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Long Walk to Peace

Skilty Labastilla

The penultimate scene of Women of the Weeping River (Sheron Dayoc, 2016) finds the protagonist, a young woman named Satra, heading towards the other side of the river in her remote village in Sulu, her face gripped with a sense of purpose and urgency but her gait betraying a tinge of wariness as she moves amidst the brambles in the woods. Her family is embroiled in a bitter feud with a rival family, borne out of a land dispute, that has cost dear lives from both sides, and Satra is intent on ending the cycle on her own, against the wishes of the men in her family who believe that their maratabat (family honor and prestige) is at stake, and that when life from one side is taken, any retaliation less than taking life from the other side is tantamount to showing weakness.

Unbeknownst to her, the person she intends to talk to, Shadiya, is doing the exact same thing. Shadiya previously confronted Satra when her son was killed by the latter’s brothers as revenge for the death of Satra’s husband. She told Satra then that she does not wish for anyone to carry the pain that she feels, but that her family has no plans on letting go of the piece of land both families are fighting for.

When both women finally meet towards the end of the film, they first warily size each other up, not knowing what the other will say or do, then they stare at each other wordlessly for a good half-minute, their eyes saying everything they needed to say.

The scene then cuts to the film’s final scene: of several soldiers lying dead in the mud and in their truck, the rain washing over their bodies, having just been ambushed by enemies.

It is but fitting that these two scenes come at the very end of the movie – which on the surface is about the repercussions of rido (blood feud) on the families involved – as they reflect the intricacies of present-day Muslim Mindanao sociopolitical realities, and connote that although there is a sliver of hope in ending cycles of inter-clan violence by recognizing the power of human agency, particularly of women, who are even more marginalized in Muslim society, there is still the matter of larger structural issues that need to be dealt with.

Mindanao, particularly Muslim Mindanao, has for the longest time been at the margins of the Philippine nation-state. Decades of political and economic exclusion brought chronic poverty and disenfranchisement, and the weak state gave rise to local elite families who can readily challenge weak authority and control to, for instance, source firearms extra-legally and build private armies, as well as capture government resources for their own selfish needs.

WWR home

Revenge killings, certainly, are not atypical in any small-scale society where family and kinship ties, instead of the state, are the main sources of authority. As Wilfredo Magno Torres III points out in Rido: Clan Feuding and Conflict Management in Mindanao (2007), in societies where the state is weak, decision-making and enforcement become more decentralized and the provision of security is based mainly on self-help. In the same volume, Gerard Rixhon argued that the turbulent history of Sulu such as numerous military occupations and incursions from foreign powers, its (forced) inclusion into Philippine  territory, “divisive politics, widespread corruption, inadequate justice system, and government neglect” have led the Tausug to resort to a private form of justice called mamauli (revenge).

The film effectively shows this weak hold of the state on families by emphasizing the remoteness of the dwelling of Satra and her family from the town center, with them transporting what few farm produce they have on two baskets slung on a cow and walking for hours to the poblacion, where they still need to plead with traders to give them a fair price. When the land dispute between Satra’s family and the Ismaels explode into a bloody encounter where Satra’s husband is killed, the decision whether or not to exact mamauli falls on the men in the family, particularly on Mustafa, the family patriarch, a bearer of a Tausug culture where traditional values of bravery and masculinity are highly prized. It does not take long before the vengeance killings transpire, and this time the lives of two young boys from both sides are tragically cut short.

WWR river

As the men in the family prepare for more bloodshed by selling treasured family heirlooms to acquire more long arms and Satra’s youngest brother gets trained in shooting a rifle, the deeply troubled Satra consults her mother, Nuryama, in a lovely quiet scene where the two women sit by a clearing in the woods surrounded by wild yellow daisies. Satra, tired of her life-long acquiescence to the men in her life (her father and brothers), asks Nuryama if there is something either of them can do to finally put an end to the senseless cycle of violence they find themselves in. Nuryama, having lived her whole life in the shadow of her husband, naturally expresses hesitation, telling Satra that whatever the two of them decide to do would mean disobeying Mustafa. This scene obviously presages the “staredown” scene I described earlier, when Satra finally finds the courage to defy her father for fear of losing even more loved ones.

WWR daisies

The fact that the film does not conclude with a pat, optimistic ending is testament to Dayoc’s keen understanding of the Muslim Mindanao context. In 2015, he made the documentary The Crescent Rising, which highlights the narratives of men and women caught in the quagmire of war and poverty in Muslim Mindanao, and posits that there are no victors in war. Even in making viewers empathize with marginalized Tausug families through Women of the Weeping River, Dayoc does not glorify them either. In confronting viewers with that stark parting scene of military soldiers lying lifeless in the rain and mud, he also reminds everyone that there is no single solution to violence, be they inter-clan or inter-ethnic. Even if families realize the futility of the never-ending feuds; even if men and women can find solutions on their own or with the help of mediators; and even if traditional values of maratabat, of masculinity, and of bravery will eventually be harnessed for the greater good and not for familial one-upmanship, the state still has supreme responsibility for the welfare of the long-suffering Moro groups.

