Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A harvest of Pichay

Multi-awarded playwright Nicolas Pichay got profiled by contributor Ichabod Diwalwal Jr. in a piece that appeared in yesterday's Arts section of the Inquirer. The money quote? Mr. Pichay explaining his rather odd two-fold career as a theater artist and lawyer: "I'm a lawyer by orientation and a playwright by imperative." O ha!

The piece was also the occasion to announce that "On June 29, the University of the Philippines Press will launch an anthology of three of his award-winning works for theater (the first two) and television (the last one): 'Psychedelia Apocalypsis,' 'Pangulo Naming Mahal' (Our Dear President), and 'Babaeng Tilapia Natagpuan sa Coastal Road' (Fish Lady Found along the Coastal Road).

Love that last title! But then Mr. Pichay has always had a flair for catchy wordplay. His trilogy of one-act monologues on love and the mysteries of the human heart, staged at last year's Virgin Labfest, was first called "Tres Ataques de Corazon" and has now been rechristened "The Angina Monologues."

The most striking line from the most striking entry in that trilogy was this: “Sa lupain ng milk and honey, ‘f-k you’ ang tunog ng doorbell.” Spoken, not as you might have guessed, by a fierce leftist, but by a Pinoy Everyman obsessed with getting a US visa despite the hardships of life in a foreign land.

Ahem. Mr. Pichay recently asked me to contribute a blurb to the book. The anthology will also feature blurbs by, among others, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera and Rody Vera. Needless to say (but dammit I'll say it anyway): I'm thrilled at the thought of finding my own words on the same page with those of Mssrs. Lumbera and Vera.

The idea is terribly humbling, but cobbling the right couple of phrases together to describe Mr. Pichay's work was quite easy: I was chuckling one moment, thinking hard the next while reading "Psychedelia Apocalypsis," a picaresque play about the Pinoy penchant for blurring reality and illusion--our own version of magic realism, but degraded by refraction through the filters of Hollywood. The lodestone of Mr. Pichay's madcap tale is that long-ago demented shoot in Pagsanjan for Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," hence the tongue-twisting title.

Anyway, Ichabod Diwalwal Jr.'s profile was actually accompanied by a brief but funny Q&A with Mr. Pichay--what the author called "A short Proustian questionnaire." Space constraints got it snipped off, but I'm publishing it here with Mr. Diwalwal's permission. That makes him my first official guest blogger.

Give one reason why people should buy your book.
The beautiful cover designed by Fidel Rillo.

What is your favorite fruit?
A banana because it comes in many sizes, colors and shapes and one can eat it raw, fried, boiled, or mashed.

Who are your favorite kinds of people?
The ones with strong opinions.

Who are your least favorite kinds of people?
The ones with WRONG strong opinions.

Brocka or Bernal?
Bernal on good days, Brocka on bad.

Ruffa or [Yilmaz] Bektas?
Ruffa for beauty, poise and sincerity in performance. Bektas as character model in a James Bond movie.

Piolo or Sam?
No comment.

Piolo or Sam?
Ano ba?!!!

Piolo or Sam? I promise to move on.
Both... For their singing and dancing skills.

When was your great love affair?
It has never ended.

Who is your one great love?
My writing.

Who is your second great love?
Too many to mention.

Name one.
I forgot.

What is the thing you cannot live without?
A house by the beach with a maid 24/7. And something else, but I can’t mention it in public.

Who would you invite for a dinner for 10, living or dead, mythical or real people?
Picasso, Tarzan (just after he turns 18 years old in the jungle) Atang dela Rama (in a terno), the Kinsey spouses (in their underwear), Marcelo H. del Pilar (before he got tuberculosis), Gandalf the White, Caligula (can we put him in the stand-by list?), [Natalia] Makarova (any age), Maria Callas (as she is singing) and Jesus Christ (after the resurrection).

Most believed truism?
Hay life! It’s the most underrated thing in the world.

What is the most overrated thing in the world?

Not money?
Ah my dear, that’s the most over-inflated thing in the world.

"[Mr.] Pichay will autograph his book and pose with fans (if there are any) for photo-ops at the Bahay Kalinaw launching, June 29, 6 p.m. Cocktails will be served."


rhodora said...

I love the theater. I was member of our 'Dulaan' in college, way back - God knows when... hehehe. Unfortunately, when I started having kids, I had to deal with the theater of my life first than anything else.... :)

But I do hope I can check out stage plays in Manila now that I am there on weekly basis! Where can I find schedules, Gibbs Cadiz?

karlo m said...

I thought the post was about the Pichay, the senator-wannabe. Read through it and found out it was another Pichay. :P

vincedejesus said...

im so proud to be nick's friend!!!


Annamanila said...

Gibbs, I think it is hard to remain grounded with the kind of job that you have. But it was a relief to find out when we met again that you are, you are. It is impossible not to boast when you know you will find yourself side by side Lumbera. So you are excused.

Great repartee dun sa interview.

Great post -- thanks for introducing us to this splendid Pichay.

gibbs cadiz said...

hi RHODORA, like your phrase there -- 'theater of my life.' nice! anyway, for schedules, you can drop by this blog every now and then since i run announcements of shows, or you can also check out Ticket2Me (http://ticket2me.blogspot.com/). thanks! :)

haha, KARLO, gotcha there! btw, why would you want to read about a blustering, has-been politico? :)

hello VINCE! am sure nick feels the same way about you. :)

hello ANNA, salamat for excusing my bragging. paminsan-minsan lang, hehe. :)

Ralph Peña said...

Nick Pichay is a whip-smart wit. Reading him is like navigating the bootleg DVD stalls of Quiapo -- there are surprises waiting for you in the unlikeliest nooks -- a heady parade of pop, upended classics, porn, and anthologies by Truffaut, Brakhage, and Mother Lily. We should all be so talented.

gibbs cadiz said...

haha, great analogy, RALPH, and so true--'Reading him is like navigating the bootleg dvd stalls of quiapo!' thanks for that. :)

Jen said...

Just saw Nick Pichay last Friday at the IPO 10th year anniv exhibition of 17 artists... readding about him in your blog helped me recognize him (otherwise, i would have been this ignorant-know-nothing about writers!)... just want thank you! keep on writing!

gibbs cadiz said...

hi JEN, thanks for your encouraging words! the next time you see mr. pichay, tell him you recognize him from this blog, haha. :)

Jen said...

i did tell him :- )

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