Tuesday, January 27, 2009



A Play on St. Paul: DAMASKU

by Fr. Mario Dominic C. Sanchez

IN JUNE 28, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI decreed that June 2008 to June 2009 to be “The Year of St. Paul” commemorating the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the said Saint.

In response to such a noble call, the Mary Help of Christians College Seminary in Dagupan City is presenting a play on the life of St. Paul, entitled, “Damasku: Landas ni Pablo.” The all-seminarian project is based on the experience of Paul on the road to Damascus, where and when he encountered the Risen Christ. This encounter is actually the radiating center of his conversion and mission to the Church.

The play is written and directed by Danille Chad Pecson and produced by Clemence Doria – both seminarians from the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The seminarians taking the lead role as Paul are Norman Lalas of the Diocese of Alaminos and Kenneth Azares from the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia (Ilocos Sur). Playdates are February 12, 13, 14, and 15 at 6 PM at the Teatro Seminario.


Hindi ka ba nagtataka, Bernabe, na sa munting daan ng Damasku, naganap ang pinakamakahulugang pangyayari sa buhay ni Pablo? Dahil nakita niya dito si Kristo.”

St. Paul calls himself the least of the apostles of Christ, but nonetheless one, because of his real personal encounter with the Risen Lord. This encounter is the pivot of his entire life, which he calls a life “in Christ.” In Christ, Paul’s life has never been the same again.

The seminarians all claim that they have a Damascus experience, a Damasku, a reason from which they draw the meaning of their vocation. Bayani Antiporda, who is completing his studies in philosophy this March, is already 25 years old. He finished accountancy and was working as a bank employee in Vigan. But he had a turning point when he joined the Youth Ministry in his parish. Encountering Christ has made his life completely changed. He left his job, like the first apostles Simon and Andrew, and followed Jesus.


Paul was Saul before he met Christ. He was a pious Jew who had the zeal and wisdom of a high-rank Pharisee. He persecuted the Christians and tormented Christ. He probably was present at the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, to death. But his life became different after the encounter, he became an ardent apostle of the same Lord, Jesus Christ. Thus, the difference in Paul “before” and “after” the encounter with Christ.

Seminary life is a different kind of life. When the fifteen current freshmen entered the College Seminary last June, they were made to realize this. They are no regular college students. They would have to follow strict rules for study period, prayer, house work and community activities. “Keep the rules and the rules will keep you” is still a wise adage in the seminary for inculcating both exterior and interior discipline. Wake up at 5:30 AM for prayers. No friendster and chatting, but use the internet only for research. No cellphones. Sleep at 10:30 by the sound of the bell.

Lifestyle in the seminary is also different. Values are given to simplicity, piety and charity over what a typical college would consider in popularity, competition and external beauty. During the Linggo ng Wika celebration in August, the seminarians had a “Lakan ng Wika” search. What became a surprise was that the criteria were not about “beauty and brains” but about character and intelligence. Jaime Andres, a graduating student from the Diocese of San Fernando, La Union, who began his journey in the seminary as a 13-year old “minor seminarian” won the title. He plays Barnabas.


To make a world a better place is probably a tall, if not trite, order. However, everyone who believes in hope can even in a small way accomplish change in this world.

The seminarians believe this. When they decided to stage a play, they knew they had only a few resources. The Archdiocesan Lay Formation Center (LFC) promised the construction of the stage, the costumes and food, but the rest is up to them. It was a gargantuan task.

Without reservation however, they began to divide themselves into onstage and offstage actors. Some took charge of the directing, music, dances, costume, lights, make-up, physical arrangement and others. Fr. Jonathan Songcuan, a theater expert, is consulted on a daily basis. They were given permission for rehearsals but only 25 in number, every evening after their night prayers and before they go for the night’s rest.

Despite the challenges, all of them know for certain that the whole experience will eventually be formative. That’s the key word. Formative. Paul’s encounter with the Risen Christ was the event, but his journey to, through and from Damascus was formative of the event. All these seminarians in the seminary know they are now in Damascus.

They believe that this project on St. Paul will somehow serve as an avenue for them to show what they are going through. St. Paul walked that way before. So they hope that those who would watch the play can also journey through a Damascus road, and like Paul, they can, even by just a simply play, make a difference.

For the support of this play or for tickets, please call (075) 515-8306 or (075) 515-5720.