Met, FDCP partnership boosts film screenings

Photograph Courtesy of abs-cbn ‘Himala’ is set to be screened at the Manila Metropolitan Theater.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Film Development Council of the Philippines signed a memorandum of understanding on 31 August to contribute to the programming of NCCA’s film screening series at the Manila Metropolitan Theater, a heritage cultural structure that the NCCA rehabilitated and now owns and manages.

The memorandum was signed in time for the observance of Philippine Film Industry Month in September, as declared in 2021 through Presidential Proclamation 1085. Signing ceremonies were led by NCCA and National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson Dr. Rene R. Escalante and newly appointed FDCP chairperson and chief executive officer Tirso S. Cruz III, with NCCA executive director Oscar G. Casaysay and FDCP officer in charge as executive director David D. Fabros acting as witnesses.

The partnership aims to bolster the Met’s Mga Hiyas ng Sineng Filipino, which screens old and classic Filipino films. With the assistance of the FDCP’s Philippine Film Archive, the film program started last February with the screening of Dalagang Ilocana (Ilocano Maiden, 1954), directed by Olive La Torre; Pagdating sa Dulo (Upon Reaching the End, 1971), directed by National Artist Ishmael Bernal; and Sana Maulit Muli (Second Chances, 1985), directed by Olivia M. Lamasan. Aside from FDCP, the program has also been partnering with the ABS-CBN Sagip Pelikula Film Restoration Project and FPJ Productions, among others.

“Sa pamamagitan ng programa, dalawa ang ninais na makamit ng Met: Una, ang mapalawig pa ang kamulatan ng ating mga kababayan sa napakayamang kaban ng ating lahi sa larangan ng pelikula, at ikalawa, ang mapaigting pa ang kampanya sa patuloy na pagsisinop at pagsasaayos ng mga mahahalagang mga pelikula mula sa unang siglo ng sineng Filipino (Through the program, the Met wishes to achieve two things: First, to spread more awareness among our countrymen on the rich trove of films of our people, and second, to intensify the campaign to continuously archive and preserve the important films from the earliest era of Philippine cinema),” Dr. Escalante said in his speech.

He added: “Malinaw po ang mensaheng nais naming ipaabot sa mamamayang Filipino: Patuloy po ang aming mga tanggapan sa muling paghahatid sa pinilakang tabing ng mga pinaka-importante — ang mga hiyas — ng ating mga sinupan, kasama na riyan ang mga likha ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining para sa pelikula — mula sa mga klasik na pelikula nina De Leon, Avellana, at Conde, ang mga napapanahon at progresibong mga katha nina Brocka, Bernal, at Romero, hanggang sa mga kontemporaryong akda mula kina Lee, Diaz-Abaya, ni The King, Fernando Poe, Jr., at ng ating nag-iisang Superstar, Nora Aunor, na siyang itatanghal sa susunod na serye ng Hiyas (The message we want to impart to Filipinos is clear: our agencies continue to screen the most important films
— gems — from the archives, including the works of the National Artists for film — from the classics by De Leon, Avellana, and Conde, the relevant and progressive works of Brocka, Bernal, and Romero, to the contemporary creations from lee, Diaz-Abaya, from The King, Fernando Poe Jr. and our one and only Superstar, Nora Aunor, which we will feature in the next series).”

The iconic film, Himala (Miracle, 1982), which stars Aunor, was written by Ricky Lee and directed by Bernal (all now declared National Artists), will be screened on 25 September, with a talkback session with Aunor and Lee after the screening.

Cruz reiterated the importance of the archive, likening it to Noah’s Ark, playing a vital role in salvaging our films that are in danger of being forgotten. He said the partnership with the NCCA “serves as an instrument to keep these works of art alive.”

“These restored films are worth more than their weight in gold. The cost of (restoring) a film would set us back around P2.5 million. That is, if the film is not badly damaged. But what make these films priceless are the ideas, blood, sweat, and tears of our brilliant directors and actors in creating these masterpieces,” he said. “That’s why we, at the FPCP and the Philippine Film Archive, are hard at work finding, collecting, digitizing, restoring, and conserving our old Filipino films. We do this because the nation deserves a foundation of values and culture that can be seen and experienced for many, many generations in the future. We do this because knowing where we came from guides us towards where we must go.”

Cruz said that aside from preserving the films, their showing to the public is also important to foster appreciation. He is thankful that Mga Hiyas ng Sineng Filipino provides that needed platform.

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