Friday, January 2, 2009

Philippine Movies

I spent the past days in my home country watching movies and buying DVD movies and books. Being away for 7 years I missed the growth of Philippine independent cinema. Seems that a lot of new works have come up challenging the status quo. But the new artist are riding on the back of great artists like Lino Brocka and Peque Gallaga. I missed it because there is not much publicity in the world press.

The only recent news was the award given to the movie 'Himala', a film made 20 years ago I think. It has been voted the best South East Asian movie. I have often focused on the films of other countries like Thailand, Korea, China and Japan. I felt that the innovativeness of Philippine cinema has declined since the great output of directors like Brocka and Gallaga have ceased in late 80's. How wrong I was! The new generation of artists have pushed the envelope.

Yesterday I watched a good film called 'Baler' about an episode in the Philippine revolution of 1898-99. It's an above average movie that tells an interesting story in our past. I can't help but try to recover or regain my culture by watching these movies or buying books. I plan to buy the recent autobiography of the longest serving speaker of the House of Representatives. I bought Philippine movies like 'Tirador', 'Decada 70', 'Kaleida', 'Scorpio Night 2', 'Ang Bayaning 3rd World' as well as popular local songs in the 70's and 80's.

I bought this Filipiniana items because I think I will not have a chance to visit the country again for quite some time after I relocate. I hope my kids will have time to watch these movies or read these books to help them remember their home country. I had planned to go to the local museums with them during these trip but I think most museums will be closed. I tried to go to the Lopez Memorial Museum yesterday but it was closed. So I watched a movie instead, bought CDs and purchased the biography of the Philippine-Chinese tycoon John Gokongwei.

The Filipino Chinese community here in the Philippines do not have the same exposure like in Singapore. Immigrant Chinese communities are called 'Peranakan' but I think that the Filipino Chinese do not like to emphasis their Chinese-ness. Instead I think they prefer to be called Filipinos. I believe they have a strong sense of nation hood than the Chinese in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. I think Thailand and the Philippines have the same situation where immigrant Chinese have assimilated well into the local communities.

I know that the assimilation has come at a price here in the Philippines. Historically, the Spanish have controlled the assimilation of Chinese immigrants into the country. These have resulted in a lot of local revolts. But the assimilation has been quite successful and I have noticed that most of the neighborhood stores in my youth where actually owned by Chinese. I have not noticed this distinct feeling until my stay in Singapore which have emphasized the 'Peranakan' phenomenon. But I think this may be intentional for various political reasons.

No comments: