Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
“Mission is giving what we have received. Mission is fulfilling God’s mandate, which we have listened to and on which I would like to reflect with you: ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations’ (Mt 28: 19). Go. The mission demands that we leave. But in life, there is a strong temptation to remain, not to take risks, to be content with having the situation under control. It is easier to stay at home, surrounded by those who love us, but it is not Jesus’ way.”
Pope Francis gave this inspiring exhortation on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Neo Catechumenal Way, May 5, 2018, University of Rome Tor Vergata Grounds, a large grassy field at the suburbs of Rome, Italy.
150,000 people attended the event from 135 countries. Every nation from Sri Lanka, South Africa, to Fiji, Guam, to Croatia and the Philippines, many others were represented. The Philippine contingent numbered at least 400.
The Holy Father continues, “He sends us out: “Go”. He does not use half measures. He does not authorize reduced transfers or reimbursed trips, but he says to His disciples, to all his disciples one word only: “Go!”. Go: a powerful call that resonates in every corner of Christian life; a clear invitation always to be outbound, pilgrims in the world in the search for the brother who still does not know the joy of God’s love.”
Neo Catechumenate defined
The Neocatechumenal Way, also known as the Neocatechumenate, NCW or, colloquially, The Way, is a charism within the Catholic Church dedicated to Christian formation. It was formed in Madrid in 1964 by Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández.
Taking its inspiration from the catechumenate of the early Catholic Church by which converts from paganism were prepared for baptism, it provides post-baptismal formation to adults who are already members of the Church or to those far from the Church who have been attracted by the testimony of Christian life of love and unity in the communities (cf. Jn 13:35; 17:21), as proposed in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). From the official wiki site: Neo Catechumenal Way.
The growth and popularity of the movement is owed to the intention of bringing Christ ‘to the people’ or helping them see the Lord in their lives. The Pope’s message above is a reflection of the teaching and missionary aspect of the movement. From the very beginning, the Way attracts a broad range of people from all walks of life. As it does not discriminate, often spreading the word to those who are marginalized by society.
Dr. Rolly Cua, is a Filipino Neo Catechist who has been in The Way for 39 years. In an interview he relates the roots of the movement from its founders: Kiko Arguello, Carmen Hernandez and later on Fr. Mario Pezzi, “Kiko and Carmen are Spanish, they started in Madrid and Fr. Mario is Italian. He is a Combonian priest who has been given to the Neo to help out in this team. Kiko is a painter and is an artist who is rich they have means. Yet there was something lacking in his life. So he started to read Charles De Foucauld, St Therese of Lesieux. He turned away from his money, he got his guitar, his bible and he lived in the shantytowns in Palomeras, Altas in Madrid. (1963)”
The 1960s was a time of change in the Catholic Church and the Vatican II in 1964 sought to make, the mass more relevant to the people and the times. Prior to this the mass was held in Latin. Kiko Arguello in a sense was already doing the practical application of what the church had already wanted in theory.
He added, “They started to look for something that’s more alive, more relevant to the people. And what they did theoretically, Kiko was already doing in practice. He was in the shantytowns and he was living with people who were sinners. The prostitute of the town, everyone knows she’s a prostitute; the drug addicts were there, the robbers. He just lived with them.”
Living with the Poor
From Kiko Arguello’s own words, “When a person lives among the poor either they lose faith and becomes a guerilla warrior ‘Che Guevara’ style, or they go quietly in front of Christ and is sanctified. I am grateful to the Lord for the mercy he has had on me. There I saw Christ crucified and so when I returned from Africa I met Carmen’s sister, and I thought it was necessary to go to the social ‘catacombs’ and preach the gospel to these people, help them, give them a word of consolation. And so we formed a group that was dedicated to homosexuals, prostitutes and other undesirables.”
“Carmen’s sister was part of an association, called ‘Villa Teresiata’, which was dedicated to recovering prostitutes. They went to prostitutes’ homes and offered them to those that wanted a job. This was very good work. In the end I realized that in that group they did everything more as a ‘hobby’. I told Carmen’s sister: ‘I am going to live with the poor’. Charles de Foucauld gave me the formula; to live in silence, as Jesus of Nazareth, at the foot of Jesus Christ in the midst of all those people. I met a Social Worker that showed me an area of Palomeras Altas with a wooden shack, a refuge for dogs. I was told, ‘Go there and don’t worry’.
There everything sort of began. I wanted to live in the shack as Charles de Foucald; in contemplation as one in front of the Eucharist, at the foot of the only real presence of Christ. I wanted to be at the foot of Christ crucified, in the midst of the poorest and most miserable people.”
Source: History of the Neo Catechumenal Way.
Who is God For You?
Dr Cua continued, “Carmen on the other hand is the brain she finished chemistry and she was organizing people to do missionary work in Bulgaria, India. Then she heard about Kiko. So she attended and she saw Kiko with all these outcasts. She was so shocked that they were celebrating. They would break a word from the bible and he would ask what does this word tell you? What does this mean for you? Or who is God for you?”
Carmen began to change how she thought of what a Christian community is, “Being the criminals, they would say he is nobody for me. They’re very, very honest. In front of their sins they cannot keep a façade. When Carmen saw this she was shocked because she was thinking a Christian community should be holy people, priests and people who have studied. But she saw in the community of Kiko something tangible, something real. And the scum of the earth who touched her heart also. I’m already tearful.”
Madrid to Rome and the World
From Spain both Kiko and Carmen brought the Neo Catechumenal Way to the slums of Rome. Today the former slum area has been converted to a lush green park called Valle Della Caffarella. They were rejected from that area but Kiko was persistent because he received a vision from the Virgin Mary in Madrid. This vision is translated into a painting by Kiko, which has become an iconic presence during the Neo’s Eucharistic celebrations.
Humility, Simplicity and Praise
Kiko believed that growth depended on having a consistent, group of people to walk the way. Dr Cua goes on, “People have to form small communities who will live in humility, simplicity and praise. That’s how Neo Catechumenate stages are done. Humility first, simplicity and praise. With that rejection they went to San Francesca Cabrini, then Canadian martyrs and the Nativity. Those were the 3 first communities in Rome. Its equal to Mary the Queen, Lourdes and St Francis in Manila. This is what happened in the very start.”
50th Year Milestone
And in 1968 the Roman Catholic Church officially recognized the Neo Catechumenal Way and this was the year that marks the 50th anniversary today in 2018.
The decades have seen tremendous growth from that time, “These were the seeds. Now we have everything in bloom. Now we have all the 5 continents, anywhere you go you can ask about the Neo Cathechumenate. Of course there are difficulties. Our celebrations are a little long, there’s sharing of the people because the people are participative. This is the basic story, when they went to Rome they met Fr. Mario to join this team.”
Carmen Hernandez passed away at age 85 (July 19, 2016) she was replaced by Maria Ascensión Romero on February 2017. Romero was an itinerant missionary for years in Saint Petersburg, From: Neo’s Kiko Arguello Announces Replacement for Carmen Hernandez.
For people interested to experience The Way, it is important to know that it is parish based. Go to the Parish near your home or you are actively participating in (wherever this may be). Find out when the Neo Catechists are ‘announcing’ to start a community or program.
