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Title: Guattarian Confluences in Sari Saysay’s Mga Aninipot sa Tahaw Kan Salog (Fireflies at the Center of the River)
Authors: Maria Lorena Santos
Keywords: folk drama
clean ecology
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment-Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Citation: Maria Lorena Santos (2021). Guattarian Confluences in Sari Saysay’s Mga Aninipot sa Tahaw Kan Salog (Fireflies at the Center of the River). Journal of Southeast Asian Ecocriticism 1 (1) : 60-73. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In November 2017, a musical centered on a river that runs through the Bikol region debuted in the small riparian town of Camaligan. Titled Mga Aninipot Sa Tahaw Kan Salog (Firefies on the River), it was penned by playwright Sari Saysay and performed by community theater group Sining Banwa to raise awareness about a dying river that is central to the lives of Bikolanos from many communities. The play, based on stories gathered from the elders who lived along a once vibrant and rich body of water, tells the tale of an old woman who suffers loss of memory. With the help of the fora and fauna of the Bikol river, and especially the frefies and fantasma of Philippine folkore, she regains what she has lost. The play was presented by environmental group Sumaro sa Salog, Inc. (SULOG, Inc), along with cultural workers and the cast and crew, in three riverine towns of Bikol as part of the project called Saving the Bikol River Through Collaborative Interdisciplinary Artistic Production. This paper offers a reading of this Bikol River musical using an ecocritical lens. Specifcally, it examines how the play utilizes frefies on the river as a metaphor for memory and life: their presence indicates a clean ecology, while their absence suggests the opposite, the destruction of water and earth – death for the river as well as those who live by it. The analysis uses Guattari’s ecological framework of mental, social, and environmental ecologies, which guide the play’s call for communities not only to defend but also go on the offensive for nature. By confating frefies with memory – and with humanity who must save the frefies to save themselves – Mga Aninipot shows how attention to the intimate interconnection of human subjectivity, the environment, and social relations, is the way towards ecological equilibrium.
Source Title: Journal of Southeast Asian Ecocriticism
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