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Cinemalaya Series: Ang Bagong Pamilya ni Ponching

Si Ponching (Janus Del Prado) ang titular na bida sa pelikula nina Inna Salazar at Dos Ocampo, “Ang Bagong Pamilya ni Ponching”, na isa sa siyam na pelikulang naglalaban laban sa Cinemalaya ngayong taon.

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“Kamusta na kayo dyan ng nanay mo? Ang tatay mo ayos ba? Eto na nga pala bago kobg roaming number. Tita maribeth mo to. Pwede ba padalhan niyo muna ko ng 5000?”

 

“Nay naaksidente ho ako papasa ho ng 300 andito kami sa ospital ngayon”

 

“Nanala ka ng bagong IPhone 6! Para ma-claim ang premyo mo isend lang ang 100 sa 2917xxxxxxx at sumagot ng yes!”

 

Malamang sa malamang naranasan mo na yan. Kung tutuusin, sino bang hindi? Madali lang ang kita kapag may nabiktima di ba? Kung totoo si Ponching, siguradong sasang-ayon siya sayo. Ang kaibihan nga lang siguro, nabago ang buong buhay niya ng dahil lang sa simpleng mensahe.

 

Si Ponching (Janus Del Prado)  ang titular na bida sa pelikula nina Inna Salazar at Dos Ocampo, “Ang Bagong Pamilya ni Ponching”, na isa sa siyam na pelikulang naglalaban laban sa Cinemalaya ngayong taon.

 

Pinakilala si Ponching bilang isang kwela at mabait na binata na ginagawang kabuhayan ang pamimirata ng mga indie na pelikula dahil sa panahon ngayon, pati ang mga pirata na raw ay nauumay na sa paulit-ulit na kwento ng karamihan na “mainstream films”.

 

Isang araw ay naisipan nila ng kaibigan niya (Ketchup Eusebio) na subukan ang “text scamming”. Laking gulat na lamang nila ng biglang tumawag ang biktima ni Ponching. Nagpakilala ito bilang miyembro ng pamilya De Vera at sinabihan si Ponching na pumunta sa kanilang mansyon, inaakala na ang binata ay ang nawawala nilang pamangkin. Wala magawa si Ponching, na hindi inaasahan na may sasagot, at napilitan siyang magkunwari. Maganda na sana ang takbo ng lahat ngunit nagulo ito nang mangyari ang hindi inaasahan: napamahal si Ponching sa mga De Vera at sila kay Ponching.

 

Kung susumahin, parang pamilyar na ang ganitong istorya. May isang taong planong manloko ng pamilya ngunit sa huli ay mapapamahal siya dito sobra. Ganyang-ganyan ang nangyari sa “Ang Bagong Pamilya ni Ponching”, ngunit naiba lang siguro ito dahil sa mga maliliit na detalye at mas malalim na mensaheng ipinakita nito.

 

Sa pangkalahatan ay maayos ang pelikula. Mula sa lugar na pinili hanggang sa mga aktor na gumanap. Hindi rin pumalya sina Del Prado at Eusebio sa pagpapatawa sa manonood. Walang biro ang corny, walang diyalogo ang pilit, at walang emosyon ang halatang arte lang. Ang buong haba ng pelikula ay hindi mawawalan ng tunay na katatawanan, isang bagay na hindi karaniwang nakikita sa isang pelikula sa Cinemalaya.

 

Nakakatuwa rin ang pinakitang relasyon ni Ponching sa kaniyang “lola” (Lollie Mara). Nagsimula sila na nagkaka-ilangan ngunit hinddi nagtagal ay lumambot din sila sa isa’t-isa. Doon na nagsimula lumabas ng saloobin ang isa’t isa.

 

May isang eksena sa pelikula na pinuna ni Lola si Ponching dahil dasal ito nang dasal tuwing mapapadaan sila sa imahe ng Birhen sa hardin ng mga De Vera. Sinabi ni Lola na hindi niya na kailangan gawin iyon dahil wala naman iyong saysay. Sagot naman ni Ponching na ginagawa niya lang daw ito dahil nasanay na siya rito at hindi dahil sa gusto niya talaga. Sumagot si Ponching na siguro nga nasanay na siya magdasal dahil lumaki siya sa simbahan ngunit may nararamdaman siyang gaan ng loob tuwing nagdadasal siya kaya’t ginagawa niya ito sa lahat ng pagkakataong makukuha niya.

 

Mas lumalim pa ang kanilang samahan noong malaman ni Ponching na may karelasyon pala si Lola na kapwa babae noon ngunit napilitan itong makipaghiwalay dahil sa tutol ng magulang. Matapos malaman ni Ponching ito ay dali niyang inakay si Lola at pinilit na puntahan ang dating sinta upang ituloy ang naudlot na pagmamahalan.

