Parangal Kay Behn Cervantes
Batikang Direktor, Artista ng Bayan
 

 

Church of the Risen Lord, UP Diliman

 

August 21, 2013

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Click here to view video clips of Parangal by E.J. Mijares
 


Tribute to a ‘fallen’ friend and comrade
By Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 23, 2013 | 11:11 pm
From: http://entertainment.inquirer.net/109271/tribute-to-a-fallen-friend-and-comrade


The tribute to our dear friend, Behn Cervantes, last Wednesday at UP’s Protestant Chapel predominantly turned out to be a celebration of the activist theater side to his prismatic persona—and a happy reunion for his grateful comrades, many now also senior citizens like their beloved fellow-fighter.
Luis Jalandoni and the National Democratic Front rendered “high tribute” to “Kasamang Behn, whose piercing criticism of the Marcos dictatorship was a colorful part of the people’s struggle for national and social liberation over a period of more than 40 years.”
 

For his part, Jose Maria Sison recalled that he and Behn “belonged to the same batch in the UP Dramatic Club as Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Adul de Leon and others who proceeded to excel as directors in terms of social content and creativity.”
 

Other friends and comrades shared heartwarming and occasionally “sizzling” recollections, activist songs were fervently sung, and the entire evening served as a timely reminder of the major impact that Behn had, not just in his friends and loved ones’ lives, but on the nation as a whole.
 

Theater scene
 

 

 

We were particularly glad that his seminal and pioneering contributions to the “engaged” theater scene were frequently cited by his appreciative coworkers—because, only a few years ago, they had thoughtlessly been given short shrift. We had railed against the shocking display of “artistic amnesia” at the time, and nagged Behn to write his memoirs to definitively diss his “forgetful” detractors, so we were extra happy that last Wednesday’s testimonials did exactly that.
 

It was also moving to hear some of Behn’s siblings speak so lovingly of him, revealing a side seldom seen by most other people, who were used to seeing his more volatile, mercurial and larger-than-life “signature” persona.
 

Most revelatory of all was the shared anecdote about Behn’s “secret” financial assistance to help newlywed relatives get a start in life. The generous act was so privately and self-effacingly done that last Wednesday’s event was the first time that many of Behn’s other relatives and friends had heard about it!
For our part, we weren’t surprised, because Behn had told us a lot of other “secrets” in the course of our decades-long friendship, and we knew that there were more layers to him than an onion—and prying them off could be a lifetime endeavor for us—and even for him!


Had he written his memoirs, they would have blown everyone away with their “eyewitness” account of so many key events and personages in unforgettably personal and historic interplay!
 

Alas, Behn kept postponing that admittedly awesome task, so we occasionally sat him down to record at least some of his all-important recollections. Now that he’s gone, we’ll have to piece together the rest of his tumultuous story from secondary sources, and we hope that Behn’s other friends and confidantes will join us in this key endeavor.
 

Finally, we especially miss Behn a lot now, because the Philippine theater scene is again in the stranglehold of “colonial mentality,” favoring “Broadway” over local productions by a shocking ratio of 80 to 20 percent.
Behn railed against this in the 1970s with his famous “Beast of Broadway” tirades and rally, so we are inspired by his fervent and insightful example to sound the battlecry again today.
 

If Behn’s “followers” join the renewed campaign for “local” over “foreign,” that would be the best way for them to pay genuine tribute to their “fallen” friend and comrade!
 

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Photos by Arkibong Bayan, C.J. Chanco, Rhodora Clemente,  Agapito Gaddi,  Kenneth Guda,
Kislap Alitaptap and Efren Ricalde as indicasted by the filenames
           
     
     
     

 

 

     
     
           
     
     
     

 

TRIBUTE TO COMRADE BEHN CERVANTES
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
16 August 2013
 

Julie and I convey our most heartfelt condolences to the family of our beloved Behn Cervantes, long time friend and revolutionary comrade.

We feel a deep sense of loss because of his personal warmth, his strivings and accomplishments. At the same time, we find comfort in the fact that he lived a full, meaningful and fruitful life. We celebrate his achievements for the emulation of the current and future generations.

Julie and I admire his outstanding achievements as an actor, stage and film director and as teacher of the theatrical arts and above all his highly intelligent and militant service to the people in their struggle for national liberation and democracy against foreign and feudal domination.

His professional achievements, his artistic works, have been imbued with and given direction by his deep concern for the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the need for national and social liberation. His 1976 film “Sakada” is an excellent depiction of the suffering and struggles of the farm workers of Negros. It is an outstanding artistic creation in the service of the people.

Behn and I were contemporaries at the University of the Philippines in Diliman and were active members of the UP Dramatic Club under the direction of Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero, starting in 1956-57. Since then, we had become friends.

We belonged to the same batch in the UP Dramatic Club as Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Adul de Leon and others who proceeded to excel as film directors in terms of social content and artistic creativity.

The biggest production we participated in as actors was Oedipus Rex. Behn was the most accomplished actor among us, appearing in more plays than we did in the last half of the 1960s. His commanding presence on stage and his accent which seemed to be a cross between England and New England carried him far.

