KASAMA Vol. 15 No. 1 / January-February-March 2001 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network


The highly publicised musicale "Miss Saigon" opened on 1 October 2000 in the Philippines amidst protest from militant groups and progressive cultural organisations.

A protest-musicale was held outside the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the venue for "Miss Saigon", against what they dubbed as "a Broadway surplus that glorifies and justifies prostitution and US aggression."

"Miss Saigon" is about a Vietnamese woman who fell in love with an American soldier and ended her life in the name of love. It is the same musicale that catapulted a Filipina actress, Lea Salonga, to international recognition for her portrayal as Kim, the Vietnamese woman, in the London and Broadway performances. It also opened doors to other Filipino artists and talents as the musicale moved around theatre capitals of the world.

Staging "Miss Saigon" in the Philippines, the source of most of the original cast in the London performances, is reason enough to send all Filipinos jumping for joy. But not all are happy with the coming of "Miss Saigon" in the country.

"Miss Saigon is romanticised and deceiving. It reignites in the impoverished Filipinas the American dream, a dream that has sired thousands of Amerasian children, a dream that has made prostitutes out of children, a dream that is, in fact, a horrible nightmare," said GABRIELA-Youth, an organisation of young Filipino women. At a time when the country is mired in war, poverty and strife, the musicale suggests a "highly perilous alternative" to young Filipino women, the group said. In addition, "Miss Saigon" paints the Vietnam war in a romantic blur and hides the fact that many American GIs used and abused women forced by war and poverty into prostitution, according to the group.

However, criticism of the musicale for its extravagance and colonial content, clarified the groupís chair, is no disparagement of the talent of its Filipino cast.

Reprinted from: We!, Oct. 2000, No. 1, Isis International, Manila, Philippines