Virgin Labfest 2022 // Online Guide and Review

Can’t stop talking about how awesome The Virgin Labfest was. I’m a The Virgin Labfest virgin, and it was also my first time to watch live theater in the post-lockdown pandemic era. Although, the LIVE theatrical run has been completed already, you can still watch the 12 untried, untested and unstaged one-act plays on their online run. Some of the drama and comedic lines don’t translate well on screen, but it is still awesome to watch all of them online and you’ll still be touched by their story. Watch them on a big TV screen with headphones on or on full volume.

I watched Set B Live and was able to catch Sets A, C, D online. It was hard to get tickets to all the LIVE performances because of limited theater capacity and schedule. Watching the show online is the next best thing so don’t miss this online run!

Here’s what ✅ I think of each show, and I’ll share my favorites at the end of the post.

FESTIVAL PASS ONLINE STREAMING (July 4-10, 2022)

Tuloy ang kuwento online! Come home to the theater from anywhere in the world as the 12 untried, untested and unstaged one-act plays of the #VLF17Hinga go online via Ticket2Me.

VIRGIN LABFEST 17: HINGA
FESTIVAL PASS ONLINE STREAMING July 4-10, 2022
Get your online festival pass here: https://ticket2me.net/e/35150
Price: ₱750 online on demand for 48 hours.
📞 +63 917 8427346 (Globe)
📞 +63 918 8427346 (Smart)
Facebook: Ticket2Me


About Virgin Labfest

VLF RETURNS TO LIVE STAGE WITH 12 NEW WORKS

AFTER two years of online performances and the streaming of archived works, the Virgin Labfest (VLF), the festival of untried, untested and unstaged plays, returns to live stage with 12 new works slated on June 16 to 26, at Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater). 

For its 17th edition, VLF follows the theme “Hinga” to “underline the need to breathe, to be present and feel alive.”   

“After being isolated in our houses, we now focus on the importance of community — the need to share space and time and revel in one another’s presence — and the urgency of theatre and performance,” said VLF festival director Tess Jamias who is sharing the role with TP associate director Marco Viaña.  

Aside from marking its return to THB, its original home, VLF 17: HINGA reintroduces the practice of grouping plays into sets under shared themes and other commonalities. 

Virgin Labfest 17: Hinga
Cultural Center of the Philippines
CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City
Facebook: The Virgin LabFest
Instagram: @culturalcenterph
Twitter: @TheCCPofficial
Website:  www.culturalcenter.gov.ph


Set A: Life is Full of Surprises

Life is Full of Surprises revolves around life’s unexpected turns. This set features: Eljay Castro Deldoc’s Walang Bago sa Dulang Ito; Ma. Cecilia de la Rosa’s Mga Balo; and Bibeth Orteza’s Bituing Marikit. 

Mga Balo

In Mga Balo, a writer tries to decide on the future of the play she is writing. She returns to her material and seeks the help of the widows who rightfully own the story. The play is directed by Adrienne Vergara.

(Photo by KIKO CABUENA)

✅ I love how the writer imagined the interaction between her characters and how she showed the dilemma of telling the story of the widows vs. sharing her own POV. It’s another great way to tell the story of those widowed by EKJ killings and police brutalities. I won’t pretend that I understand it but it made me realize that we should be more sensitive to the situation of the widows and the emotions they go through.


Bituing Marikit

Under the direction of Carlos Siguion-Reyna, Bituing Marikit tells the death of a man’s second wife and how much of a “bituing marikit” his wife is to their boys. The play was in memory of film and theater director Mel Chionglo. 

(Photo by KIKO CABUENA)

✅ This is a tough subject matter to tackle with the sons discovering that their mother is a he. Growing up with in an all boy household with 3 siblings and having four 4 boys myself, I can’t imagine how we will react. Will I be angry or be more accepting? Will we focus more on the love and memories or the deceit?


Walang Bago sa Dulang Ito

Directed by J. William Herbert Sigmund Go and Tess Jamias, Walang Bago sa Dulang Ito follows the pursuit of a woman in understanding myriapods and how this would lead to bewildering encounters and finding herself preyed on by those in positions of power.

(Photo by KIKO CABUENA)

✅ This is a story about rape and sexual harassment juxtaposed with the story of myriapods. It’s a heavy topic to discuss, especially when you realize that this is still happening presently. I love how the play was able to depict the struggle and the emotional rollercoaster that the victim goes through.


