Everyone’s life is changed forever when Emilya’s Philippine-based brother sends her Ines (Marilyn Tokuda), a “yaya” (nanny) to look after Jason. This deceptively simple peasant woman is in reality an “ungo” (witch) who uses her powers to instill in Jason a sense of his heritage and his own identity. Along the way, she manages to exorcise the deeply rooted emotional demons that have been stifling the lives of Emilya, Isabel and George.
Sie is absolutely believable as the coolly aristocratic Emilya whose monstrously debilitating memories are slowly eating away at her ability to know happiness in her own life and to guide the life of her son. Exuding a ferocious sense of superiority, Sie’s Emilya makes tangible the centuries of class distinction that separate her from Ines. Just as effectively, Sie displays the raw disintegration of Emilya’s facade as she finally reveals to George the truth of her life with Jason’s deceased father.
Tokuda’s Ines exhibits a captivating balance of simplicity, humor and attention-riveting intelligence. No matter what her onstage activity, she appears to be absorbing and evaluating every aspect of the behavior of the people around her.
Sotelo manages to be both fragile and comedic as the “blocked” poet, Isabel, who is too needy and insecure to disregard Ines’ supernatural powers. Bulos is quite effective as the outwardly handsome and successful Manhattanite who yearns for the ethnic identity that Emilya rejects. And Tony Johns quite admirably handles Jason’s inherent dissatisfaction of being a child without a culture.
Special mention must be made of Kayamanan Ng Lahi, choreographed by Barbara J. Ele, who bring to life the mysticism and magic of Ines’ spells.