Rolly explains “No attendance being checked, no money being asked, you start the Cathechesis 15 nights, ending with a short retreat one and a half days. After that you can start, if you want to walk if you realize what God is asking you in your life, it can help. Of course the Neo Cathechumenate is not the only way. There are many other groups also which are formative. The Fuocolare are formative. The others are more service oriented but there are groups which are formative. Somebody looking for their faith should look for a formative group that fits them.”
Pope Francis: “Go!”
From Kiko’s question ‘Who is God for you?’ lies the strength of the Neo as well. People’s real life sharing can be the most powerful message and reflection that becomes relevant to everyone who hears it. No wonder The Way has spread around the world easily. Pope Francis recognizes this in his message during the anniversary,
“Here lies the strength of proclamation, so that the world may believe. What counts is not convincing arguments, but the life that attracts; not the ability to impose oneself, but the courage to serve. And you have in your ‘DNA’ this vocation to proclaim, living as a family, following the example of the Holy Family: in humility, simplicity, and praise. You bring this family atmosphere into so many desolate and unconcerned places. Let yourselves be recognized as the friends of Jesus. Call everyone your friends and be friends to all.
‘Go and make disciples of all peoples’. And when Jesus says everyone, He seems to want to emphasize that in His heart there is room for every people. Nobody is excluded.”
Epilogue: The Neo meeting with the Pope and our pilgrimage in general was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would like to thank the people who made it possible. Thelma Gecolea for your encouragement and support, My brother George and his wife Hazel who sent us a stroller that was used and appreciated by my father, eldest brother Timmy and wife Joy, (both my brothers) who provided financial support to me and my parents.
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to everyone in our travel group, all of whom assisted my parents and me during the trip. I thank everyone for their patience when we walked slowly (in the aisles) or occupied the public C.R. too long and so many other unintended inconveniences.
Apart from everyone’s patience and assistance I’d also like to thank especially Dr. Rolly Cua, Allen King, Ghita, Brother Froilan. Thank you for making this trip easier for our family. Most of all thank you to Fr. Paolo Benetton for making the trip cost efficient and yet so spiritually impactful with so many destinations along with your insights. Hopefully you don’t have too many nightmares of Pinoys demanding C.R. in every stop. Salamat po! Grazie Mille!—Jude Bautista
Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Federico Lizo, passed away the same day as astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, March 14, 2018 at also the same age: 76. While not exactly as renowned as Hawking, most people who knew him affectionately call Federico as Tito P.D. or Tito Pids. He died of cardiac arrest from cancer of the prostate and other complications.
Surrounded by his loving family, he held on to life for more than a day so the date of his passing would not coincide with the birthday of granddaughter Andrea who was born March 13. With him in his last moments, loving wife Rose Lizo, children: Vincent, Christopher, Lisette, Rudymark and grandson Sean.
Although he lived most of his life in Camella Homes Bicutan, he never forgot his original hometown. Born from humble circumstances in San Pascual, Burias an island just north of Masbate in October 27, 1941. He’s a math whiz and a lover of crosswords… in Filipino. No one would ever consider him wealthy but still managed to help his town mates in whatever way that he could.
When a typhoon struck, several times, damaging the church, he asked for donations from family and friends to repair and sponsor, beams, pews and other portions. The gate interestingly enough was his contribution. He involved his sisters Erlinda, Elizabeth and Ami and her husband George Apostol for this effort. Less than a few years later together with the help of many other contributors, they were able to rebuild a new church that is now able to withstand the elements. They have also expanded this by helping construct other structures the parish needs.
From his involvement, teachers from the local school also tapped his help in providing an artesian well. Although they did not ask for it he also donated books and school supplies. After fulfilling this need, he also helped pay for the tuition of worthy scholars. To this end his children have also sponsored their own scholars.
Then it was the hospital (in the person of Armi Gomez Rubia) that came to him requesting a widescreen, high definition TV. This was for patients to watch videos and shows they wouldn’t otherwise see during their stay. The TV was so large they had difficulty transporting and installing it, but provided so much joy to patients and hard working staff.
Son Chris would offer all expense paid trips abroad, U.S., Hong Kong etc. PD would counter that he preferred the ticket and budget be monetized so he could go to Burias instead and help more people. PD ended up not going out of the country at all because of his one-track mind.
His acts of generosity have not all been known. There are a number of relatives and friends he would consistently send money to because of their recurring illness. One of them Rudy Amado has now recovered. These are just some of the acts of kindness recalled by Johnito Agdon, who was his right hand man and caretaker of his home in Burias. Johnito considered PD as a second father.
Rose in his Life
PD had a generous spirit throughout from his youth to his senior years. If he had one fault, it would be his grumpiness that manifested in later years, like most people who grow to a ripe old age. Through the most difficult and the happiest moments of it all is his faithful and loving wife of 49 years: Rose Lizo. Friends and family would come to know her as Tita Rose or Tita Set. Sometimes when he would have difficulty walking or not have enough appetite to eat she would be by his side patiently feeding him and taking care of him.
Rose may have been the bigger influence on her children as an epitome of a modern woman. She worked as office manager for Textile Engineering while at the same time cooking, cleaning and caring for her family. She was a very early example of honesty, integrity, discipline and hard work that would bear fruit in all of her children. As the couple settled in Camella Homes, Bicutan, she became very active in the Mary Immaculate Parish of Levi Town. Rose volunteered her time and effort for several organizations: Lector and Commentator Society, Legion of Mary and Mater Dei Choir.
There was no mystery why PD felt a strong need to help the less fortunate. His mother Manuela Gomez Lizo often went back to the island bringing clothes, sometimes cash for the less fortunate. She was known as Manay Vita and would sometimes even give the clothes from her own back.
PD’s children however are a source of pride and have actually been his support for the financial assistance that he has provided for his kababayan. Eldest son Vincent Troy Lizo has become Business Director at Energizer Holdings, second son Christopher Daniel Lizo is Metro Pacific Tollways Corp (MPTC) Senior VP Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, only daughter Lisette Lizo is an Associate Delivery Project Executive for IBM Philippines, youngest son Rudymark is a businessman.
Apart from having scholars from Burias whose tuitions they support, they’ve committed themselves to an even bigger project that they recently promised him. They will establish a school named after their father Federico G. Lizo in Burias island.
One of PD’s obsessions is sports in general. He played a mean game of table tennis but never anything serious, as in amateur or school competition. PD was more the quintessential sports fan. He benefitted the most with the explosion of cable television. There was nothing he wouldn’t watch, I remember he had the patience to try and figure out the scoring system of cricket and rugby. There are two sports however that are most dear to his heart: tennis and basketball.
PD’s love for basketball is something that has rubbed off on his children. Vincent had a distinguished amateur basketball career as multiple MVP awardee in the PICAA (Philippine Integrated Chinese Athletic Association), played in the PBL and was also part of the Team B in De La Salle University. He is still active in hoops, playing in the alumni league. Vince’s son Jalen has recently qualified for the Manta Ray international Swimming Competition held in Hong Kong in the 15-18 age category.
