Prince Carlo Estrella

In a postmodern world of hyperreal media and heteroglossic simulation, younger generations have become more and more exposed and immersed with different narratives and voices, through multimedia, internet series, films, or any kind of media, that mimic our realities. But some of the said generation took it even further and found a new way to mimic our current situation, in a more ‘nuanced and real’ approach that is embedded and embodied in the form of University of the Philippines Los Baños’ (UPLB) yearly community theater production, Isko’t Iska.

This freshie-actors-only theater play provides opportunity for first year students of UPLB to act, be publicly immersed, be educated about our current societal problems, and be involved in a once-in-an-academic-experience theater activity. However, even though you decided not to join the theater production: you would still be able to reap the benefits of being socially aware and politically attentive from watching Isko’t Iska, and here’s why.

For over the last ten years, the idea of watching a “theater play” has progressively been embraced and appreciated by the public yet not fully because of its exclusivity factors (e.g., the pricing of the tickets, the limited slots of a theater house, the scarcity of theater halls/houses and its culture in the Philippines, etc.). But with Isko’t Iska, they successfully managed to create socially conscious and eye-opening stories and open their play to be indulged by the public. So that their story will be heard fully, with no admissions fee or whatsoever, by its bonafide UPLB students and even outsiders (if invited)!

Furthermore, people with different walks of life harmoniously come together as they interpret, analyze, and internalize the community theater’s message—through the scenes or characters, especially in Isko and Iska. Moreover, the play also does not waste every bit of its time in spreading awareness because it also shares the privilege of its stage to amplify and strengthen the cries of the oppressed and also to give tribute and an ode to the fallen and heroic students of UP who fought for our rights and freedom.

Ultimately, with the mentioned tribute or an ode to those UP students, it gives off a feeling of being emotionally heavier as each of their names are getting recognized with such depth and honor. Indeed, Isko’t Iska is a true testament on how strong theater art and student activism forms could be in shaping the minds of the Iskolar ng Bayan.

At last, Isko’t Iska would persevere as long as UP is still standing and it will continue to shake and wake up the minds and eyes of everyone who will be watching it. Its beautiful yet painful reality would continue to linger and be fostered, as new waves of young and brilliant minds will set foot at the prestigious university with the energetic drive and blazing passion for progress and peace. Though the two-act play will leave you hanging as it closes its curtains: the journey of every audience, UP student or not, present in the play does not just peak there. But rather, it now signifies the start of their endless fight and ceaseless wars, in the vile sea called ‘life’.

A journey towards lifelong learning, as they also bring the inner Isko and Iska within them, after leaving D.L. Umali Hall. And a journey to the infinite-act play of their lives as they enter and finally leave the honorable university with the mission to serve the country, as the “Iskolar ng Bayan”.