We, who belonged to either one or both of the U.P. Dramatic Club and UP Writers’ Club, had a penchant for following each other’s activities even when we did not find time to communicate with each other directly. We always had a grapevine among us.

Moreover, it is in the nature of our professions that we are written about or we write in publication . Thus, I came to know promptly when in the U.S. Behn began to insert the letter h in his original nickname. He stayed in New York for a while. He loved Broadway and liked to sing top hits from Broadway and stage Broadway musicals.

However, what I consider as most interesting is how Behn became a revolutionary comrade. He observed the activities directed by the Cultural Bureau of the Kabataang Makabayan in the late 1960s, such as those undertaken by Panday Sining, Nagkakaisang Progresibong Artista-Arkitekto (NPAA) at Panulat para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan (PAKSA). Like so many creative writers and artists, he became engaged and militant in the First Quarter Storm of 1970.

Subsequently, he became an active member of the Samahang Demokratiko ng Bayan. He was the leading spirit in the formation of Gintong Silahis, the performing group of SDK, and engaged the KM cultural groups in friendly competition. He wrote, produced and directed the musical Barikada which was a depiction of the Diliman Commune of 1971. He supported the comradely and militant partnership of SDK and KM.

The Cultural Bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was formed to consolidate the cultural groups of the national democratic movement under one program. It was in this context that Behn became an active member of the revolutionary party of the proletariat, together with outstanding patriotic and progressive cultural workers in various arts.

Enthusiastically, he engaged in revolutionary studies and mass work. He further used his expertise to create revolutionary art. Even before the suspension of the writ of habeas in 1971, he proved himself as a worthy cadre of the CPP. When martial law was proclaimed, he contributed significantly to the building of a broad antifascist/ antimartial law underground network of artists and middle forces.

He was arrested and detained by the Marcos fascist dictatorship. But he could not be cowed by the dictatorship. He was defiant even in prison. The more persecution he suffered the more he struggled in the interest of the people, for national liberation and democracy. He continued to be active and productive in the revolutionary underground.

Despite having experienced the fascist prison, he formed the UP Repertory Company in 1974, with the objective of defying and challenging the dictatorship. He dared to direct “Pagsambang Bayan” of Bonifacio Ilagan in 1977 and again in 1980. This strongly inspired the artists of the theatre and the youth activists to persevere in struggle and serve the people.


It also caused his rearrest by the fascists.

At the peak of fascist repression, Behn initiated the Free the Artist, Free the Media Movement, together with Pete Lacaba, Lino Brocka and other others. This eventually led to the formation of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines in 1983.

Immediately after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, Behn was among the first of cadres to link up with the Aquino family and assured them of mass support from the national democratic movement. There was a spontaneous upsurge of mass outrage over the Aquino assassination but the solid organized forces of the national democratic movement were needed to sustain the mass movement.

Behn had for his direct visible base the cultural activists associated with the Concerned Artists of the Philippines. He had a key role in mustering the mass movement under the successive names of Justice for Aquino, Justice for All (JAJA), Congress for the Restoration of Democracy (CORD), Nationalist Alliance for Freedom, Justice and Democracy) and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in the three years that led to the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship.

Behn was a leading figure in all major formations against the Marcos despotism and was in the forefront of all major mass actions, which always featured protest art in the form of street theatre, songs and murals. His resolve and militancy did not wane or waver after the overthrow of Marcos and the succession of pseudo-democratic regimes which continued to serve the same US and local reactionary interests that Marcos had served.

Behn continued to fight for the national independence and democratic rights of the people. He was among the first I met when I was released from the fascist prison in 1986. And soon enough I was in his house celebrating and promoting international solidarity with human rights activists from the US and other countries.

He openly assisted the members and staff of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines that negotiated a ceasefire agreement with the panel of the Manila government in1986. He provided serious advice, board, lodging and other forms of assistance to the NDFP personnel.

Behn met me and Julie a number of times abroad. We met in Mexico City in 1988. We made a tour of the museum sites and exchanged experiences in our respective situations. He was very happy with his cultural and political work in the Philippines and he narrated his work with the underground. Whenever he visited Europe, he came to Utrecht and stayed with the Jalandonis.

I was always glad to be informed that he was active in the Estrada Resign Movement and contributed much to the alliance of the resign, impeach and oust currents and to the deployment of street theatre to give color and drama to the protests.

He was consistently opposed to any attempt at rehabilitating the fascist dictator Marcos. He strongly advocated the video recording of testimonies and documentary evidence against the dictatorship in order to perpetuate the people’s memory against it. Despite his failing health, he was in the forefront of the protest march on the 40th anniversary of martial law last year.

The last time Behn came to Utrecht on August 12, 2011 he talked about his work and the consequences of aging to himself and to his contemporaries. We had good laughs over the reminiscences, the successes in current work and even the manifestations of aging.

