Three months before the May elections, community theatre group Tanghalang Mulong Sandoval offers a short play entitled, “Gapok” which tackles urban poor families’ everyday woes and struggles. To be staged in different urban poor communities starting February 12, Gapok is about an urban poor family confronting their conflicts one morning as the community is facing demolition from state forces and a private corporation.
Often used by politicians as backdrops of their campaign advertisements every election, the urban poor may well find their voice in the said play, according to playwright Terence Krishna Lopez. “It aims to represent the urban poor and present their issues through the story of an ordinary family doing all their best- albeit in different ways, to survive.”
“Gapok” which can mean brittle, fragile or weak is used as metaphor to describe how the lives of the urban poor are treated by the government and its private partners. After elections, for the elected officials and these private corporations, the urban poor are eye sores that must be swept away from the margins where they live, to relocation sites that are far away from their sources of livelihood and basic social services. On the other hand, their shanties become the literal translation of the word “Gapok.”
The play is conceptualized as an on-site performance. The site of the performances being the literal urban poor communities in Quezon City, Caloocan City and Rodriguez, Rizal. On February 12, it will be staged on a floor of a demolished house in Kaagapay, Sitio San Roque, Agham Road, Quezon City while on the 13th, it will be in a small market in the same area. On February 19, it will be in an open volleyball court in a community in Barangay 178, Caloocan City while on February 20, it will be in a covered court in Barangay 177, also in Caloocan City. On February 26, it will be staged in a community in Payatas, Quezon City and on February 27, it will be in Kasiyahan Street, Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City.
Against the backdrop of the government’s inhumanity and the continuing forced eviction and violent demolition of urban poor communities, “Gapok” happens one morning. Lourdes and her two sons Joseph and Jessie are in a heated argument about a decision that may change their lives in the community. And as their confrontation inside their shanty escalates – the state forces and demolition teams arrive, the community prepares to set up a barricade. In an instant, the family has to face the result of the ongoing eviction. As state forces start to shoot, and as the people stand their ground and chaos ensues outside, the situation inside the shanty gets more tensed and a bomb is about to explode. A tragedy is about to arrive. Jessie, Joseph and Lourdes decide.
The play touches different issues that the urban poor families deal with everyday, through the conversations inside the family’s shanty such as lack of livelihood opportunities, inaccessibility of basic social services, etc
The play is directed by Edwin Quinsayas and is being co-presented by Sining Kadamay and Art Action Network, the same groups that staged the successful “Nanay Mameng, isang dula” in 2015.
Terence Krishna Lopez