In a time when technology has taken over nearly everything, the folklore of yore seems to be out of place, but not in the Philippines where vast volumes of mythology and legend are stemming from different provinces all over the country. It is very evident in Tanghalang Ateneo’s latest offering, Janus Silang At Ang Tiyanak Ng Tabon.
The play revolves around the titular Janus Silang as he battled the evil forces of the Tiyanak, who had mercilessly killed his friends, and is threatening to destroy his entire family. At first, the play might seem a little dated—cliché, even. However, what’s so special about this particular play was how the story was crafted with the modern, youthful audience in mind. In fact, the story itself started in an internet shop with Janus and his friends going at a round of Tala, the story’s version of real world DotA, or any LAN-based computer game.
The story progresses and it becomes more and more apparent that the evil things happening to Janus—his friends inexplicably dying in the computer shop after playing Tala, his father’s strange behavior, and his love interest’s complete lack of memories about him—are all because of an ancient evil, the Tiyanak, born in the Cave of Tabon in Palawan during the birth of human civilization. The play explicitly states that the Tiyanak has been alive since the dawn of man, and has secretly been plotting to take over the mortal world with his army of monsters, and only Janus, the last of the Bagani (warrior), can stop this evil from rising into power.
The entire play was thrilling to watch, especially with the stupendous talents of the Tanghalang Ateneo cast, and the masterfully-crafted set design. The set and prop design was so astounding and effective, that I often found myself exclaiming expletives whenever the monsters—the Tikbalang, Manananggal, and the rest—appeared onstage. The story itself was crafted masterfully: elements of both old and new were synthesized wonderfully to create something that was relevant, gripping, and ultimately has the makings of an instant classic for both the youth and the seasoned among theatre-goers. The adaptation of Edgar Calabia Samar's young adult bestseller novel "Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tabon" and its succeeding sequels is a series definitely worth watching.
Whoever said that the Philippines is sorely lacking in world-class stories has never seen a play as remarkable as this. Watch out for updates regarding the plays re-runs or sequels here at Choose Philippines!
“Janus Silang At Ang Tiyanak Ng Tabon” was produced by Tanghalang Ateneo and was directed by Charles Yee. The story was adapted by Guelan Varela-Luarca. Designers Gwyn Guanzon, Mitoy Sta. Ana, Meliton Roxas Jr., Toni Muñoz, and Joyce Garcia were in charge of set design, costume design, lights, music and sound, and projection, respectively. The play was choreographed by Delphine Buencamino, Zyda Baaya, Gab Mesina, Diana David, and Victor Datu.
You can learn more about Tanghalang Ateneo’s upcoming shows on their FB page here.
Were you able to catch Janus Silang? Share your favorite moments down in the comments below, or write about them here at www.ChoosePhilippines.com!