Friday, June 28, 2024

VIRGIN LABFEST 19: Set A - Dilema

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

VENGEANCE OF THE GODS - Ifan (Jel Tarun) is a lawyer on a mission to convince a superstitious old man to testify against the owner of the company he is working for that is guilty for polluting the town’s sources of water. Despite his child being one of the victims and almost succumbing to death, Manong Odie (Jonathan Tadioan) won’t hear any of it because aside from the belief that what happened to his kid was a case of paranormal possession, he also doesn’t want to bite the hands that feed him. What follows is a long discussion of what really happened, seen from both the perspective of science and religion.

The philosophical entry. One of these always ends up at the Virgin Labfest and this is where your ears have to work overtime because the essence of the narrative is all in the dialogue. While overtly religious and superstitious people annoy the heck out of me, somehow I am getting closer to a conclusion that despite the advances in knowledge made available to society as it progresses, there will always be those who will choose to rely on faith as a way of coping with life. Perhaps nothing is wrong with that, until it overlaps with a non-believer’s beliefs that are grounded on law and science. This play had me thinking profoundly. Amen.

NINGAS - A Fireman (Ross Pesigan) in a late night shift is visited by a distraught Middle-Aged Lady (Ge Malacaman) who claims to be in need of emergency assistance. After putting his gear on, he is disappointed by the revelation that her emergency is not what he expected it to be. She claims to be his daughter. Correction, POTENTIAL daughter. All he has to do to make her come to life and make her real is to give her a name, before it is too late. He reminisces and recalls that one time when a man who claimed to be his potential son also paid him a visit once, and denied him of the name he was begging him for.


And then we have the weird and the whimsical. I don’t believe anyone in that theater was fully sold on the gimmick of a guy in his late 20’s being visited by a 50-something-year-old woman claiming to be his potential daughter if only he would give her a name that would bring her to life. Despite the absurdity of the premise, the nice thing about NINGAS is how the emotions, whatever it was that the playwright was intending to evoke from the audience, were defo elicited. There were even some people wiping their eyes as we reached the curtain call. There is just something so touching and poignant about this play that I simply cannot place.

LOVE ON THE BRAIN - After Ryan (Shaun Ocrisma) and Jake (Esteban Fulay Jr.) break up, the former finds a relationship too good to be true with Mike (Rap Robes), a drop dead gorgeous Tiktokerist whom he determines to be “The One”. And so when Jake calls and informs him that they are both HIV-positive, Ryan’s fairytale life comes crashing down as Mike does not take the bad news well and decides to walk out on him. He turns to Jake for support and the two end up discussing the ups and down of dating and sex life when you are HIV-positive, regardless whether you are undetectable or not.

HIV awareness campaign. Despite the downward trend of HIV infections worldwide, it remains an epidemic in the Philippines with an uptick of new cases averaging at 55 new diagnoses A DAY. The problem is not logistic or physiological in nature. After all, the country is well-equipped to curb the spread of this virus. The issue is psychological, the stigma and attitude toward it that no amount of vaccines and post-exposure prophylaxis can fix. While not as detailed as PETA’s Under My Skin which doubled as an HIV awareness seminar, LOVE ON THE BRAIN focuses more on the personal side of sex, relationships, and its complications for carriers of the virus.

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