The forms that this state responsibility – for long-lasting peace and equitable development – will take are obviously varied and multi-pronged, and should involve every group that has a stake. The enactment and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (the film shows a scene where Satra witnesses a rally of mostly women and children Muslims in the town center chanting for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law) will be a long drawn-out process but, in the meantime, different modes of local participatory development engagements go a long way in easing the region’s poor and marginalized out of their suffering.

WWR rally

Women of the Weeping River is outstanding not only because of Dayoc’s judicious handling of relevant themes (he also wrote the script) but even more so because of his exceptional grasp of film language, particularly in trusting that the scenes will work more effectively with minimal musical score, and by letting the camera patiently capture the characters’ inner turmoil through intelligent mise-en-scène and symbolic imagery. It helps that the film’s actors, mostly amateur, all deliver superb lived-in portrayals, particularly newcomer Laila Ulao as Satra.

With just four feature-length films under his belt (the other two are Halaw, 2010; and Bukod Kang Pinagpala, 2015), Dayoc is quickly emerging as one of the country’s most relevant and perceptive filmmakers. As regional films continue to make their mark in Philippine cinema, I’m positive his name can only shine brighter.

(All photos are taken from the film’s screening copy.)

 

References

Rixhon, G. (2007) ‘Tausug and Corsican Clan Feuding: A Comparative Study’, Rido: Clan Feuding and Conflict Management in Mindanao. Makati City: The Asia Foundation, pp. 304-324.

Torres III, W.M. (2007) ‘Introduction’, Rido: Clan Feuding and Conflict Management in Mindanao. Makati City: The Asia Foundation, pp. 11-35.

 
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Posted by on 11/04/2017 in Film Review

 

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‘Minsan Pa’: Mga Pagtalunton sa Pagitan ng Pamamaalam at Pagdating

Eli R. Guieb III

Minsan, ang pamamaalam ay isang pagdating.  At ang mga pagdating, kadalasan ay mga pamamaalam.  At magkahalong panghihinayang at pag-asa ang binubuhay, pilit na binubuhay, sa mga masikip na oras na sinisikap pagkasyahin sa pagitan ng mga payapang pagtatagpo at paglisan, sa tahimik na pagtalunton sa diwa at unawa.  Ito ang buod ng komplexidad ng mga naglalagalag na damdaming pinilit himayin ng matalinong pelikulang Minsan Pa ni Jeffrey Jeturian sa panulat ni Armando Lao.

Kung tutuusin ay hindi naman kakaiba ang kuwento ng pelikula, subalit kakaiba at malalim ang paghawak ng direktor at iskripwriter sa mga emosyon ng mga tauhan, maging sa emosyon ng mga kontextualisadong visualidad ng kondisyong material ng mga tauhan sa isang tiyak na panahon at lugar ng mga pagtatagpo at pamamaalam.  Pinagsanib, pinagtunggali at kalaunan ay pinaghiwalay ng pelikula ang samu’t saring pinagdaraanang emosyong personal ng mga ordinaryong mamamayang umiinog ang buhay sa sentralidad ng Cebu bilang isang siyudad na umaagapay sa mga nagbabagong hugis ng globalisadong urbanidad.  Sa pagitan ng humanidad ng mga koneksyong pantao at ng deshumanidad ng mga koneksyong binubuo ng globalisadong kapital ay ipinahiwatig ng pelikula, sa isang napakapayapang pamamaraan, ang nagsasalimbayang koneksyon at diskoneksyon ng mga sarili at mga kolektibong sariling nabubuhay sa higop ng mekanikal na urbanisasyon, kasabay ang pagtalunton ng mga indibidwal sa mga hinahanap na espasyo ng sarili.

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Ara Mina at Jomari Yllana sa Minsan Pa (2004)

Walang pagtatangkang maging lantarang pulitikal ang Minsan Pa, pero sapól ng pelikula ang dimensyong kultural ng mga binabagong ugnayang pantao na umuusbong sa isang sitwasyong ang mga tinaguriang kalakarang global ay nanunuot sa mga kondisyong lokal, at kung paanong ang hulí (kondisyong lokal) ay umaagapay o di-kaya’y tumatalilis, minsan ay umiigpaw, sa una (kalakarang global).  Bagamat may tendensyang maging palaiwás ang pagtalakay ng Minsan Pa sa mga sanhing pulitikal ng mga ganitong pagbabago sa lipunan ay masinop naman nitong napanghawakan ang makinis nitong paghimay sa mga magkakapatong na subtextong kultural kung saan ang mga pamamaalam at pagdating, kadalasan, ay bunga hindi lamang ng mga personal na paglalakabay ng mga damdamin kundi ng mga puwersang pulitiko-kultural na nakakawing pa rin sa mga indibidwal na sarili.

