The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the country’s largest fellowship of mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches, will commemorate World AIDS Day 2016 by staging a theater play, dubbed as “H.I.V. (#HusgaAgad? Intindi muna Veh?).”
Dr. Rommel Linatoc, director of the stage play, describes the form and style as a combination of Brecht Episodic form with a twist of the Umalohokan style of Philippine theater that primarily focuses on how churches and communities can respond in combatting stigma, discrimination, and inaction against people living with HIV (PLHIV).
“Reponses to HIV are generally judgmental and excluding. Faith communities tend to be moralistic, labelling people as immoral if they are living with HIV. We need to propose to the audiences that love, understanding and compassion to PLHIV are essentially acts of goodness and forms of Christlike compassion,”said Linatoc.
Dr. Linatoc added that “the play incorporates the understanding that stigma and discrimination need to be eradicated, misinformation needs to be corrected, and that people living with and affected by HIV should no longer face shame, denial and community inaction. Moreover, another genuine act of solidarity for PLHIV and their families is also the questions around the poor health system and education in the Philippines.”
Actors were tapped from students and young people from HIV Awareness Campaign Group, Philippine Women’s University-Communication Arts, and NCCP Teatro Ekyumenikal.
Linatoc added that novice actors educated on the basics of HIV “were moved to write theater pieces and to challenge themselves more to animate the issues. They have engaged themselves into a different kind of theater devising that evokes, educates, and provokes. The process of devising is as important as the message it brings.”
Aside from staging the play, the NCCP, along with various LGBT groups as the Bahaghari LGBT Organization and the Metropolitan Community Church – Quezon City will hold light red candles, distribute free condoms to the audience and will offer free HIV test to highlight calls to end the stigma and discrimination on HIV and AIDS and to also challenge the inaction of past and present governments in addressing the continuing rise of HIV and AIDS cases in the country.
“Our theatrical commemoration this year explores the unmentionable subjects of sexual practice and embedded cultural practices that lead to new infections. It hopes to lead the audience in challenging the systemic factors that lead to spirals of poverty and abuse. In short, it challenges human beings to be humane,” Linatoc ended.
‘HIV: #HusgaAgad? Intindi muna Veh!’ is slated on December 1, 7:00PM at St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary Chapel, E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave., Quezon City. Admission is free.