NLEX Road Warriors
PD’s second eldest sonChristopher Lizo, apart from being MPTC Senior VP is also the team manager of NLEX Road Warriors. Chris has been with the team years before helping guide their 6-peat championship in the D-League. You can imagine PD’s pride grow even bigger when the team made its PBA debut in 2014. It hasn’t been easy but NLEX finally has a chance to get to the finals this conference.
To do that they have to go through a semi final series against the tough Magnolia Hotshots. If they do make it and finally win their first PBA championship PD will be smiling in heaven. And even if they don’t, in the greater scheme of things he knows his hometown of Burias is in good and capable hands of his children.
George Apostol, a successful businessman in his own right is PD’s brother in-law, husband of Ami. George offers an insight into why PD was so mindful of others. It is a view that is relevant, as he himself has helped his kababayan in Calbayog, Samar. He believes that the desire to help is a way to acknowledge the life changing blessings that God has given them. So whatever form of help they provide is just a way to thank the Lord and give back to the community. “I can relate to his generosity. Di naman masabi na mayaman kami pero na lampasan namin. It’s only natural maging generous ka balikan mo. Kung walang ginawa sa atin ang nasa taas maaring nandoon pa rin tayo. We were like them before. Siya sa Burias, ako sa Samar diba? Yon yung binabalikan ko, binibigyan ko. Siya yon din binabalikan niya sa Burias. Natural reaction yon ng pagpapasalamat. I do not know if generosity is the right word for that sukli lang, giving back lang. Once nilagay mo ko rito salamat ako mag-aabot.”
For George this is apart from PD’s true legacy, “Normal na tanong ng tao, ano kaya iniwan na legacy ni PD? Definitely it cannot be wealth, it cannot be power, it cannot be fame. The only legacy he will be leaving behind will be his family. How his family will behave and react will be a reflection of his own character. Yon yung siya. Kung anak mo bum, kung anak mo drug addicts, that is a reflection. Kung pamilya mo maging productive Christian citizens of the world, that is a reflection on you, meron kang ginawa diyan kahit papano. Yan ang legacy.”
The family would like to thank all relatives and friends who have expressed their love and offered many prayers.
They would also like to thank:
Dr. Ollie Alix and Dr. Jennelyn Javier Alix for their invaluable medical advice and support.
Fr. John Paulo (Pipo) Bautista, Parish Priest and Fr. Dick Eslopor for the spiritual guidance.
Lector and Commentator’s Society
Junior Legionaries Youth
Mater Dei Choir
Choirmaster Bernie De Leon
Mary Immaculate Parish Levi Town
Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Legendary Chef and international food magnate Alain Ducasse conceived of a simultaneous dinner around the world highlighting French culinary technique with (preferably) local ingredients. This singular night, on March 21, 2018 is called Goût de France or Good France. Now on its 4th edition, it was originally launched in 2015 by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by celebrated French chef Ducasse.
18 chefs from the Philippines have been selected to join 3,000 others to join the 4th edition of de France / Good France – the biggest dinner in the world to celebrate French gastronomy.
Goût de France is an annual event organized by French diplomatic missions in their host countries. This is a tribute to the excellence of French cuisine and its capacity to innovate and unite people around the common values of sharing and enjoyment in an environmentally friendly and healthy way.
The concept is inspired by Auguste Escoffier’s “Epicurean Dinners”: to serve the same menu, on the same day, in several cities, for as many guests as possible.
An international committee of chefs led by Alain Ducasse has selected chefs from all over the world, including the Philippines, to cook a French dinner to be served in their respective establishments on March 21, 2018.
These proposed menus must follow the sequence of a traditional French meal (aperitif with finger food, starter, 1 or 2 main courses, cheese platter, and dessert), accompanied by French wines and spirits. Chefs are also encouraged to use local ingredients.
Ambassador Nicolas Galey
French Amb. Nicolas Galey, in his speech, talked about the significance of the event, “French cuisine is listed among UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage and as such, it belongs to everybody, and we want to give as many people as possible in the Philippines the chance to taste and enjoy it.”
He also dispelled the misconception of Filipinos that French cuisine is intimidating and expensive, “Daily food can be easy to make, simple, light, affordable but tasty, varied and surprising. That is why the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs partnered with one of the most famous French chefs, Alain Ducasse, to organize Goût de France. We invite chefs all over the world to prepare a typical French dinner accompanied with wines and spirits. The menu is reviewed and approved by a selection committee presided by Alain Ducasse, to be served on the same day, on March 21.”
This year is one of growth, “We are happy that 18 chefs are participating in the Philippines, 3 times more than when we started in 2015. This means that more people will have the chance to experience this Epicurean dinner this year, whether in French cafés, bistros, fine dining restaurants, hotels in Metro Manila, and also in Tagaytay, Cebu, or Mindanao (Bukidnon).”
A special night however, is reserved for the official French residence, “At the same time, I will be hosting an official dinner at the French Residence to be prepared by a young Filipina chef I have recently discovered who had trained in Paris under one of the most prestigious French chefs, Joël Robuchon: Chef Camille “Miko” Calo. Because a good meal is a feast of the senses which can be complemented by music, our invitees will be entertained by a guest artist, fashion designer and singer who has been performing in Paris for Fête de la Musique: Ms. Kate Torralba, whom I thank very much to be part of an event where Philippine and French talents will meet for the enjoyment of our guests.”
Amb. Galey’s insight of making French cuisine more accessible to more people echoes the thinking of Chef Alain Ducasse himself. Ducasse is only one of 2 chefs who have earned at least 21 Michelin stars—the other is Joel Robuchon (with 31). He is a larger than life figure with a recent documentary film on his successes entitled THE QUEST OF ALAIN DUCASSE directed and produced by Gilles De Maistre.
The Quest of Alain Ducasse Trailer
Quoting the review by Variety.com on the documentary: “Regarded as an innovator for having transformed the French haute cuisine dining experience into honest and simple food where the diner’s pleasure is paramount, the 61-year old Ducasse now manages an empire that includes 24 restaurants in eight countries, run with 1,400 partners representing more than 40 different nationalities. The peripatetic Frenchman with Monégasque citizenship visits his establishments every three months, tastes what’s cooking and urges his staff to surpass themselves. Whether luxury dining spot or bistro, his restaurants are all about locally sourced, high-quality ingredients, prepared according to the seasons.”
French President Francois Hollande and Prince Albert II of Monaco are among the figures who make an appearance in the prestigious docu. Ducasse’ quest to share his knowledge and educate has a Philippine connection, “Another of the many ways Ducasse makes a contribution to sustainability is through his culinary training program in Manilla. There, Ducasse Education Philippines partners with the Tuloy Foundation to create the ‘youth with a future’ program, providing scholarships for young people to attend the training program. He attends a graduation ceremony and tells the students he hopes they’ll become chefs in one of his restaurant kitchens.” ——From Berlin Film Review: The Quest By Alain Ducasse written by Alissa Simon for Variety.com
Ducasse Education Philippines
Ducasse Education Philippines is currently based in Enderun College. Restaurant 101 is the application restaurant of the college. 101’s seasonal menus are conceived by Enderun’s world-renowned culinary faculty to showcase the techniques of traditional French cuisine, the bold flavors of the Asian market and a commitment to innovating with fresh, sustainable local ingredients. The student wait staff, work under the watchful eyes of the College’s food and beverage faculty.
