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(From BusinessWorld (Philippines))
Byline: Edilberto Alegre
First of two parts
The dominant form of our dramatic presentations on the stage, in cinema, TV, and radio is the melodrama. The male icons of Philippine movies - FPJ and Dolphy - star mostly in melodramas. FPJ is of the bakbakan or action variety while Dolphy remains to be that of the comedy type. Christopher de Leon is unbeatable in dramatic roles that are almost always of the melodramatic kind. All the famous female stars of our movies are masters of the melodrama - Sharon Cuneta, Judy Ann Santos, Maricel Soriano, Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos of the present generation; Charito Solis and Lolita Rodriquez of the previous generation; and Norma Blancaflor and Carmen Rosales of the earlier generation.
Why do we prefer melodramas? What does this signify about us? How do we appreciate melodrama? What is its aesthetics?
I will start with language with the assumption that it is a system that encodes and articulates our culture. In a drama we have persons who interact with each other. The logical initial step is then to analyze the person-hood of the dramatis personae. Then, we unravel their relationship with each other. Both the nature of the characters of the play and their "actions" will define for us the characteristics of a Filipino drama. These should answer the question: What is Filipino about the Filipino drama? From there it will not be difficult to understand our weakness for the melodrama. The main question raised in this essay, the esthetics of our melodrama, will not require a codification in the answer because in the discussion the different aspects of our appreciation of the melodrama will actually be presented.
Our Conjugation of the Self
The incisive and famous French general linguist Benveniste held that the key to understanding language and, consequently, culture is the grammatical person (first, second, and third) of the language. His insight was that all languages have person. The first person "I" "utters [in] the present instance of discourse." The linguistic "I," "It is the 'I' of the speech-act [enunciation]." Benveniste says that there is only one other person and that is the opposite of "I: you" focus on the speech-act. The one who is talking is "I." The …