|Floyd Tena, Al Gatmaitan, Franco Laurel, Michael De Mesa, and Miguel Castro|
play Christian brothers in "A Fire In The Soul." Photo by JR Sala
Co-written by Jude Cartalaba
Manila, Philippines, March 13, 2012 – The De La Salle Brothers, Roman Catholic religious brothers who dedicate their lives to educating young people, recently celebrated the centennial anniversary of De La Salle University (DLSU) in the Philippines, and commemorated their colleagues who were killed by Japanese soldiers in World War II via the restaging of the cantata (a vocal chamber work) A Fire In The Soul, which features libretto by Vicente Groyon III, music by Von de Guzman, and direction by Peque Gallaga.
A Fire in the Soul tells the story of a crucial event in the history of the De La Salle Brothers’ teaching mission in the Philippines. On February 12, 1945, a group of Japanese soldiers barged in the door of the DLSU campus in Taft Avenue, Manila, and killed the people who were living there: 24 men, women, and children; and 16 De La Salle Brothers died that day.
A Fire In The Soul is successful in many ways, particularly in vividly capturing the De La Salle Brothers’ trials and tribulations during the war.
Franco Laurel as Br. Antonius Von Jesus, Michael De Mesa as Br. Edbert Xavier, Floyd Tena as Br. Lucian Athanacius, Miguel Castro as Br. Arkadius Maria, Al Gatmaitan as Mutwald William, and Jonel Mojica as Friedbert John play the De La Salle Brothers. Although Castro, Gatmaitan, and Mojica’s characters have their respective shining moments, Laurel, De Mesa, and Tena’s characters still stand out, and get the loudest applause from the audience.
Narrators are Jaime Fabregas (a stage, television, and film actor), Conchita Castillo (an educator and stage actress), Dado Jose (a retired banker and weekend farmer), Ricky Gallaga (a big collector of Nativity sets, and an actor-director for 50 years), Luis-Maria L. Zabaljauregui (an occasional stage, movie actor), and Tanya Lopez (an art advocate). Together, they provide deeper emotional layers to the unfortunate event, especially when they talk about the ordeals of the people who managed to survive the mass murder.
Gallaga proves once again he is one of the best directors in the country. He strikingly makes a point that the musical concert also serves as a tool to remind everyone to stay awake and to keep the fire burning in carrying out the vision of the Christian brothers.
Mio Infante (production designer), Dong Calingacion (technical and lighting designer), GA Fallarme (projection designer), Br. Bernard Oca, FSC (executive producer), and Lore Reyes (line producer) complete the show’s artistic and production team.
For more photos, click HERE.