 

Dito sa mga paguusap nina Ponching at ng kaniyang lola ay makikita ang karamihan ng komentaryo ng pelikula tungkol sa pamilya, pagmamahal, at paniniwala. Kaya nanghihinayang ako na hindi nabigyan ng parehong bigat ang relasyon ni Ponching sa iba pang miyembro ng pamilya De Vera. Pwede man masabi sa istorya na napamahal sila kay Ponching, ngunit hindi ito naipakita ng lubos. Kung kaparehas lang sana ang “character development” nila sa paglago ng karakter ni Ponching at ni Lola ay siguradong mas magiging buo pa ang pelikula. Maaari siguro nagkakamali lang ako at sinadya talaga sa istorya na mas bigyan ng halaga ang relasyon ni Ponching at ng lola niya.

 

Ang wakas din ay madaling hulaan. Pinatawad ng mga De Vera si Ponching nang umamin ito at hinayaan nilang magtrabaho si Ponching at ang kaibigan niya sa pabrika ng mga De Vera para mabayaran ang mga nakuhang pera ni Ponching.

 

Paumanhin ngunit panahon pa nila Redford White, Babalu, at Serena Dalrymple ay may ganyang balangkas na. Hindi na ito bago kaya’t nagtataka ako kung bakit ito ang ginamit. Siguro hindi ko lang matanggap talaga ang masayang pagtatapos ng kwento ni Ponching dahil masyado na akong mapang-uyam.

 

Sa huli pa rin, “Ang Bagong Pamilya ni Ponching” ay isang pelikulang may tunay na katatawanan at puso. Hindi ito natakot ipakita na ang pagmamahalan ng dalawang babae sa isa’t isa hanggang sa pag tanda na sigurado akong tumunaw sa puso ng mga manonood kahit “masama ito dahil hindi natural at wala sa bibliya”. Nagbigay komentaryo rin ang palabas sa pagiging ritwalisto ng mga dasal at mga nagdadasal na kung tutuusin ay tama naman. Hindi ba dapat ay taimtim at personal ang mga dasal? Kung gayon ay bakit kadalasan ay paulit ulit ito at parang may sinusundan na “formula”?

 

Malim ang ba istorya ng “Ang Bagong Pamilya ni Ponching? Medyo. Makatotohan ang pangwakas? Hindi. Masaya panoorin? Sobra. May matutunan ba? Marami.

 

Uulitin ko ba kung may pagkakataon? Sigurado.

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#DefendPressFreedom: A War Cry Against Impunity and Disinformation

From ineffective COVID-19 cures, to conspiracy theories, to deliberate propagation of fake news and propaganda, the wave of misinformation and disinformation can claim lives. Without press freedom, we would succumb to this second pandemic.

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Patricia Jardin

May 3 is the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, a day that serves as a reminder for people, especially governments to respect press freedom. This year, the theme for this celebration is “Journalism without Fear or Favor,” highlighting journalists’ need to freely do their jobs, especially during a global pandemic.

May 5, two days after World Press Freedom Day, is the day that ABS-CBN went off-air due to. National Telecommunications Commision’s (NTC) cease and desist order a day after its franchise ends. It is also the day when a radio broadcaster was slain in Dumaguete City, making him the 1616th journalist killed under the Duterte Administration.

#DefendPressFreedom has been trending on social media due to the shutdown of ABS-CBN and the killing of radio broadcaster Rex Cornelio. The hashtag was used to support the free press, and decry the attacks against the media and media practitioners aiming to silence them. While many people support #DefendPressFreedom, many still do not understand the concept of press freedom, even going as far as saying that the law is above the freedom of the press. 

However, #DefendPressFreedom goes beyond being just a hashtag or a trend.

Iron grip on media

Martial Law is a time of countless cases of corruption and human rights violations, and the press is not excluded in the abuses of power of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who held the Philippine media in his iron grip.

After the declaration of Martial Law through Proclamation 1081,  Ferdinand Marcos released Letter of Instruction 1, or the military  “take over and control”  of “newspapers, magazines, radio and television facilities and all other media of communications.” The reason behind the media takeover is to prevent involvement of media outlets with the Communists. Media outlets affected include ABS-CBN, Channel 5 (now TV5), Manila Daily Bulletin (now Manila Bulletin) Manila Times, and others.

