A Review of Floy Quintos’ Grace by Natalia Go

They believed. And I did, too.

A review of Grace by Floy Quintos, directed by Dexter M. Santos.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!

Last night, I watched Grace for the second time on its supposed last show date, and it was as marvelous as the first. The final masterpiece of playwright and director Floy Quintos. 

With a skeletal set, barely any props, and almost nothing but pure talent on and off stage, this piece was an unexpected treat for me—an atheist. That I enjoyed a religious drama says a lot about this production. It did not change my beliefs. It did not pull me back into the Catholic church but brought my faith back to the arts, perhaps again. Perhaps I lost it somewhere along the way as an actor and director who has been in the audience seat for far too long. 

To be honest, the heavy narration put me off at first. It started with an exposition of the supposed apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the Carmelite sisters in Lipa, Batangas, and a series of monologues about the fictionalized events. I was almost certain I would fall asleep. But then, the magic happened all too soon. There was an unmistakable genius in Dexter M. Santos’ direction of this play—from manipulating the barebones set through masterful blocking, lights, and music to the complete trust in the cast’s ability to tell this story with what little tools they had and the delicate guidance of a virtuoso. And I was in awe, as was every audience member on both nights, with a full house and standing ovation. 

The story revolved around and ended with a shower of petals from the sky—rose petals that healed, absolved, and converted. Was it a trick? The work of the devil? Or the result of an “overactive imagination,” as the men of the church accused Sister Teresita, the Carmelite novice who brought upon these divine mysteries through the Mother Mediatrix of All Grace? I am not inclined to draw conclusions as a non-religious. 

I am prepared, however, to recommend this play to anyone who wants an out-of-this-world experience of the performing arts, with no reservations. Grace by Floy Quintos has been extended until June 23rd at the Power Mac Center’s Blackbox Theater in Circuit Makati. 

See it for yourself, and I guarantee you will believe. 

Divorce Saved My Life. Pass the Divorce Bill!

Divorce saved my life. Here is my story of abuse, freedom, and the chance for a new life. 

I got divorced in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Granted, it was initiated in Las Vegas, where the process is cheap and easy. Granted, it was a marriage between same-sex partners, so a lot of people would have stopped reading by now as they may find this invalid. 

The point is I did not get married and uproot myself just to live alone in the end (as in—sans family, sans friends) in a foreign country where I hoped to build a future somehow with someone I hoped wanted the same things I did. 

But it turned out to be a situation where I had to do all the housework, be called “stupid” and other derogatory names, emotionally and psychologically abused, be in a state of constant stress, almost die of stroke, cheated on, and coerced into sexual activities I was not comfortable doing. I could go on, but I don’t want to relive this past. 

It was when my ex-partner told me, “I don’t want it to get to a point that I might kill you” (a subtle threat) when I fled the state (Alabama) and flew to New York to stay with friends temporarily—not knowing where to go next or what to do. I didn’t have a steady job. I didn’t have savings. But I HAD to leave. Until I eventually settled in Nevada with the help of an employer who promised to help grant me papers so I could work even without the visa that was tied to that person.

Even after that, I was constantly receiving text messages asking me about my whereabouts, calls, and my friends being used to get information on me. I was diagnosed with CPTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and lived a life of constant hypervigilance. I lost a lot of people in my circle in the process. Why?

Because a lot of them believed I shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. They were disappointed that I didn’t leave sooner. They thought it was my fault.

Here’s the truth. A lot of people (men and women) who are in abusive relationships CANNOT easily leave. First, there is a trauma bond going on where the abused is slowly being eroded, stuck in a cycle of being love-bombed and devalued, and ultimately, losing their self-worth. Read: *, **. 

The entire process of leaving took a few years before the divorce happened. There is a dynamic of power and control at play, making it especially difficult for someone to “just leave” this situation. “On average, it takes a woman 7 attempts to leave an abusive relationship for good.” *** And unfortunately, in many cases, it results in the death of the abused by the abuser. 

In addition, I was in fear of losing the legality of my stay in the US if the marriage came to a legal end. It took me time to finally make this decision because I initially didn’t want to go back to the Philippines, where I had already left my high-paying job and where nothing was waiting for me (or so I thought). 

In the end, I got the divorce. I had to tiptoe around this whole process to make it quick. I no longer stated in the papers that I was abused to avoid further hearings and abuse from this person. But ultimately, the divorce set me free. 

I returned to the Philippines without a plan and without money. Not long after, I landed my current job, which allowed me to build my life again—along with extensive therapy, psychiatric help, medicines, and the support of my friends and family. Not long after, I found a person who is good for me, good to me, and good in all that she is. 

