“Pagsambang Bayan”, a Critique of the Past and the Present

After some time, he stopped reporting to Camp Crame.

Meanwhile, Ilagan said that Cervantes, while in detention, performed the play inside the Bicutan detention center. Cervantes’ cast included Satur Ocampo (now Bayan Muna representative) and other political detainees.

The play was remounted in 1981 and 1984 also by UP Repertory Company. Ilagan said he included some revisions in the script. The 1984 version, he said, mentioned the assassination of opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino.

Various other productions were done in the Visayas and Mindanao, many of which the playwright only knew about recently. Until 1984, the play had chalked up more than 100 performances by numerous theater groups.

The play has been anthologized in various books here and abroad. It is featured in the
CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art as a major work in Philippine theater and as an
example of an art form made relevant by the crisis in society.

Not a mere restaging

Today, 32 years after “Pagsambang Bayan” was first produced by the UP Repertory Company, it is being restaged.

Ilagan and Cervantes again team up to lend a classic play a new treatment in the 2009
production by the Tag-ani Performing Arts Society, in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts; and the UP Repertory Company.

The play would be staged on February 25 and 26, 7p.m. at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater. Tickets are being sold at popular prices with discount for students.

Ilagan said he maintained most of the original version and deleted the revisions he made in 1981 and 1984. Asked why, Ilagan said, “Ni-review ko ang script, bagay na bagay eh. May extrajudicial killings, abductions, parang deja vu.” (I reviewed the script and found that it is very relevant today. The references to extrajudicial killings and abductions in the script felt like déjà vu.

The new thing about this year’s performance, Ilagan said, would be the use of video images of recent cases of human rights violations.

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