On Fr. James Reuter, SJ play Ang Pagdating ng Hari

When I first encountered Fr James Reuter’s play two months ago, I immediately thought this was an excellent children’s play because it captures the Filipino essence of sharing and the ethic of pakikipagkapwa, particularly in Christmas time. In the play, gifts meant for oneself were shared to those in need and this action clearly pointed to the idea not of egoism or pagsasarili but of charity or pakikipagkapwa that becomes more significant because the gifts, originally meant for the King, were shared or sacrificed to strangers who, as we later know, were equivalents to the King. From childhood, we were taught that a King is a head of a state. But when the King explained in this story that he is the same as the poor child, old man, and woman, we were puzzled because we know they are different in real life in terms of status, kayamanan, and prestige. However, the King himself explained to us that he is the same as his kapwa tao, which simply means that there is equality in that kingdom or that each and every individual in that society deserves respect and recognition for his or her uniqueness. Thus, the King is a symbol of justice and this is why, I believe, he showed his presence. He appeared. Now supposing the gifts were not shared to the visitors, can we think of the King appearing in the midst of that family? Most likely not. In that scenario, we would not have this story, my speech, to tell you. The family and their visitors would have continued living on separate islands without a sense of community.
What the gift actually accomplished in the play was that it bonded the people beyond the family into a society whose individual members, in the eyes of the law, have inalienable rights to be treated as kapwa tao. The play clearly tells this morality, ie., each individual in the Kingdom has the responsibility to recognize the rights of his or her kapwa, whose presence compels the sarili to respond to the uniqueness of his or her katapat. More importantly, the play also informs us that this pakikipagkapwa, charity or compassion is absolutely founded on social justice because without it, the idea of state or society is not possible.
I believe this combination of justice and compassion is the true spirit of Christmas and in behalf of the UP College of Music Extension program, we are all happy to have shared this wonderful story of humanity to you this afternoon, thanks to the cooperation of our teachers in the extension program, students, and guests in the making of this project a reality for the season. For the additional funding that went to mounting this little production, I wish to thank sponsors Ms Helen Limcaoco of Little Gym and Mr. Peter Coyuito of First Life Financial Corporation and also to the parents of the children who accompanied them in rehearsals.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am deeply grateful to all of them. Please allow me now to introduce the cast, artistic staff and technical crew one by one as my way of recognizing their contributions to the making of Ang Pagdating ng Hari.

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