I still remember the actors (Olivia Hussey as Mary, Michael York as John the Baptist...), Jesus' piercing blue eyes (which to me gave the character even more mystery) as a child who conversed with elders in the temple and as the man followed by his disciples, the way Joseph taught the child Jesus the use of a ruler in carpentry in one scene, the way Jesus' death drove his mother to hysterics at the foot of the cross (now I really doubt that a perfect creature such as Jesus' mother would have reacted so emotionally, but that's a different story altogether). I had my "fill" of the story of salvation through this movie, which I was engrossed in each year for a time.
Two years ago, I experienced a different and striking depiction of this story. Saying I had "fun" doesn't sound right (since it was on the Passion and Death of Christ); I guess you could say it was a novelty. My friend Petrufied is part of the children's puppet group Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas and among the group's regular shows is "Papet Pasyon," its yearly Palm Sunday offering. I'm watching it again in less than a week!
There's not enough of puppetry going on in our local art scene, and whatever puppet shows most of us are exposed to probably resemble the Sesame Street or local Sesame kind. Or the ones that are part of McDonald's kiddie party packages. The puppets used by Mulat look really interesting (they're made of wood), being manipulated with the use of sticks or rods. That the puppeteers are garbed in "Viet cong-esque" all black -- against a black backdrop -- makes for a fascinating element as well.
The audience is composed mostly of kids, which adds to the enjoyment of watching a puppet show. Once in a while you'll hear funny comments from the little ones or questions about what's going on onstage. And when Amelia Lapena-Bonifacio (fondly called Lola Amel), the venerable lady who founded Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas in 1977, starts each show with a short casual introduction, the kids respond to her questions in unison -- and with gusto!
Okay, here are the details of this year's "Papet Pasyon":
(it's the block between Maginhawa and Matimtiman streets)