Through the years, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) has established itself for creating original Filipino works that reflect social issues. The theater group has never been afraid of making statements on what’s happening in the country, whether it’s through song, dance, or a straight play. To celebrate its 50 years in the industry, PETA held a series of major events, including a two-night concert filled with songs and laughter!
The two-night concert, called Singkuwenta: PETA’s 50th Anniversary Concert, was held on April 7 and 8 at its theater space in Quezon City. The concert featured a sweeping repertoire of PETA’s theatrical pieces through the years, some of which form part of the 50th year commemorative album Sa Hirap at Ginhawa.
The two-hour concert featured 17 songs from the shows Care Divas, Rak of Aegis, and 3 Stars and a Sun, as well as hits from PETA’s early years. The show was graced by the presence of performers like the PETA Choir, Rody Vera, Myke Salomon, the UP Singing Ambassadors, Noel Cabangon, Aicelle Santos, and many more.
Some of my favorite performances were Carlon Matobato, Gerhard Pagunsan, and JP Basco performing Diablos, a hypnotic interpretive dance accompanied by the UP Singing Ambassadors; Vera’s powerful rendition of “Pahimakas ni Joe Hill”; the performance of the Care Divas girls singing “Saan Ka Man Dalhin“; and the finale, the explosive Makabayan Suite, where past and present PETA members stepped up to the stage, singing in tears.
The show was hosted by Soxie Topacio, Mae Paner, Dessa Quesada-Palm, Cris Gonzales, Meann Espinosa, and Joel Lamangan, who took viewers on a journey through PETA’s 50 years, from its beginnings in 1967, through the Martial Law era, and to its current years. It was written by Anj Heruela, directed by Melvin Lee, and with musical direction by Jeff Hernandez and Salomon.
Things change all the time, but PETA has stuck to its guns since 1967. Seasons may have passed, and many of the pieces are no longer performed on stage, but the theater group continues to advocate for democracy, women’s and children’s rights, gender issues, disaster preparedness, and more. They certainly know how to look back: on April 7, the group revisited its original home at Fort Santiago and performed an inter-faith service, thanksgiving mass, and interculturated liturgy.
Things may be easier now compared to PETA’s earlier years, especially during Martial Law. But like I said, things change, and you never know what will happen next. But PETA will still stand, tirelessly creating new material that will not only entertain, but move people and remind them what it is to be Filipino.