May 13, 2023 | Press Release

The Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (CCP Blackbox Theater) opens its curtains to twelve (12) new one-act plays, written by veteran and upcoming playwrights and directed by new and seasoned directors, for this year’s Virgin Labfest, slated from June 7 to 25, 2023.
Branded VLF 18: Hitik, the annual festival of untried, untested and unstaged plays showcases the creativity and collaboration of theater artists as they bring life to the works of the festival’s playwrights.
This year’s edition will have four thematic sets: Adulting 101 (Set A), REBELasyon (Set B), Y.O.L.O. (Set C), and Muwang (Set D).
Set A: Adulting 101 features:
“O”, written by Raymund Barcelon and directed by Missy Maramara, revolves around an engaged couple who undergoes the most awkward moments any couple could ever experience and attempt to find a way to patch things up. It features actors Aryn Cristobal and Juan Carlos Galano.
“10 To Midnight” written by Juliene Mendoza and directed by Sarah Facuri is set prior to midnight. The play tackles complicated sibling relationships as two brothers argue about life and one brother’s addiction. Bombi Plata and Jerome Dawis play the arguing brothers.
“Regine: The Fairy Gaymother” is written by Chuck D. Smith and directed by Mark Daniel Dalacat. Familial relationship take the spotlight in this play. Frustrated with his mother’s incessant attempts to match him with a woman, a closeted man meets his fairy gaymother. The play examines what it means to love in all forms. The cast includes Adrian Lindayag, Tex Ordoñez-De Leon, Ron Capindig and Anton Diva.
The Featured plays for Set B: REBELasyon are:
“Tuloy Ang Palabas” written by Layeta Bucoy and directed by Tuxqs Rutaquio follows an actress who, after a three-year hiatus, is gearing up to make a comeback. But fate has something in store for her, leading to an unfortunate situation. Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino and Rissey Reyes-Robinson star in this production.
“Ang Awit ng Dalagang Marmol” is written by Andrew Estacio and directed by Nazer Degayo  Salcedo. A group of artists and actors plans to reimagine a popular classic song and stage it as a theater production. As the group pushes through, an untold truth about the song resurfaces. Bringing the story to life are Adrienne Vergara, Kath Castillo, Jasmine Balunes, Andrew Cruz, Enzo Lapresca, Dane Hinol, Peewee O’Hara, Jeremy Ampongan and Psyche Queen Dorothy Saberon.
“Dominador Gonzales: National Artist” is written by Dingdong Novenario and directed by George De Jésus III. A playwright reunites with his former mentor and lover for a possible collaboration that would greatly help to revive his playwriting career.  Riki Benedicto, Joel Saracho and AJ Sison take the lead.
Set C: Y.O.L.O. featured plays are:
“Room 209” written by Zheg Arban and directed by Delphine Buencamino is set inside a military academy. The story tells of how a room can become so much more for a young cadet, becoming a testimony to a culture that has been passed on and serves as a witness of the lives it has touched. “Room 209” will put culture into sharp focus. The cast members are Jao Catarus, Gino Ramirez, CJ Barinaga, Denmark Brinces,  Raphne Catorce, Earvin Estioco and James Lanante
“Mga Halimaw Rin Kami” written by Jules Pamisa and directed by Tat Soriano is a conversation between an aswang and a manananggal on how their past and present situations have been  transformed. Will they find out what it truly means to be creatures of darkness? Chrome Cosio, Skyzx Labastilla, John Ven Soco, and Paul Jake Paule act in this play.
“Hukay” is written by Ophalain Serrano and directed by Melvin Lee. While two men dig a grave for their beloved deceased horse, they find themselves revealing their pasts and personal truths with each other. The cast features Andoy Ranay and Floyd Tena.
Set D: Muwang features:
“Hawaii, Here We Come” written by Shenn Apillado and directed by Mark Mirando follows two palace helpers who are tasked to pack the important items when the President and Madam’s family are evicted from the palace. As they do their errands, they realize that they could not put away the story of the fight of people. Featured cast are Madeleine Nicolas, Sheryll Villamor Ceasico, Gem Padilla-Thomas and Victor Sy.
