Coetera Tolle: A synopsis

I am sharing this space to a confrere, Br. Paul Dungca, SDB, for the synopsis of #CoeteraTolle, the FIN musicale in honor of Don Bosco’s 200th birth anniversary.

coetera tolle

A scene in Coetera Tolle. Photo by Fr. Vester Casaclang, SDB

This play finds its rationale in the celebration of the 200th birth of St. John Bosco whose life has touched the lives of its characters—both fictional and real. As this momentous event coincides with the Philippine Church’s celebration of the Year of the Poor, it is but fitting that the narration of the story of this saint is woven with the stories of poor young people he lived and died for. This play is presented by young people, insofar as it is inspired by them.

The story is bracketed by two tearful events in the life of Don Bosco.

He shed tears was when he was nine years old. As a young kid, he did not understand anything from a dream when the wild wolves turned into meek lambs. He cried for he did not understand, but despite this dream-riddle, he followed, he surrendered. “Take away the rest.”

He wept when he was in the final years of his life as he understood everything from the hindsight. He saw how God had prepared him to realize his mission to carry out God’s own will. God planned everything in his life, from his birth to that moment. Everything fell into it proper place. Everything was carefully designed and did not happen by chance.

No one escapes this seeming reality of life’s ambiguity.

Centered on the life stories of five poor young people who, like their father, are riddled by circumstances of life. Kiko is a confused young man who, unknown to his friends, lives a double life. Issay, a teenager girl, finds the real definition of beauty in place of the actual search for true satisfaction out of abandonment. Jessa, an older sister of a paralyzed lass quests for reasons for the painful question “why.” Benjo, whose anger directed at an imperfect Church, longs for healing and coming home, and JP his friend helps him find his way home.

Their life stories are interspersed with the life of Fr. Carlo, a Salesian priest who is far from perfect and is haunted by the memory of his brother who took his own life.

The stories are linked with one incident that has affected each character. The whole play is peppered with three dreams of Don Bosco–the dream at nine, the dream of the two pillars and the dream of the roses and thorns.

The story rests on the realization of the Salesians, that it is the young who are their “burning bush.” They see God in the young people. The Salesians help the poor young people save their souls, but likewise, the young people, without them knowing it, help the Salesians save their souls as well.

The Salesians have envisioned themselves to be signs and bearers of God’s love for the young. But also, young people are the signs and bearers of God’s love for the Salesians.


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