I know enough of Behn and his work to be able to say more. But our comrades and friends must also give their testimonies. The more people reflecting on the life and work of Behn the better for a well-rounded and profound evaluation and understanding of his artistic merits and revolutionary service to the people.

Long live the revolutionary legacy of Comrade Behn Cervantes!

Long live art and cultural work in the service of the people!

Long the Filipino people’s struggle for national liberation and democracy!

 




 

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     

Boni Ilagan of SELDA
           


Behn Cervantes: Batikang Direktor, Artista ng Bayan*
by Bonifacio P. Ilagan

Behn Cervantes was already The Behn Cervantes – Behn with an H — when I entered the University of the Philippines in 1969. In that year, I had become a certified activist, first by joining the Student Cultural Association of the UP, and then the Kabataang Makabayan. I am unsure if Behn was already a member of the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan by that time.

What I am sure about is that as I had become active in reviving the KM Cultural Bureau and organizing Panday-Sining and some other cultural groups of KM, together with Merardo Arce and our artistic guru, Leo Rimando, Behn was already directing street plays for Gintong Silahis, which was the theater group of SDK. Were we in KM threatened.

Not quite. Behn was a UP professor who had gone to school abroad alright, but so was our Leo Rimando. Behn was a towering and dreaded figure in the theater scene in UP Diliman, so was Leo in UP Los Baños. Behn had done Broadway and off-Broadway, so had Leo. Behn discarded Broadway and off-Broadway, so did Leo. Behn was spouting English, so was Leo — with a British accent to boot, pronouncing tomato as tomatœ. Behn was Upsilonian, eh ano, so was Leo.

It was the second quarter of 1970. We were in a state of exultation in the aftermath of the storm of the first quarter. We were high, not on account of pot or anything that had to do with the Age of Aquarius. We were flushed with the spirit of a Revolution in which we ourselves were combatants, even if we had only thrown sticks and stones and some pillboxes and Molotov cocktails. Many of us had begun to forsake our colleges and universities, preferring to be educated in the larger school of the slums and strike areas and the countryside. How Behn maintained his teaching in UP while being omnipresent in meetings and rallies and the production work in Gintong Silahis was a feat that merited admiration among our ranks. He was still The English-Spouting Behn Cervantes but Behn Cervantes the Activist.

OK na siguro ang pag-i-Ingles ko, Behn. Nahihirapan na ako. Nosebleed na ito. Anyway, sinisikap mo namang hindi mag-Ingles kapag nagpupulong tayo noong 1970s.
Pulong. Nagsimula kaming magkasama sa gawain sa kilusan sa isang pulong na hindi siya Gintong Silahis at hindi ako Panday-Sining, kundi kapwa kami kasapi ng kilusang lihim. Opo, hindi pa man martial law ay lihim nang sumanib si Behn sa Partido na muling itinatag ng kanyang kontemporaryo sa UP Dramatic Club, si Jose Ma. Sison.

Isang understatement kung sasabihin kong asiwa ako sa pakikipagpulong kay Behn noon, dahil siya nga ang kung sino siya. Biruin naman ninyo ang mga balakid na kailangan kong suungin – estudyanteng tinedyer pa lang ako, at siya’y terror professor na. Trial and error pa lang ang alam ko sa teatro at siya’y mateorya na. Katatapos pa nga lang niyang idirek ang “Jesus Christ Superstar” na lalong nagpalaki sa kanyang pangalan. Tapos, magpapatawag ako ng pulong at siya ay tatakdaang dumalo. Si Behn ay ganap nang pumaloob sa rebolusyon.

Ngunit, iyon na nga. Pilit hindi nag-i-Ingles si Behn sa aming mga pulong. Hindi siya mataray. Walang ere. Tinrato niyang kapantay – kasama – hindi lamang ako kundi ang lahat ng kanyang mga kakolektib. Malakas ang inisyatiba ni Behn, dulot, malinaw naman, ng kanyang karanasan at kaalaman sa sining at teatro, at ng pagnanasang pangibabawin ang rebolusyonaryong dulaan sa kolonyal na dulaan. Sa usaping ito ng pagpapataas ng antas ng rebolusyonaryong dulaan, perpeksyonista si Behn.

Isa siyang hamak na estudyanteng pumailalim sa disiplina ng organisasyon, sa mga teoretikal na pag-aaral, sa gawaing masa. Bukas-isip siyang lumahok sa mga pamumuna at pagpuna-sa-sarili.

Hinikayat niya ang mga kaibigan niyang middle forces at burges para tumulong sa kilusan. Walang pangimi niyang pinalahok ang mga kaibigan niyang propesyonal na artista sa mga aktibidad at produksyon ng Gintong Silahis. (Syempre, sa hayag na kilusan ay Gintong Silahis pa rin siya. At kapag nagkakasulong kami sa daan, kami ay nagkikindatan na lamang.)

 

Makailang ulit na nakulong si Behn, hindi nga lamang siya pinagtatagal sa bilangguan. Hindi nga ba’t ABCB degree pa nga ang tawag niya sa siklo ng kanyang detensyon bilang pagsasabing lahat ng kulungan ng diktadurang Marcos ay pinasukan niya? Camp Aguinaldo, Fort Bonifacio, Camp Crame, Bicutan. Ngunit hindi niya natutunan ang leksyong isinupalpal sa kanya ng gobyerno at estado.