“Ang Tuyom” is written by M. Manalastas and directed by Gio Potes. This play is about a dramatist called M who is imprisoned by his own thoughts, connecting the past to the future and unearthing the essence of the narrative formed by vanishing characters. As he reflects on himself, his drowning sorrow envelops him. The play stars Jude Matthew Servilla, Zöe De Ocampo, Opaline Santos, Serena Magiliw, and Fred Layno.
“O’Donnell” is written by Jerry O’Hara and directed by Issa Manalo Lopez. O’Donnell is a military camp located in Capas, Tarlac, where the Bataan Death March of thousands of Filipino and American soldiers who surrendered during World War II started. The play is not about the generals and colonels who led the soldiers out to war, but about the ordinary soldiers who were used as pawns to serve the country during the World War. The cast include: Aldo Vencilao, Miguel Delos Santos, Eshei Mesina, Joel Garcia, and Ekis Gimenez and Johnny Maglinao.
Theater fans are in for a throwback in Set E: Hinog, which features revisited plays from the previous edition of the theater festival. Also making a comeback are another favorite component  — the staged readings.
Revisited plays are:
“Punks Not Dead” is written by Andrew Bonifacio Clete and directed by Roobak Valle. The play narrates the interaction of a teacher who has a tattoo, a mother who shamelessly discriminates against her son’s teacher, and a policeman. The cast are Via Antonio, Martha Nikko Comia, Maria Bagio, and Paulo Cabañero.
“Fermata” is written by Dustin Celestino and directed by Antonette Go-Yadao. In the play, when a famous musician dies, a news outlet asks the musician’s son to write an article about his departed father. He and his childhood friend take this opportunity to look into the rumors about his late father. Paolo O’Hara and Cris Pasturan bring the story to life.
“Nay, May Dala Akong Pancit” is written by Juan Ekis and directed by Karl Alexis Jingco. A family is stuck in a metaphysical loop of a Pinoy soap opera trope. As the brother brings home  pancit, tragedy happens and the incident keeps on repeating. The siblings must now find a way to escape the loop and flee from the nightmare. Performing the roles are: Lian Silverio, Manok Nellas-Bagadiong, Joann Yap-Co, and Tommy Alejandrino.
Four scripts have been chosen for staged readings.
Staged Reading Set 1:
“My Lover’s Presscon”, written by Ross Manicad and directed by Katreen Dela Cruz, is about a reporter who covers the presscon of a spokesperson who happens to be his lover. While it’s easy to be themselves when in public, the two find it difficult to talk about their personal and professional relationships. Dennis Marasigan and Paolo Rodriguez perform.
“Kamay ng Orasan”, written by Marc Noesis Marquez and directed by Eljay Castro Deldoc, follows two people who revisit their old home. As a new chapter begins to unfold, one of them is ready to move forward. Sheenly Gener and AIR read.
For Staged Readings: Set 2:
“Sino Ang Pumatay Kay Mr. Masangkay?”, written by U Eliserio and directed by Rolando T. Inocencio, revolves around the murder case of Mr. Masangkay, as well as the possible suspects and probabilities. The cast are Vince Macapobre, Mark Lorenz, Heart Puyong, Edrick Alcontado, Sarah Monay, and Arjhay Babon.
“TBT: Takbo, Batang Tondo”, written by Mikaella Yoj B. Sanchez and directed by Chic San Agustin-de Guzman, is about the children playing “bahay-bahayan” and their idea of a home. The play looks into how children were before the advent of technology consumed them. The cast are Rechelle Balasoto, Kim Mataac, Wincess Yana, and Wade Dizon.
For tickets and other inquiries, get in touch with the CCP Box Office at salesandpromotions@culturalcenter.gov.ph. Follow the official CCP, VLF, Writer’s Bloc and Tanghalang Pilipino social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok for more updates.

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