Tucked behind a gate on a quiet stretch of land off Nine Eagles Drive sits a cultural treasure.
The Philippine Cultural Foundation Inc. has called the five acres at 14301 Nine Eagles Drive home for than a decade since the construction of the Bayanihan Center in 2012. The center is used as the foundation's headquarters and a special events hall.
With more than 5,000 families as members, the foundation's goal is to preserve and present the Philippine heritage and culture for future generations and add to the diversity the Tampa Bay area. Their annual events include Philfest, a festival to celebrate all things Filipino; the Sampaguita Ball, a red carpet charity ball; and various dance and language classes.
The foundation is now expanding to present self-directed theater shows.
On Sept. 9, the foundation will present “Ana Maria - A Filipino Sarzuela” at the Bayanihan Center. "Sarzuela" is a Spanish dramatic style that alternates between dialogue and song.
Nhick Ramiro Pacis, musical director for the Philippine Cultural Foundation, is the director of the play. Pacis first presented the play in April at the Philfest.
"It had such a good reaction we decided to do it again," Pacis said.
The Sarzuela style became popular in the Philippines during the 1920s just before World War II, Pacis explained. Bringing the style of performance to the Tampa Bay area provides a cultural aspect that many have longed for, he said.
"It's a source of personal pride," said Pacis, a professional musical composer, on why he chose that style of play to present. "If you know who you are, you know where you want to go."
Pacis came to the U.S. in 2001 from the Philippines to work as the center's musical director. As a trained pianist, composer and arranger, Pacis has worked on film scores and musicals.
Ana Maria will be performed in Filipino, however Pacis assures that there will be English subtitles shown on a screen during the performance.
"When you go watch Mozart in an opera house you don't understand Italian, but you go and listen because the acting is good and the music is good," he said. "Stories like this are universal."
Vicente Omila, 35, who plays "Timo" (Ana's husband) in the play said performing in Ana Maria is a way to showcase Filipino talent beyond singing and dancing.
"We've seen Filipino choirs and dancers," said Omila, a web programmer. "The Sarzuela is not something we see, not even in the Philippines. It's kind of a dying art."
Want to go?
Ana Maria, A Filipino Sarzuela will be presented on Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Bayanihan Center, 14301 Nine Eagles Drive.
Admission is $10 per person.
For more information call: 813-925-1232.