There’s not much that I know about the Himala film of 1982, except for one, the main lead was Nora Aunor; two, it was written by Ricky Lee; and three, the film is constantly played in local TV stations during the Holy Week. When I saw the poster of the musical I got thrilled, and told myself that I should see it after 2 musicals slipped off me. Plus it’s a Ricky Lee classic. So I got myself a ticket to one of the shows during the opening week. Turns out, it’s going to be one of the best things I forced myself into.
The venue isn’t that huge – I suppose the PowerMac Center Spotlight can hold not more than 500 people. The audience surrounded the stage, kinda like what they did in Si Saldang, Si Marvin at ang Halimaw ng Gabi that reminded me of the classroom-held plays back in high school. The performers didn’t require lapels and microphones, and there was only a single piano that accompanied their powerful theatrical voices. They didn’t have makeup (maybe except for Nimia and her pouty red lips relevant to her role) and their clothes were typical of the neigborhood where I grew up. I was sitting on the first row and it allowed me an up-close and intimate moment the entire show, like I was one of the casts – albeit a mere expectator but still part of the production.
I’m not gonna lie, I got sad when I realized it wasn’t Aicelle that’s gonna be playing Elsa in the show I was in. But my sadness dissipated within the next five seconds because Celine Fabie is just splendid – she and her powerful voice gave me goosebumps in various parts of the show. Then there’s our favorite pokpok, Kakki Teodoro who plays Nimia, Cupang’s cabaret owner and for many times I am reminded of the people I’ve met in my life who were too relatable to her character (or similar). I’ve read somewhere that it’s not impressive when art imitates life too closely but to hell with them because I stan relatable art. And I am not just talking about Nimia, but also Orly the journalist played by David Ezra who was staying at Cupang only to make a name for himself out of Elsa’s alleged miraculous faith healing. And of course, how can I forget Chayong and Pilo, played by Neomi Gonzales and Sandino Martin respectively – the lovers whose dreams and future plans brought me back to when I was a kid and my aunt would listen to drama series in the AM station at two in the afternoon. Needless to say, I drowned in nostalgia and familiarity.
I can no longer remember the story from the 3-decade old film. And even if I still do, I suspect I’d still have the same goosebumps, speed of heartbeat, and teary eyes during what have become my favorite scenes. Himala isn’t just Elsa’s story. No, it’s not even just Barrio Cupang’s story. It’s about us, the Filipinos, who made fanaticism and relying to miracles a tradition and our ultimate salvation. It’s about us who claim to be afraid of God and yet we practice faithless religion. The magnificent portrayals of the characters though, is another story. Everyone should watch it.