By Bryan Edulzura
Four exotic diwatas (fairies) of Mt. Mayapay came down to the plains of Agusan to settle their differences though refusing to see each other for awhile but left with no choice.
The diwatas of the land, river, forest and fire were having a misunderstanding and competing each other that the magnificent queen fairy was force to come down as well to discipline them. Ah, the war of the insecure goddesses.
All ended well and happily in peace and as always, ever after, at least for centuries-as all fantasy stories go.
This was the fascinating story behind “Bahandi,” a theatrical offering of Artist’s Quarter (AQ), Butuan’s lone community theater company founded 10 years ago before it decided to lie low but not necessarily fold up.
AQ was founded by creative writer/playwright Ramon Jorge Sarabosing together with aspiring theater enthusiast-actors Owen Jaen, Mae Oclarit, Zaesan Arban, Jims Abanero, Meludy Castino, Greg Naduma and Ray Sajulga after the remounting of “Lawig Balanghai,” a landmark Butuanon play which was brought to Manila for a national event.
The 2014 production of Bahandi at Robinsons drew curiosity and excitement to the local art scene. Written by Sarabosing and directed by Oclarit with Kit Gresos as overall designer.
It was supported by well-meaning friends and got institutional assistance from the Department of Tourism-13 and Butuan Rep. Law Fortun.
“We love that play. We love it so much we actors who played the fairies move heaven and earth to come up with the production, even initially we have no financial backing, so we ourselves spent for our respective costumes. We were fixated with the project,” declares Oclarit, who played the queen fairy herself as well as the artistic director.
Sarabosing, on his part, says he always wanted to write magical stories evolving Mt. Mayapay because “it is a mountain of my childhood. Everyday I see it in our balcony so I thought of weaving stories of it some day.”
He also said he wanted to inspire Butuanons what the mountain gave them.
“It’s our natural landmark along with Agusan River. So many mythical stories to make.”
Adding glitz and glamour of the play are the intricate head gears by Gresos and gowns by Joey Sendico.
Now the question: When are we going to see the play again? After all it was not just a children’s play but a play for everyone and it deserves another magical follow up.
“I think it is the first ever fantasy Butuanon play of this scale, original and entertaining,” says Oclarit.
“Now, if there’s a group or institutions willing to produce and partner with us, we will gladly do it again, with a new story twist and all.”
Move over Harry Potter and Maleficent, “Bahandi” is back to conquer the stage.