Namumukod-tangi ang paggamit ng pelikula sa mga imahe ng mata ng tao at lente ng kamera bilang mga suhestyon sa pagbibigay-visyon sa mga posibilidad ng iba’t ibang hugis ng relasyong personal at iba’t ibang anyo ng ugnayang panlipunan, maging sa mga probabilidad ng paglaho ng mga koneksyon at visyong ito.  Sa pelikula, ang turismo, halimbawa, ay isang anyo ng voyeurismo o pamboboso, isang paraan ng pagkalakal sa kahirapan ng mga Filipino, at tusong palengke sa pambubugaw ng mga naghihingalong pangako sa mga inaakalang katuparan ng mga pangarap.  Sa mga kondisyong ito ay inilarawan ng pelikula ang magkakakawing na deshumanidad at humanidad ng mga tauhan, lugar at panahon (e.g., ang lente ng kamera na kumukupkop sa mga paít at saya ng nakaraan subalit parang multong nanunudyo sa pagpapadaloy ng kasalukuyan; ang naglahong paningin ng mata kasabay ng pagdilim ng tutunguhing relasyon).  Tinipon at isinubi ng maraming indibidwal sa lente ng kani-kanilang mga personal na gunita ang kimkim-kimkim na maliliit na kuwento ng ordinaryong pamumuhay, na sa pagdaloy ng pelikula ay nagpapakapal sa textura ng karimlan at panlulupaypay ng visyong panlipunan ng pagkabansang Filipino.

Ang pag-apuhap ng pag-asa buhat sa nakaraan, ang pagbubuo ng mga pangarap tungo sa kung anuman ang maaaring harapin sa bukas, ang pagpapatibay ng bukas sa pamamagitan ng pagharap sa mga hamon ng ngayon, ang pagbibigay-buhay sa mga naglalahong visyon ng pag-ibig at pamumuhay bilang mga marangal na tao, ang pagsaliksik at pagsagip sa mga lumubog na pangarap, ang mga internal na paglalakbay sa sarili na hindi kumakaligta sa nakaugnay na mga paglalakbay sa labas ng sarili: sa lahat ng ito, ang mga pamamaalam at pagdating ay hindi laging pamamaalam at pagdating; ang mga pagdating ay nagiging pamamaalam at ang mga pamamaalam ay naghuhigis pagdating.

Maihahanay ang Minsan Pa sa iilang matinong pelikulang Filipino na pumapaksa sa tema ng mga nagbabagong ugnayang personal na nakapaloob sa mga empirikal na kondisyong material ng natatarantang lipunan.  Ipinagpapatuloy ng Minsan Pa ang mga pagsisikap ng mga nauna nang pelikulang kinakitaan ng katulad na estilo ng paglalahad at pagdalumat.  Ilang halimbawa ay ang Soltero ni Pio de Castro, Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising ni Mike de Leon, at Ikaw ay Akin ni Ishmael Bernal.  Sa mga pelikulang tulad ng Minsan Pa at ng mga kahawig na pelikulang nauna rito, nabibigyan ng katarungan ang pagtalakay at explorasyon sa komplexidad ng magkasalikop na mga personal na paggalugad sa katuturan ng sarili at kolektibong pamumuhay, bagamat kadalasan ay watak-watak na pamumuhay, ng mga Filipino na pilit na umuukit ng makataong pakikipagkapwa sa gitna ng kontemporaneong deshumanisasyon ng ugnayang pantao.

At bihira lamang, minsanan lamang kung tutuusin, ang bilang ng mga pelikulang Filipinong matinong humaharap sa ganitong hamon.  Isa rito ang Minsan Pa.

 
 

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Look After: Critique of ‘Foster Child’ (2007)

Patrick Flores

The film may on the surface be uneventful. Thelma Manlangqui goes about her errands as mother and wife on a typical morning, with the banal bustle that attends the ritual, except that her family, with husband and two sons, is quite exceptional. In their split-level shack in the belly of the city, she takes care of a foster child, whom the government had entrusted her; the boy named John-John would soon be handed over to American parents who had sought him for adoption. The film revolves around this event, beginning with the descent of a social worker into the depths of the slums to the moment when Thelma hands his charge over to his new parents in a posh hotel that does not only offer stark contrast to the squalor of his origin; it becomes the site of a deeply touching and troubling instance of cinematic experience in which the foster mother’s world falls apart in a skyscraper of marble baths.

The event, therefore, ceases to be a mere element of the plot. It is an event that takes in a sense of the total, the totality of society inscribed in a fairly straightforward sequence of incidents that seems to happen in a day, in a singular stroke. We say this because such an everyday circumstance translates into a consequence of historical forces congealing to produce precisely an event of this nature, with contradictions of class, gender, and race playing out to generate exemplary pathos and profound perturbation.

FOSTER CHILD, (aka JOHN JOHN), Cherry Pie Picache, Kier Segundo, 2007. ©Ignatius Film

FOSTER CHILD, Cherry Pie Picache, Kier Segundo, 2007. 

And this operates not merely in terms of discourse, but aesthetically as well. The ethnographic approach of director Brillante Mendoza intimates a stalking effect that threads us through the social thickness of what may appear to be everyday routine. It surfaces for us an aspect of life as it settles like sediment of a residual socio-economic system. On the other hand, it gestures toward a passage from the hovel to Manila’s highways and on to that transient station called a hotel. And then this: the final crash of maternal sentiment when Thelma realizes that her “son” had been taken away and that she could not do anything about it, a chronicle of a loss foretold but likewise a tale of the devout wish of wistful belonging, indeed a reversal and deferral of maternality. At this point, melodrama flirts with melancholy, tragedy with the realism of soap opera, an uncanny liaison that takes us to the most fraught of ties, the most alienating of emotions, and an emergent tone and terrain of affection.

