PRINSIPE BAHAGHARI is Ripe with Life's Foremost Lessons

'Prinsipe Bahaghari,' a Filipino adaptation of 'The Little Prince,' plays this weekend, Jan. 26-28.

By: Jan. 25, 2024
PRINSIPE BAHAGHARI is Ripe with Life's Foremost Lessons
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Manila, Philippines--The 1943 children’s novel by French writer poet Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “The Little Prince,” is a classic literary piece meant for adults. Instead of children-friendly explorations of friendship, love, and fantasy, it blows heavier with darker themes of loneliness, obsession, and loss.

Through the years, it has sold 140 million copies and has been adapted into various formats, such as films, pop-up books, and stage productions. One of the more recent stage adaptations of “The Little Prince” was the Filipino puppet play “Prinsipe Bahaghari,” whose idea was hatched as a thesis project in 2019.  Written in old-form Tagalog by Vladimeir Gonzales and directed by Aina Ramolete, the puppet play follows Saint-Exupéry’s narrative and original intent.

In the novel, the narrator recollects his time with an interplanetary traveler, a prepubescent prince whom he met on Earth in the Sahara Desert, one of the prince’s itineraries.

The author chose an adult narrator, the pilot, over the title character since it is intended for adults. It’s been said Saint-Exupéry’s young self has inspired the prince. On the other hand, the pilot was his older self—an experienced aviator.

This conceit, or its extended metaphor, makes “The Little Prince” all the more intriguing among young audiences and the not-so-young who can’t get enough of it.

However, in “Prinsipe Bahaghari," its creative team reimagines the pilot and the prince’s whimsical world by “Filipinizing” it. Local cultures, symbols, and mythical creatures make their cameos, such as the local hibiscus (gumamela), the moon eater (bakunawa), and the stray cat (pusa).

On stage, rattan-made puppets depicting the pilot and the prince come alive with the help of “Mulat” puppeteers (Arvy Dimaculangan, Jeremy Bravo, Sig Pecho, et al.) clad in black—with their faces covered—and visible to the audience.

Off-stage, voice actors (Kherwind Zane Duron, Ron Capinding, Miah Canton, et al.) perform Gonzales’ poetic, reflective Old Tagalog lines in a calm and measured tone.

The actors get to sing Dimaculangan and Jep Gabon's songs, which are primarily catchy, if not too repetitive.

Whether you’re a kid in the audience awed by the countless motion graphics (Steven Tansiongco) projected on the stage’s set (Ohm David) or an adult who was told had become narrow-minded as adulthood responsibilities have piled up, “Prinsipe Bahaghari” is a one-hour trip to the theatre that will leave you with fond memories or with the most powerful life lessons.

We’re reminded, “May mga larawan at kulay na sa puso lamang abot-tanaw.”

"Prinsipe Bahaghari," a Filipino adaptation of "The Little Prince," plays this weekend, Jan. 26-28, 2024, at the Power Mac Center Spotlight Blackbox Theater, Circuit Makati.

Photo: Vladimeir Gonzales