Progress is a musical set in the time of Marcos’ rule. The protagonist is Marina Salcedo, a 45 year-old senior clerk who had been working under the Ministry of Good Governance for 2 decades. She made a trip to Manila for her promotion and pay raise, but her law-abiding attitude was constantly challenged by the incompetent and greedy manner the government representatives processed the promotion. The play shows how the time period was ripe with under-the-table transactions, corruption, and political strife
To depict the provincial origin of Marina and most of the cast, the dialogue was portrayed in English colored with a thick Visayan accent (just gotta love our home accent). When Marina arrived in Manila, she met different characters like the government clerks all portrayed by one actress (April Anne Moncada). April’s chameleon-like acting suited her varied characters; transforming from crabby to enthusiastic to deadpan right on cue.
Of course, we can’t forget the play’s Chief Lobo (Bata Reambonanza). He played the department manager in charge of Marina’s sought-after papers documenting all the pay raises that had been due her for five years. Chief Lobo’s lecherous attitude shocked the audience to an uproar when he declared Marina treat him to expensive Japanese cuisine and to let him have his way with her at a motel! Marina’s situation was pitiful as she had no choice, but to do his bidding.
There came a point in the play where we see Marina harried and tired. She had to go through so much to finally get her papers, she decided to hike home since she had been short on cash. When suddenly a thief ran up to her and forcefully grabbed her bag. Reaching her boiling point, Marina let out a very uncharacteristic cuss. The audience reacted loudly having seen her entire unsavory experience prior that. With a hit from the robber, Marina’s hold on her bag was finally released. The play ended with her alone in the night on her knees, fearing that she may need to revisit the hell she just went through.
In the play Marina took pains in completing the transactions to achieve her promotion and backpay. Although the ending was unfortunate, it reminded me that even through hardships and trials, progress can be within our grasp if we keep at it. Not time or circumstances can fully extinguish our spirit if we keep the determination inside alight.
Progress was originally written by F. Sionil Jose. Growing up closely studying the works of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal and having lived through the time of the Marcos regime, he passionately expressed Philippine literature with a resounding element of patriotism throughout his works. Progress is one of his masterpieces.
This story is presented with an adaptation by Sipat Lawin Ensemble, under the directon of Nar Cabico, with valuable assistance from Acey Aguilar, all under the production of Hendri Go’s talented group Little Boy Productions. Photos by Noel Aragon.
Original Story – F Sionil Jose
Adaptation – Sipat Lawin Ensemble
Director – Nar Cabico
Assistant Director – Acey Aguilar
Producer – Hendri Go
Photos – Noel Aragon
Marina Salcedo – Pennylane Gavino Reambonanza
Chief Lobo & others – Bata Reambonanza
Clerks & Minister – April Anne Moncada
Guitar Player – Alfred Reambonanza
Chorus – Kristian Malintad, Anne Valerie Salmero, Junrey Alayacyac, Venice Diane Lafradez, Joanna Jane Ang, Romelyn Tumulak, Atoy Bitancor, Lyle Navarro