A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino

10 Nov


Repertory Philippines' A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino

It was one idle afternoon as I was rummaging through some tattered folders of my old papers when I chanced upon a xerographic copy of A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino written by National Artist Nick Joaquin. This literary treasure was introduced to me through a course on Philippine Literature in English in college with my professor who knows the play by heart. Her keenness towards it was very contagious that I got infected by it like flu. Since then, I started this habit of reading it at times when I feel the need to reminisce this masterpiece known to be as the Philippine National Play.

With a Pre-world War II background set in Intramuros, the play tells a story of two Marasigan sisters, Candida and Paula with their father, Don Lorenzo, a well known painter. The family is going through a serious financial crisis and to make ends meet, they hire a male boarder. People around them including their other siblings are compelling them to sell their house and their father’s self portrait but both shook their heads to it. As a result the sisters are faced with trying situations and events that will test how they will be able to patch up the demanding conflict of preserving their old cultural models and at the same time coping with the domineering modern values and Western influences they can’t say no to.

A number of adaptations of the play have been staged which featured high caliber movie and stage actresses like Gina Alajar, Irma Adlawan and Anna Abad Santos to name a few. Zsa-Zsa Padilla, Rachel Alejandro, and Celeste Legazpi also gave life to it carrying the title “Larawan” with a musical touch. Critical and commercial success of these productions prompted Reyna Films to conceptualize a script to bring it to the silver screen which eventually didn’t push through. Dawn Zulueta, Chin Chin Gutierez and Jericho Rosales were supposed to top-bill the said project under the direction of Carlitos Siguion Reyna. It could have been the second play by Nick Joaquin made into a movie after Tatarin in 2001(correct me if I’m wring).


Even just the thought of translating the play into a movie makes me thrilled.  Seeing it on the silver screen would be more than delight especially if it stars two of the country’s biggest stars, Sharon Cuneta and Maricel Soriano to play the dilemmatic Marasigan sisters. This could be the most awaited answer to the Sharonians and Maricelians request to see their idols together in one film. They’ve been in the business for over 30 years yet we haven’t seen them shine together in a movie. Well, I bet Larawan is the best vehicle for this biggest team-up in history of Philippine Cinema after FPJ-Erap and Nora-Vilma tandems.


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