Memo to the Dying 06:
To: Lea Salonga’s Filipina Identity
Estimated Day of Death: The Broadway Premiere of Allegiance
Suggested Final Act: Give Us a Voice Lesson
Lea, we love you. We will always be proud of you. We are grateful that you claim that you are a Filipina.
But really, you are not. Not anymore. You have crossed-over from being world-class to a world citizen. You belong to the world now, the world population consider you as “theirs”.
Edith Piaf was a world-class talent but remained defiantly French. Kate Winslet is a world-class actress but is still decidedly British. Michelle Yeow has international recognition but looks and acts Malaysian Chinese. But you – and Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and a handful of artists – have crossed international boundaries and become, well, global citizens.
Your body of work runs the gamut of archetypal polarities:
Waif (Eponine) and Princess(Jasmine);
Whore (Fantine) and Innocent Virgin (Cinderella);
Young Wonder (Annie) and Old Hag (Grizzabella);
Martyr (Kim) and Warrior (Mulan).
You can play any female archetype now and still be believable.
Saying that you are a Filipina is like saying Manny Pacquiao is a politician. It is a fact; but it is not true.