Caring Amid Conflict

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The world premiere of “As Straw Before the Wind” seeks understanding within family, generations and war.

From left, Muni Zano, Sarnica Lim, Pilita Santos and Anita Borcia in “As Straw Before the Wind.” (Michael Helms Photography)

From left, Muni Zano, Sarnica Lim, Pilita Santos and Anita Borcia in “As Straw Before the Wind.” (Michael Helms Photography)

“There’s such a focus in our society on the younger generation that we often forget to care about the older generation,” said Sarnica Lim, in discussing her role as a convalescent home nurse in the new play “As Straw Before the Wind,” opening Saturday at The Ruby Theatre in Hollywood.

“Sometimes we take for granted the sacrifices of the older generation, that they have so much to offer,” Lim told The Rafu. “The nurses in this play are taking care of this generation, and discovering how they protect us from the pain and the suffering they had to go through.”

Written by Felix Racelis, “As Straw Before the Wind” follows Nene Santos, a Filipina nurse and enterprising owner/operator of a San Gabriel Valley convalescent home.

Sarnica Lim (Photo by Nicole Somsung)

Sarnica Lim (Photo by Nicole Somsung)

Nene (Tita Pambid) has ambitious plans to expand her business, which she intends to leave to her daughter and primary assistant, Pilita (Lim), who has her own agenda.

The issue arises of what will become of the elderly and fragile resident patients of the convalescent home – including a retired Filipino American Army captain and a chain-smoking retiree widow with Alzheimer’s disease.

Confronting a string of setbacks and obstacles in her quest, Nene is beset by flashbacks of the horrendous experience she and her family endured during World War II, leading to the revelation of a long-kept family secret.

“This is a very personal story for me, having grown up with survivors of World War II,” noted Racelis. “The majority of the women in my family, including my mother, were nurses, and one of my mother’s best friends was one of the nurses stationed on the island of Corregidor during the Battle of Corregidor in 1942.

“Nene is a composite character of many of these courageous women who survived the ordeal of the war, and who lived their lives with grace and stoicism. All of them are now departed. Their memories and spirit continue to both haunt and inspire me.”

The California Healthcare Foundation reported that in 2010, Filipinos accounted for 18 percent of the RN workforce but just 3 percent of the state’s population.

Lim, who is of Filipino and Japanese heritage, noted that while the Philippines provides more nurses than any other nation, their stories are rarely told in mass media.

“This is a point of view you don’t see often, and hopefully this can be a platform, a way to reach out not only to the Asian American community, but to anyone who has struggled with being multicultural. A lot of the time, you just want to be yourself and want to please family and friends.”

Director Lesley Asistio said “As Straw Before the Wind” examines layers of conflict.

“What you will see on stage is a series of wars: a war between a mother and a daughter, between a convalescent home owner and a patient, between a loan officer and a potential borrower, and between the past and the present.

“As we weave through these battles with these characters, struggle after struggle, triumph after triumph, we ponder whether peace and success are truly possible, or whether we are simply tossed about as straw before the wind.”

The play opens Saturday, Aug. 13, and runs through Sept. 4 at The Ruby Theatre at The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling Brown Paper

Tickets at (800) 838-3006, or online at http://strawbefore.brownpapertickets.com.

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