Theater Review: Dulaang UP’s ‘ Rosang Taba’ – on conquering oppression, courage, and self-love

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After two years of hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic that led to a global health crisis, Dulaang UP re-opened its doors with Floy Quintos’ The Reconciliation Dinner at the University Theater Main Hall Stage in November 2022.

After the play’s successful run, Dulaang UP presented its first offering for the 45th theatre season, an adaptation of Dean Francis Alfar’s How Rosang Taba Won a Race, a children’s story that amplifies the voices of the oppressed.

The adaptation Kung Paano Nanalo sa Karera si Rosang Taba is written by award-winning playwrights Maynard Manansala and Rody Vera and directed by José Estrella in collaboration with her mentees Issa Manalo Lopez and Mark Dalacat. Lopez is Dulaang UP’s  Artistic Director, while Dalacat is a graduating BA Theatre Arts student from the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts.

Kung Paano Nanalo sa Karera si Rosang Taba is a story of how a woman’s courage, cleverness, and determination altered history. In the adaptation, Rosang Taba’s feat is narrated by her great-grandchildren, hoping her legacy lives on in modern times. It tells the fictional story of a slave servant on the chubby side in the home of a Spanish governor-general and his wife, Señora Andreia. It all started when Rosang Taba challenged the arrogant commander of the Spanish forces, Pietrrado, who looked down on the colonized Filipinos as “lazy, boorish, unorganized, have no courage, no morals, no civilization.”

The hilarious pandemic-induced TikTok dances, a strong stand against body shaming, Latin music beat, and musical instruments from Cordilleras made the show more interesting to fire up the audience. The race executed in the play represented the determination of the lead character to prove that Filipinos deserve freedom, love, and equality.

The theater space is an in-the-round type, where the audiences experience every detail of the story presented and participate with the actors. The mise-en-scene, however, is minimalist but valued to support all scenes in the play.

The play has inspired viewers to continue loving themselves despite their weight, and on conquering oppression, courage, and self-love.

Kiki Baento, an artist-teacher of the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA), played the titular role of Rosang Taba alongside Jojo Cayabyab, who plays Gobernador Heneral. Joining Baento and Cayabyab are equally talented film and theatre actors Skyzx Labastilla, Peewee O’ Hara, Victor Sy, Aldo Vencilao, Quinea Babas, Ynna Rafa, Dyas Adarlo, Mari Palaganas, Owel Pepito, and Pau Vengano.

The show’s proceeds went for the rehabilitation and renovation of the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater—the home of over 150 Dulaang UP plays in the last four decades. The theater has been instrumental in the growth and success of many critically acclaimed theatre artists and scholars, including two National Artists for Theatre, Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio and Dulaang UP’s founding Artistic Director, Antonio “Tony” Mabesa.

Kung Paano Nanalo sa Karera si Rosang Taba was staged recently at the UP Theater Main Hall Stage, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City.

Contributed by Rayne Jarabo

#RosangTaba #DulaangUP #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

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