Year of the poor: Meet Nanay Mameng

MANILA, Philippines — Have you met Nanay Mameng?

Amid worsening government corruption, massive displacement, joblessness and lack of access to social services, and the church declaring 2015 as the “Year of the Poor,” urban poor groups Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) and Urban Poor Resource Center of the Philippines, in cooperation with Art Action Network, are staging once more the life and times of the sector’s beloved woman icon Carmen “Nanay Mameng” Deunida.

“Nanay Mameng, isang dula” is a play is centered on the 86-year old Mameng in her hospital room, shortly after her brain operation in 2013. Mameng meets “Sakit,” a creature representing her diseases and that of society. 

Throughout the play, via expressionistic staging and storytelling, Sakit and Mameng battle it out on the stage that transforms from being a hospital room into different milieus, according to the two’s realities. The audience is transported into the different stages of Carmen Deunida’s life – from her childhood during the Japanese war, to her failed marriage to an abusive husband, to the community where she lived in the 60s, and to when she became the fierce activist leader that she is known for. In the end, one has to win between Mameng and Sakit.

If the first play was staged last year at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, this year it was opened on February 13 in Miriam College Little Theater. It will have more shows on February 20, 21, 27 and 28.

The play features a cast composed of experienced and inexperience stage actors led by musician and actress Tao Aves as the young Mameng, and cultural worker and trade union organizer Tess Dioquino as the 86-year old Mameng.  

It is written by Philippine High School for the Arts alumnae Amanda Lacaba Echanis, and co-directed by dance and theater artist Edwin Quinsayas and professional theater practitioner Noel Taylo. They were the same team behind last year’s staging alongside the rest of the Art Action Network, a group of artists who want to devote their art into supporting the advocacy of marginalized sectors. 

The play is in partnership with the Miriam College Student Council and its volunteerism arm Institutional Network for Social Action. It also supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Council for Health and Development, Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. —

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