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July 7, 2011

Tao, Isang Tagulaylay

Frank G. Rivera’s “Tao… Isang Tagulaylay” is an adaptation of “The Summoning of Everyman”, an anonymous Medieval English morality play on the sinfulness of human existence, of man’s utter disregard for Christ’s sacrifices for human redemption. “…Everyman” made history by making anachronistic Medieval plays that dealt on the life of Christ. It was an orientational astrolabe that serves to inform and instruct Christians in the 15th century England made popular by troupes that adapted the play for their own use.

“Tao,”, though, is only ten percent “…Everyman” and ninety percent Rivera’s. Except for the orientation, it comes as an original piece that fuses Filipino religiosity, Political, Nationalistic and Social Commentaries on current issues and the diverse elements of Philippine folk theater. It mines deeply into the audience’s common consciousness for familiar symbols and images learned from the home and Catholic education. Man was created in God’s image. Yet, he falls into sin, is banished from heaven to Earth, and awaits the Messiah. The Messiah comes, still Man chooses the way of the flesh than Christ.

Rather than live the salvic graces of God, the TAO finds pleasure from the earthly and the temporal, solace from kith and kin, and the satisfaction of the vainglorious ends of knowledge, beauty and wealth. In the twilight of the TAO’s life, God sends his messenger, Kamatayan (Death), to the TAO. The TAO, however, refuses to go with Kamatayan, pleading for a later date with fate. Kamatayan relents, giving the TAO a one-day lease on life so as to be able to make a judicious reckoning , a reflexive accounting of his life.

The TAO takes on a paglalakbay (journey), calling on company from friends and kin, none of whom, though, goes with him. His Anghel dela Guardia (Guardian Angel) tries to guide him through, while a Demonyo (Devil) tries his darn best to waylay him. The TAO falls into the coils of a woman, the proverbial temptress, but still he finds life wanting in meaning, fulfillment and purpose.

He succeeds though, in repelling the attraction of the Seven Deadly Sins (Pride, Avarice, Sloth, Anger, Gluttony, Lust, Envy), contrapuntal to which are the Christian virtues (Temperance, Mercy, Justice, Truth) and other goodies (Art, Knowledge, Health, Heroism). Still, he fails to find answers to the question that Teilhard de Chardin poses, “Why man is here?”

The Angel and the Devil, the two debating selves of the TAO, joust over the kaluluwa (soul) of TAO whose redemption, however comes not from the Angel’s battle against the Devil, rather it comes from the exercise of his free will to go the way of Pag-ibig (Love- of others, country, and God). This, however, requires pagbabagong-loob (conversion), which constitutes an act of contrition, a cleansing from sin. This leads to pagbabalik-loob sa Diyos (reconciliation with God) and a covenant with God to scuttle the Devil that causes anomie, agony, emptiness, despair, alienation. Only then does the TAO find peace and readiness to reunite with his Creator, and in the end, accept death freely and with joy.

The moral weight of the play sets the tone of the production, which as conceptualized by Rivera is a tagulaylay ( a dirge) and a two-hour performance-prayer. It is remarkable how, quite unexpectedly, a cast member is able to make the audience stand and recite the opening prayer. What comes first as a discomfiting moment, becomes a solemn communion of hitherto disparate individuals that establishes a link between the audience and the play. The prayer clothes the play with an aura of reality, transpositioning the audience from the realm of the secular to the sacred, thus creating an instantaneous sense of affinity between the audience and the TAO tormented by his vicissitudes, ambivalence, and perplexities. As one viewer puts it, “Si Frank lang ang nakakaisip n’yan” (Only Frank could think of something like that).

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  1. Where can i find the script of this play?

  2. Can you please allow me to have an script of tao


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