Wednesday, November 23, 2005


HIMALA (Source: UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies )

This entry is based on an article by well-respected medical anthropologist Michael Tan in his January 29, 2004 article entitled “Movies as social capital,” published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Read it here.

In 108 years of cinema in the Philippines, there is nothing that can take away from our film makers the urge to portray our current state of affairs as they are - be it about our continued abject poverty, or even the simplest nuances and changes in the Pinoy character.

Looking back 30 to 40 years ago, we've had a wealth of of films that were made during very difficult times and we are glad to still have them today, thanks to the hard work of our archivists (despite the lack of a proper archive) and film enthusiasts. I had the chance of seeing some of them a few years back - thanks to ABS-CBN - and they pretty much convey the same message to us today. Which is weird because this says a lot about how much we've changed as a society.

With my apologies to the film makers, writers and producers, I wish to reflect on some of them here today. Lino Brocka's “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” can be remade into “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Mabigat Ka Talaga”, perhaps pertaining to the growing width of Filipinos secondary to our present lifestyle and habits. One can say that the Pinoys were born and will probably die in – if not of – these fastfood chains, what with our TV sets bombarded daily by their calls to get hold of the latest crispy chicken inventions.

Writer Ricky Lee's “Himala” can be remade into “Himala…Pa Rin” to reflect how much – or how little – we’ve progressed since Nora Aunor portrayed the sad character of Elsa in the 1982 award-winning social commentary by National Artist for Film, Ishmael Bernal. Perhaps it's time to stop waiting for miracles to happen, stop depending on the government for many things, and strive on our own to achieve what we want for ourselves and our family? Toying with a famous saying, if we want to learn how to fish, we must learn how to make use of a net.

“Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon” is just as perfect and relevant if re-titled as “Ganito Kami Noon, Ganito Pa Rin Kayo Ngayon” because the Pinoy life is a cycle of the same good and bad times. Like we always say, “things never seem to change around here.” This is best exemplified by some photos I’ve seen lately (probably taken around the early 1900s) of Manila underwater after a monsoon rain.

It did not escape my attention that “Minsa’y Isang Gamo-Gamo” can have a proper sequel if the recent Subic rape case involving 6 US Marines, (5, depending on whose report is it that you’re reading) is of any indication. Eyewitnesses say that the poor girl was left half-naked by the Marines on a parking lot. If Nora Aunor’s famous one-liner wouldn’t be just as applicable in this case, I don’t know what else will.

Sir Tan finished his article as thus: “More than a matter of aesthetics, appreciating our films is recognizing how they chronicle, even if sometimes in a glamorized or sensationalized way, a nation's trials and tribulations, aspirations and triumph. Films are an integral part of our social capital that need to be preserved with care and transmitted, with pride, across generations.”


And for you, dear reader, an old song from Gine Tan (Grand Prize, 1st ASEAN Songfest of 1981):

Magsimula ka,
batiin ang kay gandang umaga
Nang may ngiti sa iyong mga mata
Sa pagkakaidlip,gumising na!
Ang buhay ay masaya,
palalampasin mo ba?
Iisa lang ang buhay mo,
kumilos ka, gamitin mo
Kung may nais ang puso mo,
mangarap ka, abutin mo
Upang ito'y makamit mo,
magsikap ka, simulan mo!

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