Dramafest brings children’s stories to life

When would one ever find Dora the Explorer, Pokemon, Alice in Wonderland, and the aswang, a mythical creature from the Philippines, all in one room?

The answer is not a Halloween party, but an event called “Salip ti Drama, Video, ken Kinantaan,” also known as “Dramafest” that occurs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa every semester.

The event is hosted by both the Ilokano Language and Literature Program at UH and the Timpuyog Organization. The purpose of which is to showcase the talents and language skills of the students under the ILLP. It also also allows them to highlight their cultural practices. Ilokano is the native language spoken by people who live in the Northern region of the Philippines called the “Ilocos.” The 100 level students perform short skits and the 200 level students perform musicals. Every semester, two Timpuyog officers volunteer to “co-chair” or plan the event.

Co-chair Alycia Kiyabu said, “I had such amazing experiences with Dramafest last year, I figured it was high time that I put my planning skills to the test.”

This semester, Dramafest was held on Saturday, November 30, 2012. The UH Art Auditorium was filled with ILLP students, guests, as well as Farrington High School and Waipahu High School students who are enrolled in Ilokano language programs. The co-chairs, along with the help of advisors Clemen Montero and Dr. Julius Soria, planned everything including the decorations, job tasks, flyer and program deadlines, prizes, and even the lunch menu.

With the weeks leading up to Dramafest in tandem with the time midterm exams roll around UH, co-chair Almond Jaye Ereno felt that planning the event tested his ability to be a good leader.

“Things run smooth and it’s like a confidence booster,” Ereno said. “Chairing Dramafest helped me rather than just stressed me out.”


Setting the Scene

The theme for this year’s event was “Ubbing a Parparmata, Parparmata dagiti Ubbing” which is Ilokano for “Ilusions of Children, Children’s Illusions.” Immediately Ereno knew he wanted the stage to replicate a storybook scene right outside of a castle. On the day of the event, the stage was complete with the flyer depicting the outline of a castle projected on the front wall, two castle tower props that acted as backstage dividers, a winding river on stage left, and large emblems on the side walls.

Ereno explained that the past productions had spent a lot of time and materials on creating the decorations so this year he wanted to keep it simple and creative.

“We didn’t need to build or make things out of wood,” Ereno said. “Bigger is not always better.”

A committee of Timpuyog students worked only with simple tools including cardboard, paint, and scissors to create the decorations. The night before Dramafest, Timpuyog officers and class representatives spent the night setting up the microphones, wires and decorations to ensure a successful production.

“The success of this year’s Dramafest cannot just be attributed to one person; it was the contributions and collaborations of the entire organization, all executive officers, representatives, and regular members that made Dramafest memorable,” said Kiyabu.



UH student Kristine Duldulao really liked this semester’s theme.

“It really allowed us (students) to be imaginative with our skits,” said Duldulao.

Having to meet up outside of class time to work on group projects can usually be a hassle due to busy and conflicting schedules. Within her group of five other students, half of them lived on the West side (of the island) and the other half lived in town or at the dorms. Although distance was an issue they worked on their skit and practiced their lines by meeting through Oovoo, an online video chatroom.

Her group was inspired by the story of The Princess and the Pea, adding to it a controlling King and Queen who want to choose the best wife for their son to marry. She played one of the main characters as the Princess and performed a duet onstage.

“I was really nervous,” Duldulao said. “I knew my lines and I was comfortable with nobody in the auditorium, but (when I was) onstage there were a lot of people.”

For UH student Ashley Galacgac, it was the first time she attended the event. She had heard about it before and how hard it is to memorize your lines, especially if you are not fluent in the language because then it is difficult to ad-lib.

“Everyone told me that it (Dramafest) is really fun but also really stressful,” said Galacgac.

Galacgac’s group did a skit based off of the movie Shrek.

“To make it Ilokano we changed Donkey’s character to a “kalding,” Galacgac said. “Kalding” is Ilokano for “goat” and is also considered a delicacy in the Philippines. The skit was about the rescue of Princess Pilona (Fiona) who was kidnapped by an evil witch and wizard right after she marries Ogar (Shrek).

Although Galacgac has never sang in public before, she performed a solo as part of the skit. It was a postive experience for her because her group members were very encouraging.

“The entire time I was like ‘I can’t sing guys, I don’t know what you’re expecting of me,’” Galacgac said. She gave the credit of her performance directly to her group, “it was a great deal of them (my group) believing in me. No one gets that opportunity and I liked it a lot but it was really nervewracking.”

Shayna Benigno’s group performed a human version of The Ugly Duckling. Her favorite part about Dramafest this year was working with great people and singing in front of the audience. She also won two awards, one for “Best Actress” and the other for “Best Female Solo.”

One of the emcees of the night, Nadezna Ortega, said her favorite performance was the twist on The Three Little Pigs. Instead it was about lazy Pikachus running away from a big bad Charizard who wants to eat them and being saved by the hardworking Squirtle who built a house out of bricks.

Erna Alonzo, a 300-level student of Ilokano, said that this semester’s Dramafest was more relaxing for her because her class did not have to create a skit. This year the upper level Ilokano classes sang the National Anthem of the Philippines in Ilokano.

“We just had to memorize the song and sing it,” Alonzo said. “It (Dramafest) was more laid back.”

Other student performances were inspired by Alice in Wonderland, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Dora the Explorer, The Ugly Duckling and The Wizard of Oz.


“Timpuyog” or “Togetherness”

One of the noticeable traits about this year’s Dramafest was that there were a lot of cameos by students even if they weren’t in the same group. Kiyabu said the reason for the cameos is that her class wanted to show that even though the groups are made to compete against each other, that the students don’t really care about the competition.

“Dramafest is the one time of the semester where our classes can get together and showcase our Ilokano skills,” Kiyabu said. “Doing it together just makes it all the more sincere.”

Kiyabu, who is currently in Ilokano 201 said that the phenomenon of cameos can also be related to her original 100 level class taught by Clemen Montero became so close that they consider each other as second family.

“I can only attribute it to what Timpuyog is at it’s core, students coming together,” said Kiyabu.

Timpuyog in Ilokano means “togetherness” a word that is proven every semester by its students, whose dedication and love of learning the Ilokano language, make Dramafest better each year. The event was partly funded by ASUH, OMSS, and CACG.