Nang ganap akong mawala sa sirkulasyon noong 1971 hanggang sa deklarasyon ng martial law noong Setyembre 1972, patuloy ang aking pakikipag-ugnayan at pakikipagtrabaho kay Behn.

Ni minsan sa panahong ito ay hindi siya nanlamig. Anuba’t lalo nga siyang tumapang at sumigasig. Naputol na lamang ang ugnayan namin nang ako na ang maaresto at makulong. (Natural, isa sa pilit na inusisa ng akin ng military interrogators ay ang tungkol kay Behn.)

Nang ako’y pa-laya na noong 1976, at binayaang lumabas ng kampo kapag weekend, ang una kong ginawa nang mawalan ako ng military escort ay ang manood ng kanyang pelikulang “Sakada.” Vintage Behn pa rin.

Nang ganap na akong lumaya at muling nag-aral sa UP, agad akong nakipagkita kay Behn. Marahil, upang i-welcome ako, dinirek niya ang dulang “Pagsambang Bayan.” Taong 1977 iyon, ikalimang taon ng martial law. Ang dulang ito ang kauna-unahang full-length play na walang pangiming tumuligsa sa batas militar, gamit ang manipis na lambong ng pagiging liturgical play. Matindi ang bisa at resulta ng “Pagsambang Bayan,” kapwa sa manonood at sa pagsasamahan namin ni Behn.

Wika nga ni Joi Barrios, “Gaya ng nasabi na ni Chris Millado, isa ang (“Pagsambang Bayan”) sa pinakamahalagang dula na naka-impluwensiya sa kanya, sa akin, at sa marami pang artista ng teatro. Bagamat Magsasaka 2 lang ako at refreshments committee sa 1980 restaging ng dula, pero doon ko natutunan ang kahalagahan ng pagsisilbi ng teatro sa lipunan at ng pagpapasyang dapat harapin ng lahat sa kanilang buhay. Tulad ng pari sa dula, tinatanong tayo: Para kanino ka nagsisilbi?”

Muling nakulong si Behn dahil sa “Pagsambang Bayan.” Pansamantalang muli akong nagtago.

Nagkasunod-sunod na ang tambalan namin ni Behn sa teatro – “Sigaw ng Bayan,” Estados Unidos Bersus…” at iba pa. Ang hindi ko agad sinabi kay Behn, nauna nang idinirek ni Leo Rimando ang mga dulang iyon.

Sa ibang okasyon na marahil ang pagpapatuloy ng kuwento kong ito, pati na ang bagay na founding member siya ng isang allied organization ng NDFP, ang Artista at Manunulat ng Samabayanan.

Dalawang insidente na lang po… Sa buong panahong ikinwento ko, minsan lang akong pinagtaasan ng boses ni Behn. Kumatok ako noon sa bahay niya sa Kamuning. Binuksan niya ang pinto. Nagulat ako sa kanyang itsura. Parang may kung anong langis sa kanyang mukha. May gamot na pula ring nakaguhit sa balat na naghahangga sa leeg , anit ng ulo, at tenga. Nag-Ingles ako. What happened to your face! What a question! — singhal niya sa akin. Iyon pala ang facelift. Hehehe.

Minsan naman, galit si Behn dahil abot-abot na ang hingal niya sa paglalakad sa bundok na iyon sa Camarines Sur, pero malayo pa ang kampo. Magmimiting lang tayo, dito pa! — sabi niya. Bulong siya nang bulong. Ilang sandali pa, pagkalagpas sa masukal na bahagi ng bundok, bumulaga sa amin ang isang makapigil-hiningang tanawin ng mga burol na, ala-Sound of Music. Walang warning, bigla siyang bumunghalit ng, ano pa nga ba, kundi, “The hills are alive with the sound of music…” Muntik nang matapilok at madulas ang mga eskort na may baril.

This is getting to be long. And Behn hates long talkies. Absolutely.

*Speech read by the author during the tribute to Behn Cervantes by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) held on August 21 at Church of the Risen Lord, University of the Philippines Diliman, QC.

See also Piinoy Weekly posting here.
 

           
     
     
     

 

 

Pagpupugay kay Behn Cervantes, artista ng bayan at lingkod ng uring manggagawa at sambayanang Pilipino!

Kami sa Kilusang Mayo Uno ay naggagawad ng rebolusyonaryong pagpupugay kay Kasamang Behn Cervantes, artista ng bayan at lingkod ng manggagawa at sambayanan!

Pinapahalagahan namin si Kasamang Behn bilang rebolusyonaryong alagad ng sining na mailalarawan na mahusay, palaban, at matatag sa harap ng panunupil at kahirapan. Iniambag niya ang kanyang sining sa pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa at sambayanan para sa karapatan at kagalingan, at para sa pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya.

