Pinky Marquez in "Bakhita, The Musical"

Popular TV and live-performance artist Pinky Marquez is in the cast of Mookie Katigbak's brand-new Original Religious Musical in English, "Bakhita," the play on the recently canonized African saint, St. Josephine Margaret Bakhita, a Canossian Daughter of Charity. A touring production, "Bakhita" is coming soon to a theatre near you!

Pinky Marquez acts in her second religious musical

By Andy Bais, (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, 18 Nov 00; http://www.inquirer.net/issues/nov2000/nov18/lifestyle/entertainment/ent_5.htm)

PINKY Marquez cannot hide her excitement these days: she will be appearing in "Bakhita," an original religious musical on the life of St. Josephine Margaret Bakhita. This is Pinky second religious musical after playing the role of the Virgin Mary in Ryan Cayabyab's "Magnificat."

Fulfilling

Her experience with "Magnificat" has been so fulfilling that Pinky is enthusiastic about her latest religious musical, even if she is not playing the lead character.

"The role of the Virgin Mary in 'Magnificat' was the biggest challenge for me. It's not a musical that you do and then leave for the next one. It's like we were evangelizing at the same time. We were not telling an ordinary story but the story of Jesus," she relates.

"Magnificat" has been performed all over the country for more than 150 times and was even translated into Cebuano. Pinky shared the difficult role of Mary with three other gifted artists, and she performed it almost a hundred times.

How she got the most coveted role in "Magnificat" is an exciting story in itself. This must be one of the reasons why religious productions have a soft spot in Pinky's heart:

Pinky was raised as a Roman Catholic, but for some very personal reasons, she left the fold to join another faith. But after three years in that congregation, she thought she was missing something and finally, she realized that the Catholic faith would bring her closer to God.

Events

At about the same time, "Magnificat" was in its pre-production stage. Its writer and director was considering Pinky for the role of the Virgin Mary. Upon learning that she was no longer in the Catholic fold, he just waited for events to unfold in their own course.

Call it coincidence, or more appropriately, perhaps the Lord was at work in His own mysterious way, but it took three years for "Magnificat" to reach the production stage. When the writer/director learned that Pinky had gone back to her Catholic roots, he invited her to audition and she ended up playing the plum role of Mary.

"But I didn't feel I was deserving," Pinky recalls. "At that time, I was going through a separation, and I thought that somebody in that situation would be the last person to portray Jesus' mother.

Insistent

"So I asked the writer/director to cast a singer who was leading a more exemplary life. But he was insistent and he told me that the Lord would rather choose the less deserving. Hearing those words, I said yes," Pinky smiles.

The circumstances revolving around the production of "Magnificat" tremendously deepened Pinky's interest in religious shows. "Magnificat" was far from being a standard theater production-it had no producers to speak of and the director and the cast members were clueless as to when and where the musical would finally open.

"We'd been rehearsing to death, but we didn't know when we were going to perform. We were rehearsing purely on faith. Surprisingly, nobody backed out-the people present during our first rehearsal were still around during our first performance, seven months later! Maybe it was God's will na ma-delay nang ma-delay ang opening namin. Siguro, He wanted na maganda talaga ang palabas," Pinky proudly relates.

The role of Mary was very demanding in terms of singing and acting, but Pinky never felt it. "I was never nervous before and during each performance, even when I had a hoarse voice. When I was already on stage, lalong lumalabas ang boses ko. Siguro dahil God would not allow me to come out singing His message na hindi maganda," she laughs.

Pinky believes that being part of a religious production is an important way to strengthen her faith in God and to learn more about Him. "It was through 'Magnificat' that I realized that the Lord was using my talent and this talent is not for me to be glorified, but for Him. I think my voice was given for the purpose of bringing myself and other people closer to God.

Personal peace

"Offers for me to be a part of a religious production are like knocks on my door to use my talent to reach out to other people and to strengthen my faith. For me, iba ang fulfillment na makukuha sa religious productions--fulfillment in terms of faith and personal peace and my relationship with other people," she explains.

It is common knowledge that Philippine theater doesn't pay that much-and religious productions are even less financially rewarding. Has that ever bothered her?

"Yes, but now I've learned not to worry about it anymore because I believe that the Lord will provide. And if the Lord sees you always worried, it means wala kang faith sa kanya," she reasons out.

Blessed

Even with the country's economy on a downturn, Pinky still considered herself very blessed. She has "Lutong Bahay," a cooking show she hosts every Sunday morning on PTV-4, and along with her partners, she manages Tabatchoy, a restaurant at St. Ignatius in Quezon City. She is also in demand as singer and host for corporate shows.

Incidentally, today is an important day for Pinky. It marks her debut performance in "Bakhita," where she plays a nun who was one of the few people who stood by Bakhita during the trying times when she decided to be a Christian.

The show will be held at the Canossian College in San Pablo City, Laguna. And it is expected that, as in "Magnificat," Pinky will come through with flying colors.

