By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
BAGUIO CITY — The city’s Cinema Rehiyon this year entitled “Ay Apu! May shooting sa Baguio” rolled film excerpts shot in Baguio from the 1940s to 1990s.
Through the years the film excerpts traced the developments and differences of several film makers’ perception of the ‘city of Pines’ and the region itself.
Ay apu! May shooting sa Baguio is the city’s counterpart of the 3rd cinema rehiyon in celebration of the Philippine International Arts Festival (PIAF) initiated by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) committee on cinema.
The said cinema rehiyon according to Malou Jacob, the executive director of NCCA is a venue for the regional film makers to stage their works and inspire budding film makers to improve their craft. However, Baguio’s program this year constituted a time capsule of the city from wayback.
Teddy Co, film curator of the committee on cinema said in his opening remarks on February 21 that Baguio is a favorite venue for shooting films by commercial film makers in Manila since the black and white era.
“Actually, the first film that was shot here was The lilies of Benguet in 1931,” he added. However, he said they were not able to get the rights to show the film. He plans to get these old films together.
An excerpt from the film, Sumpaan in 1948 was the first one rolled. It starred Rosa Rosal in her early 20s. Visually, this particular movie showed Burnham Park, Camp John Hay, Mines View, Wright Park and other tourist destinations at that particular time.
It has according to Kidlat Tahimik of Victor Oteyza Community Arts Space (VOCAS) evoked nostalgia among them who were already in Baguio at that time.
On the story line, Sumpaan and The Cinderella star Charito Solis, according to Co depicted Baguio as the city of romance because of its cool climate. He added, “sometimes choosing the city for a location has nothing to do with the story…maybe the film maker will just say, ok let’s shoot there because it is cool.”
Earlier movies shown like Vaccacionista starring Dolphy, Luis Gonzales, Gloria Romero and Norma Valez in 1956 is an ‘exotic framing’ of the city and the Cordillera as a whole. Co said, it emphasized the lowlanders’ view of Baguio as a tourist destination.
This particular film he said has shown politically and culturally incorrect scenes. He cited the scene where Dolphy and Luis Gonzales were clad in a Benguet attire but they are dancing cha-cha mixed with ethnic steps.
Moreover, Kidlat said though that it has truthfully shown the begging situation at the Mines View park however, he added that the film maker was not really adept on the culture of the people in the Cordillera. He said this because of the mixed approach used wherein the characters in some parts are being proud of their roots in some scenes then falls back to the stereo type perception of igorots like comedy scenes at the expense of these Indigenous Peoples (IPs).
Coat and tie
Still in the movie Vaccacionista, it showed what Kidlat said as the hybridization of culture in the Benguet ethnic attire particularly in wearing the G-string (bahag) with the American coat. They, according to him, called it coat and tie. This time, the characters were not actually doing a spoof. He recounted that in that certain era, Igorots were really wearing their bahag with the coat because it kept them warm. “That time you can really see a lot of men in session with the coat and tie,” he iterated.
Contemporary Baguio films
The last two movies namely Kung mangarap ka’t magising in 1977 that starred Christopher de Leon, Hilda Coronel, Bibeth Orteza and others, and Gaano kita kamahal in 1993 starring Christopher de Leon and Lorna Tolentino showed a more down to earth description of Baguio. These movies according to Kidlat showed the real lives of the people in the city.
Particularly in the movie, Kung mangarap ka’t magising, it did show the ambience of UP-Baguio in the 70s. It did not only show the outer layer but it showed Baguio’s flesh specially in the last film, Gaano kita kamahal.
The said movie mirrored the true to life story of a security guard in Benguet Consolidated Incorporated (BCI), Rolly Suclad and a student of Saint Louis University (SLU), Auring who aspired to be a nun however, she was married Rolly who was then suffering a 3rd degree burn and undergoing a medication at Notre Dame.
Kidlat said, there is a big difference when a film maker is familiar with the culture of the setting. He disclosed that Butch Perez, the director of the film lived in the city for several years.
Now, Co said there are a lot of budding film makers in the Cordillera that should be encouraged to pursue their craft because they are the ones who can really produce a film in the right context if the setting is within the region. He cited one film entitled, Ganab di Anos (Fruit of Perseverance) made by a Benguet film maker and was shown in the Cinema Rehiyon Davao recently. # nordis.net