He was the oldest in the crowd. Seated among an ambitious batch of wide-eyed graduates of a Mowelfund course was Eddie Romero, the venerated veteran filmmaker of such works as Aguila and Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon? He was there as a guest of honor, a beacon of what is to come for the filmmakers who are about to test the skills they have mustered from several months of sitting through lectures and practical demonstrations. When he was acknowledged by the master of ceremony, he stood up with a certain air of dignity one expects from someone who has lived a full and productive life. Predictably, his mere presence drew a round of applause from the crowd.
Eddie Romero would still continue to grace film events, garnering the same acknowledgment from his peers and the public by virtue of the title that was bestowed on him by the Philippine government. In a film industry where dreamers are turned into auteurs by virtue of a novel story treatment, a powerful pitch, and a sizable film grant, Romero’s presence felt reassuring. He represented not only an era where Filipino films were golden and weren’t begging for viewership, but an artistry that was a product of time and hard work, with a little sprinkling of good old luck. One can only wish that the filmmakers who gave their automatic applause upon the mere mention of his name acknowledged not only the grandeur of several of his works but also his admirable story.
It was his early literary work and somebody else’s love story that pushed a young Eddie Romero into the world of film. Legendary Gerardo de Leon, enamoured and impressed by a short story he read and a native beauty, visited Silliman University. There, he wooed his future wife, and convinced Romero, the son of a schoolteacher and a government official who was already making waves writing stories for various publications, to write for him. De Leon regarded Romero as his protégé. He was the literary voice that completed De Leon’s visual verve. After a few collaborations, Romero would be ready to direct his first film. However, the Pacific War happened, and his directorial debut had to be shelved.
By JAM ACUZAR
The superpowers of the art world flew from New York, London, Beijing, and many other cities to attend the first edition of Art Basel Hong Kong last week, which opened on May 23 and ended May 26, at the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Art fairs are a market place for art. It is a meeting place for galleries, collectors, art dealers, and curators to buy and sell art. Besides monetary exchange, however, art fairs provide a venue for social and intellectual exchange as well. Forums and talks were available for people to sit and listen to the most renowned members of the art world discuss and debate on art criticism, building new museums, and others. The Philippines’ very own Marcel Crespo, for example, gave a talk together with other major collectors entitled “Collector’s Focus, The Asia-Pacific Region.”
Besides being part of the Basel “brand,” the event marks Asia as being a top player in the global art circuit. Some 67,000 visitors attended the fair, with major VIPs flying in, including big names such as Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and partner Dasha Zhukova, Wendi Murdoch, American art dealer and curator Jeffrey Deitch, and even Kate Moss, proving the Asian art market to be just as important as that of the Western world’s.
Two hundred sixty-six galleries participated, including four of the Philippines’ top galleries. There were also international galleries showing works by Philippine artists like Geraldine Javier at Arario Gallery (Seoul) and Manuel Ocampo at Nathalie Obadia Gallery (Paris and Brussels).
BY GABBIE TATAD
1. It shows that people still value honesty over prejudice. No one likes feeling lied to or being excluded from a thinly veiled secret. There are a lot of ignorant people out there, sure, but there are many who just want to know the truth. In the words of Anderson Cooper, “It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something — something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true… In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted.”
2. It opens up a dialogue. It allows us to give our opinions a workout, to hear from those who are uncomfortable with homosexuality, to share what we know to be true, and even to find a place where, while we may not all agree, we may dispel all room for hate and violence.
3. It loosens up the idea of what’s “gay.” We’ve been fed massive amounts of stereotypes, so much so that even some of my gay friends who don’t like fashion/make-up/working out/bright colors feel as though they’re not “gay enough.” In the same manner that not all girls like to get their hair done or wear frothy dresses, having a certain sexual preference doesn’t mean you morph into Carson Kressley overnight.
Yes, there are the expected fashion designers, theater actors, and hairdressers. But there are also basketball fans and soldiers, conservatives and liberals, brothers and friends. The spectrum is wide, and there is no one-size-fits-all type of personality suited to the same sexual preference.
