Having not been born at the time the famous People Power EDSA Revolution took place, I belong to a generation who probably wouldn't even think twice about it except when it has to be studied for a school test. The story is as distant as its age of 30 years. Thankfully, there are my parents who shared their own anecdotes of what actually transpired during those fateful days when Filipinos found the courage to fight back a dictator without shedding blood. And then there is Ballet Manila's "Rebel", the story of Ferdinand, Imelda, Benigno, and Corazon.
This full ballet is set at a time when the Philippines was ripe for rebellion. Martial Law declared by the president, Ferdinand became progressively oppressive. Rebels led by Benigno challenged the authoritarian rule.
Even with sickness taking control over Ferdinand's body, he and his wife Imelda continued to hold the country in shackles leading to Inang Bayan's suffering. Inang Bayan called out to all Filipinos to strive for change. Benigno answered the call which led to his death. His wife Corazon answered the call as well and went on to become the human symbol of EDSA People Power.
Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, Ballet Manila's Artistic Director shared that she was out of the country when this historic event took place. Still it did not affect her any less. In fact, this was the story that inspired "Rebel".
I have watched many shows in the past but "Rebel" proved to be extraordinarily exciting because of the participation of a live orchestra. It was actually a first time for me. I literally had to restrain myself from clapping when they played the National Anthem but I digress...
Strength and Grace
Strength and grace, these are the two words that kept going through my mind while I was watching Rebel. I suppose this was what Martin Lawrance, the choreographer intended, what with the need to bring out the struggle happening in a country and the people inhabiting it. That throne at the top signified the very essence of power and authority even in its singularity. The production design is a classic example of achieving more for less.
One other thing that makes Rebel extraordinary is the fact that Lisa herself is performing as Inang Bayan with Joanna Ampil as her singing counterpart. Most of the songs were new to my ears but obviously not to those who were part of EDSA. With the significance of the songs used in the show, the need for the singing counterpart is very much understood. Ferdinand, Imelda, Benigno, and Corazon were all convincingly played, along with the Loyalists and Rebels. My momentary state of confusion revolved around the characters of Juan de la Cruz and Jose but I eventually found my way.
Rebel has a clear agenda. This is to remind us of the dangers of not doing anything in the face of tyranny. The good thing about Rebel is that it reminds while it entertains and that makes it a lot easier to digest and understand.
The message is clear: There is a rebel within us all. Rebel wants to awaken this rebellion in all of us so that we will never again accept tyranny.
Rebel makes us think without reproaching, especially with our present atmosphere that is politically laden. If there is any opportunity that I can say about Rebel is that it sort of ended abruptly. I wanted to know more so I was not quite ready when it ended. What it succeeded in doing was to fuel that interest in me to understand more, the implications of the EDSA People Power Revolution in our present times. Having said that, Rebel certainly gives color to a part of our country's history that most have grayed-out in their minds.