I was introduced to Eve Ensler and The Vagina Monologues in 2005. I was still teaching at that time and two of my students, Maureen and Faye, were invited to join the local production of the award-winning show. I tagged along with them during rehearsals and watched the show. I was overwhelmed.
I found TVM funny, daring, and inspiring. It was my first time to see a show with actors who were completely comfortable saying the word vagina over and over. Not just once or twice, but throughout the show. Did it hurt me? Did I feel violated? Was it rude? No, no, and no. The show was an eye opener for me. So I vowed to help in one way or another the next time a TVM show was mounted in CDO.
Fast forward to 2008. My students were once again invited to perform in The Vagina Monologues. At that time, I had quit teaching and was just working at home for an online client. I told my students about the show and we went to the auditions together. I ended up becoming part of the production staff. Aside from being the stage/production manager, I was also requested by our director, Jamee Rivera, to perform in one of the pieces – To Stop the Violence Against Woman.
Being backstage and onstage gave me the opportunity to see Ensler’s masterpiece up-close. I realized the many lessons one can learn from each of the monologues. I discovered the symbolisms and hidden meanings in each piece. I became even more aware of my being a woman and I learned to love myself even more. That intimate experience with The Vagina Monologues resulted to a promise: that I would join every CDO production of the show.
There were no TVM shows in the years that followed. Then in 2012, I decided to apply for the rights to stage the 2013 TVM production. I emailed my application in October and received the approval on the first week of December that year. So, in February 2013, with the help of some of my former students and some well-meaning friends and theater actors, we staged The Vagina Monologues at Grand Caprice and later on, at Buffalo Resto Grill.
The 2013 production was followed by shows in 2014 (Rodelsa Hall), 2015 (Inside Out), and 2016 (XU-Little Theater & Seda Hotel). I’d like to believe that all our shows delivered the message/s we wanted our audiences to absorb and understand. That we were able to make an impact to the small community that gathered in each of our shows. That we were able to show them how real violence was and is. And that we were able to make them understand why there’s nothing wrong with talking about or saying the word vagina; that it is not a bad word or something that one should be afraid of.
In each of our shows, we had beneficiaries. Sadly, and I have to be honest about this, we were not able to give them what they deserve because everything we earned, we used to pay for the venue and for all the other expenses that came with the production. Last year, we earned around Php9,000 (our biggest so far), but it still was not enough as we had pre-prod and post-prod expenses to cover. I believe there are still some people we owe (a small amount) up to this day. Also, except for last year, each production was required to send a 10% spotlight donation to the VDay global movement.
VDay CDO 2017
I started 2017 with high hopes. I believed that we would be able to mount a successful show, not just artistically but financially as well. I believed that things have changed and that people, particularly Kagay-anons, are now more open to a production like The Vagina Monologues. I was wrong.
In addition to the (usual) difficulty of finding financial sponsors, we had to move the show to a later date several times. One reason was my hesitation to book a venue without assurance of sponsors. Another reason was time. It was too soon to have another show after we just wrapped up two productions. We didn’t want the performers to feel burned out. The third reason was the fact that we did not have a definite rehearsal venue, which means we had limited time for practice. We didn’t want to stage a half-baked show.
At this point, I was already thinking about aborting the production. But then, I already made a promise to VDay.org; that we would stage the show by hook or by crook. So we finally decided to stage The Vagina Monologues on April 8, Saturday at Liceo de Cagayan University’s AVR 1.
This year’s production, which may be the last one I will do for a time, includes several original monologues written by some of the performers. One of these pieces talks about the experiences (all the excitement and uncertainty) that a young girl goes through while anticipating her first menstruation day. Another piece talks about a daddy’s girl who grows up to become more responsible than the father she used to idolize. Meanwhile, the two remaining original pieces focus on issues that anyone can relate with: rape, harassment, and violence.
Also in our production is one of Ensler’s most popular pieces about transgenders, “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy”. In addition to this, we’ve included a song called “Break the Chain”, which is actually considered the theme song of the One Billion Rising campaign. There will also be music and some dancing.
Although our production has been beset by problems – challenges – even before we started rehearsals, I will make sure that the show will push through. Even if I have only two performers left, TVM will go on. Even if we won’t be able to find the sponsors we need, the show will go onstage next weekend.
We will make sure that our message will ring loud and clear. And that our audience; even if there are just two, three, or 10 of them, will go home with a better understanding of what it’s like to be a woman, and of life in general.
If you want to be informed, inspired, and entertained, please find time to watch our show on April 8. Watch it with your sister, your mother or grandmother, your girlfriend, your female friends, your LGBTQ friends, and with everyone who is special to you.
The Vagina Monologues 2017 features Kagay-anon talents Adeva Jane Esparrago, Aicy Soriano, Arthur Nery, Bex Espino, Car-lene dela Cruz, Demi Yanong, Franklin Toledo, Kaitlin Diana (Narrator), Kale Alphe Ramos, Karl Owen Sayson, Leslie Encong-Yap, Paola Pilapil, Perpie Wabe, Princess Acaylar, Rupert Nellas, and Stephen Christian Quilacio. With the special participation of Iris Dy-Lagria. Creative trainor is Shaun Pilapil. Original monologues were written by Adeva Esparrago, Aicy Soriano, and Bex Espino.
Donation tickets are available at Php100 for professionals and Php75 for students with school ID. You can reserve your donation tickets by clicking on THIS LINK. You can also purchase them at the venue on April 8th. Donation envelopes will also be handed out in case there are members of the audience who would like to give additional financial support.
For more information about The Vagina Monologues CDO 2017 production, please check THIS EVENT PAGE.
Oro Teatro Bulawanon and VDay CDO 2017 are eternally grateful to friends like Atty. Sam Tan, Rhyan Casiño & R Hauz, and Fit Republic.