The Joy of Being Chinese

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Years ago, when Joy Luck Club premiered here in Manila, my dad bought tickets for us to watch it. At that time, I really didn't have an idea on what the film is all about and that it's based on a book but my dad told me it's a really good film so I just went to the theater with him. This time, I was the one who brought my dad with me to Onstage, Greenbelt 1 to watch the play made by Repertory Philippines.



I've seen the film Joy Luck Club for countless times because of a school project, because I wanted to watch it, because it was shown in class and many other reasons. However, every time I watched it tears fell from my eyes because I do feel the hardships of the old generation Chinese immigrants and I do feel the confusion of the second generation Chinese being a Chinese living in another country. When Repertory Philippines announced that they're staging Joy Luck Club this year, I was one of the excited persons to watch it since I know the pains, happiness and confusion of being a Chinese living in another country.

The press preview of Joy Luck Club was perfectly set on the night of the first day of the Chinese New Year. It was a night where families usually get together and I think a lot of families where at the theater to watch the show together.


Director Anton Juan did a wonderful job by letting the mothers Pinky Marquez (as An-Mei Hsu ), Joy Glorioso (as Ying-Ying or Betty St. Clair), Frances Makil Ignacio (as Lindo Jong) and Rebecca Chuaunsu (as Suyuan Woo) use Singlish in their dialogues. I think Singlish perfectly shows how the first generation Chinese immigrants speak English in another country. Actually, even here in the Philippines, the Chinese immigrants speak Filipino in the same way but there's no word made yet to describe this language so I'm using "Chinoy" to describe this particular language. The daughters played by Ana Abad Santos (as Jing-Mei or June Woo), Jenny Jamora (as Rose Hsu Jordan), Lily Chu (as Lena St. Clair) and Cris Villonco (as Waverly Jong) also did a good job however, even though they're good actresses, I felt that they still lack the emotion of their confusion and anger towards their mothers who pushes them to be Chinese, to be the best and to be responsible. I think if they should talk to their Chinese friends who are second generation Chinese to have the feeling in them and to be able to have more power in their emotions during the play.


Another scene which I find quite surprising is an old Chinese Opera that narrates the story of the Moon Lady in the middle of the play. It's actually a great idea to put it in for people to understand more on what happens during the Chinese Opera and it's not just a show but it tells stories of the olden days which might be or might not be true but these stories have been passed from one generation to another through this art form. A lot of the second or third generation Chinese immigrants find Chinese Opera to be boring but actually this kind of entertainment tells a lot of good stories or histories of China. By having this part at the play, if second or third generation Chinese immigrants watch the play, they will be more educated about this form of entertainment. Some of my friends who were at the theater that night thought that the Moon Lady and "Hou Yi" are just clowning around so they find it funny. I explained it to them that it's an old Chinese Opera. Somehow, it didn't look so much like a Chinese Opera since the costumes and make up still lack the effect. I suggest that they go to the "Xing Guan Xi" Chinese temple at Narra Street in Binondo to ask if they can borrow their costumes and also maybe they can ask help from them with the make-up. There's a particular make-up for characters in a Chinese Opera that they can apply for this show.


Generally, it's still a good show even though there are some elements which I've pointed out above. I still can relate to the play and laughed when there are parts which have already happened in my life. It seems the story is not only of the Chinese immigrants in the US but they're generally the Chinese immigrants which made it universal for the Chinese society. I, being a Filipino Chinese, was able to relate to the play and it has made me understand more of the hardships that my parents and older generations have gone through just for me to have a better life here. I hope that this play will continue touching lives of people like me for them to understand their family.


My dad and I had a great time at the show. We both love the guy playing the guzheng while people are entering the theater and waiting for the show. My dad applauded the guy for playing a good tune and thought at first that he maybe Chinese. When my dad saw that the guy was Filipino, he still praised the guy for knowing how to play the guzheng well.

Joy Luck Club will be performed at Onstage, Greenbelt 1 on the following dates and times:

February 11, 12, 18 and 19, 2011 at 8pm
February 12, 13, 19 and 20, 2011 at 3pm


For ticket inquiries call Repertory Philippines at 5716929, 5714941 or log on to http://www.repertory.ph/. Tickets can also be bought at http://www.ticketworld.com.ph/.

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Hoppy Rabbit Year! Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Note: Photos taken from http://www.spot.ph/. Poster taken from Oliver Usison of Repertory Philippines.



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