Reply to "Twelve Great Filipino Films"

Twelve Great Filipino Films

From an email sent to me, in reply to the article:

YeahUDid2004@aol.com: Nagtataka talaga ako kung bakit hindi nominated sa Urian ang "Tatlong Taon" for Best Picture samantalang isa ito sa pinakamagagandang pelikula noong 1976 na laging pinupuri at pinalalabas sa mga mini-filmfests hanggang ngayon. Sa tingin ko lang, parang ayaw ng mga Manunuri o film critics in general ang mga pelikulang "epic" o mala-"epic" produced by big stars na pinagbibidahan din nila. (It really worried me why "Tatlong Taong" wasn't nominated at the Urian for Best Picture while this was one of the finest films of 1976, always being shown in mini-filmfests until today. It's as if the Manunuri or film critics in general don't like "epic" or "quasi-epic" pictures produced and promoted by big stars.

Maybe not as an "epic" per se--they did like Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon? which was epic enough (or at least its canvas is broad enough). But you can glean a clue from what they did praise--Ganito had for its theme the search for the Filipino identity, Insiang the ferocity of the urban poor, and Minsa'y Isang Gamu-Gamo the arrogance and inhumanity of the American military.

Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God) didn't earn their respect not because it didn't have a sociological or political stance, but because it had a not so easily understandable and even unpopular one--that the Japanese (or for that matter, all human beings) have their human and even noble aspects; that given the right circumstances, we can end up on the wrong side of the fence; that human passions rule even over geopolitical currents and events (to the peril of the people who possess those passions). I suspect people didn't like to hear these things in the nationalistic, sociologically conscious '70s.

I also suspect a sense of contempt--that the critics felt O'Hara, because he wasn't part of the UP / Ateneo axis of filmmakers / critics, being from Adamson University, and having only partly finished his engineering degree, isn't a real artist. And that he got his start writing and directong only because he was Lino Brocka's lover (which I have reason to believe isn't true).

Pwede rin sigurong napakarami ng quality films noong 1976 (Second Gold Age of Philippine Cinema) that the Manunuri's decided to pick only the best among the best. (Could be with the abundance of quality films in 1976 (the Second Gold Age of Philippine Cinema) that the Manunuris decided to pick only the best among the best).

Some histories consider the '70s the Third Golden Age.

The First Golden Age would be the Pre-War Period, from the dawn of Philippine filmmaking in 1912, with two competing outfits doing a feature on Jose Rizal, to just before the Second World War.

The second would be the Post-War Period, from after war's end in 1945, picking up especially in the '1950s, to about 1965--Gerardo de Leon's reputed masterpiece, Daigdig ng Mga Api (The World of the Oppressed, 1965, the print lost, presumably forever) being possibly the age's last significant film.

Many of these films I and most of us alive today haven't seen, which is a tragedy right there.

Of the Third Golden Age, I think I know enough to point to Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (You Were Judged and Found Wanting, 1974) as being the first significant film (with Ishmael Bernal's debut film Pagdating sa Dulo (At the Top, 1972) being an earlier significant film that failed to spark any sense of a movement, or age, or whatever, beginning). I would argue that the last significant film of that age was O'Hara's Bagong Hari (The New King, 1986)--which arrived in time for the first EDSA Revolution, and the downfall of Marcos.

I would consider Tatlong Taong one of the best if not THE best--maybe the equal of only Insiang that year (and maybe not even that).

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