Pedro Calungsod musical celebrates Filipino legacy in Christian world

To the early Chamorro tribesmen in the Pacific, the little Filipino boy that helped baptize them with what they were told to be poisonous water was no saint. ‘San Pedro Calungsod The Musical’ goes back in time to explain why.

The play tracks the journey of a group of Filipino missionaries that were brought to the Ladrones Island, now Mariana Island, to preach Christianity.

International stage actor Gerald Santos, fresh from playing Thuy in the West End production and international tour of ‘Miss Saigon’, comes back home to reprise his lead role in the play— now at the Music Museum in Greenhills, San Juan City.

A Filipino period drama 

From the audience’s seat, there is serious tension in the first scenes of the play wherein Pedro and other young people needed to be separated from their family for a mission across the seas.

Anyone could feel the loneliness in the line, “no goodbyes, only good nights”, when Pedro spent his last night with his mother who thought he was too young to travel far. 

The play shares similarities with 1986 classic, The Mission, wherein the role of Robert De Niro was almost killed while on a mission to Christianize a South American community that was not open to outsiders.

Historical accounts have it that the Catholic Church was aggressive in expanding to the corners of the earth in the early days, with the Philippines as a proof of their success.

All elements working together

To better enjoy Act 1 which may come a bit slow-paced because of its attempt to set the religious texture of the play, a cup of coffee from the kitchen of Music Museum can help.

The first realization five minutes into the play is that, it is not in the Filipino language. And it would be interesting to find out how the play would connect with the audience if it used the local language.

There is no question about the acting and singing capabilities of the entire cast. With the spotlight on Gerald as the play's facade but not the entire package, one comic odd to put some light moment, and the powerful vocals of the actress playing the mother of Pedro, the play is definitely in good shape with opportunities surely coming ahead. 

Given that the story is set in the 1700s, a monitor backdrop projected clips of architectural interiors and panoramic landscape to help transport the audience to the era and place where the story happened.  

The play also used a recorded video to show how Pedro’s body was disposed to the open seas, while the actors were preparing for another scene.

Once out of the theatre after the play has ended, the image that retains is that of Gerald’s innocent, lonely face, similar to that of Zaijian Jaranilla’s “Santino” character. It is only the palm leaf in Gerald’s hands that differentiates the two. 

When the play comes alive and kicking 

Act 2 starts all the real splendor in the play.

The charm belongs to the attires of the tribesmen and the additional characters that make the latter part of the play very colorful and easily likable.

The villains include a Chinese man who wears a pair of typical top and bottom, and two tribe leaders who looked like Maui in Disney movie, ‘Moana’.

The play have beautifully-composed and written songs that deserve an album. While the play is about a Catholic icon, the themes of the songs are universal and relatable.

Thanks also to the perfectly schemed lighting and sounds of Music Museum that it equipped the play with the stage tech it deserves.

‘San Pedro Calungsod The Musical’ has a value of an academic and commercial play. Its installation of Gerald back into the lead role may have made it more exciting, but the play will still remain a tool to solidify the Filipino faith while explaining why Pedro was not saintly to the early Chamorro tribesmen.


AUTHOR: Christian Aligo is a Marketing Communications practitioner, currently working in a real estate company in Ortigas. For feedback and requests, shoot an email to

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