Marami nang parangal ang naisulat at nabigkas tungkol kay Ka Behn. Ang nais naming idagdag: Napakahalaga ng kanyang mga ambag sa pakikibaka ng uring manggagawa.

Ang kanyang pelikulang “Sakada” ay matalas na paglalarawan ng abang kalagayan ng mga manggagawang bukid sa agrikultura sa Negros. Higit pa diyan, matalas itong paglalarawan at pag-uudyok ng kanilang pagbubuklod, paglaban at pag-aalsa. Lumabas ito noong 1976, panahong pinakamahirap dahil nasa gitna ng diktadurang US-Marcos, pero panahong pinaka-kinakailangan dahil sumusulong ang kilusang manggagawa.

Noong Agosto 13, 1982, nagpakawala ang diktadurang US-Marcos ng malawakang pag-aresto at pagkulong ng mga lider at organisador ng KMU. Ang pangyayaring ito, na tinatawag na “Black Friday” sa kilusang paggawa, ay tangka ng diktadura na sawatain ang paglakas ng KMU na itinatag noong Mayo Uno, 1980. May pangangailangan noon na basagin ang takot na idinulot ng naturang malawakang pag-aresto at pagkulong.

Nasandigan ng KMU ang diwang palaban, talas at husay ni Ka Behn. Kaya noong 1983, itinanghal ang “Sigaw ng Bayan” sa direksyon ni Ka Behn at panulat ni Bonifacio Ilagan sa Araneta Coliseum. Dinaluhan ng mahigit 25,000 manggagawa at maralita, naging matagumpay ang “Sigaw ng Bayan” sa pagbasag sa takot na nilikha ng diktadura. Naging mahalaga ito sa muling pagbwelo ng KMU sa ibayong paglawak at paglaban.

Kakapit-bisig noon ng mga lider-manggagawa at lider-maralita si Ka Behn sa iba’t ibang pagkilos laban sa diktadurang US-Marcos. Nariyan ang halos araw-araw na pagsagupa, kasama ang mga tulad nina Sen. Lorenzo M. Tañada, sa Metrocom sa Mendiola noong dulo ng diktadura. Nariyan ang isang welgang pantransportasyon noong 1985 kung saan inaresto siya kasama ang makabayang direktor na si Lino Brocka. At marami pang iba.

Pero higit sa pagsama sa unahan ng mga protesta, direktang nag-ambag si Ka Behn sa pagpapalaki ng mga protesta laban sa diktadurang US-Marcos. Masigasig niyang inabot ang mga nasa panggitna at nakakataas na uri para sa pakikibaka. Buong-dedikasyon at buong-tapang niyang itinanghal ang kanyang mga dula sa harapan ng mga manggagawa at maralita bago ang mga mayor na pagkilos, bagay na ibayong nag-ambag sa pagkilos.

Nagpatuloy si Ka Behn sa paglilingkod sa sambayanan pagkatapos ng diktadura. Patuloy siyang nag-ambag sa pambansa-demokratikong pakikibaka nang tumatampok sa iba’t ibang kampanya tulad ng pagpapatalsik sa rehimeng US-Estrada noong 2001. Kahit naharap sa mga suliraning pangkalusugan, naging aktibo siya sa paglalahad ng progresibong paninindigan sa mga isyu at ng mga kwento ng pakikibaka ng sambayanan.

Sa panahong nagpapatuloy ang batas militar laban sa pag-uunyon ng mga manggagawa, sumasahol ang korupsyon sa gobyerno na pilit-nilulunod ng paglakas ng retorikang anti-korupsyon, at sinusupil ng dilawang pandarahas at propaganda ang tinig ng pagpoprotesta, patuloy na nag-aalab sa puso at isip ng mga manggagawa at maralita ang diwa ni Ka Behn. Tumatanaw tayo sa pagsibol ng marami pang Behn Cervantes!

Mabuhay ang diwa ni Behn Cervantes, artista ng bayan, lingkod ng uring manggagawa at sambayanang Pilipino!
Mabuhay ang mga artista ng bayan na kakapit-bisig ng mga manggagawa at sambayanan!
Mabuhay ang pambansa-demokratikong rebolusyon!

Reference Person: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information: 0908-1636597

 

Prof. Judy Taguiwalo of CONTEND-UP
     
Satur Ocampo, MAKABAYAN President
     
Jose. F. Lacaba, Poet/Writer
           
     
Rey Casambre of Philippine Peace Center reads tribute of Prof. Jose Maria Sison
     

 

 

Behn Cervantes, 74–drama and defiance to the last
By Pablo A. Tariman
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 17, 2013
http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/120485/behn-cervantes-74-drama-and-defiance-to-the-last#ixzz2ccPqjpl9

Up to the last minute, actor-director Behn Cervantes was directing what looked like the Theater of the Absurd on the subject of his death.

He passed away at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa, at 10:15 Thursday morning after battling complications from pneumonia and diabetes.

