Forever Witches is a Palanca award-winning play in 1956-1957, and one of the few comedies in English written by a Filipino playwright, and a woman at that. The subject matter is a sensitive one, dealing with greed, selfishness, spinsterhood, and of course, the dark side of witchcraft, a subject that is still quite taboo in my place. While Alfon displays these themes through obvious and sudden lines in her play, she treats them with such humor and craftiness that I found myself grinning with start to end.
MARING: I’d have you know when I dream, it looks very real. It even feels very real. I was drowning, and you were flirting with someone. So you are like that! You’d leave me to drown because you are always looking out for other girls!
JULIO: (goes to a sidepost near a wall and pretends he is beating his head on it) Naku! Maring, I can’t get over it. A dream, just a dream, and you make me feel so guilty already.
The dramatic situation of the play was when Maring practically begs her aunts to teach her witchcraft so that she can “practice” them on Julio, regardless of the price she has to pay. There is a reason after all why the aunts are still single. The flow of the conversation between the aunts and their niece is graceful and witty and convincing. And you’ll discover a trick on determining a witch from a human being (mirrors are really classic instruments, don’t you think?).
ANDIYA: ...Cat is a familiar. He talks to us at night. We can do many things. But one day when you were very young and very sick, we said we would trade in our powers for your health. If only you would get well, we would never practice our powers again. And if we practice again now, to teach you... we are afraid. Suppose you get sick again?
MARING: O bosh! In this day and age?
ANDIYA: (angry) In this day and age! Then why are you asking for power? In this day and age?
MARING: Don’t get angry! It is only an expression, Tiya Andy. I believe in you. I am not afraid... just teach me.
(I cut this part where it contains instructions on how to properly carry out spells.)
ANDIYA: ...Now for Julio. Stand like this with him. Breathe his breath with him. Assume his rhythm. Do the other things I told you. And then, heaven help him!
MARING: (in glee) I can’t wait to practice on him!
ANDIYA: No practicing.
Reading this play, I could see in my mind’s eye the life and difference of each character. Lourdes, the eldest aunt, is more conservative than Andiya who is very candid in fashion and conversation. She teach the spells herself! Maring, she’s an immature teenager, an immaturity that greatly contributed to the climax and end of the story.
The ending is abrupt, though, but it is still satisfactory. I would have liked to know what happened to Julio after the ending. Sadly, to avoid spoilers, I cannot tell you what already happened to him after the spell was carried out. One assurance I could give is it is very amusing and filled with morals, including the classic life lesson that one cannot have everything in life (individuals just need to learn to be content and to persevere). Now I wish a theater director would take up this play to be acted on stage and put it into modern context. I’m sure it will be a hit. I mean--growing up, witchcraft, and romance! Who would not be intrigued by these themes?
Have you read plays about witchcraft? I appreciate your thoughts. Please share them here.
- Nancy -