The UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble (Philippines)

by Amparo Adelina C. Umali, III PhD, Professor, Center for International Studies

The UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble or The University of the Philippines Center for International Studies (UPCIS) Bunraku Ensemble is composed of students, alumni, faculty, professional artists, theater enthusiasts and practitioners with keen interest in the art of Bunraku – a Japanese puppetry tradition of 3 ningyo tsukai or puppeteers, a shamisen player and a joruri chanter. The original members of the ensemble — Profs. Amihan Ramolete, Aileen dela Cruz, Carlito Amalla (ningyo tsukai), Ms. Jo-Anne Quiros (joruri), and Ms. Gian Gianan (shamisen) — travelled to Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture in 2012 for an intensive-training rehearsal on Bunraku. They received instructions from Mr. Bunji Yoshida, a master puppeteer from the National Bunraku Theater of Japan and the Naoshima Onna Bunraku. Since then, the ensemble has welcomed students of Japan Studies and Japanese Traditional Performance Practice classes offered at the UPCIS who specialize in the study of Bunraku. Students who pass the JASSO Short Stay Visit selection process travel to Japan to participate in a student exchange program with Yokohama National University and Ferris University and train with the Naoshima Onna Bunraku. The ensemble’s adviser is Amparo Adelina C. Umali, III, Ph.D. of UPCIS.

Repertory of Plays

The UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble performs the following traditional Bunraku dance pieces and playlets in their repertoire: Sanbaso(三番叟, Dango Uri (団子売) , Ebisu Mai (えびす舞). They have expanded their repertoire by creating Filipinized Bunraku short protest dance pieces such as Alay kay Kristel, Biradali, Base Militar, Kawatan, Maligayang Araw, Tanggol Lumad, Sabon, Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa, Noong Unang Panahon.  

“The group started their protest performances in early 2013, following news of an American minesweeper running aground on Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To dramatize the popular uproar, the Bunraku Ensemble created a puppet dance that articulated nationalist sentiments. The group has been staging short protest performances since: ”Sabon,” (Soap), on women breaking patriarchal dictates; “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” (Love for the Native Land), performed during a forum-university homecoming of peace talks consultants; “Kawatan,” (Thieves) on the elite’s greed; and “La Pieta,”  where puppeteers recreated the emblematic image of Duterte’s war on drugs, a wife holding the body of her executed suspected drug peddler husband.   The short performances bring to the audience’s attention, using a medium usually considered as politically “harmless,” issues resulting from the president’s anti-women and anti-human rights posturing.  The use of catchy and popular tunes aims to deepen audience interest and performance impact. “ (Taken from Umali, Amparo Adelina C. III and de la Peña, Wystan S. “Puppets Protesting a “Puppet” President. Unpublished Paper. University of the Philippines Diliman. 2020.)

IV. Performances

2019.    Ebisu Mai (Dance of Ebisu) 

             1.  November 14, 2019 at Ferris University in Yokohama, Japan

2.  November 18, 2019 for the Naoshima Onna Bunraku at the Naoshima Hall

             Noong Unang Panahon, Sayaw ng mga Papet.

1. Premiere Staging on Sept. 20, 2019 for the Climate Justice, Climate Strike at the College of Science Lobby, University of the Philippines Diliman

2. Sept 26, 2019 for the Agribusiness Venture Agreement Book Launch at the UP Center for International Studies

3. Oct 5, 2019 International Public Symposium with Nanzan University (Nagoya, Japan): Wisdom for Living with Natural Disasters: Initiatives of Local Residents in Response to Changes in their Society at the University Hotel.