The critical scene, and the episode that renders the film thoroughly cinematic, is when Thelma takes John-John, whose diuretic urge had intensified that day presumably because of stress, to the hotel bathroom. Here foster mother and foster child find themselves alone, confined to the affluence of a suite, the fixtures of which they do not know how to use: they turn the faucets the wrong way and the water spills all over the place. It is the mess, this nervousness, the inability to grasp the structure of power that becomes the film’s political logic, the sign of an aporia or impasse, the impossibility of not knowing how to carry out something very basic, to go about everyday life, something as rudimentary as it had been demonstrated in the prefigurative ablutions of the initial tableaux. It is as if, all of a sudden, everything becomes strange, unfamiliar, indifferent, formidable.

Foster Child is most productively viewed in relation to last year’s most accomplished film Inang Yaya and one of this year’s most revealing projects, Endo. The former speaks of surrogate motherhood and the latter of the contractualization of labor. It may motivate us to draw connections between these three narratives: of how work in the nation has been shaped by contractualization, more specifically subcontracting, surviving on exchange with short-term benefits and with enduring costs to well being and the capacity to truly love. In a significant way, these three portraits depict certain biopolitical formations in Philippine society: how bodies have become irreducibly the very “things” that have been produced for circulation as “labor” and whose romantic, erotic, and filial feelings have been compromised, and in fact, even effaced. We tend to forget that John-John has a biological mother, too, absent though she may be on the screen. And it is the nation-state that finances fostering as part of “social work and community development” in the era of globalization.

In light of a layered screenplay, a deft direction that scrupulously harnesses the potential of digital technology with nary an affectation, and astonishingly sensitive performances from the cast, most particularly Cherry Pie Picache’s valiant effort to nuance degrees of being fleeting and eternal Mother, the film deserves to be the favored child of 2007, the posterity of a dear departed industry.

(This essay first appeared in YCC’s 18th Annual Circle Citations program, August 2008.)

 
 

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Methods of Melancholy: Critique of ‘Bakal Boys’ (2009)

J. Pilapil Jacobo

The habit of locating the landscape of a purported independent cinema in almost every destitute milieu in the metropolis raises the ethical concern of what remains to be told when scenographic procedures, in their absolute exposure of urban poor indignity, almost always preclude subjects from essaying a human position against and in spite of their social predicament. The poor have nothing left to say in poverty pornography. The subaltern is denied of all chance to reside in in the social circuits of language, and participate in the militant struggle for a better life, as a figure of—in Native American literary critic Gerald Vizenor’s terms—“survivance.”

And yet, Bakal Boys seems to exhibit a behavior that departs from the exercises of screen exoticisms. The film premises its deviations on the question of grief, and asks whether one could still mourn when survival, particularly its material possibility, is always already a deplorable social condition. How does a character grieve when sentiments are not permitted to seep into the system, to take even the form of a “structure of feeling”? When persons seek emotional closure within this economic order, what sentimental practices are laid out as the markers of collapse and recovery?

In the case of Ralston Jover’s piece, what remains compelling in the setting up of the scenes of impoverishment is a spectrum of melancholic methods that bereaved subjects employ, because the loss can only be worked through in intimate terms.

bakal-boys

Bungal (Vincent Olano) disappears during an expedition of a band of Baseco boys to look for an anchor that older divers have left behind after finding a sunken boat. Of a temperament almost too intense for his age, Bungal believes in mermaids who could offer one a felicitous streak of luck. He also tells of his seaside town where fishermen may never return from sea. We see him drawing on the sand crosses simulating that cemetery of the sad tropics. Knowing the fanciful and the deathly, Bungal must depart from the narrative to give way to the choreographic instances of bereavement when the situation is routinely proposed as desensitizing and its random characters far from sensitive performers, if not at all sensate subjects.

Two figures of mourning are to be examined as species born and raised from Bungal’s disappearance.

The first is already familiar, for it is tense, vigorous, histrionic. And although there is always space for the gestures of the abandoned kin, Nanay Salvia (Gina Pareño), the grandmother who offers it all up to Allah, should be the last in a long line of such figures of anxiety. Hysteria is of course almost absent in the depiction, to be fair to Ms. Pareño, but we feel this species of traumaturgy has reached an exhausted phase; her body of grief interprets the phrases of entreaty to be translatable as nervous postures in the face of mortality.

Utoy (Meljun Ginto), best friend of the disappeared, demonstrates the other figure of mourning; his is a subject considered alien to such emotive exchanges. What does a child know of that abyss, loneliness? The figure that exposes us as unbelievers is that of patience. Utoy awaits the return of his friend as much as he anticipates an understanding of the disappearance itself. He searches for him in the various sites of their friendship: in the alleys of their mischief, and by the shores of their play. When the waiting ends, this figure marks the sand as cemeterial, as the ground of the leave-taking. All this he must ritualize in silence, which is only broken when she seeks out Nanay Salvia, for an embrace. And how does one read that final frame? That immersion into the waters of the bay could teach us about survivance—into an age of iron of what could be a man of steel at last, even with that speechless body.

 
 

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‘Minsan Pa’: The Camera Obscured and Luna’s Vision

Eloisa May P. Hernandez

The camera plays an integral and integrative role in the film Minsan Pa.  It is a repository of a woman’s visions: her past, present, and the promise of a future.

