‘The Reconciliation Dinner’: When politics becomes personal

Emotions ran high as we were served a one-of-a-kind gathering with the comeback of Floy Quintos’ and Dexter Santos’ The Reconciliation Dinner.

As someone who came in blind and chose to be swept away by the whole play, I became part of an audience left at the edge of their seats due to servings of the cold, hard truth about relationships and politics that were hard to swallow.

The story revolves around the lives of longtime friends Susan Valderama (Frances Makil-Ignacio) and Dina Medina (Stella Cañete-Mendoza) and their families, who have strong yet polarizing political beliefs.

Dina and Susan remained tight through the years, with their husbands Fred Valderama (Jojo Cayabyab) and Bert Medina (Randy Villarama), becoming good friends. They even pick each other as godparents to their children Norby Valderama, a drag queen and LGBTQIA+ activist (Phi Palmos), and the strong-willed Mica Medina (Mica Pineda).

They’ve shared so many memories and meals but tension ensued when they were forced to confront their differences amid the political turmoil in the Philippines during a dinner in 2016.

Susan and Fred were enraged when Duterte allowed Marcos Sr. to be buried a hero, and the Valderamas, being supporters of the former president, translated their emotions just as an overreaction.

Hurtful words were said, and matters were left unresolved, leaving a crack that led to the slow death of a friendship through seven years and two presidencies.

Friendship at the crossroads of politics. Photo by I.R. Arenas

During their years of rift, their social media platforms were filled with half-meant greetings and words of reaching out, opinionated posts echoing their political choices that seemed like bullets aimed at each other.

Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, the 2022 elections came – the Medinas voted for Robredo, and the Valderamas voted for the victorious Marcos. Jr. Their continued political differences cut their wounds deeper, making them face the consequences and doubt if they should even keep each other in their lives.

Hope for the rekindling of bonds. Photo by I.R. Arenas
Hope for the rekindling of bonds. Photo by I.R. Arenas

A year after the elections, paired with a personal tragedy from Dina’s side, there was a sliver of hope that their bond might finally be rekindled.

Susan, Fred, and Norby joined Dina and Bert for dinner with Mica and her husband, Ely (Nelsito Gomez). They gave peace a chance, but things took a dark turn that left us thinking – can there be reconciliation among relations with irreconcilable differences?

Ceasefire? Photo by Jaypee Maristaza

No other play this year can almost perfectly mirror the Philippine society amid the most intense political landscape the country has ever experienced.

The set didn’t need to be decorative, and the play didn’t need many characters. It only required a close-to-realistic set with visuals and sounds that perfectly reflected the tension and emotions everyone in that theater felt.

It only needed a few, yet the most outstanding, affecting and emotionally stirring characters who resonate with each one of us.

We laughed and shed tears because we saw ourselves in those characters. We are reminded of our own wounds and reconciliation dinners.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

This play made us look back on those dreadful years we lost people who matter, yet we’ve drifted apart due to opposing political beliefs.

Hope that friendship overcomes differences. Photo by I.R. Arenas

A year after the elections, The Reconciliation Dinner echoes that question we ask ourselves with the choices we made, “Masaya ba tayo sa nangyayari sa bansa natin ngayon?” 

One could be responding to it based on the president’s way of leading our country, while some could be pondering how our nation is divided not by wars but by broken friendships and relationships due to different political stances.

No matter the answer, we hope more people would choose love and friendship to outweigh political choices.

That lines could be drawn, but there could still be a middle ground where we could choose respect and kindness above all else.

The Reconciliation Dinner will have its last 4 shows this weekend so treat yourselves and don’t miss it!

Get your tickets via http://www.ticket2me.net. You can also download the show buyers’ information sheet here:  https://bit.ly/TRDShowbuyers

For more information, follow The Reconciliation Dinner on Facebook and for updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/TRD2023



About the Author

Apple Gamboa is the Life Editor of SubSelfie.com.

She is also the Creative Team Lead of Maya, the leading digital financial services provider in the country.

She was previously a Media Relations Manager for Ogilvy Philippines and an interview and field producer for GMA News programs Quick Response Team and News to Go. She was also a producer of lifestyle TV shows and documentaries. Traveling and music are her passion, and taking risks is her reality medicine. Journalism 2010, UST. Read more of her articles here.


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