Friendship, Beauty, the Wicked Witch and an Ugly Book

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By Nina S. Custodio

Doc@XXLarge

Saturday, March 15, 2014


LAST week, I was fortunate to watch “Wicked” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. I watched the second to the last show of the play’s entire Philippine run and I could say that I was pretty happy that I got to see it. I had known that it was prequel of sorts to the Wizard of Oz, but I did not really know what it was really about right up until the lights dimmed and the theater curtains were drawn. Watching the musical was a real treat and it amazes me how a simple stage can be transformed into a wonderland that helps the viewers fully appreciate the story as it is being told live and in full surround sound.

It made me feel good that the importance of friendship is the central theme of the play. The story is about unlikely friends. One was Miss Pretty (Glinda the Good Witch) and well, the other one was Green (Elphaba, the Wicked Witch). It basically tackles the intricacies of friendship, its challenges and how finding a genuine friend can make a difference in someone’s life. G(a)linda was the popular, beautiful, perky but not so smart witch while Elphaba was smart, misunderstood and the other witches often made fun of her for being green and weird. It really looked like it could be your usual bullying kind of story, like in a ‘Carrie’ sort of way, but it wasn’t. That made me really happy and relieved! It does not really need to be said that there are people who can be mean and that there are life experiences that can be really rough. As if adding insult to injury, there are events that you really cannot control and keep from happening no matter what. These things just happen and all you can do is submit to it and hope that you come out of it in one piece! We constantly need to be on guard and be vigilant about ‘protecting’ ourselves from these ‘oppressors’. We fight the fight but being only human, we sometimes falter and feel like quitting altogether, right? Friends help us make it through. They are our cheerleaders, shock absorbers and critics rolled into one! Aren’t we lucky to have friends in our lives? We should be!

Green is my favorite color. And Elphaba being green does not bother me at all! but it does bother other people, like the other witches in the story who found her uniqueness scary. Sometimes when we are not used to certain things, when we are faced with things that are different, we often look at it with disdain and much suspicion. Tsk. When we look at things solely at face value and never really give it a chance, there are times when we miss out on a good thing. Of course first impressions count but it should not be the sole means of judging anything or anyone. Beauty should not only be skin deep--it should run through all layers of one’s personality up to the depths of one’s soul. Agree?

“Do not judge book by its cover.”

I learned exactly what this passage meant back in the second grade. Our classroom had a mini-library and in that library, I had read all of the books except for one. I did not read that book for one reason: It was an ugly book. Dilapidated and plain, it just did not appeal to me. It did not even have pictures on the cover! I would not even dust it during cleaning hour! It was so unlike the other books on the shelf that all had colorful pictures on the cover. It was just really ugly.

Then one day, I found myself bored and wanting to read something. Knowing that it was the only book left to read, I sighed and took it. I stared at it for quite some time, trying to decide whether it was worth my time. I decided to read it and boy, was I glad that I did!! Otherwise, I would never get to know Rumpelstiltskin. :)

Up to this day, my ugly book experience remains to be one of the most important life lessons that I have learned in my 43 years of existence. From that day on, I decided to give anything (or anyone) a chance to prove its worth. I believe that everyone deserves at least one chance! Take the time out to know for yourself what the person is thing all about before you pass judgement based on what other people say. We never really know what we think of that person or thing unless we really spend the time to know what or who they are. Much like Glinda and Elphaba in Wicked, they are stereotypes of opposing characters and yet, when they really took the time to know each other, give each other the chance, they turned out to become the best of friends.

Wicked had me crying during both acts. It is that realization that you are lucky to have friends who appreciate you for what you are and continue to be with you despite your faults. So, I was constantly in tears during the two acts because I could relate to the situation and I was truly thankful that I was reminded that true friends are treasures. I did not need to be a witch to realize this nor did I need to be under any spell to fully appreciate this fact! Having true friends who genuinely love and like you for what you makes a world of difference!

Watching the play just made me think how a person’s life experiences can affect his perception of life. It does matter how you process the things you go through each day so that when you are out there in the world, you have a fighting chance to actually get to where you intend to be. Life can be cruel and some people can really make it even more difficult. Although we are fully aware that we are the stewards of our future, having someone who understands and encourages us makes our journey easier. Friendship is important. Having someone who genuinely cares for you and keeps you in line is a big deal. True friendships bridge differences, help accept painful truths, forgive shortcomings and help correct mistakes. We should all be thankful for friends and be appreciative that we have them in our lives.

Happy Sunday! :)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 16, 2014.

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