About 50 urban poor actors/actresses on stage unfold their lives and dreams for decent housing. December 7, Urban Poor Associates (UPA) and Community Organizer Multiversity (COM) together with Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) held their annual Panunuluyan of the urban poor in the form of a play entitled, “Maryosep”.
Since 1987, the group celebrated panunuluyan through mass mobilizations of poor people. This year instead of marching in the streets and knocking at the doors of government offices, churches and private institutions, they decided that a play was a better form of communicating the struggles of the poor and their on-site housing proposals.
“Maryosep” is the story of Joseph and Mary’s search for a place where Jesus could be born. This time the people playing Joseph and Mary look at poor families’ housing and wonder how they can stay even for a short time in such poverty.
Maryosep has three major stories connected by three gays who accept the pregnant Mary and Joseph in their community. The first act is the story of teenagers in urban poor area. Ella is the main character who was asked to watch out for the relief goods of a friend’s lola, but found it was stolen under her care. She saw the thieves but didn’t do anything until she realized how valuable the relief goods were to her Lola’s friend. Through her help the thieves were put in jail.
The second story is about the children of poor and rich community entitled, “ Kabilang Bakod.” Our urban poor child age 9 and Milcah Wynn Nacion, a GMA artist, lead the play. It lets us see how different the lives of these poor and rich children are, but no matter the class differences, friendship can bind the two small children together.
The last story is the search of a teacher for a poor student named Hope, who was very bright and wanted to be a successful career woman, but a few months before the graduation this student suddenly disappeared. The teacher tries to find her in the Fish Port Area and a relocation site. She finds out about a violent demolition that gobbled down the dreams of Hope, and she eventually will end up to be like her Sister Aling Hing, marrying at a young age and doomed to poverty.
Part of Teacher Faith’s monologue, “A person doesn’t need to be a legal expert and researcher to understand what these poor families live through. We only have to be human.”
After the play, Atty. Leni Robredo and Secretary Mar Roxas presented the Urban Poor Person of the Year Award to architects who devoted pro bono service to help urban poor communities design their homes.
The awardees are Architect Felino “Jun” Palafox who initiated the on-site housing design for the estero dwellers; Michael Roy Cuerpo helped Doña Imelda community in their on-site housing; TAO Pilipinas, a non-government organization that assists urban poor in their efforts to find better housing, and Mapua Institute of Technology, School of Architecture, Industrial Design and the Built Enviroment, one of the country’s finest schools of architecture, assisted four esteros in Manila and Baseco in the full implementation of the project.
In parting, Alice Murphy said, “We appeal to the President to implement this project this December. This will be the best gift he can give to hundreds of urban poor families hoping for the realization of this housing project.” -30-