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VIDEO: Cherry Pie Picache Performs Excerpt from UNDER MY SKIN; Show Opens Feb. 2020

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Manila, Philippines - Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), LoveYourself, and The Red Whistle joined together to form a creative campaign that will bring light to the issues of HIV in the country. This campaign, called "Acting on HIV," includes different components that will help debunk myths, disprove misconceptions, and eradicate the stigma surrounding the disease.

Just last November 23, PETA collaborated with LoveYourself's mass HIV screening event called, "KYS (Know Your Status) and Play." They also commemorated World AIDS Day with The Red Whistle's Project Headshot Clinic. Together with their partners, PETA will stage Under My Skin to further promote their cause through the means of theater.

Written by Rody Vera and directed by Melvin Lee, the play is essentially an anthology drama that tells the stories of many different characters. It is based on people that the playwright personally knows, so the stories are genuine. The characters' lives and their tales are joined together by Dr. Gemma Almonte who acknowledges the need to increase awareness and compassion for Filipinos living with HIV. Under My Skin tackles the various ways of getting the disease, like mother-to-child transmission, risky sexual activities, or sharing needles.

At present, the Philippines has the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in the world. This statistic shows the need for better information dissemination about the disease. "The numbers are alarming. The age groups are disturbing," says PETA Executive Director Beng Santos-Cabangon. "HIV is no longer a death sentence, but stigma kills. Together, let us fight the apathy and end the stigma."

The play's cast includes Cherry Pie Picache and Roselyn Perez alternating for the role of Dr. Gemma Almonte, Eko Baquial as Syd, Miguel Almendras and Mike Liwag as Jonathan, Gio Gahol and Anthony Falcon as Greg, Dudz Teraña as Comedy Bar Singer, Gold Villar Lim and She Maala as Mary Rose, Mico Esquivel and Bene Manaois as Louie, Lotlot Bustamante and Kitsi Pagaspas as Aling Loida, Dylan Talon and Ekis Gimenez as Dino, Erold Enriquez, Jarred Jaicten as Borta 1 and 2, respectively, Joseph Madriaga and Jason Barcial as Borta 3, and Rachelle Gimpes, Reggie Ondevilla, Roy Dahildahil, and Csai Habla for the Ensemble.

In the same way that PETA invited mental health specialists for the talkback session of their previous advocacy play 'Night, Mother, they will hold a similar post-production session again for Under My Skin. They want to keep the conversation going and they encourage audiences to come forward with their questions. This is one of the components of their "Acting on HIV" initiative. By presenting this avenue, audiences can ask for clarifications and deepen their knowledge about the disease.

For the play's artistic staff, they also have Eric Dela Cruz (dramaturgy), Benjamin Padero and Carlo Tabije (production design), Ian Torqueza (lights design), Migs Cortes (music and sound design/arrangement), Nicole Primero and Bubbles Deriada (choreography), and Steve Tansongco (video design).

PETA plans to hold a preview in January 2020 for school heads, LGUs, show buyers, and even Sangguniang Kabataan councils. Due to its themes and language, PETA set the play for audiences of 16 and above, at least for the time being. They are yet to continue discussing the age limit at length.

PETA's Under My Skin plays the PETA Theater Center in New Manila, Quezon City, from 7 February to 22 March 2020.

Video: Philippine Educational Theater Association



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