My Lebanese colleague lent me a VCD showing a theatre play (a musical, i think) starring Lebanon’s greatest chanteuse, the beloved Fairuz.

It was filmed in various angles and the actors all have wireless mic. You can hear the audience reaction (applause and laughter). The music was great and backed by an orchestra. It was only a one-scene play (not much changes in the set) but the orchestration and flow is seamless. Even if the only Lebanese words i can understand were ‘habibi’ and ‘shukran’, i did enjoy that show.

It suddenly reminded of Mindanao’s famous theater group, the Sining Kambayoka Ensemble (SKE, also called ‘Kambay’) of MSU Marawi campus.

Owing to the diversity of its cultural heritage, the Philippines does not have a definite theater form, unlike other Asian countries such as Indonesia’s Wayang Kulit, Japan’s Kabuki and India’s Kathakali.  In the Philippines, there are the traditional local performance art forms such as the cenakulo, moro-moro and zarzuela, to mention a few.  But none of these forms is deemed representative of the Filipino people as a whole.  On the other hand, Filipinos are very much exposed to the western theater forms.  This has undermined the traditional theater forms, with many Filipinos choosing to watch and stage western-style plays and musicals. In response to this situation and upon invitation by the officials of Mindanao State University, the Sining Kambayoka Ensemble was founded in 1974 by Frank G. Rivera, a multi-awarded Filipino director, playwright and author. Drawing from his experience with the Philippine Educational Theater Association, Rivera sought to weave local color into the plays that the theater company produced, fulfilling PETA’s dream of making the arts more accessible to the masses. Sining Kambayoka’s goals were to experiment, evolve and develop a theater form based on the diversity of the Philippines’ indigenous people, blended with the Filipino’s current experiences.  The theater form they developed is called the kambayoka theater form. Kambayoka is taken from “bayok”, a Maranao word for chant. The “bayok” is often compared to the very similar balagtasan (a debate with two poets and a moderator reciting their arguments and rebuttals for or against an issue in poetic verses) often staged in the Tagalog regions of the northern Philippine island of Luzon. World-renowned and multi-awarded Sining Kambayoka Ensemble continues to be popular among theater-goers and critics alike as it draws its materials from the rich indigenous traditions of Mindanao, particularly the Maranaos of Lanao. It is lauded for its “adaptation of folklore, customs, and folkways which include both oral and written literary traditions, visual arts and music for theatrical presentation.”

Now, the reason that SKE came to mind is that these groups write, direct and produce their own plays and compose original musical scores to it.

Maybe SKE can film their performances and put them on VCD for sale. This will surely help popularize their original plays, promote awareness on the rich Mindanao culture and arts, and provide funds for their productions and touring.

The original musical scores can be recorded in studio or during live performance.

Aside from Kambayoka, i would like to see VCD perfomances of Darangan Cultural Dance Troupe

I am really tired of reading entertainment columns and all you can read there on performing arts are reviews about the staid plays from PETA, the West-Ender mentality of Repertory and New Voice Company.

I wonder if anyone from MSU can post vidclips of new Kambay and Darangan performance over

PS. I checked MSU Main Campus website and it seems like the school’s IT administrator forgot to update the website. There is no link to SKE or Darangan. Too bad.