With most of the media outlets closed or under strict government monitoring and censorship, critics of the Marcos administration were arrested. Several journalists like Joaquin ‘Chino’ Roces, Teodoro Locsin Sr., and others were detained. Media was also heavily censored and needs to be approved by the Department of Public Information.

Several laws such as  the Presidential Decrees 33, 36, and 90 were passed, placing the Philippine media into further chokehold.

Loosening chokehold?

After the People Power Revolution, the iron chokehold on the media began to loosen.

Press freedom has been written in the Bill of Rights, specifically in the Article III Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution. According to it,  “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” 

While the situation of the Philippine media became better, there are still attacks to the press coming from the government in the form of criticisms and  lawsuits from previous Presidents. There are also cases of media killings. As of 2018, 185 journalists. were killed since 1986 according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

In March 1999, former president Joseph Ejercito Estrada sued The Manila Times over a story about government corruption on public works contracts. The Manila Times issued a front-page apology, prompting some of the  editors and writers to resign in protest.

The former president also prompted an ad boycott on Philippine Daily Inquirer. Estrada has criticized the newspaper for being biased after covering several government scandals.

The Arroyo administration also had several cases of lawsuits against journalists. According to Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo has filed 50 lawsuits against 46 journalists for writing articles about his alleged crimes.The lawsuits were eventually dropped in 2007.

It is also in the time of the Arroyo administration when the Maguindanao Massacre happened. This event is considered as the world’s single deadliest attack on journalists in history, with 32 journalists killed out of 58 victims. Although a verdict has been passed, there are still around 80 suspects at large according to the Human Rights Watch. 

The Strongman versus the Media

Recently, the 2018 Time Magazine article depicting Pres. Rodrigo Duterte as a strongman. A strongman is described as an authoritarian leader with a heavy reliance on the military. Duterte denounced the strongman label, but he cannot denounce the actions that he had done, especially his  attacks on the press.

In March 2017, Duterte threatened several media outlets, namely ABS-CBN and Philippine Daily Inquirer over “rude” reports against him. Duterte said that “karma” will come someday.

Another media outlet that has been on the receiving end of Duterte’s tirades against the media in the news site Rappler. The news isie is known for its critical reporting on the Duterte administration, and has been plagued by attacks both from pro-Duterte blogs and  Duterte himself. 

In Duterte’s State of the Nation Address in 2017, he accused Rappler of being “fully owned” by Americans, which violates foreign ownership restrictions on the media. In January 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked Rappler’s license to operate over violation of the Constitution and Anti-Dummy Law. Duterte also banned Rappler from covering Malacañang in February 2018. Duterte himself banned Rappler reporter Pia Ranada, as well as Rappler CEO Maria Ressa from entering Malacañang. Maria Ressa was also arrested for cyber libel in February over a 2012 article on Wilfredo Keng. She was arrested again in March 2019 for violation of foreign ownership.

Duterte is said to have a personal vendetta on ABS-CBN due to an ad broadcasted on the network showing Duterte cursing and saying rape jokes. The ad was paid for by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. He also accused the network of not showing the campaign ads that he paid for back in 2016. ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak clarified that the campaign ads were shown, but some local ads worth 7 million were not shown due to airtime shortage.

Also in 2019, Duterte’s attacks continued and he once said that he will block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise. 

In February 2020, Solicitor General filed a quo-warranto petition against ABS-CBN on the grounds of foreign ownership, labor conditions, unpaid taxes, and issues on Kapamilya Box Office (KBO) and TV Plus. 

The network responded to the allegations in a hearing on February 24, 2020. In terms of foreign ownership, SEC Commissioner Ephyro Amatong said that the Philippine Depository Receipts, which Calida said is a form of foreign ownership, is not a certificate of ownership. The Bureau of Internal Revenue also said that  ABS-CBN has no unpaid taxes and has complied with the tax requirement of the government. The network also said that the Department of Labor and Employment cleared the network for their compliance on labor laws, and said that the network does not practice contractualization. The network was also cleared on the pay-per-view issue on KBO and TV Plus, and if there are penalties, NTC can just fine the network instead of a shutdown.

The network was allowed to operate until May 4. NTC said that it will give ABS-CBN provisional authority as the network’s franchise renewal is in progress. However on May 3, Calida pressured the NTC by saying that the department could face charges under Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act if NTC gives ABS-CBN provisional authority. Two days later, NTC issued a cease and desist order on ABS-CBN due to its expired franchise. ABS-CBN. went off-air at 7:52 p.m..

More than a hashtag

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that there is a “second pandemic” spreading as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads: the pandemic of misinformation. From ineffective COVID-19 cures, to conspiracy theories, to deliberate propagation of fake news and propaganda, the wave of misinformation and disinformation can claim lives. Without press freedom, we would succumb to this second pandemic.