Filmed entirely in Cebu, it stars Jomari Yllana as Jerry, a tour guide to the “Queen City of the South” for local and foreign, mostly Japanese, tourists.  He sells not only the sites and sounds of Cebu, but also pimps the women and eventually prostitutes himself. However, there is a sense that for Jerry, there is no such thing as a free lunch; everything has a price. It is part of his trade: he lives on commissions, tips, favors, and has mastered the art of bartering.  There is goodness in Jerry, though, as the breadwinner of his family, he sacrifices his own needs and wants for his mother and two siblings, and stands as the patriarch of the family. In return, he wields control over his mother and siblings (mother’s attempt to go back to teaching, his brother’s gambling, his sister’s emotional outburst).

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Luna (Ara Mina) is a pre-school teacher who joined one of Jerry’s tours and is apparently running away from her philandering boyfriend, Alex.  The whole trip, she holds her camera almost all the time, like a security blanket, ready to shoot (and even used it to shut up an irritating boy). Alex follows her to Cebu to woo her.  On a boating trip, the camera accidentally falls off the boat (which could have been avoided if she had the good sense to put the strap around her neck) and plunges deep in the sea. The camera takes a symbolic metamorphosis here as it is blinded, obscured by the depths of the sea.

Alex proposes marriage but reneges on his marriage proposal as he is blinded by a vehicular accident. Luna goes back to Cebu and, with the help of Jerry, goes on a mission to recover the camera.

The camera takes on a symbolic and real significance to Luna. To be photographed is to bear witness to one’s presence, as Pierre Bourdieu posited.  Luna photographs Alex, to affirm his presence in her life, to affirm a time of happiness, as Luna’s presence in Alex’s life is also affirmed.  The camera is a witness of, and an affirmation, of Luna’s visions of a nostalgic past filled with happiness. However, a photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence, the late Susan Sontag wrote. The photographs in Luna’s camera serve as a pseudo-presence (of her past with a tinge of nostalgia) and a token of absence (of her present without Alex).

Jerry’s affection for Luna grows as he misinterprets Luna’s trip as a sign of reciprocal affection. Thinking that Luna is weakened when Alex left her, Jerry tries to barter love and protection to Luna.   Sadly, for Jerry, his love is unrequited. He is weakened by his inability to give, to help, and to love without expecting anything in return. His selfish notions about love blind him. Jerry, the tour guide, knows the landscapes of Cebu but is misguided in the landscapes of the heart.

The loss of Alex’s vision is symbolic of his loss of power and the ability to gaze. Alex thinks that his blindness weakens him, and he doubts Luna’s love for him.  He is blinded, physically and emotionally (and even turns mute as he is almost devoid of any lines towards the end of the film).  For Luna, the recovery of the camera, and the images of their happiness it contains, validate the fact that they shared a past, a proof that nothing has changed, and the potentials of a future. As Alex loses his vision, Luna holds on to hers.

Luna shines through the movie despite the very macho Jerry who thinks she is a damsel-in-distress to be saved.  She who stands at the door of the hotel, deciding whether to invite Jerry to dinner (or not), as she repels the advances of Jerry.  Luna remains steadfast in her vision of a life with Alex, with or without his sight. It is Luna who holds the camera – the woman, in a reversal, who is the bearer of the gaze.

Luna’s name (moon as light source, photography as “light writing”) bears her vision: to shed light on two blind and weak men.  Luna sheds light on the obscured goodness in Jerry’s heart, emotionally blinded, and transforms him.  Luna’s love shines bright through the blinded heart of Alex.  It is Luna who enables the two men to regain a vision of themselves, and inevitably, to “see” again.

Defying the laws of probability and even of possibility that the camera and the film will survive the ravages of the sea, it is the audience (not Luna, Jerry or Alex) who will behold the visions of Luna – images etched on the silver coated negative, projected on the silver screen of the cinema house at the end of the film.  In Minsan Pa, cinema revisits its predecessor and pays homage to the camera (and the camera obscura) as it embarks on a journey of enlightenment and a fulfillment of a woman’s vision.  Minsan Pa illuminates an old cliche: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.

 
 

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Rekompigurasyon ng lipunan alinsunod sa pananaw ni Amanda sa ‘Dekada ’70’

Ariel N. Valerio

Pinaksa ng Dekada ’70 ang isa sa mga pinakamaligalig at pinakamasalimuot na yugto ng kontemporanyong lipunang Pilipino. Sa pagtatangka pa lamang na halughugin ang lalim at lawak ng naturang panahon, isang mabigat na atas na agad ang ipinatong ng pelikula sa
sarili at sa manonood nito. Sa pamamayani ng Batas Militar, maraming realidad ang siniil (suppressed), itinatwa (ignored) at binaligtad (inverted) ng estado upang panatilihin ang status quo; bagay na lubusang nagpahirap sa mga historyador upang kumpirmahin ang
makabuluhang kilos ng kasaysayan.

