By Dino Santos

Casa Manila is being haunted by ghosts. This was the seminal idea of the collaboration between Casa Manila and Silly People’s Improv Theater (SPIT) Manila for their entry to the Manila Biennale. Las Sombras de Recuerdos (Sp. The Shadows of Memories) is an exploration of Casa Manila as a space for music and theatre. Held on the evening of February 23, this performance of SPIT treated visitors to a different experience of Casa Manila: an experience where actors shed a different light to the space by telling a story that persisted up to the afterlife.

Las Sombras de Recuerdos is a tale of a household whose unfinished business is wrapped in comedy and tragedy: lowly peasant farmers in debt facing the landlord and master of the house in his office; a restless mayordomo escorting people up and down the stairs; a regretful old maid aunt in her room reading past letters from a love that got away; guests frolicking in an endless party; a troubled mother torn between praying for the soul of her only daughter and stepping in between forbidden love; a young lady who is suffering from the pains of an unwanted and terminated pregnancy that resulted from an illicit affair; a nanny who waits and stands by her señorita; an old bachelor cutting pastillas wrappers while being attended to by servants in the dining room; a busy household staff preparing pastillas in the kitchen; and a robust carriage driver longing for the gaze of his unreachable loved one.

SPIT Manila’s performance is inspired by the idea of Casa Manila’s living museum practice where friends of the museum would wear costumes of the period and play out scenes of everyday life inside a Filipino home during the Spanish occupation. Intramuros Administration wishes to revive this practice alongside the museum’s ongoing re-curation and restoration. Through this, the Administration aims to breathe new life to Casa Manila for the enjoyment of the public.