Come to the Manger

Last Saturday night, December 18, as a way of preparing for Christmas, our family watched Come to the Manger, Dulaang Sibol’s Christmas presentation. After seeing the show, from 6:30pm till about 8:30pm, I arrived at the conclusion that going to the theater can be a spiritual experience.

If you didn’t get to catch this year’s presentation (I think last Saturday night was their last show), you can always aim for next year. Tickets are just at P150 per head and after watching three of the Sibol productions this year, I can tell you that the price of the ticket is well worth it.

Come to the Manger. Mary. Christ. Mass. That’s what I saw printed on the poster and on the ticket. True enough, the whole presentation, a collection of songs, dance, and stories sought to remind the audience of the true meaning of Christmas, something which is easily lost in the busy-ness of the season. As Mr. Pagsi (Onofre Pagsanghan) introduced the show, he spoke about inviting Christ into our lives. He continued by reciting some chosen lines from Bishop Fulton Sheen’s Divine Romance. “One night, there went out over the stillness of an evening breeze, out over the white-chalked hills of Bethlehem, a cry – a gentle cry. The sea did not hear the cry for the sea was filled with its own voice. The earth did not hear the cry for the earth slept…” He then went on to relate the lines to our lives – how we can be filled with ourselves or how we can be asleep at times and not be aware of God’s presence.

He then continued: “…There were only two classes of men who heard the cry that night – the shepherds and the wise men. Shepherds, those who know they know nothing. Wise men, those who know they do not know everything…”

Mr. Onofre Pagsanghan

The show starts with the touching song of Fr. Hontiveros, S.J., Halina Hesus and the Sibolistas go on to help the audience recall the Nativity Story as they read from the Gospel of Luke. As the show progressed, there were several highlights, focusing on meaningful messages.

The Tale of the Three Trees, a children’s story, was used to teach us about prayer and about what to do when we pray and we do not always get want we want. The audience was reminded that when such a thing happens, we should wait on the Lord, for always, He has a much better plan for us – just like what happened to the three trees which each dreamt of becoming a treasure box, a strong ship, and the tallest tree on a mountain but each turned out to be made into something else.

The musical by Lionel Valdellon, The Mischievous Angel, was about a mischievous angel who lost his star and could not offer anything to the Baby Jesus upon His birth. The musical was lively, funny (particularly the rapping Jejemon Angels), and had a line in a song which touched me so and it went something like: I have a prayer eternally… I seek to love You as much as You love me…

Jesus’ humanity and how He became one like us, as well as His relationship with Mother Mary, were brought to the fore as a prayer which went: “Lovely Lady dressed in blue, teach me how to pray. God was just your little boy. Teach me what to say…” was set to lovely music.

Dulaang Sibol bathed in blue light

We were also made to reflect about the way the world defines success as we listened to and watched The Triumph of a Magnificent Failure.

The show also had a Paskong Pilipino portion which highlighted Filipino Christmas traditions and songs: from the sad and haunting Pasko na Sinta Ko to the touching Narito Na ang Pasko which took all of us back again to what Christmas was all about: “…ng mag-anak na nagdiwang sa sabsaban nung unang Pasko…”

Come to the Manger was a good celebration of gifts received -- gifts like the talents of the boys and Mr. Pagsi as showcased by Dulaang Sibol. The gift of faith. More importantly, we were reminded about what Christmas was and is all about – the birth of Jesus and the love of our God, Who is the Source of all our talents and gifts.

At the end of the show, Mr. Pagsi invited the audience to move out of the theater for a surprise that Dulaang Sibol prepared. Slowly, we walked out of the dark theater and as the boys sang Silent Night in the darkness of the evening, the audience was greeted by numerous lights made out of brown paper bags, with a candle and sand inside. The lights were scattered all around the high school grounds near the theater, even on the roofs. It was such a beautiful sight. In the middle of it all too, was the figure of the Holy Family and the manger, formed and made out of the said lights, with the word: COME.

Come To The Manger

The audience literally came to the manger. Personally, I thought it was the best reminder I had ever received this season, regarding what Christmas is all about. It is how Christ became man to be Light to those in darkness. As Fr. RB, principal of the Ateneo High School, likes to say during the Holy Eucharist: “…He, Who became all that we are so that we may become all that He is…”

If I do not get to write again before December 25, I wish all Viloria readers and your loved ones, a blessed Christmas and a grace-filled 2011. In the busy-ness of this season, I hope you will find some quiet time to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas. Don’t just come to the malls to do your shopping. Don’t just come to the buffet table to eat lots of food. Don’t just come to all those parties to get together with friends and relatives. Don’t just come late to your next event because of the heavy traffic jams. Come to the manger. Invite Christ into your Christmas celebration. Invite Christ into your life. May the peace, joy, love, and hope of Christ be yours this season and always. Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat!

Here are links to some resources to help you reflect on the true meaning of the season:

The Christmas Story According to Luke

The Tale of the Three Trees

Lovely Lady in Blue

The Triumph of a Magnificent Failure

[By Angelica Viloria | Thursday, December 23, 2010]

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