Mas mahirap ang naging gawain ng mga alagad ng sining sapagkat sila ang tuwirang target ng mekanismo ng kooptasyon. Ilang libro ang ipinalathala ni Marcos sa pangalan niya upang sustinihan ang propaganda ng “rebolusyon mula sa gitna”. May mga manunulat na kinabig ng estado upang magpalaganap ng “magandang balita” o ng “bagong lipunan”. Itinatag din ang Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Center, at ang Film Center upang umawit ng osana sa rehimen.

Sa huling bahagi ng dekada sitenta, polarisado na ang lipunan. Dalawa lamang ang pagpipilian ng artista: maging instrumento ng propaganda ng gobyerno o maging mapagpalayang tinig ng sambayanang Pilipino. Sa ganitong uri ng tunggalian, walang panggitna o nyutral na posisyon.

Isa ang nobelang Dekada ’70 sa mga likhang sining sa panahon ng Batas Militar na tuwirang tumuligsa sa diktadura ni Marcos. Ito ang pinagbatayan ng pelikulang dinirihe ni Chito Roño. Mula sa indibidwalisadong proseso ng produksyon (literatura), isinalin ang materyal sa isang mala-kolektibong proseso ng paglikha. Sa una, kontrolado ng manunulat bawat titik na gagamitin sa nobela; sa ikalawa, walang iisang pwersang maaaring magdikta ng direksyon.

dekada-70

Itinuturing na mala-kolektibo ang paglikha ng pelikula sapagkat kawangis ng proseso ang kolektibong pagdesisyon ng isang grupo ng mga indibidwal na nakatuon sa isang produkto. Ngunit hindi ito lubusang kolektibo dahil may de-kahong papel ang mga taong sangkot sa proseso-halimbawa, hindi maaaring pakialaman ng sinematograper ang editor-kaya wala ring nagaganap na palitan at negosasyon ng mga ideya. Sa halip, nagiging dominanteng pwersa ang prodyuser na may pangunahing interes hindi sa sining ng pelikula kundi sa kalansing ng pera sa takilya.

Kung gayon, tatlong pangunahing balakid ang agad matatagpuan sa landas ng paglikha ng pelikulang Dekada ’70: 1) paggagap sa kontekstong historikal, 2) pagsalin sa anyong pampelikula, at 3) pagtugon sa kahingian ng industriya nang hindi ikinokompromiso ang sining.

Paano humulagpos ang pelikula sa mga balakid na ito?

Paggagap sa kontekstong historikal

Mayaman sa historikal na alusyon ang pelikula. Pinagsikapan nitong isabuhay ang mga pangkalahatang katangian ng panahon-rali ng mga estudyante, pag-alis ng writ of habeas corpus, pagdeklara ng Batas Militar, pagpataw ng curfew, human rights violations, paglawak ng kilusang protesta. Tumatahi sa mga ito ang mga mumunting pangyayari
sa pang-araw-araw na buhay ng pamilya Bartolome-pamumundok ni Jules, pagsali ni Gani sa US Navy, pagkapatay kay Jason-na walang humpay ding nagpatahip sa dibdib ni Amanda at nagpatingkad sa tunggalian nila ni Julian.

Nagbukas at nagsara ang pelikula sa tila dokumentaryong film clips ng multi-sektoral na kilos-protesta laban sa diktadura ni Marcos. Isa-isang tinalunton pagkatapos ang mga insidenteng nagpamulat sa isang ordinaryong maybahay tulad ni Amanda. Mapapansing hindi hiwalay ang pagtalakay sa pangkalahatang sitwasyon ng lipunan sa partikular
na kondisyon ng pamilyang Bartolome. Maipagpapalagay, kung gayon, na itinaguyod ng pelikula ang paradimang “ang personal ay pulitikal.”

“Ang mga kamay na nag-uugoy ng duyan ang mga kamay na nagpapaikot ng mundo,” wika ni Amanda sa simula ng pelikula. Ito ang tesis na binigyan ng kontra-tesis sa patriarkal na pananaw ni Julian. “It’s a man’s world,” mayabang na bigkas ng lalaki habang nasa hapag ang buong pamilya. “Every man must have something to die for,” uulitin niya sa ibang okasyon, “para matawag siyang lalaki.”

Nagsalimbayan ang kontradiksyon sa tatlong lunan ng lahi, uri at sari. Walang linyar na pokus ang pagpapatampok sa mga ito. Sa halip, dumaloy ang buong kwento sa kamalayan ni Amanda. Nagtapos ito sa personal na rekompigurasyon ng babae sa kanyang lipunan habang patuloy ding nagbabago ang kanyang materyal na kondisyon.

Paghulagpos sa anyo

Sa isang pormalistang suri, bagsak talaga ang Dekada ’70. Buhaghag ang naratibo. Hindi nakatulong ang ibang eksena para patindihin ang kasukdulan. Palipat-lipat ang punto de bista sa loob at labas ng tahanan, kamalayan at lipunan ni Amanda.

Ngunit kung babakasin ang pelikula mula sa nobela, napakalayo ng narating ng Dekada ’70. Mula simpleng pagsipi ng mga taludtod mula sa The Prophet ni Kahlil Gibran, napatingkad ng pelikula ang kabuluhan ng mga ito sa pamamagitan ng mga tauhan. Mula pagsipi ng datos sa Ibon Facts and Figures, isinabuhay ng pelikula ang sanhi ng paglawak
ng protesta. Gayundin, mula sa mga larawang iginuhi ng mga salita ni Lualhati Bautista sa nobela, nabuhay ang mga karakter upang patuloy na ipagunita sa manonood ang pinakamadilim na yugto ng kontemporanyong kasaysayang Pilipino.

