In the effort to further the cause of the Japanese-Filipino children, DAWN ventured into theatre in 1997, mainly to conduct theater workshops.
The workshops aimed to provide a venue for the expression of thoughts and feelings for the children as they deal with the separation from their Japanese fathers, and discrimination from their friends or neighbors due to their mixed parentage.
Conducted on weekends, the theater workshops gave the children the chance to share and express their thoughts, stories, even hurt feelings, and articulate these through songs, dances and act-outs. In effect, the workshops also became therapeutic for the children. The workshops culminated in their first musical play, Fujiwara Junko: JFC.
Because of the success of the workshops and the ensuing play, DAWN included the women / mothers of the children. With their collective and individual efforts, another play took shape.
TEATRO AKEBONO was born.
Teatro Akebono is DAWN’s theater group of women and Japanese-Filipino children and has been one of the organization’s advocacy projects since 1997. Through the group’s theatrical presentation, women and children are able to express themselves, regain their self-confidence, and hone their acting and singing skills as part of their reintegration process. Most importantly, they are given the chance to share with the local and international audiences the social issues affecting them through which they are able to also advocate the rights they rightfully deserve.
The DAWN theatre tour started in September 1998. The play has been staged locally in schools and communities such as the St. Scholastica's College, St. Theresa's College, and at the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM). In October 1998, Teatro Akebono toured Japan in various prefectures. Teatro Akebono again visited various Japanese prefectures to perform "Sana…", this time with a different set of performers, in October 1999.
"Sana" has undergone some revisions to make the play more encompassing of the issues of migrant women and Japanese-Filipino children. Two new scenes were added to portray the malicious neighborhood gossip that usually hound "Japayukis" or women entertainers in Japan, and to bring home the message of respect for one another. The school scene was also enhanced with the addition of the song, "Sampung mga Karapatan" or Ten Rights of Children, with the purpose of informing children and adults alike of their human rights.
An open forum / interaction with the audience has become a standard to allow DAWN to deepen the audience's awareness of the issues tackled in the play. The Japanese media also covers the presentations.