Issue of January 7, 2018

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‘Lady inmates’ winning Aliw play a triumph for Baguio
by Hannah C. Lacsamana

BIG WINNERS -- Baguio artist Angelo Aurelio (3rd from l) made the Cordillera proud when the 2017 Aliw Awards conferred the Best Director and Best New Concept Production plums for his stage play “Ang Anatomiya ng Babaing Pugita” (Anatomy of Octopus Woman), which he performed with some of the female inmates as cast at the Baguio City Female Dorm. Here, Aurelio is joined by (from left) Benjan Natividad, nominated for Best Performance in a New Concept Production (male), fellow artist Tara Lalaine Natividad, Hiromi Meguro, nominated for Best Performance in a New Concept Production (female), and Baguio City Female Dorm Jail Warden, Insp. April Rose Ayangwa. -- Contributed photo

The success and recognition by a prestigious award-giving body of a stage play produced and inspired by the life stories of female inmates of the Baguio City Jail is considered a triumph for the whole community of Baguio, now one of the cities in Unesco Creative Cities Network.

“The Anatomy of an Octopus Woman,” an original theater production of the Bureau of Jail and Penology Baguio City Female Dormitory and artist-writer-director Angelo Aurelio, bagged the Best New Concept Production and Best Direction for New Concept Production in the 2017 Aliw Awards.

Aurelio and dorm officers led by Jail Warden April Rose Ayangwa accepted the recognition during the awards night in Manila on Dec. 19 along with other winners from the live entertainment and opera industries.

Octopus Woman was also nominated for  Best Ensemble Performance and  Best Performance in a New Concept Production (male and female) for cast members Benjan Natividad and Hiromi Meguro.

Aurelio said having been nominated for three consecutive years in the category, which requires their team to keep taking risks and explore new mediums of performances, is an honor enough, as he acknowledged those who made their achievement possible.

“What makes this win extra special is the strong participation of our local government unit, especially the BJMP Women’s Dormitory and our inmates who are at the same time the very talents who pulled off the outstanding performance,” Aurelio said.

He also thanked the supportive Baguio audience, “who are most difficult to please, but very good critics themselves,” and the Baguio media for their coverage of the group’s campaign to promote its community theater cause.

“It felt like this win reflects a good manifestation of our city’s capability to conceive, appreciate, and nourish creative undertakings. The theater we practice has always been inspired by the resonance of the voice for our people. In this light we can claim that Baguio has triumphed. We hope to see you again, or maybe perform with us in many different ways possible,” he added.

The Anatomya ng Babaeng Pugita dissects the characteristics of a woman/female inmate and that of an octopus to bring about the realizations on inmates’ failures, struggles for being tainted in the eyes of the society, as well as their victories. It comprised of snippets of comic relief, monologues, series of movement pieces, symbolic music, interpretative dance, and spoken word poetry.

The story took shape from the inmates’ jargon that one is “posit” or “pusit” when found positive of illegal drug use or of any crime, and thus branded as an outlaw and tainted or blackened as that of the blood of an octopus when one is detained or has been to jail.

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