Tipsy Tales’ Lambana: Filipino Folklore Meets Immersive Theater

Last July, my best friend Sab and I attended the soft opening of Tipsy Tales’ latest attraction, “Lambana.” If you ask me what it was, I wouldn’t really call it a Philippine folklore-themed horror house even if the structures of both attractions are slightly similar.

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Posted by Tipsy Tales on Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Instead, imagine what Alice from Alice in Wonderland might have felt if she fell down the rabbit hole and, instead of Underland, took a detour to your lola’s bahay na bato before getting draggeddown to worlds unknown filled with creatures of Philippine mythology. And instead of just witnessing a story unfold before your eyes, you and the rest of the participants become part of the story.

And it’s never the same story each time you enter Lambana.

What is Tipsy Tales?

Tipsy Tales is an “immersive experience company,” providing immersive entertainment in Asia through surreal multi-sensory worlds. Unlike theaters, cinemas, escape rooms, or horror houses, Tipsy Tales’ shows put the audience at the center of the story, and our choices affect the ending of the experience.

In other forms of entertainment, we as an audience are stuck to viewing the performance behind a fourth wall; while this has almost always been the case in most types of attractions, there’s always a sense of detachment there. We suspend our disbelief for an hour or two, but the setting makes it hard for us to forget we’re just audience members watching characters in their own story.

Tipsy Tales, however, is changing the way people are entertained.

Their multi-sensory spaces aren’t limited to things we can see or hearand also play with our sense of smell and taste. And because they can’t really control what their audience says or does in their space, their actors always have to be on their toes, and ready to do improv and answer any question while in-character or lead the audience when it appears they’re getting lost – all the while making sure that the immersive experience is never broken.

Tipsy Tales: Lambana

Image from Tipsy Tales Facebook page

Their latest attraction, “Lambana,” is a dark fairy tale adventure featuring some of the well-known and less popular figures in Philippine folklore. Located in Eastwood Mall in Quezon City, it’s Manila’s first immersive experience featuring Filipino folklore, so I won’t spoil the experience by naming the who’s-who of the story – you’ll have to visit Lambana yourself! But with our national mythology featuring fascinating and frightening creatures like the kapre, the sirena, and the nuno, you can expect that it’s going to be good.

I can tell you, however, that the experience is framed around the premise that you and your “cousins” (the other audience members) decide to visit your Lola Mila one night only to find yourselves going down a psychedelic and whimsical adventure.

Experiencing the Magic

Before Sab and I could enter Lambana, we and five other guests had to fill up a form for pretty basic information, including the preferred language to be used in the performance. By default, each show is in English, but if all the guests were comfortable with it, the actors can speak in Filipino.Unfortunately, we were asked to leave our phones in designated lockers for safekeeping, so I wasn’t able to take photos of the experience.

I didn’t really think much about the forms we signed until we entered the actual immersive space. When Tipsy Tales advertised a personalized immersive experience, they were not kidding.

From Sab’s name featured on a college diploma in Lola Mila’s house to Lola Mila actually knowing my name before I could introduce myself, it was easy to forget that it was a performance and get into character as one of her grandchildren.

What happens after getting to know Lola Mila, however, I can’t say. Not because I don’t want to spoil the experience for you, but because even if I did tell you what happened in our adventure, it’s highly likely it won’t be the same for you.

At one point in our adventure, two of our “cousins” got separated from the group and in my mind I was thinking, “Yeah, those aren’t audience members. They’re actors and now we have to go find them.” It was only later after everyone regrouped when I realized that they actually were audience members, but they went through an experience that was totally different from our adventure.

In Lambana, you’re allowed to interact with the set and talk to the characters. You’re encouraged to immerse yourself in the experience and play along by getting into your own character, and during our adventure, we did: Sab was the eager beaver ready to go on an adventure, while I was the more cautious one wary of everything from the hidden notes around our Lola’s house to the questionable bottles of unidentified liquid.

Plot-wise, the story the experience told wasa real mind-blower. I really didn’t expect the twist in the end but, looking back, all the signs that foreshadowed the big reveal gave a really good resolution. As someone who studied creative writing for drama back in college, it was a one-of-a-kind feelingseeing the story unfold and reach that conclusion but, instead of watching it from a stage, I’m involved in the story.

Instead of being the audience member who wants to yell at the character for being blind to something so obvious, I’ve become the character blind to all the foreshadowing until the very last moment. And with no sense of the real world or signs to tell how long we’ve been in Lambana, by the time we exited the rooms, I was surprised to find out that we’ve been inside for a little over 75 minutes – because of the suspense and wonder of the story, I really thought we were only there for a short while.

Interested in Entering Lambana?

Family photo with our “cousins” and the cast of Tipsy Tales’ Lambana
Photo by the writer

Tipsy Tales’ “Lambana” officially opened its doors last August 17 and will continue to provide shows until September 30, 2019. You can book your tickets online, but take note that each timeslot can accommodate only up to 15 people.  Each ticket costs P2,000 per person, but Tipsy Tales provides group rates and discounts for PWDs, seniors, and students, drop their marketing team a message at hello@tipsytales.ph.

Take note that a regular show is suitable for audiences ages 12 and above. If you’re thinking about bringing your family including children younger than 12 years old, send them a message for kid-friendly shows. Each show lasts around an hour and a half, but you need to be at the venue at least 15 minutes before the show starts.

Oh, and as a final note, be careful stepping into Tipsy Tales’ attraction. Because once you enter Lambana, you never truly leave.

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