Ducasse Education Philippines Executive Chef Marc Chalopin also plays a pivotal role in Goût de France as the lead person in reviewing the menus submitted by the participating chefs.
Hard work and Discipline
In his speech Chalopin was proud of the many graduates they produced. One of them is Justin Baradas who through the Ducasse Institute internship program completed his internship at Le Jules Verne, a Michellin-starred restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, Paris. He also worked at various restaurants in the metro namely Top of the Citti by Chef Jessie and Mecha Uma. Chef Baradas has won several culinary awards, the most recent being the Philippine Culinary Cup in 2013. At only 24 years old, he is living up to his name as the first Filipino Chef de Cuisine at Restaurant 101.
Baradas is also one of the 18 Chefs who are part of Goût de France. He gave us an unforgettable experience with the lunch he prepared at Restaurant 101.
Chalopin believes that graduates’ success is achieved through the training they have imparted, hard work and discipline, “Aside from him I remember many students who were able to transform themselves into successful chefs, culinarians and businessmen after their exposure to French discipline in the kitchen. I have never done this job alone. Everything we have accomplished is the result of the cooperation of both France and the Philippines. I look forward for more cooperation and success.”
18 Chefs and Establishments participating in Goût de France
- Michel Herbert (Le Bistro d’Agathe, Makati City)
- Jessie Sincioco (Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, Makati City)
- Katrina Kuhn-Alcantara (CDP Global Table, Makati City)
- David Olyver Virrey (Eiffel Kubo, Bukidnon)
- Victor Magasaysay (Elbert’s Steak Room, Makati City)
- Martin Kaspar (L’Entrecôte, Taguig)
- Joshua Mara (Gourmet Bar – Novotel Manila Araneta Center, Quezon City)
- Kevin Endaya (Lemuria, Quezon City)
- Robert Lilja (Maria Luisa’s Garden Room, Makati City)
- Clément Damotte (La Mère Poulard Manila, Taguig)
- Dino Ferrari (Paris Délice, Makati City)
- Michael Aspiras (Le Petit Soufflé, Makati City)
- Justin Baradas (Restaurant 101, Taguig)
- Marc Aubry (Sagana Epicerie and Bistro, Taguig)
- Jonathan Bouthiaux (Samira, Tagaytay City)
- Julien Cossé (Spiral Manila – Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, Pasay City)
- Pierre Cornelis (Vatel Restaurant Manila)
- Richard Amado (La Vie Parisienne, Cebu City)
Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Jericho Rosales, Erich Gonzales, Jasmine Curtis starrer about a rock star escaping his conflicts by going to his hometown of SIARGAO and a movie musical with a combination of the roaring 20’s and operettas about pre war Manila in ANG LARAWAN with Joanna Ampil, Rachel Alejandro, Celeste Legaspi reaped a majority of the awards in the Metro Manila Film Festival’s Gabi Ng Parangal at the KIA Theater last December 27, 2017.
SIARGAO had a total of 8 while ANG LARAWAN had 5 awards. Both ALL OF YOU and ANG PANDAY had 4 awards, followed by DEADMA WALKING with 2.
SIARGAO with 8 Awards – 2nd Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Jasmine Curtis Smith), Best Director (Paul Soriano), Best Cinematography (Odyssey Flores and team), Best Sound (Jason Conanan, Mark Locsin, Mikko Quizon, Kathrine Ariane Salinas), Best Editor (Mark Victor), Best Looking Couple of the Night (Erich Gonzales) and Best Original Theme Song (ALON by Hale)
ANG LARAWAN with 5 awards – Best Actress (Joanna Ampil), Best Picture, Special Jury Prize to Nick Joaquin for Portrait of a Filipino, Gatpuno Villegas Cultural Award, Best Production Design (Gino Gonzales)
ALL OF YOU with 4 awards – Best Actor (Derek Ramsay), 3rd Best Picture, Best Screenplay (Dan Villegas, Paul Sta. Ana, Carl Chavez and Melissa Mae Chua), Best Looking Couple of the Night (Derek Ramsay)
ANG PANDAY with 4 awards – Children’s Choice, Best Visual Effects (John David Hukom, Blackburst Team), Special Jury Award- Rodel Nacianceno a.k.a Coco Martin and Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award
DEADMA WALKING with 2 awards – Best Supporting Actor (Edgar Allan Guzman) and Best Float.
This year there was a very clear delineation between more popular commercial films and more creative material. This is a marked improvement unlike previous years when even the box office top grossers were the ones given the awards with their earnings as basis. So there didn’t seem to be space for themes and movies that enlighten and educate the movie going public’s palate.
Organizers MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim, MMDA GM & MMFF Exec Committee Chairman Tim Orbos made the right decision by putting National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera as head of the screening committee for the MMFF entries. Lumbera is very well respected in the realm of Filipino film criticism as one of the founding members of the Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
Lumbera was given an award of recognition in the middle of the ceremonies. And in his speech he essentially admonished the movie going public to patronize the award winning films and not just the more popular commercial comedies, action flicks that Filipinos flock to.
The irony is that a film like LARAWAN is actually incredibly entertaining; the award for Musical Direction – Ryan Cayabyab is testament to this. More popularly known as Ryan C, who is probably one of the most celebrated composers, musical directors of our time. In Japan where LARAWAN premiered in the Tokyo International Film Festival, they garnered the audience choice award.
IF only our kababayan would open their hearts and minds to the creative triumph that is LARAWAN, they will realize how rich our own Filipino culture and history while being moved and yes entertained. From the trailer Zsa Zsa Padilla, Nanette Inventor and Dulce are all in a hilarious mambo line, which should definitely be enough of a draw.
SIARGAO on the other hand is a movie that highlights the scenic beauty of what is considered to be the surfing capital of the Philippines. There’s a chance at a new relationship for both Diego (Jericho Rosales) and Laura (Erich Gonzales) who meet on the plane. While an old flame in Abi (Jasmine Curtis Smith) still has feelings for Diego. We see a lot of the local culture, at the same time young characters who show a lot of their lives on line.
Nowhere is the gap between quality of films and quantity of audiences more apparent than in SIARGAO director Paul Soriano’s speech. He gave a glowing endorsement to their competitor, which is practically unheard of in the MMFF.
Soriano credited his cast and producer Mark Victor. But he made note of the underwater cinematography of Gaps Abuero and Max Abasolo as well as Odyssey Flores who employed drones to get picturesque aerial shots of Surigao Del Norte.
Paul Soriano in his speech continued, “Yesterday a film touched my heart. I know what they’re going through. You guys, I watched it yesterday in a full house in Rockwell. I know what it is you’re going through. I hope you get the opportunity to see such a beautiful film; Against the World. That’s kinda what we do. It just really hit me. To the team ANG LARAWAN I share this with you guys.”
Days before Soriano caused a stir on line when he lamented publicly when cinemas decided to pull out LARAWAN and other entries early in the MMFF run.
LARAWAN Producer Alemberg Ang, in an interview, clarified that there was coordination with cinema owners and management who requested to prioritize the more popular family oriented films in the opening MMFF weekend (December 23 to Christmas). This is to maximize the greater portion of the movie going public who went with kids and their families.
