We watched our very first play as a family a few Saturdays ago. It was called “Mga Kuwento Ni Lola Basyang” or Grandma Basyang’s Stories.
I first heard of Lola Basyang from a TV show for kids aired on a local channel several years ago, before I had any children. I admit I was intrigued by the stories and found them entertaining. I have a thing for old Philippine stuff and this came from an era that I’ve always found to be “romantic”.
When I was planning our homeschool this year I wanted the kids to experience watching a play and put that into our calendar. We were supposed to watch “Batang Rizal” but the rains and floods threw that out of the window. So we went for Lola Basyang’s Stories instead.
I learned that the first stories by Lola Basyang appeared in print in 1925. They were written by Don Severino Reyes, a celebrated Filipino writer. Mr Reyes and his son heard the stories from Lola Basyang herself (yes, she was real person) during story hour(s) with her grandchildren. It turns out this story hour was an after dinner ritual in Lola Basyang’s home. What a treat that must have been! Imagine having no TV, radio or the Internet to distract you, just family enjoying a loving time with your favorite grandma.
Back to the play, the current version of Lola Basyang’s stories were based on Severino Reyes’ classics and were written by Christine Bellen. There were more than 500 stories attributed to Lola Basyang and written by Severino Reyes. The play we watched showed only 3 of these. It was staged by the Philippine Educational Theater Association (or PETA) as one of its performances for the 45th Theater Season.
I must say, it was truly a play for school-age children. Younger children like my two boys couldn’t stay awake for the entire performance but Dearest Daughter thoroughly enjoyed the play (and so did my Beloved and I). It was highly entertaining.
I strongly recommend Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang for kids and the entire family for a dose of good old-fashioned Filipino stories. PETA has other plays, too, and you can check them out here.