Patay na si Cory: Opening a casket of untold memories

Poster from Mediartrix-UST official Facebook page

GHOSTS CAN still perform in theaters, leaving their perpetrators in shock. Their hunger to disclose the truth can bypass the line between the living and the dead, manifesting themselves to the people involved in their deaths.

Patay na si Cory was a culmination of the people’s cry for justice and freedom infused with references from the Philippines’ grim history.

Co-directed by advertising arts student Yel Moreno and communication major Bea Bianca Bautista, the production was a fascinating blend of reality and the supernatural. Mediartrix-UST presented its first major onstage production since the COVID-19 pandemic last Feb. 21, 23, and 24 at the Albertus Magnus Auditorium. Literature student Michael Angelo Ocampo wrote and managed the play.

The play follows Cory’s (Marion Lynn Vicentino) ghostly remarks in her wake. She was a sampaguita seller in the town of Santa Juana. Jade (Iano Luis Jaramel), Kevin (Mikhail Dela Cruz) and Mayor Jun (Joaquin Villanueva) mourned her death. However, they are hiding disturbing secrets about her demise.

The production maximized the stage in the beginning as the ensemble carried Cory’s coffin across the auditorium. Among the cast was Nanay Juana (Jessica Padua), who created a dreadful atmosphere through her acting skills. Her vocal control allowed her to give a chilling opening and a solemn song later in the play.

The cast made sure to have a live audience engagement throughout the show, like when they requested members of the audience to carry the coffin. It was mostly done through the Salaya sisters’ jest, namely Nora (Vianney Moralidad), Vilma (Jearianna Burgos) and Lorna (Lourdes Angel Gonzales). They served as the play’s comedic relief characters, even in parts where social maladies were portrayed. Despite all their prattle, they did not disturb the overall flow. Instead, their gossip provided the audience with vital information about the other characters.

The story took multiple routes to give ample time for some of the characters’ backgrounds. However, it made the story focus more on the other characters. The protagonist became a side character in her story for the most part, but the spotlight returned to her in the end. Despite this, the backgrounds did involve Cory, which helped the story move forward. 

One notable character backstory was Kevin and Jade’s, which became the highlight of the play. They were a gay couple who were involved in illegal drugs. They were like big brothers to Cory, and she witnessed how they courted and fell in love. They stole Cory’s spotlight, and their interactions with her played a major role in her death.

Furthermore, the entire dialogue was overshadowed as the songs provided more context which also incorporated the themes. These songs were accompanied by flashing lights which highlighted the current character’s emotions in play. For instance, Kevin’s number was accompanied by a pink light when he professed his love for Jade. However, these lights became overused and obstructed the audience from fully seeing the characters’ facial expressions. 

Unfortunately, the themes presented were nothing new to the industry. The war on drugs and its victims, adultery and homophobia, all under the political issue of mga salot sa lipunan, were already recurring themes in Philippine plays although the Patay na si Cory took a slightly different road through its original songs. The messages from these songs were cries of freedom, justice and encouragement to fight tyranny.

Additionally, Mayor Jun was the manifestation of an oppressive, manipulative, cartoony “leader” who overused the dregs-of-society trope to justify his wrongdoings. Mayor Jun’s actor, Villanueva, had a laugh comparable to an evil doctor in a cartoon show; it turned the character into a laughingstock.

The blend of reality and supernatural elements was done flawlessly. Vicentino’s masterful acting and vivid emotional display made the audience forget that Cory was already a ghost until another character pointed her out. The character’s sudden realization that she was already dead was brief but natural; it evoked various responses from both the cast and the audience. For instance, Kevin’s body language illustrated his shock and regret when he realized he could see and touch her. 

Moreover, Cory’s full name was Corazon “Cory” Piqueño, a reference to Maria Corazon “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco-Aquino, the president who succeeded Ferdinand Marcos Sr. after the EDSA revolution. The character’s ghastly appearance filled with bruises was a metaphor for the violence the people endured during that time.

The costumes were simple yet effective. The first set of attires depicted people found in a wake, while the second set was more formal and held symbolism in defiance of the oppressors. The color black portrayed grief and annoyance since Cory’s killer wore it to blend and manipulate the people in the wake. 

Similarly, the stage design was plain but also had symbolism. It subtly foreshadowed the one who murdered Cory as well as some of the other characters’ divulged secrets. The placard saying “huwag tularan” and scattered drugs near Cory’s body at the ending scene strengthened the portrayal of the brutality of the extrajudicial killings.

Overall, the story was a blend of lighthearted musings and tragic realities. 

Patay na si Cory delivered a narrative of pursuing freedom and justice while engaging with the audience through its musical numbers and comedic banters. Though it had some technical flaws, the play successfully conveyed its message. F

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Contact Us