Nobenta of the FEU Theater Guild

Organization’s 90th Anniversary


Given her experience as an actor and her love for the arts and theater, Sarah Kabigting Joaquin, or “Lola Sarah” founded the FEU Dramatic Guild, now known as the Far Eastern University Theater Guild (FTG), on March 15, 1934.

During the early years of the organization, Sarah wanted to showcase the results of their rehearsals and present their productions to the FEU Community and to the public at large. This caught the attention of Far Eastern University's founder, Dr. Nicanor Reyes Sr., who advocated for the importance of art in academia. “Call Me Mike”, a comedy in three acts by Reach and Taggart, was the Guild’s first production. It was directed by Lola Sarah and actor – director Alberto Cacnio. The play was staged in the Metro-Theatre, Manila on December 4, 1940. Despite the typhoon signal no. 4 at that time, the production was still hailed a success by the audience and Manila’s Dramatic Critics, placing FEU’s name in the history of theater in Manila. Dr. Reyes Sr. was so impressed by the performance and the audience’s positive reaction that he promised a “world class theater” to the FTG and to Lola Sarah who was appointed as its first director. The success of “Call Me Mike” paved the way for the realization of Lola Sarah’s dream for her Guild – to have a theater.

However, the progress of the Guild was abruptly put on hold due to the unforeseen global events that eventually led to the Second World War and the closing of the University in 1941. The greater loss was the life of Dr. Nicanor Reyes. After the war, Lola Sarah revived the FTG. The owners of FEU fulfilled Dr. Reyes’ promise of a world-class theater with the construction and opening of the FEU Auditorium. When the Guild resumed its operations after the war, it became one of the most active campus – based theatre organizations in Manila. It produced plays within and outside the campus, joined festivals, sponsored workshops, participated in fund-raising activities and collaborated with other theatre companies outside the University such as the Barangay Theater Guild. Among the most notable accomplishments of the group during its early years were: 1st place in the Carlos Palanca inter-university play contest for its entry “The Boor” by Anton Chekhov; staging of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in its entirety and “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry for the first time in the Philippines; and being one of the campus – based theatre organizations in the country to be invited to perform abroad through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

As years passed, the FTG was supervised by different advisers and artistic directors from the FEU faculty. After migrating to the US, Lola Sarah returned to the FTG in the play “Anastasia” in 1993, which she also directed. From the 20th to the 21st centuries, the FTG witnessed and experienced countless societal, cultural, and technological changes that were reflected in their productions such as “In the Name of the Father” directed by Normita Cadz, “The New Yorker in Tondo” in 2002, “The Love of Leonor Rivera” in 2006, both directed by Rustica Carpio, “Anastasia” directed by Zemaia Millo, “King and I” in 2007, and “Calamba” directed by Segundo Dizon in 2008. Following Lola Sarah as the Artistic Director (AD) of the FTG were Ginnie Sobrino, Mark Aspiras, Dr. Jaime Ang, Normita Cadiz-Amacan, Karen Panela, Lauro “Lary” Simbol, Dr. Rustica "Rustie" Carpio, Dr. Gene Pamittan, Gloria A. Mendoza, and Atty. Christine Carpio-Aldeguer. Through the years, the FTG has produced influential personalities in theater, film, and Convergent media such as internationally renowned drag queens Brigiding and Viñas Deluxe, actresses Divine Aucina, Kat Galang, Odette Khan and Yesh Burce, former Senator and radio/TV host Eddie Ilarde, Jayson Sarmiento, award winning filmmaker and visual artist Jet Leyco, broadcast journalist Jorge Cariño and Pete Roa.

The FTG grew even more when Edward “Dudz” Teraña became the organization’s AD in 2009. He advocated for change such as mounting two productions annually instead of one, each performed many times to reach a wider audience. He also introduced experimental writing and directing techniques to captivate the audience and promote the beauty of arts and theatre. This led to the popularity of productions like “Usapang X” in 2012, “Makikitawag Lang Ako” in 2014, “Pinakamakisig na Nalunod sa Buong Daigdig” in 2016 and 2018, and “Kung Paano Maghiwalay” in 2019. These are only a few titles among the one hundred and fifty-two plays he directed for the FTG.

Just like Lola Sarah, Dudz recognized and nurtured the talents of each member. He saw the potential within the members for writing plays, and helped train and guide them in expressing their artistry through writing. He encouraged the members to write their truths and experiences and gave them the platform to showcase their talents in writing and acting by establishing the “Tamdula Series”. At its premiere, the “Tamdula Series” became an instant hit and a staple production that is always much-anticipated.

After years of continuous success and recognition within and beyond the University, the Guild experienced a two-year hiatus from live performances due to the pandemic, which forced everyone to use technology as their primary means of entertainment. The FTG, with its resilience and passion for the arts, rose to the occasion and adapted to this sudden change. The FTG overcame the challenge posed by the pandemic by producing online productions like “Theater in a Minute,” “Sinik Itik,” and “Tamdula IV: Historya” to bring joy to their audiences at home and still nurture the talents of student-artists doing distance learning.

In 2023, the FTG ventured back into live theater productions with “Halu Halo” as its first major production of the year, consisting of ten plays written by Dudz during the two-year lockdown. This was followed by “Ang Unang Aswang '' in October 2023 and the re-staging of “Agnoia” in 2024, which coincides with the organization’s ninetieth anniversary.

As part of its 90th anniversary celebrations, the FEU Theater Guild presents “Nobenta”, a free concert, reminiscing the past, relating stories that have reached and touched the hearts of its audiences and remembering the people who created and shaped the organization to what it is now.

Join us for “Nobenta” on March 15, 2024, at 6:00 PM in the FEU Auditorium. Admission is free for all.

The FEU Theater Guild wholeheartedly thanks the sponsors who made this event possible: Far Eastern University, the FEU Center for the Arts, McDonald’s, Tams Bookstore, and Complete Indoors Inc.

For more details, visit our social media accounts.