By Rhobie A. Ruaya
THE SILLIMAN UNIVERSITY (SU) Cultural Affairs Committee (CAC) and Youth Advocates through TheaterArts (YATTA) presented “Scharon Mani,” a musical inspired by a girl who sells peanuts and chicharon and other young people in Dumaguete last Dec. 11-13 at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium.
Scharon Mani is about a young girl’s dream that brought music and community together as she find life’s meaning with other young people. The idea of the musical play was insipired by Charmaine, a girl who can be seen along the streets of Hayahay and Tiki Bar selling chicharon (fried pork skin) and peanuts to help her family.
The musical play featured songs from the BellTower Project, a collective group of musicians and music lovers in Dumaguete that encourages local original compositions. Songs produced by local music bands and artists such as Willfreedo, Hopia, Enchi, Finpot, Empithri, Elijah, 5Volts, Modern Cassette, and Istorya Isla were also featured.
Dessa Quesada Palm, director of “Scharon Mani” and executive director of YATTA, said that YATTA members wanted to collaborate with the BellTower Project because they wanted to produce a story that is closer to the youth and “the heart of Dumaguete City.”
The 34 performers on the play are from SU, Negros Oriental State University, Asian College Dumaguete, Foundation University, St. Paul University Dumaguete, Colegio de Sta. Catalina Alejandria, Taclobo High School, and Negros Oriental High School.
Meanwhile, Palm said that YATTA is about breaking barriers of school identity and class. YATTA also wants young people to work together and collaborate with community-based projects.Palm co-directed the play with Earnest Hope Tinambacan. The play was written by Junsly Kitay, with the musical direction of Juni Jay Tinambacan and choreography by Nikki Cimafranca.
YATTA at 10
YATTA is a Dumaguete-based volunteer organization with around 30 members celebrating their 10th year anniversary on Dec. 18. Their performances brought them to different places in Negros Oriental and the Philippines.
YATTA’s services to give trainings on the use of creative methods for psychosocial support and facilitate theater for development stretch as far as Leyte and Bohol. Their main program is to develop life skills through theater.
Moreover, YATTA lets more young people and communities use theater as a tool for their own creative expression and their own advocacies.
One of YATTA’s latest performances was “Aah Bakus!,” a musical on positive discipline performed last October at Talisay and Cebu City.
SU ChildNet, a university project with the SU CAC, SU Extension Program, SU Church, and YATTA was launched during the matinee show of “Scharon Mani” last Dec. 12.
The ChildNet program is an arts-based development program for children undergoing difficult circumstances.
The program is about the recognition of arts as a very powerful tool to build character, promote certain values, and bring people closer to God.
SU ChildNet will offer theater, music, visual arts, and dance tracks for children to be able to access their talents and gain confidence and skills.
The program is free for all children in Negros Oriental.
During the launch, orphans all over Dumaguete were invited and given complimentary tickets to watch the show.
“We use the arts as a medium because the arts is a very powerful tool to make you feel human,” SU President Ben Malayang III said.
Malayang also said that the project “extends the arms of the university that embrace the children, the lost, the last, and the least among them so that through the arts, they will feel that they are children of God.”
Meanwhile, Palm said that the program aims to encourage young people to consider arts not just for entertainment or as a hobby, but as a personal language that allows people to “dig deeper” on who they are.
“For me, [the arts] are really something that you do because your spirit calls you to do it. If you don’t do it, then it’s like you’re also dying spiritually,” Palm said.
“Scharon Mani” was also in cooperation with Philippine Airlines and Coco Grande Hotel.~