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CINEMALAYA TURNS FIFTEEN!

After fourteen successful years of independent local movies that never fails to give us fresh discoveries and original crafts, Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival presents us with ten full-length movies and ten short feature films you wouldn’t surely miss this August!

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Photo taken from the official website of Cinemalaya

DISCLAIMER: All posters used in this article are not owned by TomasinoWeb.

Rise up all Filipino indie film stans! Cinemalaya is back!

After fourteen successful years of independent local movies that never fails to give us fresh discoveries and original crafts, Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival presents us with ten full-length movies and ten short feature films you wouldn’t surely miss this August!

1. ANi (The Harvest) by Kim Zuniga and Sandro del Rosario

In the year 2050, an orphaned boy together with his malfunctioning robot is set on an adventure that might save his estranged grandfather, Mauricio, and the crops in his farm, too. Is this just another movie about a human being forming a friendship with a robot or will this open our eyes to the endless possibilities and consequences of technology in the next thirty years?

2. Belle Douleur (Beautiful Pain) by Joji Alonso

Does age really matter? In today’s society where people still consider May-December relationships taboo, Belle Douleur presents us Elizabeth – a woman in her late 40s who considers living on her own until she meets Jon, a young man who is twenty years younger than her. This film does not only showcase an unconventional relationship between star-crossed lovers, but it also gives us a side of Elizabeth and her submission to happiness through complete surrender.

3. Children of the River by Maricel Cariaga

The waves do not always wash away your worries. Maricel Cariaga’s coming-of-age film tells us a story about a young boy named Elias and his three other friends who have to face the cruelties of life and suffering while their fathers are away. To be independent is to also face your own battles by yourself. How will Elias overcome every challenge he and his friends take without succumbing to their own demons?

4. Edward by Thop Nazareno

There is no trailer released at this moment, but Edward takes us on an interesting life of a young teenager who tries to live life like a normal teenager whilst being forced to live under his ailing father’s hospital bed. This may probably never be just another coming-of-age film and we all wonder how Thop Nazareno will pull a twist on the possible life-and-death and father-son relationship between Jojo and his father?

5. Fuccbois by Eduardo Roy Jr.

The modern term “Fuccbois” is probably enough to pull our attention into this film, but what is this film really all about? Fuccbois tackle the lives of two young men namely “Ace” and “Miko” who both aspires to become famous actors someday. However, just like in real life, the path to achieving our goals may seem far out of sight as we realize that life takes us to a different direction.

6. Iska by Theodore Boborol

A grandmother’s unconditional love to her child may sound sappy and oversentimental at first, but Theodore Boborol, a known director for ABS-CBN and Star Cinemas, immerses himself to this film as he narrates the life of Iska – an impoverished grandmother who takes care of a child with autism. Is love more than enough to support a child with special needs against all odds? This film will open our eyes to the media and how it often clashes with poverty, and of course, the importance of educating ourselves to mental health issues.

7. John Denver Trending by Arden Rod Condez

Your name trending on social media, a blessing in disguise or a curse? Based on true events, John Denver Trending unveils the story of a teenage boy whose life changes after his video of assaulting a classmate goes viral on the internet. With all that has happened to the young boy, should we all view him as the bully who deserves the heat he’s getting, or should we sympathize with him since he is also a victim? With the unpredictability of social media, one thing is for sure: what’s on the internet will never be forgotten.

8. Malamaya (The Colors of Ash) by Danica Sta. Lucia and Leilani Chavez

Malamaya’s trailer only gives us a glimpse of art and nothing else. Still, this film will not just showcase how intrinsic and beautiful art is, but how an uninspired middle-aged artist reignites her burning passion for the arts and how she also changes her perspective in life as Nora finds herself smitten over a young photographer.

9. Pandanggo sa Hukay by Shéryl Rose Andes

A job outside the country is deemed promising especially for a young midwife who only hopes to sustain the needs of her family. Directed by Sheryl Rose Andres, we’re also hopeful to see Iza Calzado’s promising and interesting take on Elena as we follow her footsteps on her way to a job interview abroad.

