On The Spot: Sa Wakas playwright Ina Abuan on 20-somethings, Sugarfree songs, and being a fan of pain

The Sugarfree rock musical reopens on January 12, 2017.


(SPOT.ph) During its first run in April 2013 at the PETA Theater, Sa Wakas, a Pinoy rock musical featuring Sugarfree songs, immediately won the hearts of many. It was lauded for its “fresh approach on how we appreciate OPM” (MYX Philippines); regarded as “witty, charming, and hugely relatable” (The Lifestyle Hub); and called "a gem of a show that situates itself in the nucleus of Manila's cultural zeitgeist" (The Philippine Star).  It ran for just three weekends but it felt like the whole experience took three months of watching and re-watching. “Three weeks lang ‘yon, feelings mo lang ang nagtagal,” Sa Wakas co-writer Ina Abuan retorts during a laid-back interview in her apartment beside De La Salle University – Manila where she teaches literature.


Sa Wakas was indeed a feels fest back then. Now, the wave of hashtag hugot gives the rock musical a better timing. But may it be 2013 or 2017, how can you not possibly relate to the age-old theme of love?



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The story revolves around Topper, a photographer, who lives with his partner Lexi, a doctor. Like any typical love triangle, the third party is a fun-loving character: Gabbi, a magazine writer. They're a bunch of 20-somethings trying to find their way through life. Yes, this is a musical on love in the time of Sakaling Hindi Makarating, Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa, and a whole list of movies for your complicated non-relationship. You don’t even need to be a Sugarfree follower to understand the show. “Kailangan mo lang maging fan ng pag-ibig...kailangan mo lang maging fan ng pain," as Abuan puts it.


"I'm Topper. He’s in a relationship where you question if you will stay because you've been together for the longest time despite and in spite of things. Then, you see someone na andaming possibilities, and also it's exciting. So what do you choose? The boring or the exciting? Naka-relate ako sa gano'ng dilemma ni Topper. At least, nung 27 ako. But, now, let's choose Lexie for stability," reveals the playwright, now 31.




In an October 2012 meeting about an arts festival called Fringe Manila organized by Abuan and Andrei Pamintuan, Charissa Pammit pitched the idea of doing a Sugarfree musical. As a big Sugarfree fan, Abuan got excited and immediately introduced Pamintuan (co-writer) to the whole discography of the famous Pinoy band. A storyline was produced then and there. By November 2012, they had finished the first draft of the script.




When asked if the musical is true-to-life, she shares: "Lahat naman...Parang nag-uumpisa naman siya sa life experience hanggang i-e-elevate nang i-e-elevate ng aesthetic value. So doon na 'yong i-embellish na 'yong kuwento. So, yeah, inspired siya ng true-to-life events. Pero hindi siya mismong kopya, hindi siya documentary. Tsaka wish ko lang di ba, ang organic sana ng relationships kung may gano'ng kuwento, di ba?"


After Sa Wakas, what’s next for Abuan? The University of Santo Tomas graduate (BA Philosophy and MA Creative Writing) wants to go back to her roots and publish a book of poetry, both in Filipino and English. Yes, the same person who has broken many hearts because of the tear-jerking musical received an Honorable Mention at the Talaang Ginto: Makata ng Taon in 2012 and is a member of the poetry organization Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo. We’re pretty sure that her future collection would make us shed a tear all over again.



Sa Wakas runs from January 12 to February 12, 2017 at Power Mac Center Spolight, Circuit Lane, Circuti Makati, Makati City. Tickets, priced at P700 to P1,500, are available through the Sa Wakas website. 

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