Walang Sugat (Not Wounded), a sarswela (a play with song and dance) in three acts, tells the story of two young lovers who are torn between their love for country and love for each other.
Written and directed by Severino Reyes, the “Father of the Tagalog sarswela,” and its music composed by Fulgencio Tolentino, Walang Sugat was first produced in 1902. The sarswela became a huge success, with several repeat performances during its first year.
In 1904, it won a bronze medal at the St. Louis Universal Exposition, and in 1915, a silver medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Over the years, the sarswela was performed in town fiestas and national celebrations. It also had a film version.
Now, the music from Walang Sugat can be enjoyed through an album containing modernized versions of Tolentino’s music, courtesy of the 1971 revival production held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The album also features songs by Miguel Velarde Jr., Constancio de Guzman, and Tolentino’s grandson, Hermino Velarde Jr.
According to the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Walang Sugat’s “melodies range from the gay, lilting strains of romantic love to the hauntingly sentimental moods of anguish and despair.”
Tiongson, N. (Ed.) (1994). CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, vol. 6: Philippine Music. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Walang Sugat album cover
Album cover for “Walang Sugat,” 1971