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    Oro Theater Groups join 18th Tanghal Theater Festival

    By Maia Fortich-Poblete

    The first quarter of the year are busy months for the Philippine Creatives Industry as various activities unfold one after the other in celebration of National Arts Month. Although Arts Month is commemorated every February, there are pre- and post-events starting January until April.  


    One of the annual events that creatives, particularly the theatrical groups, look forward to is the Tanghal National University and Community-Based Theater Festival. This is a project of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and its National Committee on Dramatic Arts (NCDA). The festival gathers university and community-based theater groups in one venue, where they each showcase dramatic interpretations of stories and issues that are relevant to Mindanaoans.  


    While it started as a national event that featured university-based theater groups from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, Tanghal has metamorphosed into a region-based event and now includes community-based theater groups.

    On the spot directors’ performance

    Over the years, the annual festival has served not only as a central venue for showcasing, sharing, and exploring theatrical talents, but it has also become a creative platform for stories and discussions that help shape society and the country.  

    18th Tanghal Theatre Festival in Mindanao

    18th Tanghal in Gensan

    Last March 14 to 16, 2024, university and community-based theater groups in Mindanao gathered in General Santos City for the 18th Tanghal Festival. Organized by Mindanao State University-General Santos and the NCCA, it brought together theater groups and creatives from Ozamiz City, Dapitan, Davao, Maguindanao, Cagayan de Oro, and General Santos.

    On the spot directors’ performance

    To reach more audiences, the shows were held in different venues across the city. Parallel performances unfolded at the MSU-General Santos School of Graduate StudiesMSU Regional Science Research Center, Lagao National High School, Ameliyah’s Place, and Ireneo Santiago National High School of Metro Dadiangas.  There were performances as well at Notre Dame of Marbel University-IBED in Koronadal.

    Two theater groups from Cagayan de Oro, university-based The Xavier Stage (TXS), and community-based Oro Teatro Bulawanon (OTB), participated in the festival.  

    With fellow Sulat Dula graduates

    TXS had audiences laughing out loud with “Zombesties”, a beautiful story of friendship and making the most out of what life has to offer. Written by Richard Kent Eduria, the play was directed by Tat Soriano. The first few scenes may have you wondering what the play is all about, but as the story continues to unfold, you’ll realize that it’s more than just a laugh fest; it talks about lasting friendships, determination and commitment, and life and death in general.  

    Meanwhile, OTB actors Khiara Bucol, Seff Timosan, and Bernard Castro interpreted the tragic story of Inday. “Iskinita”, written by yours truly, is inspired by the original Filipino musical “Ang Huling El Bimbo”. Originally a 10-minute monologue, it was rewritten as a 30-minute play that dramatically describes a painful and life-altering incident in the life of Inday. “Iskinita” is OTB’s offering for Women’s Month. The group has several advocacies, including gender-based violence and discrimination, bullying, and HIV & AIDS awareness.  

    Day 1 performance – Iskinita – Oro Teatro Bulawanon

    TXS and OTB’s plays  are only some of the 23 artistically diverse performances that captivated around 3,000 audiences, including students. A talkback was held after every performance, and this gave the audience an opportunity to share their thoughts and comments. The actors and their directors were also given the chance to share their creative process and important details about their stories.  

    The talkbacks were facilitated by NCCA-NCDA National Secretary Ted Nudgent Tac-an and NCCANCDA Vice Head Dr. Hobart Savior, along with NCCA-NCDA Director and Festival Head Dr. Norman Ralph Isla.

    Networking and Camaraderie

    More than anything else, the 18th Tanghal served as a venue for networking and building creative connections. Mindanao artists bonded over their shared love for the arts; their passion for performing. It was the perfect opportunity to start new friendships and establish camaraderie. 

    The Xavier Stage’s Zombesties

    Aside from The Xavier Stage and Oro Teatro Bulawanon, the following creative groups also contributed to the success of the 18th Tanghal in Mindanao: Beyond Fortress Collective, MSUGensan Kabpapagariya Ensemble, BIDA General Santos/MSU SHS, MSU Maguindanao Sining Kandidilimudan, Apat sa Taglamig, Inc., RMMC BCAEd, RMMC BPeA, RMMC Teatro Ambahanon, ArtHome Theater Collective, Kalimudan Culture and Arts Center, and JRMSU Teatro Dasuliman.

    Next year’s 19th Tanghal National University and Community-Based Theater Festival will be held in Dipolog City.


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