Humulagpos ang pelikula mula sa nobela. Sinubukan ding humulagpos ng pelikula sa sarili nitong genre. Sinimulan ni Lino Brocka sa Orapronobis ang pagpasok ng documentary film clips sa pagitan ng mga eksenang dramatiko. Itinuloy ito ni Joel Lamangan sa ilang pelikula tulad ng Flor Contemplacion. Mas pinong bersyon ang matatagpuan sa
Dekada ’70 – binuksan at isinara ang naratibo sa taas-kamao at multi-sektoral na kilos-protesta ngunit hindi nagpatali sa preskribtibong pormula ng mapagpalayang kilusan.

Suma total ang isang pelikulang bakubako tulad ng mga lansangan sa kanayunan, humahampas tulad ng mga alon sa batuhan, humuhugong tulad ng hangin kapag may sigwa.

Humulagpos ang pelikula sa anyo at nilalaman, tulad ng paghulagpos ni Amanda sa mapaniil na lipunang patriarkal.

Pagtugon sa gusto ng takilya

Gayumpaman, hindi nagbulag-bulagan ang mga lumikha ng pelikula sa kahingian ng industriya.

Nariyan ang mabentang tambalan nina Christopher de Leon at Vilma Santos. Binigyan ng sapat na espasyo ang matinee idols na gumanap bilang mga anak ng mag-asawang Bartolome. Kalakip din ang masisidhing eksena ng personal na tunggalian upang magpaluha, magpasaya, magpagunita at magpamulat kung kailangan.

Maliban sa paggamit ng mga elementong panghatak sa manonood-na talamak sa industriya ng pelikulang Pilipino ngayon-sinubukan din ng pelikulang gamitin ang mga elementong ito upang makapagbukas ng mga bintana sa kamalayan ng madlang manonood.

Sintesis ng salimbayan

Ilang ulit nang inokupa ng iba’t ibang uri ng lipunan ang EDSA bilang tarangkahan ng kapangyarihan ngunit hindi minsan man naglingon-likod sa mahabang panahon ng pakikibaka mula huling hati ng dekada sisenta hanggang unang hati ng dekada otsenta.

Sa halip, laging ibinabaon sa limot ang panahong iyon ng pagpupunyagi upang maipundar ang isang kilusang mapagpalayang nakaugat sa Rebolusyong 1896 at nagtataguyod sa mga mithiin ng higit na nakararaming Pilipino.

Kamakailan, inamin ng isang mataas na opisyal ng US ang pakikialam ng kanyang bansa sa EDSA 1986. Isang bagay na agad itinatwa ng ilan sa mga tagapagtaguyod ng naturang rebelyon. Isang bagay namang ikinatuwa ng anak ng dating Pangulong Marcos dahil lumabas din daw sa wakas ang katotohanan na ang Rebelyong 1986 dinesenyo ng Amerika. Samakatwid, hindi ito maituturing na lehitimong rebolusyon kundi isang kudeta.

Hanggat patuloy na inililibing sa puntod ng kasaysayan ang panahong ito, patuloy na magmumulto ang mga Pilipinong itinimbuwang ng karahasan sa gitna ng pambansang pakikibaka laban sa diktadura.

Ito ang halaga ng pelikulang Dekada ’70 na hindi kayang igpawan ng mga kaalinsabay nito-pagbalik-tanaw sa panahong nagluwal sa mga bayaning walang pangalan tungo sa paglaya ng bayan. Habang nagsasawalang kibo ang maraming Pilipino sa tunay na kabuluhan ng
panahong ito, patuloy na gagamitin ng iba’t ibang pwersa ang kilusang naipundar ng luha at dugo ng mga Pilipinong nagmahal sa sariling bayan. Isang testimonya ang pelikula sa kamalayang hindi magagapi at patuloy na magsasatinig sa katotohanan.

Mahalaga ring bigyang-pansin na isinagawa ang balik-tanaw sa kamalayan ni Amanda at sa pagkilos ng kanyang mga kamay na nag-ugoy ng duyan. Sa madaling salita, muling sinipat ang kasaysayan sa pananaw ng babae. Ngunit sa halip na baligtarin ang katotohanan upang mangibabaw ang kababaihan-tulad ng madalas gawin ng radikal na
feminismo-itinuring ni Amanda ang asawa bilang kahati, karugtong ng buhay, kaisang-dibdib.

Sa multi-sektoral na pakikibaka, kapit-kamay ang lalaki at babae gayundin ang iba’t ibang uri ng lipunan upang isakatuparan ang rekompigurasyon ng lipunang Pilipino. Ito ang resolusyon ng kontradiksyon. Ito rin ang siyang tutunguhin ng Pilipinas sa mga
darating na panahon.