Press freedom is necessary, with or without a global crisis. The press is the eyes of the masses. They are the watchdogs of the government, watching for corruption and injustices. They are the lenses that capture the society and its problems, bringing it to light for people to do something about these problems. They are also our frontliners in this global pandemic, reporting correct guidelines and calling out inaction when necessary. In short, taking away press freedom is like stripping a nation of its right to know and to be aware.

#DefendPressFreedom goes beyond a mere trend or a hashtag. It is a war cry against forces trying to silence the press to cover its wrongdoings and inactions, an advocacy promoting the right of every citizen to be aware, a simple message to the people spreading the culture of impunity that we won’t back down in this fight. As a popular protest sign says, “First they came for the journalists. This is a warning that we need to defend the free press”.

If we lose our press freedom, we will never know what happens next.

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TUBAW’s Kalinow: The Soundtrack of a Revolution

No emotion is more intense than the pain that the masses feel amidst the numerous challenges in our country. The TUBAW Music Collective aims to capture the dreams, struggles, and triumphs of the masses through their music. 

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Album artwork grabbed from TUBAW Music Collective's Facebook page

They say that art is at its best when driven by intense emotions. No emotion is more intense than the pain that the masses feel amidst the numerous challenges in our country. The TUBAW Music Collective aims to capture the dreams, struggles, and triumphs of the masses through their music. 

Being a citizen of our country is a challenge in itself. From the persistent traffic, mind-boggling taxes, poor healthcare, and high living costs, the “Filipino Dream” is bleaker than its foreign counterpart. Life has it worse for indigenous communities in our country with capitalism exploiting their non-conformity to the urban lifestyle, taking away homes, education, and livelihood from these communities. The cherry on top of this burdensome cake is the continued dominance of officials who offer scraps in their term after promising the world during their campaign periods.

These struggles are what the TUBAW Music Collective aspires to shed light on with their music. TUBAW or Tubong Mindanaw, Tulong Mindanao Music Collective are a group of musicians who produce and perform songs dedicated to the working class since 2016. In their Artist’s Bio, it states that it is their goal to inspire the younger generation “to take part in achieving just and lasting peace.” They have notably shown support for the causes of saving Lumad schools with their album PARAGAS: Mga Awit ng Pag-ibig, Pakikibaka, at Pagsulong. Their music can be heard on streaming services such as Spotify with their 2nd album Kalinow available on the platform.

Kalinow can also be downloaded for free by visiting their Facebook page here. The album features 12 tracks that communicate their advocacy and ignites the passion to seek for change.

Kapayapaan

Opening the album, this song immediately captures the vibe of its namesake. Using instrumentals that bring you back to the peaceful beaches, it conveys the message of finding the root of war and resolving it to achieve peace. It directly calls out aspects that ails our current society, such as the dependence on foreign aid and disrespect towards human rights. 

Misyonero

Following the first song, this song gets the ball rolling with its introductory lines. It calls for the masses to take part in the lifestyle of the communities in the mountains and stand by them to fight for their land. It takes the energy from the first song and takes it up a notch to get its message across. 

Bayani

Taking a more somber tone, this track is a departure from the rather direct message from the previous two tracks. The song gives thanks to a hero/heroes and proclaims the inspiration that they have provided. Once again, it focuses on one central message: fighting for peace in the entire country.

Tuloy Ang Laban

Picking up the energy once again, this song aims to serve as a battle cry. It places emphasis on the current issues today, particularly with promised changes that have done little to ease the real problems of the country. As the title suggests, there is power behind each lyric that is meant to rile up the listeners.

Paasa

The next track takes humorous instrumentals with melancholic lyrics. Keeping with the central message of the album, the persistence of killings and the absence of actual help. As the title suggests, it pertains mainly to false promises of change and how injustices keep the masses down.

Tala

This song is an ode to the working class in our country. It carries an uplifting tone meant to encourage and brighten their advocacies. This song echoes the same vibe as Bayani where it serves as a tribute more than anything else.

Ngayong Gabi

A departure from the nationalistic themes of the prior tracks, this aims to tell a love story. This could be considered the “pop anthem” track of this album, showcasing simple elements to place emphasis on the lyrics and the vocals of the singers. It’s a beautiful song that brings hope and love in its lyrics.

Alab

Another departure from the usual style of previous tracks, deviating from the instruments and musical theme that the prior songs took on. Nonetheless, this track makes its statement clear: igniting the passion for justice, truth, and peace. 