4. It allows us to see people, not preference. I have a gay friend — let’s call him Andrew — who works in the film industry. He recently had a project filming a group of kids, one of whom he treated like his own little brother. During some down time at the shoot, someone on the staff jokingly called Andrew a “faggot.” Andrew dealt with it gracefully enough, but the little boy he was close to overheard the exchange. He asked if Andrew was one of “the happy people.” Andrew said yes, and asked if the little boy would prefer that he stay away. The little boy simply said, “You’re my friend,” and hugged Andrew.
Anderson Cooper, for example, has been speaking to us through our TV sets for years, telling us how bad things were around the world and inspiring ways we could help make it better. To many, he’s someone they can count on to give it to them straight. So although not everyone agrees when it comes to homosexuality, it helps break down the concept when you know, love, and respect someone who happens to be gay. The “gay” part then, quite suddenly, seems secondary.
5. It lowers the margin for shame. Not everyone has to be out before they’re ready. But I feel like a lot of incidents that occur in the darkness — the bad ones, the ones that we hate talking about, the kind that other good gay people have had to answer for and bear such indignation for — happen because there is so much fear. Fear of being judged by loved ones, of one’s own predilections, of being less of a man or woman, of being vulnerable to the ignorance of so many.
This in no way excuses sick behavior (I’m looking at you, Jerry Sandusky), but there are so many things that can be avoided with a proper support system, and it starts with seeing decent people who’ve come out and have managed to build a good life for themselves. Inspiration has a power that isn’t to be underestimated.
6. It sheds more light on the serious problem of bullying. Last February, Rolling Stone published an article on the issue of teen suicides in Anoka, Minnesota. There was one instance mentioned where a 13-year-old lesbian girl committed suicide, and bullies at school were telling her best friend (who is also gay) that she should consider blowing her brains out, too.
People will tell you that kids are kids, and they can’t possibly be sure about who they are at such a young age. When I was 13, I knew I would spend my life writing regardless of whether I did it professionally. I knew I liked boys and music. I knew I hated math. I understood who I was then as much as I do now.
There is a reason why adults are taking a stand, starting things like The Trevor Project. Cruelty can have serious repercussions, and the first step to breaking the culture of discrimination is being able to talk about it.
7. It gives hope to those who need it. It used to be a question of “whites” and “coloreds,” which has since evolved into cultural backgrounds being stereotyped as terrorists, drug mules, what have you. I don’t think we will ever live in a world that is absent of its prejudices; it’s part of what makes us all very human and imperfect.
But to know that it does get better, to have an ally — even if it’s just a face on the nightly news, to know that it is possible to lead a life where your sexual orientation is not your first identifier, is a consolation that many are looking for. It’s not always a matter of pride or rights, but of acceptance; that regardless of how different you are, you are worthy of respect, decency, kindness, and love.
Originally: “7 Lessons from Anderson Cooper (Supreme, July 7, 2012)”
The fully-restored version of Lino Brocka’s “Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag” was the fourth Filipino film shown at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. We talked to Bono Olgado of the National Film Archives about the circumstances that led to it.
Take us a bit through the restoration. How did it start and how long did it take?
After Genghis Khan, we heard from the grapevine that Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation (WCF) was exploring the possibility of restoring another Southeast Asian film after the Indonesian film After the Curfew (1954) by Usmar Ismail in 2012, and that they had talked to the Asian Film Archive in Singapore, which had a print of Maynila courtesy of Mike De Leon. We got in touch with Douglas Laible of WCF through colleagues, and we started corresponding on the possibility of restoring a film together. We threw around a number of different titles to work on, but Doug had been talking with the Asian Film Archive (AFA) and also with Mike de Leon as early as the summer of 2012 regarding Maynila. Considering the significance of Lino Brocka’s oeuvre and the paucity of relatively good prints in circulation, we decided that his films would make excellent candidates for restoration. By then, it was between Maynila and Jaguar. But given the availability of workable elements of Maynila initially through AFA and Mike, we ultimately decided to push through with it. The restoration was done at the L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy, which the WCF regularly uses and where Genghis was restored. The actual restoration began in November. Mike de Leon personally oversaw color grading and subtitling.