First Image: The cast of the “Noli Me Tangere” reading with Consulate General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. (second from right) and Deputy Consulate General Jaime Ramon Ascalon (left) (Photo courtesy of Philippine Folklife Museum Foundation). Second Image: Photo courtesy of Dan de la Cruz.
L-R: Maria Clara (Esperanza Catubig) and Father Damaso (Van Bagnol)

The Philippine Folklife Museum Foundation, the Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA)/ the Filipino American International Book Festival in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General of San Francisco presented a Reading of Scenes from a Dramatic Adaptation by Roger P. Olivares of Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel “Noli Me Tangere”, on October 25th, 2016 at the Philippine Center, Philippine Folklife Museum on Sutter Street, San Francisco, California.

The evening was graced by the presence of the Philippine Consul General of San Francisco, Henry S. Bensurto, Jr., who gave the Opening Remarks. The President of the Philippine Folklife Museum Foundation, Dan de la Cruz, and the Director, Museum Operations & Development, Lydia de la Cruz welcomed guests.

The author of the Dramatic Presentation, Rogelio “Roger” P. Olivares is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University (AB Economics) and a Fulbright scholar and a graduate of the University of Illinois (MS in Communications). He is best known for his novel Noli Me Tangere 2 and for writing the first travel guidebook in the Philippines, Roger’s Do It Yourself Tours.

Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) one of the famous novels by the Philippine’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal was published in Berlin, Germany in 1887. This novel, together with El Filibusterismo, also written by Dr. Rizal inspired and sparked the Philippine revolution against the Spanish government in 1896.

In this presentation, the scene was from the return of Juan Crisostomo Ibarra from Europe who learned about his father’s tragic death and the history behind the animosity held against him by Fr. Damaso Vardolagas, who also sabotaged his wedding to his beloved Maria Clara. Fr. Damaso continued to harass and humiliated Ibarra at every turn constantly. Another religious figure, Padre Salvi, also became Ibarra’s enemy, who attempted to kill him and staged an uprising where Ibarra was implicated.

“A passionate love story set against the ugly political backdrop of repression, torture and murder. The first major artistic manifestation of Asian resistance to European colonialism, and Rizal became the guiding conscience and martyr for the revolution that would subsequently rise up in the Spanish province” (Excerpted from the back cover of the Penguin Classics publication)

Performers for the reading were from the Bay Area Fil-Am community, respected actors in their own right and professional stage players. They were: Crisostomo Ibarra (Alan Quismorio), Maria Clara (Esperanza Catubig), Elias (Hari Bayani), Fr. Damaso (Van Bagnol), Basilio (Joshua Icban), Sisa (Penelope V. Flores). Edwin Lozada, an educator and President of PAWA, performed the narration.

The performance was mesmerizing. Emotions were high which kept the audience in suspense, completely enthralled, fascinated and spellbound. And to think that the emotions could not go any higher, Lyric Soprano, Lydia de la Cruz capped the presentation with the riveting performance of “El Canto De Maria Clara” (Song of Maria Clara) accompanied by a flute and a classic guitar. The evening ended literally on a high note with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem in Spanish, then in the national language, Pilipino.

A Filipino event would not be complete without a simple and sumptuous salo-salo, catered by Chef Lydia de la Cruz; Embutido Sliders, Mostaccioli Pasta with Prawns Salad, Baked Cassava with Caramel Topping and Lumpia Shanghai courtesy of Ed Lozada were served.

If there’s one message, capitulated this evening, it is ConGen Bensurto’s favorite and famous line: Pilipino Ako, Proud Ako! And truly, the evening was ended with much appreciation and pride of what is Filipino!