For the second offering in its 36th season, Tanghalang Pilipino breathes new life to “Anak Datu,” a short story for young people written by National Artist for Visual Arts Abdulmari Imao. 

A play with music, “Anak Datu” is a multiverse, post-pandemic production that banners peace through the intertwining of conflicts in a folk tale, a stark social realism, and an all-too-familiar family drama. The story was written by Imao in 1968 before the birth of his first son Abdulmari Jr., now an artist in his own right and known by the name Toym Imao. 

‘Anak Datu’: Tanghalang Pilipino

Adapted for the stage by acclaimed veteran playwright Rody Vera and directed by former CCP Artistic Director and Vice President Chris Millado, “Anak Datu” is a story about the son of a village chieftain in the Sulu Archipelago during pre-colonial Philippines. 

Before he is born, the village is raided by pirates, and his mother gives birth under captivity. Hence, he grows up believing that his father is a former pirate. When the old man dies, the son discovers the truth about his real father. This short story gave birth to Vera’s stage adaptation adjacent with other events in the history of Mindanao and the personal lives of Abdulmari Imao’s family. 

Playing the young Abdulmari is TP Associate Artistic Director Marco Viaña. TP Artistic Director Fernando “Nanding” Josef plays Jibin Arula. Other major roles are played by TP Actors Company senior members Antonette Go (Imao’s wife Grace de Leon), Lhorvie Nuevo (Putli Loling); TP guest artists Tex Ordoñez-de Leon (Putli Loling), Carlos Dala (Binatang Karim/Toym Imao), and Sining Kambayoka’s Hassanain Magarang (Datu Karim), who also choreographs the show. 

As their debut performance with Tanghalang Pilipino for live theater, playing various roles are TP Actors Company scholars Edrick Alcontado, Arjhay Babon, Mitzi Comia, Judie Dimayuga, Earle Figuracion, Vince Macapobre, Aggy Mago, Sarah Monay, Heart Puyong, and Mark Lorenz. 

Joining the artistic tandem of Millado and Vera are Composer and Musical Director Chino Toledo; Choreographer Magarang; Set Designer Imao; Costume Designer John Carlo Pagunaling; Sound Designer and Engineer TJ Ramos; Lighting Designer Katsch Catoy and Projection Designer GA Fallarme.

“Anak Datu” is also the maiden production of the newly built Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from September 16 to October 9. For tickets, go to and stay tuned to the Tanghalang Pilipino Facebook Page for promos and discounts.

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