Before he died, he made a strong wish that his death be announced a week later. So, when social media churned up with condolences, including an obituary from the Cultural Center of the Philippines, his niece, Rosario J. Marquez, announced that her uncle was in very critical condition but still holding on.

Online confusion

Confusion online followed.

Said his UP colleague Dick Malay: “The truth is he has passed away. But he wanted the announcement a week later. This is all very dramatic, but that’s Behn Cervantes for you.”

A news agency was ready to make a public apology after it announced Cervantes’ death, but decided to wait out the confusion. A few hours later, news of his death was confirmed.

“Another theater icon passed away,” said film scorer and theater advocate Lutgardo Labad. “Indeed, he was one of the major pillars of the UP Theater Community and the protest theater movement in the ’70s. His movie, ‘Sakada,’ was a major cinematic coup that unearthed the inhuman conditions of our people then.”

“Farewell to you, my dear friend Behn,” said singer Dulce, who was one of the last hospital visitors of Cervantes. “We won’t be seeing each other temporarily, but I will see you in eternity. Where you are now is where love never looks away.”

Indeed, as condolences poured in, the family relented and confirmed his death.

“We tried to follow Behn’s request to announce his death only after a week, but I have decided to confirm it … He will be cremated this afternoon as per his other wish,” said his sister Lengleng Cervantes in a text message.

The actor-director was 74.

A recipient of the Life Achievement Award from the University of the Philippines Alumni Association, Cervantes would have turned 75 on Aug. 26.

Protest theater

With that of National Artist for Theater Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero, Cervantes’ name was synonymous with UP theater and the anti-Marcos protests in the Martial Law years. He was at the frontlines of the protest movement with filmmaker and National Artist for Film Lino Brocka, his UP classmate in the early ’60s.

Cervantes did not limit his theater involvement to productions such as “Pagsambang Bayan” and “Sigaw ng Bayan,” which he labeled as his “ibagsak” output.

Some of his landmark performances included roles in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” and the title role in “The Mikado” mounted at the Metropolitan Theater. He directed such works as “Guys and Dolls,” “The Short, Short Life of Citizen Juan” and “Iskolar ng Bayan,” among others.

Before he died, he loved to recall what he called his “informal” stage debut. At Cervantes’ early age, his elder sisters made him recite the line, “I shot an arrow into the air,” on top of their parent’s large iron bed, which served as their makeshift stage during Saturday performances for their neighbors in Iloilo.

“That was my theatrical debut,” Cervantes recalled.

“I also sang in our version of the cherubim choir in our Protestant Church in La Paz, Iloilo. Yes, I started early!”

In the same nostalgia trip he indulged in with this writer, he said his first play was “Hay Fever,” performed at the Central Methodist Church on T.M. Kalaw, Manila. In the cast was Eleanor “Didi” Reyes, the youngest sister of Norman Reyes, the youthful radio announcer who witnessed (with Leon Ma. Guerrero and Raul Manglapus) the Fall of Bataan.

“After a couple of plays like ‘A Happy Journey from Trenton to Camden’ by Thornton Wilder and ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ by T.S. Eliot with the UP Dramatic Club, I directed a scene from “Mister Roberts,” said Cervantes. “Cast as Ensign Pulver was Lino Brocka. I had an auspicious beginning as a director, I must say.”

As a student, he directed such fare as “Lawani,” an original musical; “Idiot’s Delight”; “A Hatful of Rain”; and “The Play Is the Thing.”

Activist stalwart

When he returned home from the US, he turned to Broadway musicals such as “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Guys and Dolls” and the first local production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Soon after, he became an activist and directed theater in the streets and the theater of protest.

“I continued to direct such plays after Martial Law was declared, and received an A-B-C-B degree for plays like ‘Pagsambang Bayan,’ ‘Sigaw ng Bayan,’ ‘Estados Unidos versus Juan Matapang Cruz’ and other ‘ibagsak’ plays. By the way, ABCB stands for Aguinaldo, Bicutan, Crame and Bonifacio, the military camps where I was detained throughout those years,” he recounted.

Way before the UP Alumni Award, Cervantes received an Aliw trophy for directing the play “Agnes of God.” He was also a recipient of the CCP centennial award, and several citations from activist groups and one from the East-West Center Alumni Association.

Cervantes resigned from his UP professorship in 1988 to protest the bureaucratic move to kick out National Artist for Theater Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero from university housing.

Memorable ‘Sakada’

Of his filmmaking days, he singled out “Sakada” as his most memorable.

“‘Sakada’ I would single out because of the challenge of working with movie icons like Rosa Rosal, Gloria Romero, Pancho Magalona as well as with my friend, Robert Arevalo,” he said in one of his last interviews.

He added: “An experience of a lifetime was producing ‘Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas’ inside Camp Bicutan with Nelia Sancho, Satur Ocampo, Pepe Luneta, Ed de la Torre and other activists in the cast. The play also reconciled me with my father, who had always wondered why I was an activist.”

He noted how today’s theater productions are more professional. But he said that young people should learn from the theater pioneers: “On the theater front, they have to recognize the Avellanas, Naty Rogers and Severino Montano, who were spurred to work because they loved the art and practically did it for free!”

