Francisco Baltazar’s Orosman at Zafira

February 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25 and 26 (2011) at SM Mall of Asia CenterStage

Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 3pm and 8pm, Sundays 3pm

Francisco Baltazar, known more widely by his pen name Francisco Balagtas, has been called the “King of Tagalog Poets” and is widely considered as the Tagalog equivalent of William Shakespeare for his impact on Filipino literature and culture. Although Balagtas remains relatively famous because his epic poem “Florante at Laura” is still taught in elementary and high school, many are unfamiliar with the extent of his genius. Most Filipinos today have not been given an opportunity to witness the creativity and vibrant imagery of his other works nor the values of good citizenship, discipline and faith that underlie them.

Baltazar’s Orosman at Zafira is one such opportunity – it is the story of the struggle for power of three kingdoms: Marueccos, Tedenst and Duquela. Amid hatred and war where two individuals find love, this musical adaptation highlights the strength of the Filipina and celebrates Philippine culture through breathtaking dance and music.

As proof, this contemporary adaptation directed and choreographed by Dexter M. Santos with original music by Carol Bello has garnered nominations for both Best Musical Production and Best Stage Director at the 21st Aliw Awards. It was performed before sold-out audiences in February 2008 and August 2010 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, and continues to receive rave reviews from renowned critics and artists.

The Reviews

“A blazing musical-theater experience, and, not incidentally, a calling card for how disparate elements–Baltazar’s archaic Tagalog text, Bello’s neo-ethnic world music, Santos’ hybrid choreography–could create something uniquely, arrestingly homegrown, as far away from Broadway as could be.” — Gibbs Cadiz, Philippine Daily Inquirer

“’Musical’ might not be the best word to use to describe Dulaang UP’s production of Orosman at Zafira, but whatever it is it is mesmerizing theater.” — Exie Abola, Philippine Star

“Brilliantly directed and choreographed by Dexter Santos, Dulaang UP’s “Orosman at Zafira” was an exhilarating show that made Francisco Baltazar’s komedya not just accessible to contemporary audiences but also engaging and fun…The restaging was proof that the show could sell, so the next step for Dulaang UP is to find a producer or apply for grants to push the production to its next logical and higher level.” — Walter Ang, Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Story

Orosman at Zafira is a story on the struggle for power of three kingdoms: Marueccos, Tedenst and Duquela. It begins with Zelima, daughter of Ben-asar, Right Vizier of Boulasem, the Pacha of Tedenst. She sings of about Mahamud, Sultan of the entire realm who comes from the Marruecos, and his call for a feast. All the Pachas of the realm have been invited, including Boulasem and Zelim, the Pacha of Duquela. Boulasem suspects that Mahamud secretly plans to kill all the Pachas to gain absolute power. His paranaoia leads him to order the murder of Mahamud during the feast. This results in an unending cycle of war, murder and treachery. Gulnara, lover of Sultan Mahamud, and Zafira, orphaned daughter of the Sultan, begin the first war. Lust for power causes to the war to drag on. Boulasem’s son, Abdalap, murders his own father to inherit the throne. He also threatens to put his brother Orosman to death so that he will be free to marry Orosman’s lover Zafira. Many more lives are sacrificed all because of the greed for power. Will it ever end?

The Komedya

This particular theater form, not to be mistaken as comedy (the Tagalog term “komedya” is derived from “comedia,” a generic Spanish term for drama), was brought over by Spanish colonizers as an evangelizing tool. It usually had plots about saints or warring kindgoms, and used staging conventions like structured, choreographed entrances and exits.

Orosman at Zafira was one of the “komedyas” written for the Teatro de Tondo between year 1857-1860, while Balagtas was in prison. However, this play strays from standard “komedya” beliefs: there is no Moro-Christian conflict, and heroes as well as villains are such because of character rather than religion.

The dramaturgs from Dulaang UP edited the original text, changed Baltazar’s original Turkish kingdoms to Filipino tribes, and created a narrator to help audiences along. While the music of a traditional komedya was performed by a brass band, Bello’s neo-ethnic music was rendered by a live orchestra using indigenous instruments such as djembe drums, kulintang (gong chime) and kubing (Jew’s harp), together with electric guitars and keyboards. Santos replaced the traditional marches with movement vocabularies inspired by the country’s regional dances. He marked the narrative with three impressive battle scenes that showcased a heady amalgamation of fight stances and dance. The cast charged, pounced and attacked as they twisted,glided and leapt.

The Cast and Crew

This spectacular musical includes in its cast, the following actors: Jay Gonzaga, Maita Ponce, Delphine Buencamino, Tao Aves, Roeder Camanag, Red Concepcion, Gabs Santos, Kevin Concepcion, Acey Aguilar, Jacinta Remulla, Jean Judith Javier, Natasha Cabrera, Neil Tolentino, Nazer Salcedo, Ronnie Martinez as well as the Dulaang UP Ensemble. The rest of the artistic team include: Production Designer Tuxqs Rutaquio, Lights Designer John Ilao Batalla, Dramaturges Anril Tiatco, Katte Sabate and Patrick Valera, Accessories Designer Paolo Rodriguez, Photographer Jojit Lorenzo, Assistant Director Mara Marasigan and Associate Choreographer Via Antonio.

How you can help

Every P350 donation will give one deserving high school or college student the opportunity to watch a matinee show of Orosman at Zafira.

You can choose any public secondary or tertiary school that the donated tickets will be given to. If you do not have a preferred school or institution, we will donate them to any of the following schools: the Central Luzon State University in Nueva Ecija, the Philippine Normal University and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

All donors will receive scanned copies of the transmittal receipts accompanying the tickets when they are turned-over to the beneficiary school. Photos, whenever possible, of the students watching the matinee show will also be sent.

For more information, please contact (Darwin) 0917-8327946 or (Carlo) 0917-8322756 or email  HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected][email protected]. You can also like our Facebook fan page or visit  HYPERLINK “” for more details.

The ProPinoy Project

  • Mariannepimentel

    can we have tagalog version of this…