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By David V. Crisostomo

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Mar. 8) - The final performance of the award-winning play "The Vagina Monologues" last night was preceded by a small protest outside the University of Guam Lecture Hall in Mangilao.

About a dozen Catholics, led by Archbishop Anthony Apuron and Deacon Frank Tenorio, chaplain of the Archdiocese of Agana's Pro-Life Committee, stood outside the Lecture Hall, where the play has been performed for the past weekend to sold-out audiences. They held signs, including one reading "Profanity, Degrading Human Life!"

Protesters said they were offended by the play's title and said the production promotes abortion.

"It's the word 'V' that got us here. This is wrong. This play promotes abortion and promiscuity," said the 67-year-old Tenorio. When asked whether he had seen the performance or read the script, Tenorio said he had not.

Protester Patricia Sison, 70, of Dededo said she saw parts of the play when it was aired on television. The retired librarian said the play was not meant for a mainstream audience and that she was offended by it.

"In fact, it shouldn't be for any audience. It's an affront to morality," Sison said.

The protest lasted about 15 minutes.

Last night's protest did little to affect the play, which again was performed to a sold-out audience. The play, written by Eve Ensler, also is being held at hundreds of college campuses around the world this year as part of the V-Day college campaign, an annual event that involved thousands of anti-violence groups around the world.

Organizers of the production here said the message of the Ensler's play was lost to the those who protested last night.

"We don't even mention the word abortion in the play. In fact, there's a monologue and it's all about giving birth. We talk about domestic violence and rape as a tactic of war," said event organizer and cast member Chelsa Muña-Brecht, 27, of Mangilao.

Event organizer Romina King, 25, of Chalan Pago said the goal of the play is to empower women and to stop violence against women.

The three-hour play has involved more than 40 local participants, ranging from age 17 to 56. Based on Ensler's interviews with more than 200 women, the play relates women's euphemisms for their private parts and includes a poem from the memories of a Bosnian woman raped by soldiers. Organizers have said the play was part of Ensler's attempt to wipe out the shame and embarrassment that many abused women associate with their bodies or their sexuality.

"We believe empowering women is the first step to stopping violence," King said. The play has drawn more than 200 people a night since performances began Friday. All proceeds of the event will benefit local organizations that provide services to victims of abuse, including Victims Advocates Reaching Out, Erica's House, the Guahan Project and the Oasis.

"I don't believe the play is lewd or promotes negative notions at all," said Kate Baltazar Aguon, 26, media and outreach coordinator for VARO. Aguon, who has read the script and watched the play, added that the money raised through the effort will directly benefit the victims of abuse.

"All of the money we receive will go to victims services. It will go to transportation, shelter, emergency food and medical assistance," Aguon said.

Organizers said they hope to perform the play again next year.

March 8, 22004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com



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