Prodded by this writer to take voice lessons to keep him busy, Cervantes replied, “Wala na akong boses, Pablo, sa kasisigaw ng ibagsak.”


 

Rafael Baylosis, NDFP consultant
AntonioTujan of Ibon
     
J. Oliveros, UP Reportory Philippines
Grace Saguinsin, MAKABAYAN Coalition
Tony, brother of Behn
  Sister of Behn  
Jess Santiago, singer/composer/poet
     
Danny Fabella, singer/composer
           
     
     
  SDK's Gintong Silahis of the early 70s  
           

           
     
 
           
== Leaders of mass organizations bids Behn farewell with a revolutionary song  
     
     
           

Awards and Behn Cervantes
JULY 31, 2013
By PABLO A. TARIMAN
http://verafiles.org/awards-and-behn-cervantes/

The way they were.Behn Cervantes (center) with Lino Brocka (left) and a friend during their UP days. (Photo from Behn Cervantes collection)ONE wonders how actor-director Behn Cervantes feels about the sudden deluge of recognition coming his way.

Last June, the University of the Philippines gave him a Life Achievement Award. A few years earlier, he got another Aliw Awards life achievement citation.

But as he was wont to say earlier, “I work for a project and a vision, not necessarily with awards in mind. But of course, awards are welcome. After all, we work in what is basically a thankless and profit-less passion. Sometimes, our love is not equally returned so recognition is fine.”

At one time in another awards night, he hissed, “Pero sana perahin na lang nila nooooo?”

Now turning 75 on August 26, Cervantes — who megged the landmark film, “Sakada” — is presently confined at the Asian Hospital in Alabang for septic infection of the blood which in layman’s language is complication from pneumonia. No visitors are allowed at the moment.

Along with National Artist for Theater Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero, Cervantes’s name is synonymous with UP theater and the anti-Marcos protests he joined along with filmmaker and National Artist for Film Lino Brocka who is a UP classmate in the early 60s.

Cervantes did not limit his theater involvement to productions like Pagsambang Bayan and Sigaw ng Bayan which he labeled as his ibagsak output.

Some of his landmark performances include roles in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” and the title role in “The Mikado” mounted at the Metropolitan Theater. He directed such theater outputs as “Guys and Dolls,” “The Short, Short Life of Citizen Juan” and “Iskolar ng Bayan, ” among others.

Poster of Cervantes' landmark film, Sakada.But he loved to recall his “informal” stage debuts when at an early age, his elder sisters made him recite a piece a line of which goes, “I shot an arrow into the air” on top of their parent’s large iron bed which served as their stage during their Saturday performances for their neighbors in Iloilo. “That was my theatrical debut,” Behn recalled earlier. “I also sang in our version of the cherubim choir in our Protestant Church in La Paz, Iloilo. Yes, I started early!”

He said his first play was “Hay Fever” performed in Central Methodist Church in what is now T.M. Kalaw. In the cast was Eleanor “Didi” Reyes, the youngest sister of Norman Reyes, the youthful radio announcer who witnessed (with Leon Ma. Guerrero and Raul Manglapus) the Fall of Bataan. “ After a couple of plays like A Happy Journey from Trenton to Camden by Thorton Wilder and Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot in the UP Dramatic Club, I directed a scene from Mister Roberts. “

Cast as Ensign Pulver in that play was Lino Brocka. “I had an auspicious beginning as a director, I must say,” Behn said.

As a student, he said he bravely directed Lawani, an original musical, Idiot’s Delight, A Hatful of Rain and The Play Is the Thing.

When he returned from the United States, he turned to Broadway musicals like Bye Bye Birdie, Once Upon a Mattress, Guys and Dolls and the first production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Soon after, he became an activist and directed Theatre in the Streets and Theatre of Protest. “ I continued to direct such plays after Martial Law was declared and received an A-B-C-B Degree for plays as Pagsambang Bayan, Sigaw ng Bayan and Estados Unidos versus Juan Matapang Cruz and other Ibagsak plays.”

A political prisoner during Martial Law, ABCB to him stands for Aguinaldo, Bicutan, Crame and Bonifacio, the military camps he was detained throughout those years.

Behn Cervantes with singer Dulce and friends after receiving the Life Achievement Award from the UP Alumni Association. (Photo by Joseph Olfindo).Before the UP Alumni Award, Behn earlier got an Aliw trophy for directing the play, Agnes of God. He was also recipient of the CCP centennial award, several citations from activist groups including recognition from the East-West Center Alumni Association.

Of his film-making days, he singled out directing Sakada as his most memorable. “Sakada I would single out because of the challenge of working with movie icons like Rosa Rosal, Gloria Romero, Pancho Magalona as well as with my friend, Robert Arevalo.”

“An experience of a lifetime was producing Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas inside Camp Bicutan with Nelia Sancho, Satur Ocampo, Pepe Luneta, Ed de la Torre and other activists in the cast. The play also reconciled me with my father who always wondered why I was an activist,” he added.