4. November 14, 2019 at Ferris University in Yokohama, Japan

5. November 18, 2019 for the Naoshima Onna Bunraku at the Naoshima Hall3

2018.   Ebisu Mai 

             1.   November 10, 2018 Novotel Manila Araneta Center, Quezon City 

                   Our Lady of Fatima University’s SPARKS 2018 International Conference

             2.   November 20, 2018 at Ferris University, Yokohama, Japan 

           Restaging of Pag-ibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa, Sayaw ng Mga Papet for The UP Center for  International Studies, in partnership with the UP Film Institute, the Department of European Languages of the UP College of Arts and Letters, French Embassy, Le Club Francais, Piccola Italia, and UP EURO

UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble Performing Pag-ibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa, Sayaw ng Mga Papet at University Theatre Stage, University of the Philippines Diliman, 2016

           What Now: A Hundred Years After World War 1

                   Poetry in the Time of War

                   Palma Hall PH 400, UP Diliman

                   November 8, 2018

           Restaging of Kawatan, A Bunraku Dance

1.   Cha-Cha (ka) Pa Ba?: A Charter Change Forum

                   Benitez Hall, College of Education, UP Diliman

                   September 17, 2018

2.   Neri Colmenares Senatorial Launch  

                   Quezon City Sports Club

                   October 26, 2018

2016.    Pag-ibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa, Sayaw ng Mga Papet

1. Cedula Sa BGC, Isang Kontemporanyong Noh

University Theatre Stage, University of the Philippines Diliman

                          To Commemorate the 120th year of the 1896 Philippine Revolution

                           Premiere Staging on August 26-27, 2016

2. Fukushi (Welfare) Center, Naoshima

Naoshima Onna Bunraku Special Performance

November 17, 2016 

3. Seminar with Professor Shinji Watanabe and Courtesy Call with Ferris University President 

    Ferris University, Yokohama, Japan. 

                 November 15, 2016

          Ebisu Mai (Dance of Ebisu

             1. Seminar with Professor Shinji Watanabe and Courtesy Call with Ferris University President 

    Ferris University, Yokohama, Japan. 

                 November 15, 2016

          Sabon, A Short Puppet Dance with lyrics by Joi Barrios and music by Kalantog

1.   BaBaE ! Mother’s Day Unity Walk for Clean and Credible Elections Babae, 

      Bantayan ang Eleksyon! (BaBaE!) Network AS Steps, Palma Hall, 

      University of the Philippines Diliman

       May 7, 2016

2.  Book launch of the 25th Anniversary Edition

           of “Life, Love, Lust” by Dr. Margarita Holmes

           College of Mass Communications, University of the Philippines Diliman

           February 11, 2016

          Ebisu Mai (Dance of Ebisu) 

     1.  Hiyaw: A Cultural Night 

                   UP Philippines – Japan Friendship Club (UP Tomo-kai), 

                   University of the Philippines Diliman 

                   April 29, 2016 

2015.  Ebisu Mai (Dance of Ebisu

            1.  For the joint-class with Prof. Yasunori Fukuda Global Studies Program 2015.

                  Japan Women’s University, Meijiro Campus, Tokyo, Japan. 

                  December 3, 2015

   2.  For the joint-class with Prof. Chiho Ogaya Global Studies Program 201.

         Ferris University, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. 

                  November 30, 2015 

   3.   Shiosaki:Panibagong Alon-Uli-Uli UP Philippines-Japan Friendship Club (UP Tomo-kai), 

                  University of the Philippines Diliman

                  April 24, 2015 

   4.   Recital of GS197: Asian Performance Practice class 

                  University of the Philippines Diliman

                  December 12, 2014

 Sanbaso (Dance of Sanbaso

Celebrating Asia in Motion: An Afternoon of Heirloom Dances and Music Dalisay Aldaba Recital Hall, University of the Philippines Diliman. 

November 15, 2015

Tanggol Lumad

  1. UP Lumad Week

            AS Steps Palma Hall, University of the Philippines Diliman

            October 27, 2015

  1. Tertulia

            Executive House, University of the Philippines Diliman

              November 9, 2015

     Maligayang Araw, A Welcome Dance of the Puppet

      1. Daddad-at: Unearthing Past voices, Sowing Future Visions

    College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines Diliman

    October 16, 2015

      2. Philippine Association of Japanese Government Scholars (PHILAJAMES) Conference:

    Strengthening Harmony within the ASEAN Community

    Interactive Session- Japanese Bunraku and Noh Theater

    NISMED Auditorium, University of the Philippines Diliman

   September 30, 2015

      3. Chancellor’s International Reception

    UP Theater Lobby, University of the Philippines Diliman

    May 5, 2015

      4.    Yokohama National University welcome party at UPCIS Lobby

             University of the Philippines Diliman

    February 13, 2015

2014.  Kawatan

               Bunraku and Noh, A Recital Performance

               PH 400, 4th Floor Palma Hall, University of the Philippines Diliman

               December 12, 2014

           Base Militar, A Puppet Dance Performance with lyrics and music adapted from Inang Laya’s