And immediately after that show titles like ANG LARAWAN, DEADMA WALKING, SIARGAO and ALL OF YOU, especially now after awards night. Alem has confirmed that LARAWAN and the others have now been released to even more theaters around the metro. Please check listings on newspapers and online to find out which cinemas are running the awardees.
Shang Cineplex is already running LARAWAN, SIARGAO and DEADMA WALKING.
Click on link for full schedule.
Of the glowing endorsement from Paul Soriano in his acceptance speech Alem added, “Paul already posted on facebook and tweeted tagging all of us in twitter and fb. I’ve worked with him on TRANSIT. He’s really such a gentleman. He’s such a sincere person, such a great guy. And I guess the concept of Contra Mundum of art versus commercialism (translates to Defy the World). Which is what (MMDA Chairman) General Danilo Lim mentioned in his speech. That really blew us away. It’s our battle cry and continually we’re living it. Even all my indie films its like that. So right now we have a very good product and we’re glad people are responding.”
Full MMFF 2017 Awards list
Joanna Ampil – ANG LARAWAN
Derek Ramsay – ALL OF YOU
2nd Best Picture
3rd Best Picture
ALL OF YOU
Special Jury Prize (tie)
ANG LARAWAN posthumously to Nick Joaquin
ANG PANDAY – Rodel Nacianceno
People’s Choice Award
GANDARRAPIDDO: THE REVENGER SQUAD
Best Supporting Actress
Jasmine Curtis Smith – SIARGAO
Best Supporting Actor
Edgar Allan Guzman – DEADMA WALKING
Gatpuno Villegas Cultural Award
Paul Soriano – SIARGAO
Best Child Performer
Dan Villegas, Paul Sta. Ana, Carl Chavez and Melissa Mae Chua- ALL OF YOU
Odyssey Flores, Gaps Abuero and Max Abasolo– SIARGAO
Jason Conanan, Mark Locsin, Mikko Quizon, Kathrine Ariane Salinas – SIARGAO
Mark Victor – SIARGAO
Best Looking Couple of the Night
Erich Gonzales – SIARGAO
Derek Ramsay – ALL OF YOU
Best Production Design
Gino Gonzales – ANG LARAWAN
Best Visual Effects
John David Hukom, Blackburst Team – ANG PANDAY
Best Original Theme Song
Alon by Hale – SIARGAO
Best Musical Score
Ryan Cayabyab – ANG LARAWAN
Short Film People’s Choice Award
Short Film Best Picture
ANONG NANGYARI KAY NICANOR DANTE?
Ray Fisher (Cyborg): My father called it a change engine. It was found by the British during World War I. They studied it but they couldn’t even date it, it was so old. It was shelved ‘til the night Superman died. Then she lit up like Christmas. They brought it to Star Labs where my father recognized it as a perpetual energy matrix.
Ezra Miller (Flash): That sounds cool. I thought it was like a nuclear bomb. Cyborg: A mother box destroys as it creates. It’s a cycle of life a million times faster. My father thought it was the key to unlimited energy. New formulas cellular regeneration but its too volatile to control. Ben Affleck (Batman): He used it on you.
Cyborg: I was in an accident. I should’ve died. My father thought he could use the mother box to rebuild the broken parts of me with a few cybernetic adjustments. Instead he built a living machine, maybe stronger than its host. Batman: Too much, too much life. Jason Momoa (Aquaman): What’s on your worried mind? Batman: Coordination basic cellular integrity. The human being can only absorb so much. The mother box was designed to reshape a planet. Aquaman: So?
Batman: What if you were stronger than a planet?
JUSTICE LEAGUE puts together the strongest team possible, at least in the DC Universe: Superman (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Batman (Ben Affleck), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Flash (Ezra Miller).
LizQuen for New Close Up Ever Fresh TVC
Any superhero mega blockbuster movie in my mind is not only as good as the team up but the villain has to be just as compelling and awe-inspiring. The antihero here is the very reason why they’re coming together. That’s why even on the MARVEL side of things they’re already hyping up the enemy in Thanos.
DC Film Legacy
I’ve written this before in previous reviews BATMAN VS SUPERMAN, there’s greater pressure on DC because they have the added burden of pleasing the critics and award giving bodies as well as having to make a gazillion dollars to be called a ‘success’. MARVEL for the most part just has to make money.
Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger have either been nominated or won an Oscar for the Joker role. Christian Bale, Michael Keaton have both made their mark as Batman not to forget their directors Chris Nolan and Tim Burton. And even before those Christopher Reeve & producer Alexander Salkind have also reaped critical acclaim for SUPERMAN in the 1970s. Marlon Brando was Jor-El, Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor), THE GODFATHER novelist Mario Puzo co-wrote the screenplay. Their work was so memorable that a huge number of people to this day think of Christopher Reeve as THE Superman.
Stephen Curry Chooses Rexona, the World’s No.1 Deo
While JUSTICE LEAGUE may not necessarily be Oscar material, I feel it has more than lived up to the creative expectations. If you were to say ANY other film breached the half billion mark it would have been considered a huge success. But because of production costs along with global marketing and having to compare it with the competition apart from other DC AND Marvel titles specifically WONDER WOMAN, THE AVENGERS etc. it is seen as a box office disappointment.
Mother boxes Origin
So going back to the point of why I think it’s a creative success, one of the reasons is their usage of Mother boxes and Steppenwolf as the antagonist. The mother boxes help thresh out the origin of Cyborg. In cartoons Cyborg has come out in TEEN TITANS but his origin was never fully dealt with. As related in the lead dialogue above the mother boxes put an interesting twist to the human/cybernetic combination that is not a new concept.
Cyborg is a lot more than just a Six Million Dollar Man or ROBOCOP. Victor Stone’s exposure to mother boxes allows him to evolve and give him a direct connection with machines, both physical and ‘mental’. For the youth of today who are constantly online, seeing someone who can surf the web with the internet coming out of his hands is a power they can relate to.
Jadine Ding Dong Marian – PNB Serving You First For The Next 100 Years
The Steppenwolf character also ties together the history of the Amazons and the Atlanteans. There’s a greater appreciation of the origin stories of two JUSTICE LEAGUE members in Wonder Woman and Aquaman. That’s why Wonder woman was the one who best explained what the mother boxes are and Steppenwolf:
Gal Gadot (Diana Prince): They don’t contain power, they are power. Carried from planet to planet the mother boxes combine to form the ‘unity’ an apocalyptic power that not only destroys worlds but transforms them into the primordial house gate of Steppenwolf’s birth world. We should’ve died but we formed our own unity: Amazons, Atlanteans all the tribes of man fought side by side. Warriors of legend, allies from other worlds even the gods themselves all acted as one laying down their lives to drive Steppenwolf away. Some say it drove him mad the disgrace of his first retreat. Before our alliance would crumble the darkness would cover the earth. He vowed that he would return when it did. Left behind the mother boxes were too dangerous to be kept together. One was entrusted to the Amazons, one to the Atlanteans, both sealed and guarded secure strongholds. The box of man was buried in secret so that no tribe would be tempted to use its power. Such harmony out of such horror, it was truly an age of heroes.
In any movie I review I include either dialogue or a scene that would pique the interests of the readers. At the same time I don’t want to divulge too much that would ruin the experience of watching it. For the dialogue I have included in the lead and the explanation of Diana (alter ego of Wonder Woman), I feel having a better understanding of the mother boxes and Steppenwolf would definitely enhance the experience.
