To lose a loved one through death is tragic, but to lose them without a trace is more devastating. Such is the pain that relatives of the missing go through, which was brought to life by Christian Tordecillas’ masterpiece, “Katre”.
It’s an honor for me to see a friend’s work come alive on stage. Christian, or X as we fondly call him, had written plays that imply social relevance. One of them was the one-act satire, “Dyip” (Jeep, short for jeepney), which won him the Carlos Palanca award in 2006. I was already impressed by his brilliance in provoking critical thinking of life’s realities through artistic writing. This time, “Katre” touched my heart as it brought up the issue of desaparecidos in the country.
In the play, an aged Lea awaits for her missing husband and child. Everytime she rises and returns to her katre (bed in Visayan dialect), she recollects her life when her family was still with her. Not knowing their fate, she clung on the hope that they are still alive.
Lea is the epitome of those left by desaparecidos, or those who are missing due to forced disappearances. We remember Jonas Burgos, who still remains missing since he was taken in 2007. We remember Karen Empeño, and Sherlyn Cadapan, whose whereabouts remain unknown even when alledged abductor Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan had been caught. We remember the rest of the desaparecidos since Martial Law, who had been forcefully taken into the seclusion. Just like Lea, those left behind by desaparecidos struggle between hope and despair.
Because I did not want anybody to see I was a crybaby, I gulped back my tears when Lea battled against that hope she treasured for years. The actress convinced me of the pain and frustration Lea tried to deny before. Her story rings the message of the consequences of impunity — which the Philippines has struggled for a long time.
Without glorifying the political overtures of impunity, “Katre” brings to thought the ordeal of those who have been victimized by it, whether the desaparecidos or the families they left. Simply portrayed yet deeply movong, “Katre” awakens the fact that the issue of impunity should not be ignored.
“Katre” is one of the plays featured in “BA-WAL: Mga Dulang Bagong Luwal” by Project Mayhem Productions. Also featured here is the dark comedy “Over My Dead Body” by Christian Dagsil. You can watch them at Ateneo de Manila, at the ISO complex. Remaining theater dates are at September 7, 13, 14, and 15. These plays are shown at 3pm and 7pm, except on September 13, as show is only at 7pm.