The return of Ampalaya Monologues to PETA Theater on October 15 was just as much a success as its August 2015 premiere—a wonderfully written and executed episodic play, which virtually served as the performing arts’ answer to cinema and Pinoy literature’s then emerging hugot-themed trend.
In fact, from the jam-packed audience on the evening of its 2016 resurgence, the performance may have even been triumphant than its debut, what with enduring partnership of love and heartbreak ever present in the lives of today’s millennials.
Ampalaya Monologues—a pun on the erstwhile women-centered play Vagina Monologues was titled with the common use of the naturally bittersweet vegetable’s name to connote indignation to heartaches. Mark Ghosn’s collection of short monologues that comprise the talkie is therefore a veritable fountain of hugot-lines from unrequited love or relationships that went bust.
Of holding on and letting go
From the moment Theater in Alternative Platforms (TAP) artist Hogi Cadlum shouted, “2005!” in her “Hanggang Throwback Na Lang” monologue, and used Mariah Carey, Yahoo Messenger and Friendster to demonstrate how long it has been since she fell in love with a guy, all the way to Ghosn’s concluding “Panata ng Pusong Bagong Laya,” the audience was in stitches, tears, and high spirits.
Why so? Because every monologue that came between the two were relatable to someone in the crowd.
Dave Ramones in “Hindi Pwedeng Hindi Na” refused to accept why his boyfriend was suddenly breaking up with him, after he “tamed” his alter-ego Samantha at his lover’s request.
Abe Herma in “Kahit Coaching Pagtingin” was desperate to get out of what had become a dangerous relationship with his older and married office mate.
“Mga Sayaw sa Ilalim ng Mga Ilaw ng Pinakamahabang Pebrero,” talked about a pair of cousins sharing a summer fling; “Saan Nagtatago Ang Mga Nawawalang Paalam?” related a successful woman’s long road to closure; “Inukit Sa Mga Tala,” recounted the promise of forever; and “Mga Bulong sa Hangin” described how a widow spent her first night after her husband’s death. Performed by Patty Arro , R’love Rojas, Elizabeth Concepcion and Gracia Paterno, respectively, some of the scenarios may seem extreme, but somehow, somewhere, there was always a touch of reality to be found in each of them.
Bittersweet love tales from “Ikaw, Si Distance at Ako” by Euwie Von Loria; “T.L.” by Veronica Fortuna; and “Akin Ka Na Lang, Please” by Yves Gutierrez, meanwhile, unapologetically banked on young love.
There’s the boyfriend who dreams of his OFW girlfriend’s return; a teenage girl who tries to reassure her “not-so-handsome” boyfriend that she loves him dearly; and a boy-next-door trying to woo the girl of his dreams only to lose her to a good-for-nothing suitor.
Young artists Fortuna and Gutierrez gave the most refreshing and arguably two of the most applauded performances of the night.
Bitter-sour, plain bitter
Yan-yan Gervero’s “Ang Huling Tagay Na Ilalaklak Ko Para Sa’yo,” and Jermaine Choa Peck “There’s a Basha in All of Us” triumphed as the most hugot-filled monologues of the night.
Gervero turned out to be self-confessed womanizer who got a dose of his own medicine as he poured out how his ex-girlfriend paid forward his misdeed. Peck, on the other hand, was the proverbial girlfriend dumped by her lover for her best friend. Of course, as experts as Filipinos are in laughing at their misfortunes, these monologues were every bit hilarious.
Finally, there were the women whose so-called bitterness saved them from abuse and potential half-baked relationships: Berna Manipon’s “Violet Ang Color ng Pag-ibig” who got out of a battered relationship; and Ace Alfaro’s “Huwag,” where she presented the issues of an alpha female.
The show ended with three more monologues—three of the most popular at that: Janine Lloce’s “Hanash ng Soloista,” Rain Gutierrez’ “Sa Pagitan ng Tayo Ba at Hindi Na;” and of course, Ghosn’s “Panata ng Pusong Bagong Laya.”
To best appreciate them is to read their respective hugot lines:
Lloce:“Bes, pa-cancel naman ng subscription ko sa issues mo.”
Gutierrez: “Nasaan ka na kaya, iniisip mo pa kaya ako, sino na kaya ang pinapaasa mo ngayon? Pero kasalanan ko naman ‘to e, hindi kita dapat sinabing paasa kung sa una pa lang ako naman na ang nagassume di ba?”
Ghosn: “Darating din siya. Ang tama na dahilan ng lahat ng mali. Ang oo na dahilan ng lahat ng hindi. Ang sapagkat na dahilan ng lahat ng bakit.”