February 8, 2005

Of course I knew of the Cebuano T.V. series even way back when I was a little kid.

Teban and Goliath made their way to the Cebuano household through their screen charisma and humor. The more recent MILYONARYONG MINI, which started as a T.V. series, was syndicated to a movie by Manila producers. I was then very little the time when John Estrada and the rest of the film cast hit the box office with the story that started in Cebu, yet I knew that, one way or another, it was pride for Cebuano film artists.
The later years saw the gradual disappearance of Teban and Goliath, as they were to be seen only in commercials for Happy Mart. The drama series are still there, but with less impact than before, what with all the Mexican and Korean series flooding the screens.

The Cebuano film festival was a chance to go through the films that are Cebuano – films made in Cebu and spoken in the Cebuano language. For someone interested in film and very much a Cebuana at heart, I was up and eager to go to the cinema.
My broadcasting class is under Bien Fernandez, direct contact of Mowelfund Institute, which spearheaded the regional film festival. Out of this connection, some of the class members were able to participate first-hand. As luck would have it, my editor in the city daily allowed me to write a story on the Child Friendly Cinema, the festival within the film fest.
Watching the children’s films with the kids as… well, as enthusiastic backdrop made my skin tingle as they shouted spontaneous reactions, as they waved their arms, and sometimes, funnily enough, even raised their feet. Aside from the obvious visual feast the children’s short films showcased, the stories brim with lessons on values and personal discipline. For the finale, a Filipino, computer-animated short film was shown. It is quite a shame how some people never knew and never saw PAWN, the animation can rival those produced by foreign Pixar animations.
To compensate, a bigger audience filled the cinema with the rest of the short films and full-length films slated for the more mature viewer. To list, the short films I have watched are: Red Saga, Bacolod Piaya videos, and the Cebuano digital films. Kidlat Tahimik, aside from his semi-documentary BAHAG KO, MAHAL KO performed at least two times on stage with his ‘native camera,’ and in his bahag no less! The full-length films which I had the opportunity to watch the second time around were MAGNIFICO, and the recently hailed PANAGHOY SA SUBA. No descriptions are to be said of the latter two films, as I am afraid they may only be understatements to their exceptional quality.
The short films however touched closer to home. Our broadcasting class would be coming up with our very own film festival with films produced, directed, and written by us. Quite a challenge there!
Red Saga and the Piaya videos ought to tap the class’ artistic juices to the highest level. If films are to be made, then my classmates and I must heed the call of quality and bulk that would captivate and leave good impressions on the viewers. As for the Cebuano digital films shown, much is still to be worked. The younger Cebuanos need to come up with films that would suffice the richness of the culture that is Cebuano, and not just be merely forms of expressions that only touch on the superficial level. And this is of course, a challenge that hits all of us in the face.

This is perhaps the greatest thing I learned while taking part in the film festival. Painting pictures and stories on screen cannot be mastered overnight. More so, it should never be taken in a light context. Cebuano cinema is after all, a testament to what Cebu was, what Cebu is, and what Cebu will be.

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