If divorce weren’t legal where I’d gotten married, my life would’ve been very different, even if I came home where this marriage still isn’t acknowledged in the least. But that is another problem. 

My hope is that by legalizing divorce in the Philippines, a lot of people, women, mostly, who are in the same situation I was, would have another chance at life. But as you’ve read in this story, it’s not an easy process to leave a toxic situation. We need support—not just from our circle but also from the state to provide the necessary tools and resources to actually leave and LIVE a life where survivors can rebuild themselves. 

In Nevada, I found a foundation dedicated to helping women break free from this cycle. I found friends. In Las Vegas, I found a home. It is thousands of miles away from me now, but it will always be a home to me. 

This, too, is my home. And I hope it becomes a safe place for Filipino survivors like me who deserve happiness. 

*(https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/trauma-bonding

**(https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-sobriety/202109/what-is-trauma-bonding

*** (https://vpfw.com/blog/why-it-takes-women-7-attempts-to-leave-an-abusive-relationship/)

My First Art Event. Patrons of the Arts: Originals

This July!!! I will be at the Patrons of the Arts: Originals, where I will be showcasing my artwork and original merchandise. It will be my very first art market event, so I hope you can come and support me! 

You can also get copies of my poetry books, “Garden of Dreams” and “You Send Me to the Stars.” 

Please join me at Centris Elements on July 6-7 (Sat-Sun) from 10 am – 8 pm. More details coming soon! 

~

Patrons of the Arts (POTA) is a platform for art creators and consumers. Empowering Filipino Artists.

Visit their page below:

https://www.facebook.com/PatronsOfTheArtsPH

New Shop – Made By Natalia

Hey, gang! I have opened a new shop called Made by Natalia, where I showcase my creations. You can order prints of my artwork, fan art stickers, personalized bookmarks, apparel, greeting cards, mugs, jars, and more!

Please check it out and if you want something customized, send me a message!

Made by Natalia serves as a digital canvas where I showcase my passion for creativity. Through carefully crafted visuals and thoughtful narratives, I invite you to join me in discovering magic in the ordinary. I hope to make my platform a testament to the power of art in connecting hearts and minds across the globe. —Natalia Go

https://crafts.nataliago.com/

Garden of Dreams Is Now on Kindle!

My second poetry collection, Garden of Dreams, is now available as a Kindle eBook! You may place your orders via the link below. Your copy will be delivered to your Kindle device, tablet, and/or mobile phone.

I appreciate your support!


Natalia Go’s second poetry collection, Garden of Dreams, talks about resurfacing from the thick, menacing silence of a well, past the cold, damp walls, and into a garden where light meets dreamers. It includes sonnets and poems turned into songs. 

An Uninvited Guest

I sat on my desk with Grief and asked what it wanted from me. Why it even visited me at a time when I was supposed to finally be free. I said I thought I’d be excluded from its list of patrons. I never signed up for its services, yet there it was. But it just sat there, looking at me as if I was supposed to come up with the answer on my own. It said it wasn’t there for anything other than to sit with me. 

“Who sent you?” I said. 

“No one.”

It said it had no control over where it went and when. It was as confused as I was. Yet it knew it was in the right place at the right time. 

“What purpose do you serve?” I said. “Whom do you serve?”

It didn’t know. 

“Don’t you have more important homes to visit?” I said. 

Again, it was silent.

“When you’re here, all the colors turn grey, and it rains. You are not a pleasant companion.”

But it took no offense and said nothing. 

“You have to go,” I said. 

It almost obeyed. 

But as it stood up, I felt a rush of anger overcome me.

“Is this what you came here to give me?” I said. “And you’re just going to leave me with this?”

Finally, it talked. 

“I come and go only as you please. If you send me away, I have no control over who replaces me. It might be Joy. It might be Peace. Or it might be utter silence. But it could also be that which is here right now. Or fear. Or others with whom you are more familiar.” 

“But when they come, do you leave?” I asked it. 

“Only if you dismiss me. Am I dismissed?”

“Where do you go?” 

“Elsewhere,” it said. “But you must know I am, in essence, all of them.”

“You are dismissed.”

It walked out the door, and I sat, waiting for what comes next. 

“Do you ever go away?” I said to no one. 

And a coldness hung in the air waiting. Waiting for me to reach for warmth before it descends. 

garden of dreams book cover by natalia go

Garden of dreams preorder

Garden of Dreams is now available for preorder!!! It’s out for a discounted price of PHP460. ETA is end of August. Watch the trailer below!

Natalia Go’s second poetry collection, Garden of Dreams, talks about resurfacing from the thick, menacing silence of a well, past the cold, damp walls, and into a garden where light meets dreamers. It includes sonnets and poems turned into songs.