He noted how today’s theater productions are more professional. But he said the young people should learn from the theater pioneers of the past. “In the theater front, they have to recognize the Avellanas, Naty Rogers and Severino Montano who were spurred to work because they love the art and practically did it for freeeeeeee!”

(Those who want to help Behn Cervantes, you can get in touch with the director’s niece, Rosario J. Marquez cell no. 09173200121) . Ms. Marquez’s account no. is Union Bank # 01-802-002383-6 (current account) under account name Rosario J. Marquez.)

- See more at: http://verafiles.org/awards-and-behn-cervantes/#sthash.jQ2helKd.dpuf

 

The People's Chorale

Paalam, Ka Behn Cervantes!

Pumalaot ka sana sa tunay na kapayapaan. Mahabang panahon ding naka-engkuwentro kita -- marahil tulad ba sa isang damong ligaw -- sa kung saan-saang mga pagtatanghal: mula UP Diliman hanggang New York/New Jersey (laluna sa PINTIG/Kinding Sindaw), hanggang nitong huli'y masasalu-salubong pa rin muli dito sa UP Diliman at lagi ang pagbati mo nang may ngiti at pag-aasam.

Ikinararangal ko at ipinagmamalaki na nakilala ka sa mga teatro ng buhay at lipunan! Lakip ang aking walang wakas at taos-pusong pagpupugay!


--- Prof. Nonilon Queano:
 

     
       
       


Kay Behn 
(Isang personal na tula)
[1]
Ni Joi Barrios-Leblanc, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan(BAYAN) 

 

Ipinagluluksa ka namin, kasama.

Hayaan mo kaming sindihan

ang mga ilaw sa tanghalan,

at mag-alay ng mga bulaklak sa iyong alaala. 

Pagkat kayrami naming gustong isalaysay

tungkol sa kay yaman mong buhay.

Pagkat nais naming ipagmalaki,

Na naging bahagi ka rin ng sa amin.

 

May kuwento ng iyong entablado,

Malalaking eksena, na waring libo-libo

ang artista, nagwawagayway ng pulang bandila

at lahat, nakakunot-noo at nakataas-kamao.

Mga ensayong pinagsigla ng iyong pagpapatawa,

at oo, malutong na malutong na pagmumura.

 

May kuwento ng lansangan,

Mga rali at martsa sa mga dekada ng tunggalian.

Naroon ka, kapit-bisig na hindi tumitinag,

at sa harap ng water cannon, batuta, at tear gas

ay hindi ka kailanman nagpasindak. 

At kahit ilang beses kang napiit,

Walang rehas na nakapagpatahimik

Sa tinig mong lagi at laging ipinagtanggol, iginiit,

ang karapatan na bawat taong maghimagsik. 

 

May kuwento rin sa espasyong personal,

Kuwento ng pasyalan, kuwento ng kuwentuhan,

kuwento ng sinabi mo at hindi sinabi,

para bawat isa sa amin ay maniwala sa sarili,

at pasulong na humakbang nang matibay ang dibdib

at may hindi sumusukong pananalig.

Nais naming alalahanin, hindi lamang

ang dila mong matalim, at ang isip mong matalas,

kundi ang iyong pusong mamon na mamon

na sa aming lahat, buong pagmamahal na yumakap.

 

Patawad, ngunit hayaan mo na kaming magpugay.

Pagkat sa pagbaba ng telon sa tanghalan,

Pansinin, na ito’y matingkad, magiting na pula.

Dakilain, ang artista ng bayan at kasama sa pakikibaka.

 

[1] Nakasama ko si Behn bilangdirektor at guro sa UP Repertory Company, at bilang kaibigan at kasama sa Concerned Artists of the Philippines at Bagong Alyansa Makabayan. Pinakapaborito kong alaala ang pagbisita niya sa sa akin at pagtira sa bahay ko nang ilang araw sa Osaka, Japan, bandang 2001,  kung saan nilinis pa ng dakilang direktor ang kusina ko.  Ninong din namin siya ni Pierre sa kasal.  

 

Wala sa ating makakalimot ng  dulang "Pagsambang Bayan" ni Bonifacio Ilagan na unang dinirehe ni Behn noong 1977 at muli,  noong 1980. Gaya ng nasabi na ni Chris Millado, isa ang dula na iyon sa pinakamahalagang dula na naka-impluwensiya sa kanya, sa akin, at sa marami pang artista ng teatro.  Bagamat Magsasaka 2 lang ako at refreshments committee sa 1980 restaging ng dula,  doon ko natutunan ang kahalagahan ng pagsisilbi ng teatro sa lipunan at ng pagpapasyang dapat harapin ng lahat sa kanilang buhay. Tulad ng pari sa dula, tinatanong tayo:  Para kanino ka nagsisilbi?
 

Group from BAYAN and MAKABAYAN recites poem of Joi Barrios-Leblanc
 
       
       
     
  Former Senator Nikki Coseteng  
     

Willie Nepomuceno as himself
           
 
 
           

 

/p

  
 

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