Filipino Theater Turns Flood Calamity into Musical
A theatre company in the Philippines stages a musical comedy depicting impoverished communities living and coping with floods.

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A theatre group in Manila looks to show the lives of people living and coping with floods through a light-hearted musical.

The name of the Filipino rock musical, “Rak of Aegis”, was inspired by American Broadway musical and movie “Rock of Ages” and is about a community hit by floods.

The setting mirrors Manila’s slums, where people are forced to deal with routine inundations brought by the typhoons and poor sewage systems.

The plot centers on Aileen, daughter of a shoemaker in their impoverished village, who dreams of helping her father out by becoming a Youtube sensation, being featured in her favorite American talk show “Ellen” and making money in the process.

“When something bad happens, it happens. How do you move on forward? And forward is a very strong spirit. A spirit that can say shrug off stuff and I’ll say I will move on forward,” says show director Maribel Legarda.

The show highlights the conditions of flooded communities, but its creators were careful not to spark raw emotions due to the recent typhoon, Haiyan, which killed thousands in the central Philippines last year.

Songs from the popular local rock band “Aegis” was used to balance the seriousness content by taking their famous love and heartbreak songs as running gags to lighten the mood without diverting from the main theme of the story.

Screenplay writer Liza Magtoto says the story aims to send a message that goes beyond the traditional resiliency.

“Resilience is an important thing because we hold on to that, but we go beyond. I think we have to go beyond resiliency,” she says.

Casts and crew from the Philippine Educational Theater Association, a social advocacy group behind the musical, uses their productions to generate discussions among their audiences, which are often students and teachers.

The theatre group hopes that “Rak of Aegis” will spark renewed talks on disaster mitigation in the Philippines, which sees an average 20 typhoons each year.

The musical will run until March 9.

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