“Pacity Y Salma,” Now a Musical Play, Returns to the WMSU Gym Tonight
February 2, 2006

ONCE more, with feeling – and this time, some original music, too.

The theater guild of Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) will stage a musical adaptation of the Chavacano, peace-themed stage play “Pacita y Salma” tonight, Friday, February 3, at the university gym. Show starts at 5:30 P.M.

Dr. Grace Rebollos, who co-authored the play with Fr. Angel Calvo, has spiced up the production with 11 inspired song compositions. The music “gives it a different dimension, the audience will resonate with the story, and the viewing experience is more total,” she said. One of the songs, “As I live,” was written by Norma Conti, who shepherds the university’s choral group.

The play story is about two young, girl friends, one a Muslim (Salma, played by Nafieza Mohammad) and the other a Christian (Pacita, played by Anne Aubrey Adjarani), whose personal but identical poverty and early encounter with war and violence forced their young minds to wonder – to each other – about the mysteries of living and dying. In the midst of their doubt and despair, as they explore the forlorn nooks and crannies of old Fort Pilar, the Nuestra SeƱora del Pilar, appears, befriends and talks to them – and leads them to discover the hopes for peace that lay hidden in the redeeming, transcendental power of their friendship.

The play was first staged in 2003, also at WMSU, as a student production of the university theater guild, under the direction of hard-working, highly-focused Dante Balansag, who also directs the musical adaptation this time. Production boss is Dr. Roberto Torres, head of WMSU’s Office of Culture and the Arts.

Dr. Rebollos’ music has the effect of bridging and accentuating the scenes so that each smoothly segues to the next, dramatical moment. There are scenes of merriment, portraying Zamboanga’s exciting cultural mix with rich, sight and sound portrayals.

In her first appearance to Pacita and Salma, the Lady of Pilar (played by Sheryl Pangilinan), laments: “Ay que macatriste // Y macalastima, Ay! // Maga generacion // De mga cuento y rabia, Ay! /// Maga istoria de disgusto y pena // Maga istoria de dolor // Maga istoria de perdido confianza // Maga istoria de gulo.// Entra Mulim y Cristiano // Ta pasa na maga bata…” In prose form, as Dr. Rebollos fears, the message sounds too cerebral, too much philosophizing. However, the singing by Sheryl Pangilinan, a veteran star of the WMSU choral group, transforms the prose into poetry, the moment from mundane to heavenly. That is art – and peace-building is, in a sense, an art form, too. (Rey-Luis Banagudos / PAO-WMSU)