Ramos, Joseph Cabanero, Malou Matute,
and Grace Bugayong. This rock ballet was a change for National Artist Alice Reyes because her
works centered on heavy drama and feminism, this time she decided to do something light but
with local characters that show relevance and fun. There was a prologue before the creation
story started, it was a traditional prologue called Tabbayanon in which the content and the
method of the presentation are explained. The prologue consists of works like Sun Down, The
Weight in our Toes, Mama, and Chichester Psalms. The performance that gained my attention
the most in the prologue was the MAMA, not only did I understand fully what the choreographer
and dancers were trying to portray but they made me grateful to my mother and to all the women
that carry the burden of putting others before themselves. This story is quite relevant to me,
when my best friend’s mother died she told me she knew despair like nothing else she ever felt
before. The person who was attached to her from birth was gone, the person who knew and
loved her most from conception was gone, and like the choreography that shows gratefulness,
despair, and love I was moved. How the straw hat and balloon of an outfit meant hard - work and
how she carried her children is an amazing part of a mother. She passed on the straw hat to all
her children knowing that she raised them right and it was time to say goodbye to “nanay”, and
I shed a tear. There was a 15-minute interval afterwards and that was when the Tales of The
Manuvu started.

The Part 1 explained the beginning of things, in which it presented that Manuvus had a God
of Evil and a God of goodness which were both powerful in their own realms. Manama is the God
of good, he had diwatas and anitu’s on his side. His characteristics included: confidence,
omnipotence, and self – satisfaction. Ogassi on the other hand is assisted by Busaw, he loathes
Manama. The God of evil had a realm filled with lush vegetation and fruitful land due to the bees,
on the other hand Manama had a barren land which only had one tree growing in it. Manama
entered the realm of Ogassi and there he was able to secure topsoil and seedlings, thus the feud
of good and evil began. The second part consists of the first man and the first woman, Manama
is a man of sleep but he wakes up just in time to finish his divine duties, and then he had a thought
in which he described as a worm in his head by thinking of making man. The whole sky world
knew and were in action to make his realization into reality. Ogassi interfered with his plan and
that is why man is not able to have eternal life. When man came to life, he was thankful that he
was able to see and experience this world in full awe and wonder. Then Ogassi wanted to disrupt
man’s content by making him realize his loneliness. That is why Manama made women, to gain
victory over Ogassi. Man found his counterpart but not long, women were longing for a purpose,
that was when Manama decided to give them the knowledge of sex. In the play, the eccentric
choreography and presentation that man and women were having sex gave the audience a
clearer prediction. The third part focused on the disparity of heaven and earth. Nature has been
less kind and good nature of people have disappeared. The people did it now, they disrupted the
peaceful sleep of Manama by the pounding of their pestles that jolt the floor of the sky world.
That was when Manama decided to bring the sky world higher in a height that neither man nor
their noises could disrupt his sleep. Ogassi now sees this as an opportunity to cause harm and
commotion among men. He created a monster called Makarallig that drives people out of their
land and spreads death and destruction. This was the time when men and women were
enlightened and started to rely on themselves and their strength. They fought off the creature
and drove Ogassi away. The message of the story was not how to disturb God but on how humans
make their own faith. “Tayo ang Gumuhit ng ating kapalaran” this is what I learned from the
finishing song of the performance. Their resourcefulness and unity made them successful and
that is what this country needs. The tradition of our ancestors are not only practical but also
showed their culture wherein they are not bound by the ideals of foreign invaders.

The script was based on Bienvenido Lumbera on E. Arsenio Manuel’s retelling on certain
origin myths of the Manuvu. On the quote below, I can say that I have seen an abundance of
momentarily sculptures that were both breath taking and beautiful. Artists like: Lorenz Martinez
and Popert Barnadas made the scene surreal. Ballet is not only for foreigners, Alice Reyes had
shown a Mindanao Traditional Story that recognized the intelligence, culture, and beliefs of th
early Filipinos that make an impact to millenials, like me, today.

“Dancing is creating a sculpture that is visible only for a moment.”


― Erol Ozan

References/Sources:
Leon, P. L. (2019, March 24). Legends rock the stage in 'Tales of the Manuvu'. Retrieved from
https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/arts-and-culture/2019/03/25/1904152/legends-rock-stage-
tales-manuvu

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