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20 September 2014

Filipino Films That Should Be Made in the Immediate Future, Part 1 (Film #1: F/F) and Introduction

Every year, we see many excellent Filipino films, mostly from independent filmmakers. However, after the year is over, most of us forget. Even more interesting, the same kinds of people watch these so-called “excellent” films. If film is mere entertainment, then save me a seat for the new Avengers movie, or the next Vice Ganda and Daniel Padilla flick.

Still, I was taught that film is power, and every year, I see that power being flushed in the toilet together with shit in the name of cash.

Being an uppity critic, I decided to suggest some future films to all film artists out there. I call this “Filipino Films That Should Be Made in the Immediate Future.” Here is film number one.

Working Title: “F/F” 

Many films about the rich and powerful in the Philippines have been made in the past but none of them actually has incited righteous anger from the common person. Let us face it. Many ordinary Filipinos do not need to be reminded that their government officials are stealing people’s money, which is one the main causes of dire poverty in the nation. Ordinary Filipino perhaps only wonders about the daily lives of the top one percent elite of the country. In this year’s Cinemalaya, “#Y” provided a glimpse but this film is more about rich teenage angst and morbidity than an accurate representation of the Filipino upper class. 

I suggest that a director/scriptwriter make a movie about the Filipino ultra rich. The story does not have to be groundbreaking. In fact, it can just be about the daily life of an upper class family. The family is more similar to the Ayalas, the Cojuangcos, and may be even the Sys of SM Malls. The father owns a big manufacturing company with countless underpaid employees. The mother comes from the old elite of the country, dating back perhaps to the American occupation.  They have well-fed beautiful fair-skinned (almost) Caucasian looking kids who cannot speak straight Tagalog and they sound more American than Filipino. The kids complain about the troubles they have in their lives; for example, not being allowed to have an iPhone 6plus, or not being able to go to Europe for summer vacation because of his poor grades in his international school.  Some scenes in the film include complaining about the food that they eat, the kind of car that they still have to drive, and so on and so forth.  Certainly, we also see the day-to-day spending and activities of the parents.

Bottom line, we see how money is no longer their main concern; perhaps they may even engage in charity.

This is the trick. As the movie about the rich family unfolds, the director correlates the affluent life with the life of a family living in the slums, or to be more politically correct, informal settlement.

This means that the director will splice the screen in half. On the left, we see the life of the rich; and on the right, we witness the life of the poor. Each scene from the rich family’s life must have the exact equivalent in the life of the poor family. For example, if the rich man drives a Mercedes Benz to work, we must see how the poor man gets to work; perhaps he is clinging on the door of an ordinary bus, which I often see, and sometimes I do when I commute to work. Perhaps the poor student is falling in line at the MRT station while raining while we see the rich student complaining about being stuck in the car with his nosey brother.  In another scene, we see the rich father being patted on the back by the shareholders for boosting the company’s profit. He receives a bonus, something fancy and expensive perhaps. At the same time, we see the poor father (who may work in the rich father’s factory) laments as he receives his meager salary.Even the dialogues must be cleverly matched. 

The goal of this artistic exercise is to show how the rich differs so much from the poor. The intention is to incite repulsion, both from the poor and the rich. The repulsion from the poor person comes from the realization that he will always remain poor even if he works hard, and that other people carelessly waste money. On the other hand, the rich person will also be repulsed, perhaps more fearful, because he will realize that he does not live in the First World, and that he cannot afford to live comfortably rich in a country like the Philippines, even if the rampant poverty is not his fault. Inevitably, the pitchforks will start marching, if they have not already. Probably, the pitchforks will not come in droves but one by one in the dead of night, preying on one person after another, indiscriminate. Is this not happening now?

Certainly, in the latter part of the two simultaneous films, the two lives merge. After all, this is the Philippines. Each one of us helps create the other. We live in a system where we create every thief, snatcher, embezzler, plunderer, and thankfully, even hero and heroine.

What brings the two representative families together, well, that is up to the director. The important thing is this film will not have a Carlito Siguion-Reyna ending, as exemplified in “Hari ng Tondo.” Period.


The second trick of the film is its distribution scheme. New Philippine cinema should do away with the old temples of commerce like SM Malls, the Ayala cinemas and the like. They may never be the home of new Philippine cinema, at least, the cinema that should matter. In order to build a new order for the new Philippine cinema, we must do away with the traditional venues, and ways of distribution.

Mainstream films, whether foreign or local, have already cornered the market. Honestly speaking, even if this proposed film of mine were distributed in commercial cinemas, only people like me might watch it so we could feel artistically and intellectually superior, just like after we watch any of Lav Diaz’s long meanderings.

No! This movie will be shown in schools and small communities only. This film will go on a tour across the country. Every public (may be even private) elementary, high school and university will become SM and Ayala cinemas. In addition, open-air screening in small barrios around the country will be done. Perhaps, all of these will be sponsored by a company that makes soap or toothpaste or any product that the masses can afford. A conflict of interest may exist but let us leave it all to delicious irony.

With astute planning, this film can get back its film budget. It may even earn money, and as an added bonus, accolades from Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Locarno and Pagadian City. Of course, all these things will only happen if the would-be director gets this film right. If your name is Joel Lamangan, you need not apply.  

Perhaps, I am being too unrealistic but then again, have we really seen “reality” in Philippine cinema? Most importantly, this is not entirely my own idea. Sergei Eisenstein appeared to me in a dream, and whispered this concept to me as he sipped his coffee next to Mae West who kept flirting with Apolinario Mabini in an old Escolta café.

One of my friends calls my proposed film as dangerously close to propaganda, I say, “it all depends on the director and writer.”



FILM # 2
Filipino Films That Should Be Made in the Immediate Future (Series)
  • Film # 1: “F/F”
  • Film # 2: “The Imeldific Drag Show”
  • Film # 3: “Poque-poque at Patiti: The Senate RH-Bill Hearing” (soon)
  • Film # 4: “Desaparesidos” (soon)
  • Film # 5: “Angela, the Bading Assassin, A Musical (soon)
  • and many more

Other Film Essays

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