PAL – Gifts from the Heart: Noche Buena Surprise
Not included in the dialogue above are the scenes running while she related this story which included the Green Lantern race—‘allies from other worlds’ as described by Diana. It may be a teaser for a future member of JUSTICE LEAGUE, which is Green Lantern (most famous human alter ego) aka Hal Jordan.
Using Steppenwolf as the antagonist we get a better sense of how Aquaman came to be. And how the Amazons are not just parts of Greek lore but are defenders of humanity. The use of the mother boxes also drives home a theme of unity from both sides: the boxes have to come together to form a portal for Steppenwolf and the JUSTICE LEAGUE heroes have to gel as a team.
TANDUAY – Piliin Mo Ang Bubuo Sayo
Director Zack Snyder has story credit with Chris Terrio who wrote the screenplay with Joss Whedon. Story and dialogue aren’t the first things that come to mind with superhero movies but in this case they made it work. Terrio has already won an Oscar for ARGO. He also wrote: BATMAN VS SUPERMAN and the upcoming STAR WARS Episode IX, he’s also on board for JUSTICE LEAGUE 2. Interestingly enough Whedon co wrote both AVENGERS (2012) and AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON (2015).
Connected to Steppenwolf is the actor in the role: Ciaran Hinds. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and his name is pronounced KEE-rin. For most fans they know him as Mance Rayder from Game of Thrones. Rayder was an exceedingly tough, legendary leader who united the Wildlings, North of the Wall. I think that’s part of the reason why there was some dissatisfaction with not seeing him and having a CGI character instead.
The problem is the need to have Steppenwolf as physically imposing or threatening to the likes of Wonder Woman and Batman. If you can imagine Jason Momoa (Aquaman) who looks like a 6’3” bodybuilder, running back, Heavyweight UFC fighter. You have to have an antagonist who puts the fear in THEM. So in this age of 3D animation, the visual compromise was acceptable. Hinds vocal performance was powerful and scary, definitely a testament to his acting abilities.
Hilarious Ellen Adarna – Tanduay prank vid
Nielsen is an unforgettable, tall almost imposing Danish beauty. She was also one of the women offered by the devil (Al Pacino) to seduce Keanu Reeves in THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE. There’s something striking in her features and blonde hair that seems to denote royalty. She was notable as the emperor’s daughter in GLADIATOR. That’s why as Queen Hippolyta, Nielsen’s performance is equally memorable. One of the scenes hinted at a Lesbian relationship. Which is understandable since they are all women who cannot leave the island of Themyscira. Hippolyta’s sister and Amazon Lieutenant Menalippe played by Dutch actress Loven Kongsli also makes an appearance here. If only for those scenes, JUSTICE LEAGUE has proven its worth.
Ray Fisher, will reprise his role in a stand-alone movie CYBORG and FLASHPOINT (with The Flash) in 2020. Fisher has a solid acting background in theater and once played Mohammad Ali in FETCH CLAY MAKE MAN. He also auditioned for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, although the part went to John Boyega. Cyborg being included in JUSTICE LEAGUE is a great way to add a hero, the younger generation can relate to.
Ezra Miller is the youngest and geekiest of the heroes as the Flash. He looks like a younger, Asian looking version of Jimmy Fallon. Miller’s quirky, self conscious and insecure version of the Flash, is again a character millennials can identify with. His performance however is a departure from his more serious dramatic roles that have earned him critical praise in WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011) opposite Tilda Swinton and PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (2012) with Emma Watson. He earned a Chopard trophy in Cannes as a homicidal son in …KEVIN. Most fans will likely remember him as Credence Barebone in FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.
Ellen Adarna intrudes – Tanduay prank vid
Talking about awards, JUSTICE LEAGUE boasts of several Oscar winners (as actors): Jeremy Irons (Alfred), JK Simmons (Commissioner Gordon). Ben Affleck has two, as producer in ARGO (2012) and as screenwriter in GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997). The one weakness, however in the performances for this movie should be Affleck’s. We understand that the voice of the Batman with the mask is distorted. But he made the decision to make himself sound tougher when he’s not wearing the suit/mask. The result is closer to a bad impression of Clint Eastwood in DIRTY HARRY.
Once you can get over that, you can enjoy the rest of the movie especially with the gorgeous and strong Gal Gadot more than making up for it. Ever since WONDER WOMAN Gadot has raised the bar high for women in action films. JUSTICE LEAGUE not only continues that but allows her to ‘fight’ together with other members that makes the scenes even more complex and exciting at the same time.
In my opinion, casting Jason Momoa as Aquaman was Zack Snyder’s best decision. Aquaman isn’t necessarily the action laden, tough, superhero that attracts legions of fans –unlike Batman, Superman or even Wonder Woman. HBO’s ENTOURAGE in one of their episodes made a joke of it as Vince Chase (Adrien Grenier) was hesitant to take the role in a blockbuster film.
Enter Jason Momoa who instantly makes Aquaman, for lack of a technical term: bad ass, or bad ‘mother@#$%*!’. Momoa’s most famous role also in GAME OF THRONES is Khal Drogo. Fierce doesn’t begin to describe that role as the undefeated leader of the Dothraki. Novelist and creator George RR Martin based the Dothraki as an amalgam of real nomadic horsemen in history: the Huns, Mongols and the Apache. Unlike Affleck, Jason doesn’t have to change his voice or speech, he just looks, sounds naturally tough and intimidating. Before his breakthrough role he also played CONAN THE BARBARIAN in the 2012 remake. His look and identity is exactly what the Aquaman role needed to be taken into kick ass level and he did it.
Momoa’s Haka for Mark Hunt
There’s a video on YouTube of Jason performing the Haka a Maori war dance for Mark ‘The Super Samoan’ Hunt. Jason is friends with Hunt who is a UFC heavyweight fighter, living in Sydney, Australia. Momoa was there to shoot AQUAMAN the movie set for release in 2018. In an interview with BBC he revealed that it was director Zack Snyder’s idea to use his Polynesian heritage and covering him with tattoos for his role of Aquaman.
If you’re a fan…
The critics have not been kind, but if you’re a comic book fan who wants fast action, if you’re cartoon series fan, a Game of Thrones fan, a Millennial or just a kid in a grown up body (like me), you’re going to love JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Snyder pays homage to some of the same heroes I have apart from the DC ones. In one early montage, there’s a newspaper front page with David Bowie, Superman and Prince. Recently passed Bowie and Prince certainly seem otherworldly because of their unprecedented talent as musicians and larger than life personas. All the 12 year old in me can say is: Thank you Zack. You showed that you don’t need to wear a cape to be a hero. But it can be really fun to watch people who do.
For the first time in the Philippines audiences will be able to watch a cinematic treat from Panama. There have been quite a number of international fests here even the WORLD PREMIERES film festival (instigated by former FDCP Chair Briccio Santos), which featured titles from as far as Russia, Turkey, Mongolia and so on. Panama, however, is one of those countries that have yet to debut a movie for Filipinos.
