The country’s creative powerhouses bring to life Ballet Manila’s Ang Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang

Ballet Manila once again unearths the magical baul of Lola Basyang as it transports its audience to a world of fantastic dance, music and spectacular visuals with Ang Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang.

By Iconic MNL
8 Min Read

Ballet Manila once again unearths the magical baul of Lola Basyang as it transports its audience to a world of fantastic dance, music and spectacular visuals with Ang Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang set to happen at Aliw Theater from May 11, 2024 at 8 PM and May 12 &18, 2024 at 5 PM.

The second show among the repertoire for Ballet Manila’s 26th Performance Season aptly titled “Ballet Masterpieces,” Ang Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang is based on the retellings of Severino Reyes’ stories by Christine Bellen Ang.   Published by Anvil Publishing, the three stories are an engaging mix of romance, adventure, and comedy, touching on such universal themes as loyalty and commitment to family, the power of humility, and of course, love conquers all.   

“We chose three stories out of twelve (12) Lola Basyang books.  It was an interesting process because there were so many great tales that were worth sharing. But in the end, we felt that the themes we chose can truly resonate with an audience across many generations,” shared Lisa Macuja Elizalde, artistic director, and chief executive officer of Ballet Manila.

“As a publishing company that’s known for producing books about Philippine culture, we feel it is part of our duty to ensure that the magic of these stories is not lost among the younger generation.  “Ang Mga Kwento Ni Lola Basyang” is among the books that have mesmerized generations of Filipino children and we are confident they will love the ballet version,” shared Xandra Ramos Padilla, Anvil Publishing president.  ”We’re so thrilled that  these stories will once again be brought to life through compelling performances, thanks to our partnership with Ballet Manila.”

Bringing life to the enduring character of Lola Basyang is Mitch Valdes – the acclaimed performance artist who has been active in the theater and entertainment industry for over 50 years. Best known for her award-winning roles in Lunes, Martes, Miyerkules, Huwebes, Biyernes, Sabado, Linggo where she won a Gawad Urian Award for Best Supporting Actress, Mitch has also starred in highly-acclaimed movies such as Oro, Plata, Mata; Manila by Night; and Bulaklak sa City Jail.

Mitch’s captivating performance of Lola Basyang will open the production. Not surprisingly, the role has evoked a sense of patriotism in the actress. “We’re familiar with all the international classics but this one is a rare chance to see one of our beloved folklore come to life in classical ballet. It will be beautiful because the story is one of our own.”

Ang Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang will then unfold with the first story, Ang Prinsipe ng mga Ibon which tells the tale of a princess who wishes to marry her beloved bird against her father’s disapproval. In the end, the princess decides to turn into a beautiful bird to join her beloved bird who happens to be a prince in his kingdom. 

Breathing life into the characters are principal dancers Jasmine Pia Dames/Shaira Comeros as Prinsesa Singsing and Romeo Peralta/Joshua Enciso as Prinsipe ng mga Ibon. Choreographed by the late Osias Barroso Jr., Ballet Manila’s co-artistic director until his passing in December 2023, the production hopes his legacy will live on through the choreographies he has created. 

Barroso once said, “I want Ang Prinsipe ng mga Ibon to be very romantic. I want people to fall in love after watching it.” Complementing his vision is the award-winning musical arranger Mon Faustino who arranged music for the production using compositions of national artists for music.  

From the soaring magic of enchanted birds, the production moves on to focus on the dark ramifications of greed in Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Maria which tells the story of a couple who are folk healers, thanks to the leaves of a magical tree that their three daughters would pick every morning. Because of the couple’s greed, they were punished by the serpent living in the tree, taking their three daughters to marry them off to beastly animals. The couple soon had another child, this time a son, and before the father’s death, he requested his son to look for his three sisters. 

Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Maria is a collaborative partnership between Lisa Macuja Elizalde as the choreographer, and Filipino Music legend, Joey Ayala who composed the music for the entire ballet. 

“For Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya, I wanted to merge the movements of the folk dances of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to represent the three worlds to show the cultural diversity and color of our nation,” explained Macuja Elizalde. 

Apart from the magnificent ballet, the production is an auditory treat as it will feature a rare combination of raw sounds from kawayan and metal, complemented by orchestral synthesizer sounds to stimulate the imagination of the audience.  For this story, Anselmo Dictado/Sean Pelegrin will perform the role of Pedro, while the Tatlong Maria will be played by Rissa May Camaclang (Maria Trining), Stephanie Santiago (Maria Loleng) and Jessa Balote/Jessica Pearl Dames (Maria Upeng).

No less than National Artist Ryan Cayabyab composed the lively and catchy music that will accompany the dancers in  Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin.   The last installment in the trilogy, its tells the story of a young man named Rodrigo who is rewarded with a magical violin for his kindness to an old woman. 

Completing the creative powerhouse for this final tale is the late award-winning Filipino ballet dancer Tony Fabella, whose amazing choreography reaffirms his belief that, while the story is easy enough to understand, audiences will have a deeper appreciation for the beautiful message of Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin if told through ballet. True enough, theatergoers must prepare to be enthralled by the performances of Gerardo Francisco Jr./Anselmo Dictado as Rodrigo and John Ralp Balago/Junmark Sumaylo as Ahab. 

From the brilliantly written word to the wonderful stage of ballet, Ang Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang is a production mounted with the heartfelt intention of giving birth to a newfound appreciation for our vibrant Filipino culture: “We hope that they come out of the theaters having learned so many valuable life lessons,” said Macuja Elizalde.

All performances will be staged at Aliw Theater, Pasay City. For tickets, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph. To learn more about Ballet Manila and its shows, visit www.balletmanila.com.ph

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