          Base Militar. The performance’s message aims to address the Filipinos struggle in keeping US military bases out of Philippine shores.       

  1. Performed during the Joint Workshop-Seminar on Student Movement in the

            Philippines and Japan for the class of Prof. Chiho Ogaya

             Global Studies Program 2014

             Media Hall, Yokohama National University, Kanagawa, Japan

             November 11, 2014

      
     2.    Base ng Kano: Forum on PH-US Military Agreements and the Enhanced Defense

             Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)

           Malcolm Hall, UP College of Law, University of the Philippines Diliman

           October 8, 2014

          Biradali

               Palawan Highlands: Forms, Signs and Signal of the Landscape- a lecture by Nicole Revel

               UP Center for International Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman

               May 16, 2014

          Alay kay Kristel

               A puppet performance dedicated in memory of Kristel Tejada

               Katarungan para kay Kristel Tejada (Justice for Kristel Tejada)

               First Death Anniversary Commemoration

               Vinzons Hall, University of the Philippines Diliman

               March 13, 2014

         Papet, Opera at Maskara

              with Naomi Paz-Sison, Soprano

              Peter Porticos, Pianist

              the UPCIS Noh and Bunraku Ensembles

              Jiro Fujita, Noh Master for Flute

        Sakurama Ujin, Head of the Sakurama Family of Noh Masters for Shite of the Komparu School

        Yasunori “Chozaemon” Umewaka, Noh Master for Shite of the Kanze School

        Naohiko Umewaka, Noh Master for Shite of the Kanze School

        University Theatre Stage, University of the Philippines Diliman

        February 10, 2014

2013.  Sanbaso

Fukushi (Welfare) Center, Special Joint Performance with Naoshima Shamisen  Players and Joruri Chanters for Naoshima’s Geinou Taikai (Naoshima Art Festival). 

May 31, 2013 

Ebisu Mai (The Dance of Ebisu) and Sanbaso 

Papet at Maskara

  1. Featured The UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble’s and The UPCIS Noh Ensemble in a joint performance with Naohiko Umewaka, Noh Master for Shite in Ang Paglalakbay ni Sisa Isang Noh sa Laguna University Theatre Stage, UP Diliman. 

February 17, 2013

  1. D.L. Umali Theater, UP Los Banos Laguna. 

February 15, 2013

Ebisu Mai (The Dance of Ebisu)

Papet at Maskara

Featured the Naoshima Onna Bunraku’s Dango Uri (The Dumpling Peddlers), Keisei Awa no Naruto Junreika no Dan (The Song of a Pilgrim scene from The Courtesan at Awa) and the UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble’s Ebisu Mai (The Dance of Ebisu), as well as a performance of the UPCIS Noh Theatre Ensemble’s Ang Paglalakbay ni Sisa: Isang Noh sa Laguna (The Travel of Sisa: A Noh in Laguna) with Naohiko Umewaka, Noh Master for Shite Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Cultural Center of the Philippines. 

February 12, 2013

Ebisu Mai (The Dance of Ebisu)

Naoshima Onna Bunraku

Featured the Naoshima Onna Bunraku’s Dango Uri (The Dumpling Peddlers), Keisei Awa no Naruto Junreika no Dan (The Song of a Pilgrim scene from The Courtesan at Awa) and their joint performance with the UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble’s Ami Ramolete as foot puppeteer, Joanne Quiros as joruri chanter, Gian Gianan, as shamisen player and the UPCIS Noh Ensemble’s Dana Uy and JP, otsuzumi player and Darren Balolong, kotsuzumi player for Ebisu Mai (The Dance of Ebisu); as well as a performance of an excerpt of The UPCIS Noh Theatre Ensemble’s Ang Paglalakbay ni Sisa: Isang Noh sa Laguna (The Travel of Sisa: A Noh in Laguna) with Naohiko Umewaka, Noh Master for Shite Maestranza Park (Curtain Wall), Intramuros, Manila. In celebration of the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. 

