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October 18, 2009
A different scene
Metro Manila has a vibrant theater scene that begins in June and ends in March of the next year. There's a healthy mix of local and international plays, though non-Filipino and non-English language ones are usually translated into one or the other. Even then, performances of the sarswela—a genre that combines spoken and sung scenes, orchestral music, and dance—is rare nowadays. The form comes from the Spanish zarzuela, which spread to its colonies, which in turn developed their own traditions, the Philippines included. The extended centennial celebrations of the University of the Philippines included a sarswela festival, for which they invited the theater arts groups of other universities. This performance of "Sa Bunganga ng Pating" (in the mouth/jaws/maw of the shark), written by Julian Cruz Balmaceda in 1921, was by a group from the Far Eastern University. The music was arranged and conducted by Professor Chino Toledo.