ZARZUELA ILOKANA: "Tres Patrimoño"

by - 11:08 PM

“What’s zarzuela?” A socialite Filipina of a foreign accent asks randomly. I couldn’t utter a word to define such a term instead I described it as one of the best theater shows I have seen in years. And I was referring to the Tres Patrimoño staged at the Vigan Culture and Trade Center the night before.

So, what’s zarzuela to begin with?  By research, it is defined as a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, the latter incorporating operatic and popular song and dance rendition.

venue for the zarzuela
When I was in high school, we were trained and forced to some extent to perform once in a while on stage with full costumes amidst an ornate production set.  We look like professional theater actors then (so I thought).  If my memory serves me right, I played a Spanish conquistador for an achievement day, Mercutio for a Romeo and Juliet play and more villain roles. (why? Hahaha!) Thus, I know how hard the preparation is, to come up with a flawless execution of a drama onstage.  The success of the presentation is not only attributed to the actors but everyone else involved in the production set.

Tres Patrimoño, depicts the life story of three Bigueño’s who played a major role in the history of the Filipino people.  They are: Spouses Diego and Gabriela Silang, Leona Florentino and Padre Burgos.  Their stories were relayed in that order.




All are equally effective actors on stage and to dance and sing live simultaneously on stage is no easy feat.  But I was particularly intrigued and amazed at how the story of Padre Burgos was played. The sounds and the lights were so dramatic and choreography was a bit familiar for night show goers but they rendered it in a wholesome manner.  The songs and lines were delivered in the Ilocano language and definitely there is no subtitle like how we decipher Korean and Japanese series on television and movie theaters.  But the rendition itself makes us understand the whole story.  No “dialect-barrier”, the simple delivery of lines and body movements already tells a story. 

the Diego and Gabriela Silang ensemble

the Leona Florentino ensemble

Padre Burgos ensemble
Written and directed by Joseph “Sonny” Cristobal, music by Ato Del Rosario and choreographed by Gerard Mercado, Tres Patrimoño left the audience at awe and every second of the performance deserve a round of applause in a form of a standing ovation at times.  It was truly remarkable and world-class.

What surprised me the most is the fact that the actors were not professional in theater acting, yet they were so effective and convincing.  That was a showcase of talent indeed, as they are employees of the Vigan City Hall. 

Unfortunately, the show is presented only during special occasions and by invitation.  Thus, not all are fortunate to have witnessed such a grand and historical presentation.

During the socials after the presentation as we dine in one round table together with fellow bloggers, the City Mayor, Hon. Eva Medina, and Vice-Mayor, Hon. Lulu Baquiran shared to us that the group receives several invitations as well to perform in varied venues, but they have to prioritize and take into consideration the fact that the actors are not full-time actors but civil servants to begin with.

members of the press with Hon. Mayor Eva Medina and Mr. Jose "Bonito" Singson, Jr.
Other dramas were also portrayed by the same set of actors and they have been truly recognized in their respective talents even in Metro Manila at the Meralco Theater, which includes the rendition of the love story between a Japanese national and a beautiful lady from Vigan City.  I just hope I would be given the chance to witness such love story on stage.

Vigan City, being a Hispanic settlement in the Philippines, lives on with the centuries-old tradition of the Filipino people and zarzuela or sarswela is one of these.


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