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Stage musical corrects MacArthur saga

July 13, 2019

Founding artistic director of Philippine Stagers Foundation (PSF) Atty. Vince M. Tañada admits to being the “bad boy” of Philippine theater for the risks he takes in gazing back at history as a committed Filipino theater artist.

He disclosed this in a recent mediacon at College of Saint Benilde-La Salle of his upcoming musical theater on World War 2 in the Philippines titled “Sindak 1941.” A musical of similar trope was earlier made by Vince which toured successfully throughout the country, but he clarified the one at hand is completely different, if not controversial.

The new production factors in on the character of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, glorified as hero to most Filipinos for his famous or infamous one-liner “I shall return!” Yet perceived by some local and foreign historians as egotistical, megalomaniac and even a jerk.

This begs the question: Was MacArthur a hero, a villain, or both? The same question compromises as well the entrenched character of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon in Philippine history.

Vince has set up a hypothesis to unmask by extrapolation the authentic local heroes of World War 2 from the self-imposed or fake ones.

Up to the present time, historians continue to stoke the debate on the controversy during the Japanese Occupation regarding the real motives behind Quezon’s giving MacArthur $500,000 “in recognition of outstanding service to the Commonwealth of the Philippines” as phrased in its official statement.

Vince Tañada

What was the payment for? Was it in gratitude (“utang na loob”) or a “bribe” to allow Quezon to leave USA?

Did the payment wired-up the colonialist in MacArthur to “liberate” the Philippines? Or was it a pathological case of succumbing to the lure of easy money from war booty?

The musical hopes to provoke answers to all of the above. Will it diminish a bit the statesman in Quezon or the warrior in MacArthur? Arguably it will open a can of worms.

This is the risk that Vince as writer, director and actor with his resident artists is taking to help measure up to his “bad boy” image as creative artist with the nose to smell and correct blunders in Filipino history.

This time he has non-Stagers in the cast like Frannie Zamora, Kuya Manzano, Joel Molina and Neil Tolentino all as MacArthur alternates to dispel the notion that he is “suwapang” or greedy in appropriating the bigger roles to himself.

In his past musical on Bonifacio with the brilliant Pipo Cifra as musical director, Vince has earned the ire of the hawkish descendants of Aguinaldo who he portrayed puny in significance compared to the plebeian hero.

In “Sindak 1941,” Vince expects even more violent reactions than before from the descendants of MacArthur or Quezon and perhaps their millennial sympathizers with short attention span.

Atty. Vince M. Tañada eats, drinks and sleeps historical controversies one after another. The practicing Bedan lawyer can’t be bothered either.

* * *

GUESS WHO? Now it can be told. The offspring of the famous classic beauty (FCB) was sired by a reputed lothario of showbiz, not by her live-in partner. That’s why FCB can never sit well literally with the snooty relatives of her live-in partner.

Clue: FCB looks much younger than her age obviously due to the wonders of facial enhancement.

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