Set B: Life is Strange Fiction

Three plays show that fiction is stranger than life in Set B: Life is Strange Fiction. The plays are: BJ Crisostomo’s Absurdo: Event Day; Jerry O’Hara’s Liberation; and Juan Ekis’ ‘Nay May Dala Akong Pancit.  

Liberation

Directed by Dennis Marasigan, Liberation is the story of three Japanese soldiers left behind to engage the enemy at whatever cost in a desperate effort and put up pocket resistance in southern districts of Manila in 1945. How would they act in the face of death? 

✅ Watching this LIVE in the theater lets you feel the tension among the soldiers and brings you back to memories of the World War II era in Manila. Perhaps a reminder for us not to take our independence for granted and to do whatever it takes to protect our freedom from others who might try to take it. This is heavy with a lot of swear words and darkness as the soldiers faced imminent death.


Absurdo: Event Day

In Absurdo: Event Day, in between working as project coordinators at a massive end of the world party and dealing with absurd client demands, two co-workers must come to grips if their jobs have any ultimate meaning before time runs outs. Directed by Mara Agleham, Absurdo: Event day is part of a trilogy dealing with the craziness of the Philippine event industry.

✅ It’s a great tribute to the hardworking event production people who are dedicated to their job, putting in all the hard work but still not being appreciated and even shouted at for the smallest mistake. I love the comedic plot of this finale episode in the trilogy where the production assistants still discuss and prioritize work even when the world is about to end. Sad but true. This changed my POV towards event organizers and maybe made me want to give them more appreciation moving forward.


‘Nay, May Sala Along Pancit

In ‘Nay May Dala Akong Pancit, two siblings are stuck in a metaphysical loop of a Pinoy soap opera trope. Every time the older brother comes home with pancit, their mother dies. The siblings must now find a way to escape the loop and save their mother once and for all. Karl Alexis Jingco directs the play. 

✅ Sobrang nakakatawa, and I never laughed so hard during a live theater performance for years now. Thank you for writing the Pancit Challenge script, and congrats to the actors who were able to perform a ground-hog day type of performance. Special mention to the improv section in the middle of the show which included the audience in the hilarious outcome. Galing!


Set C: School of Life

Stories of characters who are at a crossroad find their way to Set C: School of Life, which include Mikaela Regis’ Unica Hijas; Andrew Bonifacio Clete’s Punks Not Dead; and Anthony Kim Vergara’s Student’s Handbook.   

Student’s Handbook

Student’s Handbook, directed by Erika Estacio, shows what happened when a few pioneer students were caught violating some of the institution’s most outrageous regulations. The rules were put into question and things started getting ridiculously clairvoyant.

✅ My first reaction was ‘is this exaggerated’? I think there are still schools that are very strict when it comes to Student Handbook violations, that have not updated their standards to keep up with modern times. I like the point of the show—that even if there are still schools that cannot adapt, the students definitely are more vocal about these issues and they stand up for what’s right.


Unica Hijas

In Unica Hijas, two girls are called into the principal’s office after they were caught by a nun in an almost-kiss. With less than an hour left until their future is decided, the two are forced to confront each other, their past, present, and their own selves.  It will be directed by Pat Valera.

(Photo by KIKO CABUENA)

✅ A coming of age woman to woman relationship in high school. Issues relating to this are becoming more common among the younger generation and, honestly, I’m not sure how to react to these. As a parent, I agree with the show that we should be accepting of and loving to our kids no matter what. There is still life after high school—a whole school to conquer in college; and the whole world, after graduation.


Punks Not Dead

Directed by Roobak Valle, Punks Not Dead is about a mother who complains to her son’s teacher regarding a discriminating item.  As the characters argue about the item, the play shows what’s permanently inked with prejudice. 

(Photo by KIKO CABUENA)

✅ A comedic plot that ended on a sad note. This show was a reaction to a student module used for fifth grade online classes during the pandemic stating that people with tattoos are criminals. I initially thought that the focus would be the love of Punk Rock, but the story centered more on the tattoo and the evil side of the police.


