SAN FRANCISCO — This was the cast of “Tagalog 2019,” as they got ready for another performance recently at the Bindlestiff Studio in the heart of South of Market in San Francisco.
Tagalog 2019 is a collection of one-act plays written by three new playwrights from the prestigious Virgin Labfest of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
“You can feel the pride of being engulfed in a full Tagalog experience, which I think it’s pretty rare and pretty special in terms of living here in America,” says Nic Feliciano.
In Maria Cecilia de la Rosa’s “Labor Room” — three women befriend and comfort each other in a busy delivery room.
“There’s lack of resources and you see that it the play,” says director Aureen Almario. “[There’s] lack of education as well when it comes to reproductive health and just health, in general.”
“Mga bata sa Selda 43” is a play by Rolin Migyuel Cadallo Obina — where the imagination of two brothers from the slums allow them to be kidnapped by aliens.
“You can have all these different things that can entertain you, allow you to play. But that’s not the case in many parts of the world, particularly in the Philippines but you see the resiliency and the spirit in many of the kids.”
And in Juan Ekis’ “Ensayo” — as an elderly pair of actors prepare for a scene — they soon discover they are in for more than just a rehearsal.
Despite it being a full Tagalog play, English translation is creatively woven throughout the performance.
“I feel like Tagalog is so important whether you speak it fluently or you just understand it or you just understand the rhythm and the cadence of it. I think that it’s an instant bridge between our realities here and home, and I feel in terms of our identity that really holds me down.”
Tagalog 2019 is just one of a number of plays produced by bindlestiff studio this year, as it celebrates 30 years of being the epicenter of Filipino American performing arts.