Does true democracy stand a chance when old-school authoritarianism is disco-fied to a beat we dance to?
Here Lies Love — whose title comes from a quote of Imelda Marcos concerning the words she hopes appear on her tombstone — plays like a coked-up cartoon. This 2010 Marcos concept album is a collaboration between David Byrne and FatBoy Slim (AKA Norman Cook).
Though it features cameos by legends such as Florence Welch and Natalie Merchant, as well as regular contributions from Byrne himself — it feels more parody than actual pleasure-conveyor and plays through as overzealous mental masturbation.
As Filipinos who lived through the conjugal dictatorship of the Ferdinand and Imelda martial law years all this pomp and glitz is just lipstick on a pig. We are insulted and defiled by the blatant manipulation — another user’s abuse to make big bucks off the Marcos circus.
wonder | wander | women are torn between cheering for the talented all- Filipino cast and bemoaning yet another fairytale farce of the real horror years lived through Marcosian atrocities. So much for all the pain and suffering that brought on our People Power Revolution — if this is all it now amounts to.
Here Lies Love hits Broadway in 2023 — the show haunts us as the living nightmare of Bongbong Marcos, son of Ferdinand and Imelda, sitting as the current president of the Philippines — after last year’s questionable election and results.
This latest theatrical iteration fails to transform any of the songs into unforgettable anthems that fans blast out for years to come. Even if the all-Filipino cast breathes life and feeling into the original source material — we cannot bring ourselves to want this project to succeed.
In recent weeks, the show has been criticized for glossing over the pain of the Filipinos who suffered at a corrupt family’s plundering greedy hands. There are more controversies like how the show glorifies the Marcoses as well as the musicians’ union at loggerheads with producers to put more live players in its karaoke-baked concept.
Judging by the sentiment that surged during scenes fronted by longtime Marcos challenger Ninoy Aquino and the closing song — an acoustic number whose lyrics are a burlesque of slogans from anti-Marcos protesters — there is little doubt as to who are the true heroes of this frothy bubbly production.
How powerful was the people’s peaceful revolt if the defeated dictator’s son can return to rule after a few decades and whitewash his family name? Did we overestimated the power of electoral democracy to make lasting positive change in the world?
The show’s DJ who acts as master of ceremonies throughout the musical openly invites the audience to consider these questions on their way out. This all too closely resonates with basic democracy in America presently under attack on too many fronts.
If love lies here maybe political hopes do as well. We await the outcome in great anticipation.