 
 

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Paghuhunos ng Melodrama sa ‘Inang Yaya’

Galileo Zafra

Nakabigkis sa isang ironiya ang pangunahing tunggalian ng pelikulang Inang Yaya. Kailangang arugain ni Norma (Maricel Soriano) ang anak ng iba para buhayin at itaguyod ang sariling anak, at dahil dito, nawalay at halos mapabayaan naman ang tunay na supling. Sa huli, kakailanganin niyang mamili bilang Yaya at bilang Ina sa dalawang batang kaniyang kinalinga, at nasa paglalahad ng dramatikong tensiyon at paggalugad sa mga konteksto ng bubuuing pasiya ang kabuluhan ng pelikula.

“Inang Yaya” na maituturing si Norma kay Louise, anak ng kareristang magasawa na ginampanan nina Sunshine Cruz at Zoren Legaspi. Abala ang magasawa sa trabaho at sa ibang obligasyon, kaya halos ang yaya ang tumayong ina kay Louise. Lumaki man sa layaw ang bata, makikitang mahal na mahal niya ang kaniyang yaya. Ngunit ang pagmumulan ng salimuot ng naratibo –may anak si Norma, si Ruby, na nasa probinsiya, inaalagaan ng kaniyang lola (Marita Zobel), at nangungulila sa kalinga ng ina.

inang-yaya

Iigiting ang takbo ng kuweto sa pagpanaw ng ina ni Norma. Bunga nito, mapipilitan ang siyang bitbitin ang kaniyang anak pa-Maynila, at itira sa pinagtatrabahuhang pamilya. Bagaman kapiling na niya ang sariling anak, hindi pa rin magiging madali para kay Norma ang bagong sitwasyon. Bukod sa pagtupad sa mga responsabilidad sa pamilyang pinaglilingkuran, kailangan niyang hatiin ang sarili sa dalawang batang nag-aagawan sa kaniyang atensiyon. Masasaksihan din niya ang hirap ng paninimbang ni Ruby kasama ng kaniyang alagang pinalaki sa luho at layaw ng mga magulang.

Pinatitingkad ang pelikula ng mga katangian ng melodrama na makikita sa ilang ipinamalas nitong kumbensiyon. Pangunahin samga katangiang ito ang pagtatampok sa katauhan ni Norma na tigib ng hirap at pighati sa araw-araw na pakikipagsapalaran sa pagtupad sa mga tungkuling iniatang ng lipunan sa babae. Bilang ina, kailangan niyang tiisin ang pangungulila sa sariling anak habang kinakalinga ang anak ng kaniyang amo. Bilang yaya, kailangan naman niyang hatiin ang hapong katawan sa samot-saring gawain ng pagiging katulong sa bahay at tagapag-alaga ng bata, at balikatin ang iba pang domestikong pasanin ng pinagsisilbihang pamilya.

Ngunit binibigo rin ng ang karaniwang ekspektasyon sa isang pelikulang melodrama. Isa na, maingat na binuo ang karakter ng mga tauhan kaya naman kumikilos sila hindi ayon sa paghuwad sa mga gasgas na karakterisasyon kundi ayon sa maingat at talinong paghimay sa iba’t ibang tensiyong kinakaharap ng mga tauhan. Ang Lola (Liza Lorena) ni Louise na sa simula’y mapangutya’t inaasahang maging dagdag na pasanin kay Norma
ay siya pang makatutuklas sa kalinisan ng budhi ng anak ng Yaya; ang dalawang batang tauhan, na mahusay at matalinong nagampanan ng mga batang aktres, ay nailarawang may kakayahang umarok atumunawa, mag-isip at dumama, magpasiya at kumilos tungkol sa iba’t ibang hamon ng kanilang mga munting mundo, pati ng samot-saring komplikasyon ng mas malawak na realidad ngmga taong nakapaligid sa kanila.

Sa pagsapit ng kasukdulan ng naratibo, may magandang oportunidad na naghihintay sa pinasisilbihang mag-asawa sa ibang bansa, at iaalok din nila kay Norma ang pagkakataon para kumita nang mas malaki sa pangingibangbayan kasama nila. Ngunit mangangahulugan ito ng muling pagkawalay ng ina sa kaniyang anak. Kung maghahandog lamang ng idealistang pagtatapos ang ay madaling hulaan ang mga posibilidad para wakasan ang pelikula. Sasama si Norma, o isasama rin niya ang kaniyang anak sa pangingibang-bansa. Ngunit taliwas sa inaasahang masayang wakas ng anyong melodrama, yayakagin ng pelikula ang manonood sa pagninilay ni Norma, at sa bandang huli, sa paglilimi sa konteksto kung bakit magpapasiya si Norma na manatili sa sariling bayan, sa piling ng kaniyang anak.

Sa pagtatampok sa proseso ng pagpapasiya ni Norma, naipamamalas kung paanong ang melodrama ay nagagamit sa paglalarawan ng damdamin, ligalig,at iba pang aspektong personal, at kung paanong sa pagsasadula ng mga dinaranas na mga agam-agam at pighati ay mapatingkad ang pakikibaka ng mga tauhan samga institusyon at estrukturang panlipunan.

Hindi lamang ang paluhain ang manonood ang pakay ng pelikulang kung gayon. Nagpapahiwatig din ito ng bagong kabatiran tungkol sa pagkatao at lipunan, at ng posibilidad sa paghuhunos ng anyo ng melodrama ng sineng Filipino.

 
 

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