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In this musical based on Nick Joaquin’s A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, the high-profile Marasigan family is now in dire straits because artist Don Lorenzo has not produced a painting for a long time. His unmarried daughters Candida and Paul are worried about how their neighbors and friends perceive them. The sisters believe that had Don Lorezo continued painting, they would have been able to maintain their stature and, would have attracted eligible men as husbands.
The have had to rely on their siblings Manolo and Pepang who have no attachment for their former lifestyle.
To have a steady source of income, the sisters take in a boarder, the shady Tony Javier.
Don Lorenzo finally paints a self-portrait entitled “Portrait of the Filipino.” It features Eneas carrying his father Ankises out of the burning city of Troy. The portrait fetches a high sum as it attracts the curiosity of many individuals such as Doña Loleng, a politician’s wife; Elsa Montes, a socialite who had just arrived from New York; Charlie Dacanay, a well-to-do bum; Patsy, a debutante, and bonafide journalists including the Marasigans’ long-time family friend Bitoy Camacho. Senator Perico, also a friend of the Marasigans, tries to convince the sisters to sell the portrait to the government, citing that it would be a big contribution to country’s material treasures.
To all of them, Candida and Paula’s response is a big “no.”
Tony insists that he has an American buyer willing to purchase the portrait for a very high price.
He preys on the vulnerability of Paula, who seems to be romantically interested in him. The more astute Candida knows what Tony is trying to do and does not stop him. Candida manuevers the situation, short of offering Paula as a sacrificial lamb to a hungry wolf.