Mula sa Buwan: When a French Classic Becomes a Filipino Zarzuela

Mula sa Buwan: When a French Classic Becomes a Filipino Zarzuela. Written by Apple Gamboa for SubSelfie.com.

There are modern clichés, cheesy movies and hugot plays — and then there is Mula sa Buwan, a theatrical play that gets your hopes up then leaves you devastated as you experience a forgotten story worth remembering.

Mula sa Buwan is the adaptation of Edmund Rostand’s timeless French piece, Cyrano de Bergerac. Instead of 17th century France as its setting, the play brings us to Manila during the 1940s when World War II happened—a period that has permanently dented the history of our country.

In the form of  zarzuela, or a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, the play featured the story of Cyrano (played by Nicco Manalo and Boo Gabunada alternately), an ROTC captain with an exaggeratedly pointed and elongated nose, who was in love with his best friend, the luminescent Roxane (KL Dizon) who fell for Christian (played by Fred Lo and Edward Benosa), the new cadet in town, even just on the first time they met.

christian-sees-roxane-for-the-first-time-mula-sa-buwan-theater-play-photo-by-apple-gamboa-for-subselfie-com
Christian sees Roxane for the first time.
Extravagant intro.
Extravagant intro.
Before Roxane's confession.
Before the confession.

Roxane, who was oblivious of Cyrano’s feelings, even told her friend about her infatuation with Christian. Yes, the dreaded friendzone. But it turns out Christian have the looks but doesn’t have the wit and poetry that she desired for in a man.
But since Cyrano endlessly loves her, he agreed to lend his gift of poetry to Christian just to make Roxane happy even if she would be in the arms of another.

And if that wasn’t even enough proof of how selfless he was, Cyrano kept Christian safe as they faced World War II together with other cadets, and kept his words strong as he wrote letters to Roxane daily so he can still assure her that their love will not be defeated by the war. But in the end love and bravery prevailed in the midst of tragedy. (Watch the play if you want to know what I mean).

Harana.
Harana.
After the Wedding.
After the Wedding.

The story was raw, vivid and moving, and the talented cast even showed sincerity and versatility in the play; Manalo and Gabunada embodied the real sense of strength yet also showed frailty when it comes to love. Dizon showed the vulnerabilities of a woman yet also displayed bravery in times of danger and searing heartbreak. Lo and Benosa represented machismo well but were vulnerable enough to show how love can leave men speechless.

The original lyrics and music by Pat Valera and William Elvin Manzano gave more depth to the story and seamlessly embodied the emotion of each character in the play. Some of the most remarkable ones are Ikaw, Cyrano’s love song for Roxane that was lent to Christian; Matatapos Din which was the song that pushed the cadets to survive World War II and expressed that people can love in the midst of war; and the heart wrenching Ang Sabi Nila which tells the tale of a heart that just can’t be told to forget and move on.

Roxane singing Ang Sabi Nila.
Roxane singing Ang Sabi Nila.

Mula sa Buwan is a play that shouldn’t be missed—not just because it’s a love story but because it reflects some of the most affecting situations in our present lives.

It was a story of unrequited love as Cyrano seemed to be the moon, always overshadowed by the sun which was Christian. Cyrano chose to profess his love in the darkness where his love and poetry can be echoed to reach Roxane, and because of his fear that she will just reject him because of his appearance, even if they already have a strong foundation of friendship through the years.

This reflects the superficiality that has somehow become a norm in our society: people are discriminated and given less chances in life, love and career just because of their appearance.

Mula sa Buwan also tells us how young men and women lost their freedom and adolescence to the war as they were forced to grow up abruptly to face the Second World War. It was vividly shown in the play how they had to go through the Bataan Death March, battled without enough training and armor, came out alive and still hopeful despite knowing that their loved ones fell to the tragedy of death and abuse. It was aptly included in the play as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan this year.

The hardships of war.
The hardships of war.
Battered and tattered.
Battered and tattered.

Their “desire to go to the moon” figuratively expresses their desire to live in a world where there is no fear, defeat and pain. And this vision still echoes the fervent hope of many people today.

Mula sa Buwan helps us remember that love and friendship can win all battles. The defiance and bravery of our unsung war heroes let us enjoy our freedom today. It gives us hope that as we try to get strength from the illumination of the moon, we can also create a better future for the generations to come.

A farewell.
A farewell.
Editor’s Note:
We’re giving away free tickets to the show!
saturday, 7:30pm — 4 tickets
sunday, 3pm — 4 tickets
Here are the mechanics:
1. Like the Facebook pages of Subselfie.com and Mula Sa Buwan.
2. Find this article in the Facebook page of Subselfie.com and leave a comment about your favorite Subselfie.com article and why. Please include the link of said article.
3. Share this article and tag Subselfie.com and Mula sa Buwan official Facebook page.
Prior to the wedding.
Prior to the wedding.
Don’t forget to watch the last five “Mula sa Buwan” shows!
Feb. 24 (FRI) – 7:30PM
Feb. 25 (SAT) – 3:00PM
Feb. 25 (SAT) – 7:30PM
Feb. 26 (SUN) – 3:00PM
Feb. 26 (SUN) – 7:30PM
ORCHESTRA (Reserved Seating)
Orchestra Center – PHP 800
Upper Orchestra – PHP 700
Lower Orchestra – PHP 600
Henry Lee Irwin Theatre, Ateneo de Manila university, Katipunan, Q.C.
For bulk ticket purchases, please contact CAT: 0916 4063242. or email at info@mulasabuwan.com
There is a flash ticket sale over at Ticketworld. Check it here.
Presented by SIP Purified Water
Co-Presented by Eastern Communications | Tunog at Liwanag Sa Teatro
Produced by Black Box Productions

[Entry 204, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Apple Gamboa.

Apple Gamboa was an interview and field producer for GMA News, particularly the newscasts Quick Response Team and News to Go. She is currently a producer for lifestyle TV shows and documentaries. Travelling and music is her passion and she takes risks as her personal reality medicine. Journalism 2010, UST. Read more of her articles here.

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