This Month in BM History: May 1998
June 12, 1998 was a momentous date for the Philippines as the nation marked its 100th year of independence. Ballet Manila decided to make its own contribution in observing that event through a special production featuring original Filipino pieces.
Dubbed Gabriela, OPM, Atbp… The Philippine Centennial Celebration of Ballet Manila, it was staged on May 30 and 31 at the GSIS Theater. The opening number was Osias Barroso’s historical dance-drama Gabriela ng Vigan, an interpretation of Gabriela Silang’s struggles as the wife of Diego Silang, her takeover as the supreme leader of the revolutionary force after her husband’s assassination by a comrade, her capture, and finally her execution in Vigan on September 20, 1763.
The show also featured the world premiere of two works: Ric Culalic’s Arnis, inspired by the Filipino martial art of wielding bamboo sticks practiced by Filipinos in the pre-Spanish era; and Edna Vida’s Pulp Asia, a neo-classical/ modern choreography based on Asian folk dances.
Gabriela, OPM, Atbp… was capped by Tony Fabella’s Original Pilipino Music Suite. It traces the evolution of the Filipino flag and depicts time-honored Filipino values in vignettes set to pop songs such as Sabihin Mong Ikaw ay Pilipino and Awitin Mo, Isasayaw Ko.
It was also a collaboration of the performing arts and visual arts, with Fred J. Elizalde designing the set for Gabriela ng Vigan and Dimeliora for Pulp Asia.