February 11, 2013  

Members 

Batch 2019

Mr. Itto Marquez (Omo-zukai/Head Puppeteer)

Ms. Paola Faith Simon (Hidari-zukai/Left Arm Puppeteer)

Mr. Khen Del Prado (Ashi-zukai/Foot Puppeteer)

UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble Batch 2019 with Members of the Naoshima Onna Bunraku. After the Training-Rehearsal at Naoshima Hall, 2019 

Batch 2018

Mr. Leo Niel Jasper Sese (Omo-zukai/Head Puppeteer)

Mr. Timothy Earl Mateo Castillon (Hidari-zukai/Left Arm Puppeteer)

Mr. Donald Dimailig (Ashi-zukai/Foot Puppeteer)

Ms. Ma. Fe L. Lafuente (Ashi-zukai/Foot Puppeteer)

Ms. Alanis Zeta (Joruri Chanter)

Ms. Michaela B. Angeles (Shamisen Player)

UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble Batch 2018. Training-Rehearsal of Ebisu Mai at UP Center for International Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman. 

Batch 2016 

Ms. Ada Christine Dela Cruz (Omo-zukai/Head Puppeteer)

Ms. Margarita Reyes (Hidari-zukai/Left Arm Puppeteer)

Ms. Quiela Salazar (Ashi-zukai/Foot Puppeteer)

UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble Batch 2016. Intensive Training-Rehearsal of Sambaso at Naoshima, 2016

Batch 2015

Ms. Ada Christine Dela Cruz (Omo-zukai/Head Puppeteer)

Ms. Margarita Reyes (Hidari-zukai/Left Arm Puppeteer)

Ms. Charizze Psalm Domingo (Joruri Chanter)

Mr. Louie Gerard Orcullo (Shamisen Player)

Batch 2014

Ms. Claire F. Aragon (Omo-zukai/Head Puppeteer)

Ms. Reynamae Longay


Ms. Loraine T. Chulipa (Hidari-zukai/Left Arm Puppeteer)

Ms. Christine Lian C. Domingo (Ashi-zukai/Foot Puppeteer, Joruri Chanter)

Ms. Rica P. Papa (Joruri Chanter)

Ms. Lizette Innocencio  (Shamisen Player)

UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble Batch 2014. Joruri and Shamisen Training-Rehearsal at UP Center for International Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman. 

Batch 2013

Ms. Patricia Bianca Andres (Omo-zukai/Head Puppeteer)

Mr. Darwin Desoacido (Hidari-zukai/Left Arm Puppeteer)

Ms. Aina Ramolete (Ashi-zukai/Foot Puppeteer)

Ms. Caren Bacsid (Joruri Chanter)

Ms. Laureen Theresa Lioanag (Shamisen Player)

UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble Batch 2013 with Naoshima Joruri Chanters and Shamisen Players

Batch 2012

Prof. Amihan Ramolete Ph.D (Omo-zukai/Head Puppeteer)

Ms. Aileen Dela Cruz (Hidari-zukai/Left Arm Puppeteer)

Mr. Carlito Amalla Camahalan (Ashi-zukai/Foot Puppeteer)

Ms. Jo-anne Quiros (Joruri Chanter)

Ms. Gian Gianan (Shamisen Player)

UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble First Batch 2012. Intensive Training-Rehearsal of Sanbaso with Naoshima Onna Bunraku and Bunshi Yoshida Sensei of the National Bunraku Theatre

UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble Performs Pag-ibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa, Sayaw ng Mga Papet at University Theatre Stage, University of the Philippines Diliman, 2016.

To view a full version of this performance, send us a message via email: cis.upd@up.edu.ph or in UPCIS facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/updcis