The Bona in Each of us.

Sep 11, 2012 by

I first saw Lino Brocka’s film Bona on DVD only about a month ago. My parents spoke of the greatness of the film but it was nowhere available on Beta or VHS back in my time. Recently however, we are all indebted to the genius of the people behind the restoration of film classics — Bona being one of them. Thus my irrevocable disturbance, to the delight of this National Artist for Film Lino Brocka whose words “…we want to do works that will hurt…will disturb…will not make you rest…” hold true to me. But I am not going to do a psychoanalysis of the film because I am not an expert of that. Nor will I be talking about its timeless value as a representation of Filipinos partial well-being or sense of self because it would take me an entire thesis. This blog is about the stage adaptation of Bona through the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and the artistic minds led by Soxie Topacio, Cenen Ramones, Layeta Bucoy and a handful of determined artists in bringing to life this masterpiece. It was on the same weekend as my scheduled viewing of Phantom of the Opera when I decided to stay a day more so I could catch Bona together with friends Kevin, Nico and Vince (Vince also happens to be one of the show-buyers of the Sept 9 performance). My mind was still reverberating with Phantom songs and I only realized my excitement wasn’t anywhere near the denouement phase because the idea of watching Bona was building my palpitation up even more for several reasons: 1. I miss watching a Filipino play (and it is my greatest wish to perform in one — a frustration actually coz I think more than my ballet and my singing, I am an exceptionally brilliant actor. If any of you insane writers or producers read this, please consider me soon.) 2. Eugene Domingo is performing. Live. In flesh. In the same room as I would be. In flesh. Like, in person. As in real life. Damn the cinema where brownout makes Eugene disappear. In the theatre, Eugene is right there. Under your nose. Or above it. I don’t know. 3. This was my first time watching a play in PETA — home to some of

the grrreatest actors and theater personalities in the Philippines. It has been a long-time dream to be inside the theater and finally it was going to happen. 4. I love Bona the film and was excited to see how they’d stage it. I was concerned about how the stage would consummate Nora’s interpretation of the character — would it be retained? Would it be attacked differently to spare Eugene the possible comparison? Would Noranians be happy (read Boy Abunda)? Would Philip Salvador do a stage cameo? At this point, allow me to start my little review. Bona the stage version is a wonderfully crafted modernized version that holds the plot in-tact but rehashes the details (adding more modern-day characters and develops them) into something that everyone of today would find relate-able. Bona (played by Eugene Domingo) is a call-center agent whose life went kaput when she decides to become a full-time die-hard fan of a star-search wannabe (played by Edgar Allan Guzman). What makes this production special is the fact that it has genuine comedy all-over the place but at the same time it remains mental. It continues to make you think, even when you’re in the middle of an unstoppable laughing fit and some serious choking. The cast delivers an impeccable performance with ease on comedic timing as well as the depth for its memorable dramatic highlights. Eugene Domingo shines in so many ways because of Bona. She makes sure that while her comedic quips may seem second skin to her (all the film and TV exposures depicting her as a rounded comedic character and mega-million bucks that follow thereafter can be a challenge to anyone who attempts at pulling off a dramatic role), she can cloud the room with darkness through the weight that she bears in her dramatic scenes. Heavy, yes, but that’s the beauty of it. Makes us all crazy. One minute we giggle and laugh, the next minute we all shut up and realize we’re on the verge of tears. Eugene Domingo is an awesome talent and I am extremely excited to see more of her on stage. One revelation from the cast is Edgar Allan Guzman. He plays the part of Gino Sanchez who is extremely obsessed with the idea of fame and fortune thinking that showbiz offers that way too easily. Guzman succeeds in sugarcoating his evil character with his boyish looks, his smooth physique and his naivete. He reminds us of this one particular guy in your neighborhood whom you always suspect as a hustler but because they go around shirtless makes you think otherwise. Guzman delivers a sincere performance without an ounce of intimidation despite being paired with the Eugene Domingo. I am quite certain that Guzman can go a very long way in the acting arena because that’s what sets him apart from all those TV dudes who take off their clothes: he can act. The supporting cast deserved our standing ovation for that evening performance. They nailed every beat necessary for the show to move forward and the simplicity of the set (or make that the sexiness of the set’s rustic-backdoor feel) allowed us to concentrate on the actors and their dialogues. I was actually a bit bothered by the smoke machine that fogged the area quite heavily, but when Eugene (not sure if it was ad lib or scripted) remarked, Ay may sunog ba? O baka naman nag iihaw na naman ang kapitbahay natin — I knew it was just completely adorable. Bona pokes right through you. In so many ways, Bona will make you: 1. Think 2. Laugh 3. Get a bit horny 4. Feel awkward 5. Identify yourself with one of the characters 6. Sad 7. Extremely annoyed 8. Want to tweet while the show is going on (which you cannot do) 9. Recall your own Bona moment 10. Want to watch it again — but Eugene is quite busy, so you better catch the remaining shows until Sept 23rd. **All photos by JORY RIVERA as published in

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Eugene Domingo as Bona and Edgar Allan Guzman as Gino Sanchez

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BJ Forbes as Bingo, Gabs Santos as Raf and Eugene Domingo as Bona

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Eugene Domingo in one of her dramatic scenes.

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Bona's bestfriend Baldy (played by Joey Paras and alternating with Phil Noble)

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Bert (played by Juliene Mendoza) and Bona

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Edgar Allan Guzman as Gino Sanchez

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The bathtub scene that sent the audience to a giggling fit.

Bona Kids -- mga batang may laban. Myself, Kevin and Nico.

1 Comment

  1. Resy

    Until when ni sya bob?

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