10. Tabon by Xian Lim

Tabon is Xian Lim’s directing debut and everyone is curious about how this movie will turn out. There is no official trailer released at this moment, but this film catches up with the harsh sufferings some of our fellow Filipinos go through, especially when a person is wrongfully accused of a crime he never committed.

SHORT FEATURE

1. ‘Wag Mo ‘Kong Kausapin (Please Stop Talking) by Josef Dielle Gacutan

Wag Mo ‘Kong Kausapin is an animated short film that revolves around a father whose mending his relationship with his estranged son.

2. Disconnection Notice by Glenn Lowell Averia

Juggling between your responsibilities while repairing your relationship with your younger sibling is not an easy thing to do. In Disconnection Notice, we’ll follow Paul’s hardships as the eldest sibling.

3. Gatilyo (Trigger) by Harold Lance Pialda

The aftermath of war can be scarring especially to those who survived it. Gatilyo unveils the story of a lone survivor of an ambush who’s haunted by the war he survived.

4. Heist School by Julius Renomeron, Jr.

Heist School, directed by Julius Renomeron Jr, a Thomasian alumnus, and TomasinoWeb’s former President, showcases a group of four graduating students and how keeping up with your grades can get in the way of friendship.

5. Hele ng Maharlika (Lullaby of the Free) by Norvin de los Santos

Hope and despair intertwine in Hele ng Maharlika as a child meets an orphaned boy who seeks to be sheltered amidst the uncertainties of an ongoing siege.

6. Kontrolado ni Girly ang Buhay N’ya (Girly is in Control of His Life) by Gilb Baldoza

Let’s raise our flags and follow the footsteps of a gay teenager named Girly who is looking for a job in a world that feels new to him.

7. Sa Among Agwat (In Between Spaces) by Don Senoc

A promise of a good life is reassuring at best until Jun is slammed with the reality that a good life meant being apart with his mother, Dita, and his brother, Mako.

8. Sa Gabing Tanging Liwanag ay Paniniwala (Belief as the Light in Darkness) by Francis Amir Guillermo

Sa Gabing Tanging Liwanag ay Paniniwala leads us to a town captain and his son who is desperate for answers after the continuous disappearances of townsmen.

9. Tembong (Connecting) by Shaira Advincula

A T’boli man transcends beyond expectations and cultural norms as he tries to weave a series of patterns shown by an Abaca Goddess in his dreams.

10. The Shoemaker by Sheron Dayoc

Does first love never die? Set in the shoe capital of the Philippines, a lover makes a surprise appearance to an old shoemaker after three decades.

 

For a full list of screening locations, visit the Cinemalaya facebook page or their website for more details regarding the event.

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Which UST street are you?

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Artwork by Tricia Jardin

Another year, another Buzzfeed-esque quiz that is based on purely subjective notions. This quiz can somehow garner questionable results as they can be entirely different from how one sees oneself, but still feel free to take a (good) three-minute break and validate which UST street completely molds your Thomasian existence. Enjoy! 

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‘Awit’ and the normalization of transphobia

With music as a tool for liberation, we must not let the likes of “Awit” to limit our minds, let alone poison our culture with prejudice.

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Screenshot from the album cover of the now deleted song "Awit" on Spotify.

Erich Gabriel Bongon, also known as Young Vito posted a video of himself on Twitter singing a preview of “Awit” last Dec. 5, 2019, a song he that composed with sexist undertones and transphobic lyrics. Netizens were quick to call out the rapper when the preview is posted, prompting him to delete the video and issue an “apology.”

What happened afterwards? Was he cancelled? Was he given career opportunities after the incident? Did he change his ways and most importantly, did he educate himself on gender rights?