Paper Tiger

Concluding the album, this song from its introductory instrumentals sends a message of calm defiance. The only song in English in the entire album, this song sends a particular message of defiance towards the killings in broad daylight. It sends a message of defiance towards the robbery of land and the arson of properties such as schools and homes. The closing track for Kalinow is brooding, passionate towards achieving justice and peace for the entire country.

Kalinow does not only send messages through its tracks, but the entire album itself paints a narrative. It calls for defiance against injustices and empowers the voice of those who shed light on these injustices. The strong and powerful message is clear from the first track to the album and reiterates it again on the last. Tubaw remains consistent with the core message of their group while also showcasing their talent as a collective.

The musical styles of this album highlights the strong suit of the group. Vocals were never the sole highlight but rather the entire song as a whole. The arrangements make each song appropriate for a soundtrack of an equally strong revolution-themed film or play. They tell a narrative through their music and whether it serves as an accompaniment to a bigger form of media or standing on its own as an album, it inspires vigilance and deflates conformity.

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Imagine how tired we are: KPL’s stereotypes on single parents

In a patriarchal society that still manages to put on traditional lenses for how single parents are regarded, when will we ever let people, who know not a fraction of their struggles, be accountable?

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Screengrab from KPL | #AYUDAmn

If there’s an Achilles’ heel in the contents which Vincentiments spews, it is in the director’s self-proclaimed irreverent works. 

“Jowable” director, Darryl Yap, received backlash for the recent episode of the KPL series which included stereotyping single parents. KPL or Kung Pwede Lang shows fantasized no-holds-barred sentiments in situations that require moral decency.  Its latest addition to the long-running viral series, AYUDAmn, calls out the failure of some local government units to provide relief goods to residents despite the promises of doing so. Even with the upfront and relatable language which serves as the formulas for most viral KPL videos, AYUDAmn had netizens clamoring against parts of its message. 

Single parent? Single parent eh multiple ang kalandian niyan! Multiple benefits niyan! Daming kabit niyan. May ka-chat pang AFAM,” belted the lead character to emphasize that cherry-picking of relief recipients is existing, sorely implying how single parents should not be included in the list. The statement did nothing but proved that the struggles of most single parents could easily pass off as comedic antics, and not only for Vincentiments. 

In 2017, Majority Leader turned Senate President Tito Sotto made degrading remarks on single mothers in a confirmation hearing involving Professor Judy Taguiwalo. He referred to single mothers as “na-ano”, a street language that simply states “got knocked up”. What made the situation even worse is the snickering following Sotto’s crass joke. Taguiwalo, on the other hand, reiterated how teaching women’s studies as her profession does not sit well with the comment. “We respect all kinds of families and that includes solo parents,” she bluntly states and ends with a polite thanks. An ethics complaint against Sotto was made but it was dismissed by a Senate panel. 

Now, Director Darryl Yap issues an “apology” regarding the remarks made on his latest video. In a Facebook post, he starts by saying amidst his art’s branding on being unapologetic, it is not a reflection of his personality. He apologizes and takes full responsibility for whatever damage his video had caused, but is followed by cautionary tapes on how people should not expect the next videos to dissipate its provoking element. 

For an apology, Yap does a job in the same notch as his works, especially seeing as KPL videos specialize in faux revolution against oppressive states (through language that only executes blunt ranting) while still proliferating messages that cultivate a culture of discrimination. This is not the first time Yap has been called out and made public commentaries on his works.  

In a patriarchal society that still manages to put on traditional lenses for how single parents are regarded, when will we ever let people, who know not a fraction of their struggles, be accountable? Single parents, more so single mothers, are often boxed into tropes which cage them as irresponsible, promiscuous, knock-overs. Because of this, they receive a large weight of verbal stoning that had long been existing for centuries. People are getting away with it because they hold a seat of power or, in this case, they pass it off as a work of art. 

It is true that previous messages of the series did its purpose of representing people’s untamed turmoils in situations where they feel threatened or oppressed. In terms of letting the government know the pulse of its citizens, KPL’s AYUDAmn did a perfect job of voicing it out in yet an id-takes-over manner. The problem, however, is that its stereotypical message about single parents perpetuates a degrading picture of the likes of Josie in “Anak”, Widowed Grace in “Four Sisters and a Wedding”, and “Ang Tanging Ina”’s Ina Montecillo, instead of championing their fearless fight amidst the struggles of raising a family alone. 

With the surge of contents that aim to deliver a provoking purpose for discussion, people should know where to draw the line. While it is true that art is an expression, it should be known that art should also hold sensible and progressive expressions that aim to point out what changes are needed for a better society than continuously pursue age-old ideas that should have never existed at all. 

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