DID not expect "Bayot" could be so good on stage. That’s how we call each other as endearment, I and Malou Tiangco, who played the one-woman monologue "Desdemona" which was jam-packed at Calle 5 on Saturday night, 12 August.
Upon entering Calle 5 resto, one is greeted with an unlikely scene. Seemingly, there’s a wake in the middle of the "stage," and a queer feeling hugs the guests. "Unsa na? Nganong naay haya diri (Why is there a wake here at the resto?)," Weird.
Just like her usual self, so I thought, Desdemona’s character brought back a myriad of emotions as Malou started to just being herself, seemingly talking to her "dead" mother at her wake.
Questions of perplexity...
Some decades ago, I could still vaguely remember a real person named Desdemona who represented a distinct tribe. The 70s, 80s and even the 90s were days of “disquiet and rage” among what was touted as Martial Law babies and their predecessors.
From their ranks though, another generation of critical-minded youth would challenge the Status Quo, and unmask the so-called purveyors of change among the so-called "new" oligarchy who are riding on the popularity of the new dispensation.
The seeming soul-searching of Desdemona, however, stems from the situation of a Filipino family in diaspora, a social comment about how martial rule affects the Filipino family to the core.
The realistic depiction of Desdemona’s thoughts that are laid out loud in the event of her mother’s wake is very much characterizing the Filipino attitude in funerals. While it is not openly talked about especially among families, we tend to recount among ourselves the good and the bad deeds or qualities of the deceased at the wakes.
Is it some sort of "judgment" on the dead, if not, a reproach? Whether we like to admit it or not, funerals are often times used as venue to express gratitude, anger, frustration or admiration for the dead, even as we are made to believe that such occasion is for the family of the deceased to come to terms with the “what-has-been” and what needs to be settled.
On extreme cases, funerals surreptitiously became venues to air grievances among siblings or relatives, which of course, is an undesirable occurrence, but oftentimes it happen.
Thus, Desdemona could not help but berate her invisible mother at her most convenient time, even recalling how her family became the driving force in her career choices and eventual distancing.
Desdemona is almost like a microcosm of a country once in peril over a strongman’s greed for power, and now is facing again another challenge.
The monologue is a "laying" down of cards, where it had been proven that a dictatorial regime could only isolate and destroy the family, which is the basic institution of society as sociology teaches us.
In essence, Desdemona has given its audience a chance to "look again" and ask if where we are now is really getting us nowhere.
Perhaps in introspection, a kind of déjà vu all over again, and again.