‘‘musta’ is a refreshing meditation on mental wellness

Musta, or kamusta, is one of those Filipino words that are so deep with meaning. Like kilig. Or basta. Although a word mostly thrown around in casual conversation, when said with concern, ‘musta is so much more than a simple “Hey,” or “How are you?”

TAXI Theater, together with Arts Management students from Benilde School of Design & Arts, explore the notion of ‘musta, and how seriously — or rather, how un-seriously we still view mental wellness. “Naiiwanan yung idea ng mental health,” explains director Eric Villanueva Dela Cruz.

If physical health is something crucial to a quality life, the same goes for mental health. The idea of mental health has to go beyond the mere acceptance that mental illnesses exist, or that the idea of mental wellness only applies to those that have been clinically diagnosed. Mental health is always relevant, and not only when you need therapy or pills. The idea of mental health is for anyone and everyone who has ever experienced stress, or pain. That’s me. That’s you.

‘musta takes you on a multi-sensory journey into the inner world of Shiloh, a depressed teenage girl. The sleepless nights, the prison of routine, the running away and never escaping. It is the first time TAXI Theater is experimenting with all five senses, including taste. The first steps of the journey are gentle, but dark, provoking memories of one’s own turmoil. But what I love about ‘musta is that it offers a way out — Shiloh appears at the end of the path with a little lantern in her hands, leading us out into the darkness and into the light, where an oasis awaits.

“You tell people with depression to see beauty,” Dela Cruz says, “to see beauty in ordinary things.” And ‘musta draws attention to the most ordinary things: breath, light, the feel of a pebble in your palm.

‘musta offers us a way to heal: mindfulness. A refreshing meditation, one that expands our notions on mental well-being, ‘musta fosters a loving encounter with the self and all its shadows.

 

For more information on the show and future TAXI Theater productions, visit their Facebook page.

 

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