the show was missing an audience when we arrived. a huge tent had been set-up at the barangay hall’s basketball court, the monobloc chairs for a hundred arrived, but there was no audience. in Guiuan where our first shows were, our venues were filled to the rafters, many women arriving with their children who wouldn’t understand the show, and would be crushed in the crowd. it took one show to realize that unbeknownst to us, these women were required to watch the show as part of 4Ps — Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. it meant registering to watch the show would be equal to a cash dole-out of P500 pesos per child — which explained too why they had brought their children. they were proof of how many children each woman had.
in Quinapondan, i was personally relieved that our audience did not seem to have had any other reason for going other than an amount of interest in the show. but surely the audience was thin and wanting; it would be pointless to begin without doing some good ol’ door-to-door. we split up and walked in the 10AM sun to ask women and teenagers to come to the plaza and watch the show. in a non-government temporary housing project we found Nanay Nina, in a salakot and daster, walis tingting in hand, sweeping the tiny eskinita that leads to their neighborhood. we ask for her help and she flashed us this huge smile, said word did not reach them there that something was going on today, and then started screaming for her neighbors to come out and watch the show. “hoy! may palabas sa plaza! nag-iimbita sila!” she merrily invited people like it was her party.
it was straight out of a Pinoy sitcom.
we “filled” the venue, if that is even possible with a basketball court. all seats were taken and it was standing room only, and many drove in their pedicabs or sat on the benches farther away from the “stage.” i saw Manang Nina arrive, all spruced up, carrying a grandchild. i call for T to get her a chair and we seat her in front for all her help. she is interviewed by J after the show, and she came back to shake my hand and thank me. i kept telling her we were the ones who should thank her for all her help, that i hoped things got better for them, and she brushed me off with that huge smile of hers. that one that belies what must continue to be difficult times. what can only be trying times a year since Haiyan.