Through the very first CINE LATINO Film Festival, Pinoy cineastes will be able to watch movies from this region of the world for free from December 6 to 10, 2017 at the Shang Cineplex, Shang Rila Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong City. Shang Cineplex has established itself as the home of many international fests having just concluded the Argentinian Film Fest and Danish Fest. There is also the upcoming Hungarian film fest from December 1-2, 2017.
CINE LATINO will have a mix of drama, comedy, romance and many more. The festival is set to show films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela that are truly unforgettable.
In a recent presscon Chilean Amb Jose Miguel Capdevila made note of the reasons why storytellers from Latin America have captivated the world, “Latin America has been quite prolific, first with literature. If we remember the 70s, the so-called Latin American boom. We have authors such as Jose Donoso, Pablo Neruda and so on. There was a very important point of culture that came from Latin America and was very successful. Nowadays from 90s onwards cinema kind of took the post. Our countries started producing wonderful films. And the quality of films were of such level that if you take a look at the international festivals all over the world you’ll see that the one of the top three are Latin American films proposed for awards. That speaks for itself in terms of the quality of films we are producing.”
Chilean Amb. Jose Miguel Capdevila also emphasized the importance of cinema in bridging cultures, “I would say in the past 10 years we have advanced very much. The concrete and living proof is that our films have been awarded in the most important festivals all over the world. Needless to say that was one of the ideas in organizing this festival. Because we were fully aware and conscious we would like to share with you something very good about Latin America such as cinema. Cinema as literature cinema is a way of language and expression. Essentially what is expressed is ourselves, the way we are, the way we feel. Once you watch these films and books you get an impression of who we are. The more we know each other the better the ties will be. In that token this festival plays an important role in making us closer, the Philippines and Latin American countries. That is the worthwhile effect of this common activity.”
Argentinian ambassador Roberto Bosch proposed the CINE LATINO Film fest to the other Latin American countries who have embassies here namely: Brazil– Amb Rodrigo do Amaral Souza, Chile – Amb Jose Miguel Capdevila, Colombia – Amb Victor Hugo Echeverri, Mexico – Amb Gerardo Lozano Arredondo, Panama – Amb Rolando Anibal Guevara Alvarado and Venezuela – Capaya Rodriguez Gonzalez. The Spanish language is a point of emphasis in the shared history of the region and the Philippines.
Panamanian Ambassador Rolando Anibal Guevara Alvarado talked about how their government has started to assist their filmmakers, “Panama has a film industry but is in the initial stages. Now we have more opportunities for filmmakers, actors in the worldwide audience. For us it’s significant to bring a movie here. The title is CHANCE, which is a hilarious comedy. It’s basically about 2 housekeepers who work for an aristocratic family. For a certain time they were mistreated in one trip of the family to Florida, the yayas have a plan of their own. They take care of the mansion in their absence. In doing so they discover intimate secrets of the family. The message is all dirty clothes have to be washed in house. It’s going to be a hilarious comedy for Filipinos.”
OFWs, Ship Registry
Panama has strong economic ties with the Philippines, “You have Filipinos around the world. We have also in Panama Filipinos working as caregivers, nurses. Last year we deployed a lot of Filipinos, 1,000 experts who worked on mining because Panama is starting the mining process.”
Ship registry according to Alvarado is still the focus, “But the main reason we have an embassy here is because of shipping. Panama is the number one ship registry (for the Panamanian flag) and Filipinos are the largest and best seafarers in the world. That’s our connection. That’s basically the main purpose. We had our national Day just two weeks ago. We were celebrating the hundred years of the ship registry. We are very well known for that. We have a whole state policy behind that. Just to give you an idea of how close our ties are, we receive a total of 150 applications per day for ship registry. We have a very good synergy between governments in that particular area. We have signed Memorandum of agreements on high level official visits.”
Connected to the ship registry is another film they would like to screen by next year, “We’re also trying to bring Historias De Canal HISTORY OF THE PANAMA CANAL this is a feature film we’re going to screen in the near future most probably in the first quarter of 2018. I would also like to invite the shipping community. We are a country of mariners by nature.”
Boxing legend Roberto Duran actually makes a cameo appearance in this current film EL CHANCE screened in CINE LATINO Dec 8- 6pm and Dec 10- 1pm (Shang Cineplex). Alvarado revealed a new role for the world renowned ‘Hands Of Stone’, “Roberto Duran is appointed now as Special Envoy for Sports. He’s an icon of Panama has given a lot of glory for our country. He was recently inducted in the Boxing Hall of Fame. He’s now doing a nice job of promoting sports to young people. By the way we are very fond of Manny Pacquiao. There are quite a few people who follow the fights of Manny Pacquiao.”
History with Spain and U.S.
Ambassador Alvarado also enumerated the historical similarities between the Philippines and his country, “In the case of Panama and several countries in Latin America we came from hundreds of years of Spanish rule. Panama has a twin connection with the Philippines. Apart from being a Spanish colony we also have the influence of the U.S. Americans. You have the military bases as well as us. They controlled us for 40 years until the canal was turned over to Panama. So the U.S. has influenced us, making a big impact on the economy, lifestyle. So we have that special thing. We are very Catholic basically we are in the same equator, just on the opposite side of the world. We have the same weather, fruits and products. And we have a lot of connections between our two countries.”
CINE LATINO schedule
|Time||December 6 • Wed||Running Time|
|1:00 – 2:35||Patas arriba (Venezuela)||1.35|
|3:30 – 4:45||Sofía y el terco (COLOMBIA)||1.15|
|7:30 – 9:35||El hijo de la Novia SON OF THE BRIDE (Argentina)
opening night film
|December 7 • Thu|
|1:00 – 2:55||Dois filhos de Francisco (Brasil)||1.55|
|3:30 – 4:50||Shortfilms (México)||1.20|
|5:30 – 7:10||Hermano (Venezuela)||1.40|
|8:00 – 10:10||Cidade de Deus (Brasil)||2.10|
|December 8 • Fri|
|1:00 – 2:50||El comienzo del tiempo (MEXICO)||1.50|
|3:30 – 5:20||Subterra (CHILE)||1.50|
|6:00 – 7:30||El chance (PANAMÁ)||1.30|
|8:00 – 10:05||El hijo de la novia SON OF THE BRIDE (ARGENTINA)||2.05|
|December 9 • Sat|
|1:00 – 2:30||Esperando la carroza (Argentina)||1.30|
|3:00 – 4:55||Dois filhos de Francisco (BRASIL)||1.55|
|5:30 – 7:20||El comienzo del tiempo (MEXICO)||1.50|
|8:00 – 9:15||Sofía y el terco (COLOMBIA)||1.15|
|December 10 • Sun|
|1:00 – 2:30||El chance (PANAMÁ)||1.30|
|3:00 – 5:10||Cidade de Deus (Brasil)||2.10|
|6:00 – 7:35||Patas arriba (Venezuela)||1.35|
|8:00 – 9:50||Subterra (CHILE)||1.50|
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
John Proctor (JV Ibesate): Anong kasalanan? Bakit yan si Parris? Bakit yan si Abigail di niyo pag hinalaan ha? Porke’t sila nagsampa ng kaso sila banal? Alam ko na nangyayari sa bayan na ito. Venganza! Pag hihigante! Hindi naman tayo ganito tayo dati ha? Pero ngayon pag hihigante na! Venganza nga ito. At hindi ko hahayaan maging biktima ng venganza ang asawa ko! Elizabeth Proctor (Doray Dayao): John sasama na lang ako sa ka nila. Proctor: Hinde! Ezekiel Cheever (Erick Sindol): John hindi pwedeng hindi mo sakin siya ibigay. Trabaho lang ito. Sumusuonod lamang ako sa utos. Proctor: Ano? Ikaw wala kang gagawin? Rev John Hale (Joshua Tayco): Paniwalaan natin ang hustisya ng korte! Proctor: Hoy! Ponsyo Pilato! Kahit ang Diyos di papayag sa pag huhugas kamay mo!