Set D: Life’s Choices

Plays set in schools and involve life lessons that must be learnt and unlearnt are grouped together in Set D: Life’s Choices. They are: Dustin Celestino’s Fermata; Ryan Machado’s Huling Haraya Nina Ischia at Emeteria; and George Vail Kabristante’s Bienvenuta Al Lido Di Venezia.  

Huling Haraya

Directed by Regina De Vera, Huling Haraya Nina Ischia at Emeteria shows the endearing moment between a mother and her daughter as they prepare for the daughter’s departure. As the conversation gets deep, the daughter realizes that this might indeed be their last evening together.

(Photo by KIKO CABUENA)

✅ Having relatives who live in the province and those who hope to go to Manila for a better life—somehow I can relate. What I can’t relate to is leaving your family for good while they are still alive and why this is happening in this day and age. There are some elements of mysticism and angst at saying your final goodbyes.


Bienvenuta Al Lido Di Venezia

In Bienvenuta Al Lido Di Venezia, a couple who works as Filipino domestic helpers for a wealthy contessa with Alzheimer’s conspired to poison their employer. But things have gone awry. The play is co-directed by Nanding Josef and Antonette Go.  

(Photo by KIKO CABUENA)

✅ At first, I thought this was totally made up, but after listening to the talk back at the end of the show, I realized that the sad situation of our OFW workers still does exist in this day and age. The situation of political exiles, the harassment of our OFW workers who don’t have proper papers, and the craziness of not being able to come home to their loved ones are all real. The plot is crazy and eye-opening.


Fermata

Directed by Guelan Luarca, Fermata follows the son of a dead celebrated musician as he investigates the truth about his father. 

(Photo by KIKO CABUENA)

✅ One of the best shows of VLF 2022 because of the deep connection between the sexual molestation issues of minors, and how we as “males” would handle this situation. Since we are not allowed to be “victims” in a macho culture, sometimes we just let injustice happen to us and take all the hurts in. There were a lot of lines in the show that struck a chord in us given our own boys all growing up and the question, at present, of how to handle sexual abuses, especially the male to male kind. Galing ni Basti Artadi!


Final Thoughts

✅ Thank you to The Virgin Labfest for continuing to share stories that matter, stories that no other medium can tackle in depth and with such soulful and lasting impact.

My favorites are the shows in Set B: Life is Strange Fiction, particularly the Nay, May Sala Along Pancit which made me laugh so hard in the theater and made me realize I needed that during this time of crazy uncertainties. How I wish I could repeat my life and correct errors of the past.

I also love the shows of Set D: School of Life which tackled heavy, dark topics, most specially Fermata which dealt with the negative side of the Macho culture, sexual molestation of minors, male ego handling of being a victim, and daddy issues. Ang bigat, but ang galing ni Basti Artadi.

I miss the sound of the theater, from entering to going to the seats, to the sounds of the bell as the show starts. I miss laughing so hard together with the crowd and feeling the heightened emotion of theater drama. But I also love the hybrid model where, because of capacity and schedule constraints, you can still watch the shows on their online run. Galing!

Congratulations Cultural Center of the Philippines and The Virgin LabFest team for a great festival of untried, untested and unstaged one-act plays!

Virgin Labfest 17: Hinga
Cultural Center of the Philippines
CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City
Facebook: Cultural Center of the Philippines
Instagram: @culturalcenterph
Twitter: @TheCCPofficial
Website:  www.culturalcenter.gov.ph

Live an Awesome Life with Christ,

Founder & Digital Creator, Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: Our Awesome Planet is an official media partner of The Virgin Labfest 2022. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.

FESTIVAL PASS ONLINE STREAMING (July 4-10, 2022)

Tuloy ang kuwento online! Come home to the theater from anywhere in the world as the 12 untried, untested and unstaged one-act plays of the #VLF17Hinga go online via Ticket2Me.

VIRGIN LABFEST 17: HINGA
FESTIVAL PASS ONLINE STREAMING July 4-10, 2022
Get your online festival pass here: https://ticket2me.net/e/35150
Price: ₱750 online on demand for 48 hours.
📞 +63 917 8427346 (Globe)
📞 +63 918 8427346 (Smart)
Facebook: Ticket2Me

One thought on “Virgin Labfest 2022 // Online Guide and Review

  1. Hi! Napagpalit nyo po yung Set C and Set D. Yung Set C ang School Life and Set D ang Life Choices. 🙂

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