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Rak of Aegis is a tough act to follow. Everyone over at PETA knew as much and deliberately steered their new musical venture, 3 Stars and a Sun, into a completely different direction. This new direction took them as far as 80 years into the future, inside a Stormdome in the middle of what was once Philippine territory.
Living in the Wild
It’s the year 2096 and what’s left of Filipinos are living inside a bomb shelter. We first meet Bodjie Pascua’s Mang Okik, and this introduction powerfully sets the tone of the entire show. What we’re about to see is a brutal imagining of the future. Brutal, but not altogether impossible.
(READ: Makabaran Rap, Francis M, Takes Center Stage in PETA’s 3 Stars and a Sun)
In this imagined dystopia, society is split between Lumino (the Haves) and Diliman (the Have-Nots). The Luminos have all the power and are corrupted by it. Led by deliciously villainous Vidame Inky, (Che Ramos-Cosio, in a scene-stealing performance) they are sinister and controlling. The Dilimans, on the other hand, are impoverished. Tropang Gising, a group of rebel rousers led by Sol (Nicco Manalo), craves a reversed world order, terrorizing their only home to achieve their goals.
It’s a Philippines that is so removed, so radicalized by circumstance that they don’t know a form of government other than conqueror and conquered. It’s a constantly charged environment where no one is in the right and power must be attained, or defended.
(WATCH: Excerpts from PETA’s Highly Anticipated Francis M Musical, 3 Stars and a Sun)
Nicco Manalo and Nar Cabico (as Tropang Gising’s Poy) gave solid performances, carrying out their rebel rousing with consuming energy. Giannina Ocampo, playing Lumino heiress Dianne, was effective as a moral compass (if only her own). But it is Mr. Pascua as the addled Mang Okik who steals the show. A figure of the 90s himself, he is mesmerizing in his featured role.
Playwrights Mixkaela Villalon and Rody Vera built a layered, complicated world inside the Stormdome. Made into reality by production designer Gino Gonzales, we peek into an absorbing society with bylaws, technology, and mythology worth exploring.
Musical director Myke Salomon continues to showcase his knack for rearranging songs to tell a bigger story, immortalizing and contextualizing Francis M’s poetry for a generation that might not be familiar with the Master Rapper. Director Nor Domingo, for his part, was able to put together a thrilling adventure that is impactful as it is entertaining.
(VIEW: Sights and Sounds of PETA’s 3 Stars and a Sun)
Wake Up Call
On the surface, it seems like the age-old story of ‘haves vs. have-nots’, but this doesn’t mean it’s a trope not worth retelling. In fact, this is arguably the show’s most crucial message: that history repeats itself, and the more we are told that this has happened before, the closer we could be to breaking the cycle.
The show as allegory to our present situation isn’t exactly subtle. We’re at the precipice of social change, and one wrong decision can take us to a version of this future that eerily resembles our past.
There is no doubt that 3 Stars and a Sun is an artistic feat. It takes out-of-the-box thinking to create a futuristic, dystopian rap musical that touches on history as well as the current political climate. Overall, it’s a satisfying production that gave justice to Francis M.’s work while staying true to its objective of social responsibility.
(Click here for more information about the show)
Photos by: Erickson dela Cruz