follow us on

The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeois Filipino Conscience: A Review Of "The Kundiman Party"

Running until April 29th at the Wilfredo Guerrero theatre is the UP Playwright Theatre’s presentation of what is reported to be Floy Quintos’ swan song, The KundimanParty. Directed by Dexter Santos, and starring Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino in the lead role of retired kundiman and classical soprano Adela Dolores, it is a very personal work of Quintos, his own barometer of the current socio-political situation, as refracted through the host of upper middle class characters that populate the stage. 


At times a strident call to arms, there is also reflection and irony to balance the work; and transform it into a brilliant exposition of both what is so right and so wrong with our nation today. Steeped in social realism, the prevalence of social media, and the immediacy of power and violence; how all this is suffused with the Arts, and in particular, the very Filipino kundiman, is part and parcel of the genius of this musical drama. That there’s rich humour and pithy repartee also working as elements of this play will just have you searching for superlatives, and praying Quintos doesn’t retire his ‘pen’ anytime soon.


The play opens with a music lesson going on, Adela instructing a young aspiring singer on how to ‘attack’ the kundiman. Accompanied by pianist Ludwig (the wonderfully deadpan Farley Asunción); it may seem we are in a world apart from current political concerns. But this world of socio-political disquiet rears it’s head in two waves. First, there’s the bevy of Titas of Manila, friends of Adela, who rally and protest as only the bourgeois Filipina can, and descend on her home. Second, there’s the boyfriend of Adela’s student, an activist who ironically, happens to be the estranged youngest son of a senator affiliated with the ruling party. True intentions, forms of political activism and their efficacy, are all put through the microscope, with humour at that, during this lengthy Act I that flies by, as we are so invested in what’s transpiring on stage.


Gooooooood mawnin' Jagiyas!!! Onstage again tonight! Come and join us at the theater for UPPT's THE KUNDIMAN PARTY! Sing! Remember! Resist! Remaining performances: Week 1: April 13 (Friday) - 7PM April 14 (Saturday) - 3PM April 14 (Saturday) - 7PM April 15 (Sunday) - 10AM April 15 (Sunday) - 3PM Week 2: April 18 (Wednesday) - 7PM April 19 (Thursday) - 7PM April 20 (Friday) - 7PM (gala) April 21 (Saturday) - 3PM April 21 (Saturday) - 7PM April 22 (Sunday) - 10AM April 22 (Sunday) - 3PM Week 3: April 24 (Tuesday) - 7PM April 25 (Wednesday) - 7PM April 26 (Thursday) - 7PM April 27 (Friday) - 7PM (gala) April 28 (Saturday) - 3PM April 28 (Saturday) - 7PM April 29 (Sunday) - 10AM April 29 (Sunday) - 3PM For tickets, sponsorship, and showbuying inquiries, you may contact Camille Guevara (0917 823 9531) or the Dulaang UP Office (Tel. No.: 926-1349 / 981-8500 local 2449 / Original Photo by Tinig Ng Plaridel #UPPTTheKundimanParty #UPPT26HonoringDefiance PS: you can also pm me for tickets. ???

A post shared by ???????E? ??KI?-IG???IO ?? (@franceszonita) on

Portraying the Titas of Manila are Frances Makil-Ignacio, Stella Cañete-Mendoza, and Jenny Jamora (alternating with Missy Maramara), and they are spot on in presenting archetypes of the conscience-stricken, middle-aged Filipina - one the strident, devoted Do-Gooder, another the more reserved, quiet doer, and third, the noisy, opinionated, I’ve seen it all type. Along with Adela, who feels she did her part back during the Marcos era, the four wonderfully showcase how Protest, Resistance, Dreaming, and Reality, all form part of our response to what is going on. The impetuousness and bull-headed approach is in turn represented by the Valderrama scion, a young man seeking his identity, and ready to use social media to further his agenda. I won’t talk about the plot developments, as this would only spoil the joy of discovery as you watch this play.


Coming after Quintos’ The Angry Christ, this parlour room drama may at first impression, seem to be coming from a more genteel perspective; but don’t be fooled by the sala set design or the use of traditional music forms, there is a scalpel-sharp dissection of what is going on today. Both scathing, and yet hopeful and reassuring, this play should be watched, as required therapy for the Filipino soul and conscience.


Photos from @dulaang_up