By Christal Javier
Winston. Hope. Do these two words ring a bell? Ui, aminin! (Admit it).
Don’t worry. We’re not here to point fingers; we’re here to face the truth. And what better way to face it than by singing and dancing our way through? Don’t believe me? Well, maybe you’re not from Silliman.
Last Saturday, my friends and I watched “KABSI 4: Sunog Baga”. The title in itself reflected what the show was all about, but knowing the previous KABSI productions, I had a hint that it wasn’t your normal “Anti- Smoking Campaign.” I was right.
It unfolded with a teenage boy named Winston who lost his father in a work-related accident. This left him and her mother alone. It was quite a silent beginning for a “KABSI” show until…four boys, well, at least four girls dressed as boys acted as jocks or the cool kids who pressured Winston into smoking. When Winston didn’t give in, the four “boys” danced to a song “to show Winston respect.” This looked so much better with their obvious wigs and male apparel on. And the male impersonations just sent the audience from awkward silence to ouch-my-tummy-hurts. I think some of the audience even went to hey-that-chick-actually-looks-hotas-a-dude.
Anyway, the story wasn’t only staged from Winston’s perspective, but from different angles as well. Take for instance the boy (this time he was actually a boy) who sold cigarettes on the streets. His girlfriend who supposedly looked like Kiray, left him because the Smoke-Free ordinance of Dumaguete City was giving him a run for his money. He was anguished at his loss along with his other friends who were also vendors, saying that he bought his girlfriend expensive things like NIKEsi shoes (shoes with holes in them) and BENCHingkong buok pants (twenty-peso jeans).
Let’s not forget Winston’s love interest—Hope. It was like love at first sight when they both bumped into each other and Winston “spontaneously” caught Hope on the back like they were doing the last part of a ballroom dance. Love grew stronger when Hope introduced herself by spelling her name with her butt because she said she was too shy to talk. Of course you were, Hope. Of course you were.
And let’s not forget the ones who’ll suffer the most with Winston’s smoking—his own body. Acted out by three girls, each representing his abused lungs, teeth and throat, Winston was scolded by his own body in a one-word- for-each-body-part sentence. It was like the three-headed magic man in last year’s SPIT (Silly People’s Improv Theatre) where they would compose a sentence by saying “one word per head” in a consecutive manner until the sentence is finished.
This was quite a treat for the audience as two microphones were set up in the aisles for them to ask Winston’s body parts any question. Not for long, after the first question was asked, laughter filled the air of the Luce Auditorium until the end of the improvised scene.
Compared to past KABSIs, this one really reflected the effort and the time it took for the all-student cast to put it together. (There were only 25 of them). This time, they took it to a higher level by singing 12 original songs they themselves composed. They’re catchy songs, too. Unlike the past shows where they only changed the lyrics to pop songs, this time, they had their own lyrics and melody. Some had playful lyrics like, “Ano ba tong sigarilyo parang kalbaryo, kita kits nalang tayo sa purgatoryo (What’s up with cigarettes? They’re a burden; see you in purgatory)” and “Tak-taka-tak taka-tak-tak-ta, sa yosi mga bayi mu pak pak pak (Girls applaud at guys who smoke cigars).”
Apart from that, the plot was better in a way that every scene was connected to make one story rather than having separate segments in the show. Every scene, although composed of different actors, had a part in telling the entire story.
Not only was this production better, but it’s a continuation to the dream of supporting Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) scholars. According to the director, Jai Molina Dollente, KABSI has sponsored four full scholars so far.
Either way you put it, whether we’re talking about quitting smoking or helping other struggling students stay in school, a line from one of the last songs in KABSI sums it all up: “Huwag mabahala ikaw ay may kasama, hindi ka nag-iisa (Don’t worry, you’re not alone).”