As Straw Before the Wind: A powerful drama

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From 1564 until 1946, a period of roughly 382 years, the Philippine people were ruled by colonial powers. First it was Spain followed by the United States of America until 1942 when Imperial Japan began its terrifying occupation. By 1945 General Douglas MacArthur had indeed returned and finally on July 4th 1946 the Republic of the Philippines was declared a free, independent and sovereign nation.

Tita Pambid as Nene Santos and Gabriel Garcia as a Japanese soldier.
Tita Pambid as Nene Santos
and Gabriel Garcia as
a Japanese soldier.

When an entire population lives under the rule of others for 382 years their survival depends heavily upon the qualities of resilience and perseverance, and those two qualities are uniquely evident in virtually all Filipinos and are presented dramatically by the character Nene Santos, as portrayed by Tita Pambid in the world premiere of the play As Straw Before the Wind, written by Felix Racelis and directed by Lesley Asistio.

The story centers on Nene Santos who, during the severely brutal World War Two era Japanese occupation, was savagely treated by a Japanese soldier. Many years later she is living in the United States and running a senior care facility out of her home.

Her two clients are Poncing Enrile a retired American Filipino Army Captain [portrayed by Muni Zano] and Mildred Novak [portrayed by Anita Borcia] . Poncing Enrile or simply “The Captain” as he is known is an incorrigible but lovable senior citizen while Mildred is known most for being a devoted chain smoker. Nene Santos also has her adult daughter Pilita Santos [portrayed by Sarnica Lim] living with her and helping out with the family business, but Pilita will soon get married and move out of the family home. In fact there will soon be many dramatic changes in the life of Nene Santos

Muni Zano as Poncing Enrile and Sarnica Lim as Pelitia Santos
Muni Zano as Poncing Enrile and
Sarnica Lim as Pelitia Santos

It is the story of story of survival in the face of unthinkable brutality and the evolution of one life to a place where happiness seems assured but isn’t. It is very much a Filipino story written, directed and performed by Filipinos and Filipinas, but which also has a sense of universality that reaches a broad audience. I will say that in the first few scenes the dialogue often seemed a bit too rigid and the transitions between scenes were not particularly clear. But in the end it did come together and by the end of the show a truly magnificent display of powerful emotion is projected by Tita Pambid, from the stage to the hearts and minds of the audience, leaving everyone in total awe.

As Straw Before the Wind is playing now through September 4th 2016 at the Ruby Theatre at the COMPLEX, 6476 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, California 90038. Show times are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m. Reservations may be made and tickets purchased by calling: 1-800-838-3006 or online at. If you want to learn more about the show you may do so by visiting:

All photos by Michael Helms photography
Top photo: Tita Pambid as Nene Santos and Doan Nguyen as a loan officer