Lunop Han Dughan (Voice of Yolanda) of UP Diliman, UP Visayas Tacloban makes world premiere

The new musical Lunop Han Dughan (Voice of Yolanda), a collaboration between the UP Diliman College of Music and the UP Visayas Tacloban College, was staged for the first time on the evening of April 26 and 27. An audience of about a thousand, including critics, witnessed the premiere at the open grounds of UP Visayas Tacloban College.

The original contemporary Waray sarswela revolves around lovers Yolanda and Urbano who went their separate ways and saw each other again in tragic circumstances during a severe storm. Thousands of people, including the main characters, drowned in the flood caused by the storm surge. But the tragedy only strengthened the faith of those left behind.

UP Diliman associate professor and soprano Alegria O. Ferrer and UP Visayas Tacloban associate professor Joycie D. Alegre, together with UP Visayas Tacloban alumnus Samlito C. Abueva who wrote the script and composed the original music, created the musical as a tribute to the lives that were lost, their relatives, and the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines. Ferrer was in charge of musical direction and lights design while Alegre was the choreographer and director. Also part of the production was Silhag Cultural Association.

Yolanda and Urbano locked in an embrace (Photo credit: Joel Castillejos and Ingrid Sievert)

The stage set, designed by Assoc. Prof. Jose Danilo Silvestre of the UP Diliman College of Architecture, resembles the eye of the storm (Photo credit: Alegria Ferrer)

Ferrer’s idea was to use music to help alleviate the sufferings and harrowing memories of the survivors. “The fact that each one of the sarswela team members is a survivor of Yolanda or has lost someone [to the storm] is mind-blowing. [T]hey have become a new, inspired community, moving on with the help of music, where they can express their innermost feelings,” she says. Ferrer not only played the role of Typhoon Yolanda in the musical but also trained its cast, traveling between Manila and Tacloban for several months.

Soprano Alegria Ferrer as Typhoon Yolanda (Photo credit: Joel Castillejos and Ingrid Sievert)

Candle offering with the audience (Photo credit: Joel Castillejos and Ingrid Sievert)

The sarswela likewise put a spotlight on environmental protection. Two of the arias, Yolanda’s Lament and Yolanda’s Surge (Rage of Yolanda), specifically talk of how “nature is a beautiful gift of God to humankind” but “the world has been ruined by strong powers and evil purposes” and thus “the howling winds, whirlpools” and “the bitterness.” The arias express that one cannot defy nature.

Ferrer believes that the musical is the start of several more stories that can be set into music in different places of the Philippines and the world. “I believe that we should do more collaborative projects among different UP campuses. It will help professors and students learn and update themselves on the latest in theater, music and production.”

The musical was made possible by the Enhanced Creative Work and Research Grant of the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

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Last updated: 3 May 2019, 11:04 AM