The Intramuros Project

On 8 June 2019, I reported about the OVCRD-funded project titled Performing Heritage/The Intramuros Project. The project officially ended on 15 June 2020. The entry below is an excerpt from the final report submitted to OVCRD and a short excerpt of the documentary-drama developed by the research/dramaturgical team.

Excerpt from the FINAL REPORT:

Performing Heritage / The Intramuros Project was an interdisciplinary project involving the disciplines of theatre, anthropology, heritage studies and tourism. The project was both an ethnographic study and a performance of ethnographic data about cultural heritage development through a dramatic reading of the performance text. The goal was to problematize the concept of heritage via a devised performance manuscript/text (performance writing) vis-à-vis the Old Manila or Intramuros. The devised manuscript was based on the narratives of the “underrepresented” stakeholders of the city such as 

  • the government employees; 
  • administrators of museums
  • churchgoers and lay-leaders;
  • store owners;
  • attendants of different attractions or places of interest;
  • tricycle or pedicab (non-motored tricycle);
  • kalesa (carriage) drivers;
  • tour guides and OJT tourism; and 
  • the informal settlers.  

The project engaged these individuals because they are the underrepresented stakeholders of the space. In this sense, the research team felt that these individuals also contribute to the development of the space (Intramuros) as a heritage site, especially since they belong to the workforce of the old city. At the same time, the team realized that a lot of them were witnesses to how the city progressed and even decayed. Finally, the research team observed that the scholarship definitions of heritage and cultural development often alienate them. However, their definitions and descriptions of heritage and cultural development are assumed to be more pragmatic and more humanist as written in the performance manuscript. 

Generally, the proposed project utilized performance ethnography and performance-as-research to engage local communities and stakeholders in creating a future of Intramuros where everyone’s voices are heard in terms of heritage discourses and cultural development.

The following were the objectives of the project:

  • Reflect narratives of various stakeholders in Intramuros in relation to cultural heritage and cultural development;
  • Reimagine these narratives as intervening spaces between the past and the present;
  • Engage in performance-as-research and performance ethnography modes of inquiry in the creation of narratives about the Old Manila; and
  • Embody the narratives through a performance reading of the collected ethnographic data from the performance ethnography conducted in Intramuros.

The members of the research team included: Sir Anril P. Tiatco, Project Leader James Luigi Tana, Dramaturg-Devisor (also field researcher), Hannah Villaflores, Dramaturg-Devisor and Performer (also field researcher), Joshua Dennis Dolot, Dramaturg-Devisor and Performer, Camilo De Guzma, Dramaturg-Devisor and Performer, Dyastin Adarlo, Dramaturg-Devisor and Performer, Chris Abecia, Dramaturg-Devisor and Performer, Bryan L. Viray, Stage Reading Director (also field researcher), Olivia Kristine D. Nieto, Stage Reading Co-Director, Davidson Oliveros, field researcher, Michael Bernal, field researcher.

The creative output of this project The Intramuros Project is a docudrama, based on our ethnographic data and other documentary materials available. The documentary piece was read theatrically (stage-reading) via the video conferencing application ZOOM on 28 May 2020. Originally, the dramatic/ stage-reading was scheduled on 20 March 2020 (Friday) at the UP Theatre Stage. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the death of two individuals in my family, the reading was postponed until a final date was set with the members of the research team. 

Excerpt from the DOCU-DRAMA:

  FLASH ON SCREEN: Who’s Heritage is it Anyway?

Mga turista (local and foreign), mga guard, mga bata:

Turistang Banyaga: Look at those little fellows!

Guard: Huy! Bawal d’yan! Doon kayo maglaro.

Turistang Lokal: Itong mga batang ito, mga nakakasira sa industriya ng turismo sa Pinas!

Bata 1: Naghahabulan lang po – tag-tagan. Minsan yung labanan ng tsinelas. 

Guard: Parke po kasi ‘yan tapos tapat pa ng simbahan, magulo talaga ang mga bata. Ewan ko ba kung nasa’n ang mga magulang nila.

Bata 2: Minsan po tagu-taguan, doon po sa malapit sa hi-way.

Bata 1: Kung nasaan po yung mataas na pader. Madami pong pagtataguan doon.

