My father died before I was born. He joined the guerrilla movement and dismissed the
fears, tears and anxieties of my mother with the urgent explanation of fighting to give us
the gift of freedom. I often wondered about him. My father left me a shining legacy of
giving, loving, and fighting for one's convictions. He was medal-less, but he is my hero.
Even as a child, as his daughter, I was resolved to define and seek my own service to our
At the age of 16, working at the Orthopedic Hospital, I was deeply impressed how a frail,
shy girl on crutches, whose hands were sweaty, whose eyes were downcast, who could speak
inaudibly only through trembling lips, found herself. She blossomed into a beautiful
character on stage, acknowledging the cheers of the other patients who were a most
enthusiastic audience. The wonder-therapy for her incredible personality development and
social adjustment was drama.
A further realization of theater as a formidable means of influencing thought came into
focus while I was working with teenagers as a constructive reaction against the rise of
juvenile delinquency. It was noticeable that participants' sensitivity, flexibility,
imagination, creative facilities and expression were being cultivated as we continuously
developed weekly original TV dramas. These dramas functioned not merely as a platform for
entertainment, but also as an arena for social action where youth's present problems and
future goals were discussed to provide consciousness expansion.
Surely, if the scope was broadened, if we had a national theater movement truthfully
articulating our people's thoughts, feelings, values and aspirations, if we could develop
and encourage theater artists to draw from the wealth of indigenous folklore, legends and
ethnoepicsto understand them, to teach from them and to improve upon them in order
to provide a knowledge and understanding of the region's temper, tradition, figures of
speech, and historical trends yet striving to reflect the time in which we livethen
we should also be a nation.
This is where I found meaning to serve, to care and to be involved. My goal became to
initiate and develop a network of theater arts programs for enriching curriculum and
educational techniques for community development of creative human resources. Such
programs could enhance the rehabilitation of workers, farmers and prisoners and provide
specialized workshops for out-of-school youth, adult illiterates, the mentally retarded
and the physically handicapped. They could also contribute to the integration of our
ethnic cultural communities.
My associates and I aspired to provide the necessary high calibre program to encourage,
train, promote, disseminate and coordinate professional excellence, artistic skills,
research, meaningful expression and experiments within the context of the indigenous
Philippine cultural heritage and the richly varied Asian theater traditions. Our movement
aimed to build bridges of goodwill to the rest of the world, particularly in the absence
of diplomatic arrangements or where political negotiations remained unsuccessful.
In the face of such great objectives and so little finances, a superior type of manpower
rose to the challenge as artists were inspired to work for a newer, more vibrant
It's most heartwarming for us that the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation has manifested
faith in, and now gives testimony to, the enormous power of theater arts for the public
good in our country.
The joy of this Award is shared by all who unselfishly gave their time, talent and
energies, and lent encouraging support to the concerted struggle to establish a theater,
not for the coterie and the elite, but for the masses drawing meaning and power from
the lives of Filipinos, speaking in the language of our people. The honor belongs to all
in PETA who joined in the determination to displace the false attitudes attached to
theater arts as personal exhibitionism and social frivolity by projecting theater arts as
public service, effectively applying it as a creative force in evolving and strengthening
nationhood and advancing our national development, complementarily utilizing it as a
dynamic vehicle for promoting regional friendship and cooperation, as well as
international understanding and peace.
Avenues have been opened and directions set with efforts for a Central Institute of
Theater Arts in Southeast Asia and a responsible position in the Third World Project of
the International Theater Institute. But the search for and creation of a vital theater
that meets the needs of our people is a continuing lifetime process. To this vision we are
pledged. It is an art which relies upon the work of many collaborators, united and
disciplined but free in order to thrive.
We can only express our deep appreciation to the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation for its
interest, concern and attention through a strengthening of our commitment. Please know
that the Award has given us more courage and greater impatience to tap and guide the vast
potentials of our people so that, eventually, the curtains will rise everywhere in the
country on theater at its best"a factory of thought, a prompter of conscience,
an elucidator of conduct, an armory against despair, dullness and repression, a temple of
the ascent of man."