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Seeing ‘Himala’ musical and wishing for a Butuan miracle production

By Ramon Jorge Sarabosing

I was lucky to see ‘Himala,’ the musical in Manila recently and couldn’t help wish for a production miracle in the inactive theater scene in Butuan to be revive.

Butuan has ever since produced significant stage plays and musicals that reflect its history and aspirations that mold and strengthens local theater artists and cultural workers and audience to be proud and loyal of their cultural heritage.

“Himala,’ originally a movie is historic itself, on Philippine film scale. It was shown in 1982 that starred Nora Aunor and directed by Ishmael Bernal, National Artist for Film.

Being a movie buff and studying the craft of scriptwriting I watched it in Cebu. After it was shown, it received applause from the stunned audience. I was not sure why. Was it because the audience was rabid Noranians or were they affected by the power and truth of the movie?

For my part, I was bothered but felt good of the movie’s phenomenal message. I realize it was movie-making in the real sense, and what an excellent movie is all about.

Two decades later it was named Asia’s best movie of all time by CNN Asia, beating Chinese, Indian and Japanese films. My skin crawled when I learned it.

Today, curios how it was interpreted on stage I lost no chance to see it in Makati and also to say hello to its writer, Ricky Lee, my idol scriptwriter since way back.

After I left the stage musical I concocted an imaginary version suited for Butuan or Mindanao context. I fantasize a realistic, down-to-earth Agusan experience unfolding on stage.

I was imagining directors Titing Trinquite or Richard Belar collaborating with me with the script outline. Sai Collado will choreograph it and Kit Gresos or Anoy Catague will do the set and production design.

Stage actress/singer Mae Oclarit who once played the lead role of Butuan’s classic musical,”Lawig Balanghai” can perfectly essay Elsa, the accidental faith healer (Nora Aunor) in the movie, while Ann Navarro, the original lead star of LB will play Elsa’s mother, a role played by bituin Escalante in the stage musical. What dynamic lead cast and production it will be.

If I can dream, why not make it big? Who knows a beautiful miracle will happen? Butuan’s creative landscape may never be the same.

Photo courtesy of Adrian Begonia/

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