There was a palpable fear and discomfort inside the Tanghalang Huseng Batute, (Studio Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines during the performance of ANG PAG-UUSIG (A translation of Arthur Miller’s THE CRUCIBLE) by Tanghalang Pilipino. The show is a must watch for all Filipinos and runs until October 22, 2017.
Although it was set in the 1690s, it was like looking into the lives and homes of modern day Filipinos who have been suspected as drug pushers or those who lost loved ones in Tokhang or the War On Drugs. The official number of lives lost is at least 3,400 (as of June 2017) but anyone who watches the news each day knows the real number is much higher. Pres. Duterte said recently, “Pumatay tayo (Let’s kill) another 32 everyday, maybe we can reduce what ails this country,” From Philstar.com: 20 killed in Manila overnight after bloody Bulacan raid
The definition of crucible is a severe test, which refers to the trials in Salem and the era which put to death innocent people mostly women wrongly accused of witchcraft. Filipino, like most Asian languages, is high context, with one word having several meanings. Pag-uusig is not a direct translation of crucible, according to google translate its prosecution. In an interview with director Dennis Marasigan (a screenwriter himself) he preferred the translation as persecution, which fits the story even better. It was Marasigan’s idea to use Pag-Uusig as the title, not taking anything away from the masterful translation of Jerry Respeto, whose work is quoted above.
Storied playwright Arthur Miller best explains his own work through COLLECTED ESSAYS published by Penguin books in 2016. Portions of the essay were quoted in the program of PAG-UUSIG along with valuable insights from the creative team. The official program (priced at P150) is an essential resource and companion to appreciate the play. More importantly it grants us a better understanding of what’s happening in our country today.
Miller writes about THE CRUCIBLE, “Is it a political play? It is I think, but in a particular sense. It is very often done in Latin America just before a dictatorship is about to take over—as a warning and just after one has been overthrown, as a reminder…Its underlying reference is political paranoia whichever side makes use of that source of power.”
Two weeks into the run of PAG-UUSIG (October 13) President Duterte threatened his ‘enemies’ by having them all arrested and establishing a revolutionary government, “Sige mag-demonstrate kayo, bring it to a point na talagang tatagilid ang gobyerno. Alam ng military isa sa mga active na mag-destabilize is the communist. Do you think police and military will sympathize with you? I was elected by the people. If I sense the country is about to go overboard, I will declare a revolutionary government. Hindi ko kayo tinatakot pero hulihin ko kayong lahat, and I will declare a full-scale war against the NPA (New People’s Army),”. From ABS CBN News: Duterte Threatens to Set Up Revolutionary Government.
In the same article he identifies plotters believing that the Central Intelligence Agency is in a conspiracy with the Communist Party of the Philippines / New People’s Army to overthrow his regime. This is ignoring the fact that the CPP/NPA has an anti-U.S. Imperialism dogma throughout its more than 50 year existence.
Duterte also believes that reputable news website Rappler.com is controlled by the CIA without offering any basis. Founder Maria Ressa is a well-respected media figure having worked as CNN’s lead investigative journalist in Asia for two and a half decades and was head of ABS CBN News and Current Affairs. She has won an Overseas Press Club Award for Best Documentary and countless others.
The Paranoid Becomes A Leader
Milller continues, “Paranoia has a power and it rises not basically from ravings about plots and hidden conspiracies but from the grain of recognizable fact around which the fantasies are woven. The paranoid feels endangered by some person or group mysteriously controlling his actions despite his will. His violence therefore is always defensive, trained against oppressor who means to kill him before he can kill them.” For Filipinos this helps explain the oft-repeated excuse in the loss of life in police operations. The term is nanlaban, which means fought back therefore a justification for the police to use force thereby killing the suspect.
Miller also offers an explanation how the paranoid becomes a leader, “His job therefore is to unmask and disarm, to find the seemingly innocent traces of the pervading malevolence and he comes to recognize hostility even in the way a person holds his hands or turns his head. His only hope is power, power to neutralize the dangers around him. Naturally since those dangers can be anywhere his power must also be total in order to work. And of course it is true that to one degree or another we are, in fact hostile to each other, and when we are accused of holding that hostility, we do indeed hate the accusation and the accuser. So that the paranoid creates the reality which proves him right. And this is why the paranoid, who in normal times might merely end in an institution can rise to the leadership of a society which is really insecure and at a loss of spiritual debility.”
McCarthyism and Impeachments
Miller wrote THE CRUCIBLE in 1953, the heyday of McCarthyism. It was an era that was also marked by paranoia and persecution of ‘accused’ communists. He described the parallelisms between the two, “Three hundred years apart both prosecutions were alleging membership in a secret disloyal group. Should the accused confess his honesty could be proved only the same way – by naming former confederates nothing less. Thus the informer became the very proof of the plot and the investigation’s necessity. Finally, in both eras, since the enemy was first and foremost an idea, the normal evidentiary proof of disloyal actions was either deemphasized, left in limbo or not required at all. And indeed actions finally became completely irrelevant. In the end the charge itself, suspicion itself all but became the evidence of disloyalty”
Days before President Duterte made his threat of arresting his ‘enemies’ via a revolutionary government, Commission on Elections Chairman Andy Bautista was impeached in congress October 11. This is only the latest among other impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. Both women are outspoken critics of Duterte’s War On Drugs and have impeccable reputations in the judiciary.
While there have been impeachment trials from previous administrations, only under Duterte has there been impeachment complaints against 3 separate officials. The complaints all come within his first year and a half in office. One of them against the Ombudsman, which ironically is defined as “charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights. The ombudsman is usually appointed by the government or by parliament, but with a significant degree of independence.”
Former COMELEC Chair Sixto Brillantes described Bautista’s impeachment, “(It’s) a total farce. I am fully aware that the process of impeachment is both political and legal. It is totally, absolutely and purely political because all legal aspects were brushed aside.’ Citing one reason, he said the House committee on justice had determined that the complaint itself was accompanied by a “deficient, defective, flawed and infirmed verification.” From philstar.com: Comelec Chief’s Impeachment a Farce Says Predecessor
The article continues, “Some congressmen who attended the caucus and who did not want to be named told journalists that there was a “marching order from the Palace” to impeach Bautista. Duterte denied this on Friday, saying he does not meddle with his allies in Congress, some of whom are also claiming that he has given them the go-signal to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.”
Miller’s words ring ever true, ‘Indeed actions finally became completely irrelevant. In the end the charge itself, suspicion itself all but became the evidence of disloyalty.’