Canossian Daughters of charity present musical on Saint Bakhita
By Nestor U. Torre (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, 16 Sept 00; http://www.inquirer.net/issues/sep2000/sep16/lifestyle/life/lif_3.htm)

ON Oct. 1, the Catholic Church will have a new spiritual heroine in the person of Saint Josephine Margaret Bakhita, a former slave and Canossian Daughter of Charity who will be canonized at the Vatican on that glorious day.

Moving story

To honor the new saint and to inspire viewers with her moving story, the Canossian Daughters of Charity in the Philippines are producing ''Bakhita,'' an original musical in English.

''Bakhita'' is being mounted as a touring production. Its first performance is at 8 p.m. on Sept. 29 at the Henry Irwin Theater at the Ateneo for the Alan Bacani Abad Foundation, followed by an invitational gala show on Oct. 1 at the Francisco Santiago Hall, EPCIBank in Makati, and performances in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and Lipa, Batangas on Sept. 12 (Canossa Academy, Lipa City) and 13 (Canossa School, Sta. Rosa), followed by two more shows at St. Cecilia's Hall-Theater at St. Scholastica's College on Sept. 20 and 21.

The musical brings to life Bakhita's search for the true God whom she wanted to serve for the rest of her life. As a little girl in the Sudan, she had a happy childhood in the loving bosom of her family and tribe.

Tragedy

All too soon, however, happiness turned to terrible tragedy when her elder sister was kidnapped by slave traders. Bakhita pleaded with her tribe's animist god to liberate her sister, but no answer, and no help, was forthcoming.

A few years later, tragedy was compounded when Bakhita herself was kidnapped and sold as a slave. It was during this period that she experienced terrible pain, torment and dehumanizing treatment that would have broken a weaker spirit.

Ritual tattooing

She was treated like an animal, beaten to the point of bleeding many times, and forced to experience the horrible pain of ritual tattooing. For over a month, she could not move from her pallet as her severely lacerated body struggled to heal itself without benefit of medical treatment.

But she prevailed. In her misery, her soul cried out for surcease, for the love of a kind God who would salve all of the pain that she had been forced to endure.

For years, no answer was forthcoming-until a sequence of events gifted the slave Bakhita with the physical and spiritual freedom that she had been longing for over a decade.

Diplomat

She has been sold to a Turkish general, but a kind Italian diplomat took pity on her and brought her to Venice, Italy. There, she became the nursemaid of the baby daughter of a wealthy Italian couple.

When the child was of school age, she was enrolled in a school run by the Canossian Sisters-and it was here that Bakhita finally found the loving God she had been searching for.

The kind and gentle nature of the nuns impressed Bakhita so much that she wanted to become a Christian. Her employer objected, but for the first time in her life, Bakhita stood her ground.

Unthinkable

It was unthinkable for a slave to defy her master in this way, but the nuns stood by Bakhita, and the Italian authorities decreed that slavery was illegal in Italy, so Bakhita could not be forced to do anything against her will.

In due time, Bakhita became a Christian--and, later, a Canossian Sister. There were people who thought that a black slave did not ''deserve'' to become a Christian, much more a nun, but Bakhita persevered.

As a nun, she was assigned the most menial of tasks but, like St. Therese of Lisieux, Sister Bakhita took pleasure ion performing the simplest tasks to the best of her ability.

Injured soldiers

During the First World War, she helped take care of injured soldiers, and word got around that she was specially blessed by God because bombs would not explode where she was.

After the war, other miraculous events were attributed to her intercession, but she was loath to admit to them. Instead, she attributed everything to God's healing hand.

Sister Bakhita lived a quiet, simple life as a nun, but there came a time when she was told to go on an animation tour of various Canossian houses, to vivify the order's missionary work. And, on her Golden Jubilee as a nun, she was feted by the townsfolk who had learned to love her and value her presence in their community.

Sufferings

Towards the end of her life, Sister Bakhita suffered from a number of illnesses, but she bore her sufferings with perfect acceptance. Even more moving was her decision to forgive everyone who had caused her such terrible pain and torment when she was a slave.

It is this that we find most admirable about Bakhita, whom we honor as the Saint of Forgiveness. To our mind, this makes her a saint for our times today, because so many people's hearts have been coroded by hate and anger, and they need to learn how to forgive. Her life story teaches lessons that we all need to learn.

Set design

''Bakhita, The Musical'' is written by Mookie Katigbak, with music by Niel de Mesa and Jun Murillo, arrangements and musical direction by Fred Ferraz, and set design by Leo Rialp.

Its cast includes Agnes Barredo, Katherine Gonzales, Catherine Estabillo, Andy Bais, Rito Asilo, Vince Vicentuan, Christine Carlos, Maye Ann Valentin, Oliver Oliveros, April Grace Dumlao, Dennis Kusin, Brenda Claire Geroy, Jasmin Paula Zueger, Shiela Asuncion, Janice Cruz, Kathleen Mendoza, Ray Manalo, Daryl Reyes and Niña. (Note: Pinky Marquez joined the cast after this article was written. -- SPCM HS75 Web Admin)

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