Turistang Banyaga: Definitely, like in Europe – kids being kids. They love to play. It’s a . . .

Lahat: Park! 

Turistang Lokal: Parke nga – daming mga bisitang turista. Ay, tingnan mo yung puti, nakikipagusap sa mga bata. Naku! Ito na ang sinasabi ko. Nasaan ba magulang ng mga batang ito. Baka naman phedo yang mamang ‘yan.

Guard: Wala naman pong nagbabawal. Pero inuunahan na po naming. Alam niyo naman taga iskwater po – iniiwasan lang po natin yung may sumugod na turista sa pulis at magsabing nanakawan kasi kami po ang lagot. Sa awa naman ng Diyos, wala pang insidente ng snatching. Kaya nagbabantay kami.

Turistang Lokal: Oo, itong mga ito, ‘yan ang mga lalaking snatcher. Mukhang di nagagabayan ng mga magulang. Kebata-bata pa nasa labas lang ng bahay.

Bata 2: Mababait po mga turistang – lalo na po mga puti! Mahilig magpapicture at selfie.

Bata 1: Selfie-selfie, selfie tayo! Game game!

                                   Aakmang magseselfie.

Bata 1: Gano’n!

Guard: Mahilig din kasing humingi ng pera sa mga turista.

Turistang Banyaga: I don’t have coins. But I have Fifty Pesos. Share with everyone, okay?

Turistang Lokal: Susmaryosep, nagbibigay na ng pera! Yan na nga ba ang sinasabi ko!

Bata 1:  Opo, kasi k’wento ng mga kuya at ate naming, mababait daw mga turista – basta hanapin daw naming singkit o puti. 

Bata 2: Lalo na mga puti po!

Bata 1: Yung mga Pinoy. . . 

Bata 2: Masusungit.

Guard: Minsan kasi, ginagamit sila ng mga magulang nila eh. 

Turistang Banyaga: That one? The bike? 

Bata 1: Siyempre, pag nagtanong po, ituturo namin si Tatay.

Bata 2: Tay, tay . . . may sasakay daw po. Gusto pong makita buong Intramuros. 

Bata 1: Mabait po ‘yan.

Turistang Lokal: Kung nasa ibang bansa lang tayo, sigurado akong malinis ang mga parke – yung bang behave mga bata. 

Turistang Banyaga: Oh no! Oh, no! They just play there, and of course, the kids being kids will always get dirty. But you know, it is a park! It is a public place for everyone.  

Turistang Lokal:  Bakit ba hindi kasi sila sinusuway ng mga guard.

                                   Lalabas ang lahat.

                                   Papasok ang Mananaliksik A at Mananaliksik B.

Mananaliksik A: So paano na?

Mananaliksik B: Anong paano na?

Mananaliksik A: Kanino nga ba ang Intramuros bilang isang heritage space?

Mananaliksik B: Una sa lahat, kaninong heritage ba ang kontekstong pinaguusapan natin?

Mananaliksik A: Kanya-kanyang heritage?

Mananaliksik B: Kanya-kanyang heritage!

Mananaliksik A: Pero imagine kung gaano kaganda ang Intramuros no?

Mananalisksik B: Maganda siya! 

Mananaliksik A: Ikaw ba?

Mananaliksik B: Anong ako ba?

Mananaliksik A: Informal settlers? 

Mananaliksik B: Ambivalent, pero parte sila ng bong microcosm ng heritage ng Intramuros.

Mananaliksik A: Oo eh, part sila ng charm ng buong Intramuros. Kita mo, mas kilala pa nga nila ang buong Intramuros kesa sa mga taga administration. 

Mananaliksik B: So sino ang mukha ng Intramuros?

                                   Papasok ang buong ensemble. 

Mananaliksik A: Huh?

Mananaliksik B:  Ano ang mukha ng Intramuros?

                                   Isang masayang musika.

Reading of the docu-drama on 28 May 2020 via the conferencing application Zoom. Top, From L to R: Hannah Villaflors, Sir Anril Tiatco and James Luigi Tana; Center, L to R: Camillo De Guzman, Dolly Dolot and Dyastin Adarlo; Bottom. From L to R: Chris Abecio, Bryan Viray and Olive Nieto.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT, please contact with a subject heading: OVCRD-Project Intramuros.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s