VERA ESPERANZA MANALAC will forever remember the play as the beginning of the end of her identity crisis.

On the anniversary of what would be his birthday, Filipinos from all over Sydney gathered to remember, celebrate and pay tribute to the national icon and hero Jose Rizal.

The play ‘Her Son, Jose Rizal’ perfectly encapsulates the full beauty of Filipino tradition, culture and history. The play is one that encourages the values of nationalism and courage. It reminds audiences of how one man and his family stood against many and how his actions showed courage louder than any words spoken ever could. Jose Rizal is the reason why the Philippines is a nation free to rule themselves as they see fit, without the extortion that they once faced under Spanish and American rule.

Cast and crew of the play. Photo credit: Michelle Baltazar

Cast and crew of the play. Photo credit: Michelle Baltazar

Cast and crew of the play. Photo credit: Michelle Baltazar

As an Australian-born Filipina, I have always taken interest in the history and culture of my parent’s heritage. However, the language barrier and the texts available have always made this a limited task. Apart from the stories of my father and the few books, which he asks his friends to bring as ‘pasalubongs’ (gifts), it was not until I watched the play that I could begin to understand and appreciate the struggles that the native Filipinos faced during the Spanish occupation.

For the last 20 years, I have never been able to fully comprehend what it means to be Filipino. The difference between Australian and Filipino lifestyle often makes this a difficult task. I think a lot of Australian Filipinos share this crisis of identity with me.

That’s why I will forever remember the play as marking the beginning of the end of my crisis! It reveals that we are a nation whose history was full of pain, suffering and struggle. Yet a nation that despite these are still a nation filled with passion and faith. Traits that we, as a community, should be proud of.

The most important message I took away was the importance and love that the Rizals had within their family. I think this is a value, which many Filipinos can come to appreciate. A message that no library or textbook can ever expose or illustrate. It was this part of Filipino culture that the play showed that up until recently was very foreign to me.

The small criticism I have is on the few excerpts in Tagalog and Spanish. However, if you are planning on seeing the play, this could be easily remedied by bringing along a parent or someone who is familiar with the language that will be able to translate.

Other than that I thought it was beautiful. It’s perfect if you want to know more about Filipino culture and heritage or just looking for a night of socialising, good entertainment and beauty.

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