Young Vito is known to have signed a recording contract with Viva Records. With the record label having full knowledge of the incident, Young Vito and Viva Records have enabled themselves to go further: to release the same song with the same infamous lyrics, capitalizing off its notoriety on social media.

Awitis just one of the many Filipino songs propagating harmful ideas that does not only target the transgender community, but also encourages the normalization of transphobia and a culture of hate in the country.

Young Vito’s “Awitis a trans woman, with the singer implying that the woman deceives men, that there is something wrong with them. 

The song’s album art depicts a trans women using a urinal, as if implying that they should use the male’s comfort room; a controversial choice due to the ongoing debate on trans peoples’ comfort room access.

After receiving flak, the rapper posted an apology on Twitter, at the same time refusing to delete his video and liking tweets saying that people are “too sensitive.” He deleted the video afterwards.

A few days later, the rapper signed a five-year contract with Viva Records. After that, the song is released on multiple streaming platforms last Jan. 17, 2020 under Viva Records, with Emmanuel “NEXXFRIDAY” Salen producing and providing the beat for the track.

Photo grabbed from Young Vito’s Instagram account @youngvitoph

“Despite the controversy surrounding the song, Awithas been turned into a full-blown bop…,” the caption of the now-deleted lyric video in Viva Records’ Youtube channel reads. 

The song is then deleted on Spotify one day after its release.

Awitis just one of the many Filipino songs with transphobic lyrics. Songs like Abra’s “Gayuma” and Kamikazee’s “Chiksilog” portray trans women as someone who deceive men with their looks, while also spreading the notion that trans women are still men even if they have already identify themselves as women. 

One may think that the lyrics of these songs are harmless but for the transgender community, it makes their lives more difficult than it is.

In a country where the trans community are ostracized, where even some members of the LGBTQ+ community preach transphobia, where the likes of Hermie Monterde are still discriminated in the workplace, where personalities such as BB Gandanghari and Jake Zyrus are mocked online, where women like Gretchen Diez are shunned and arrested for entering the comfort room, where people like Jennifer Laude and Jessa Remiendo are murdered for being transgender – these songs spread dangerous ideas to the public. 

These songs normalizes harmful prejudices embedded in our culture. It hinders the LGBTQ+ community, especially the trans community’s fight for equal rights. It makes the idea of targeted discrimination and hate crime acceptable, painting a harmful image on people’s minds that it is normal to mock transgenders with the help of a song.

Music has been used to break the status quo, teach important lessons, and in some cases, aid in bringing down tyrants. With music as a tool for liberation, we must not let the likes of “Awit” to limit our minds, let alone poison our culture with prejudice. 

If we want true progress, we must lose the chains of backwardness binding us, and we can start by taking small steps—starting with picking good songs to listen to.

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Kadenang Ginto is more complex than ever

The show may seem ordinary in the spectrum of teleseryes, but with the bouts of recognition and attention it harbors, shows like Kadenang Ginto may have the tendency to succumb to society’s patriarchal roots—a premise that has been the show’s subdued message from the very beginning.

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Photo from ABS-CBN News

Media and entertainment industries, especially in the Philippines, have undoubtedly created a number of teleseryes that got viewers hooked. Iconic lines from television shows made their way through social media, thus birthing an irreversible decade of video parodies, i.e. “Cassie, hindi ka muna papasok sa iskul” which came from the ABS-CBN afternoon prime show, Kadenang Ginto (directed by Jerry Lopez Sineneng and Avel Sunpongco). This particular boomerang created by the show serves as a primary example of the proliferation of teleseryes into the in-betweens of people’s mundane realities. 

Usually, Filipino TV formulas have just been restricted to cookie-cutter stories such as rich girl-poor girl rivalries, wife versus mistress conflicts, and other types of predictable stories with a recurring plotline—dramatically mirroring the struggles of which people could sympathize and in some cases, empathize with. 

Now, with the recent narratives of most materials, it is fitting to raise the question: do teleseryes, such as the case in point, subconsciously imply a patriarchal and capitalist society which can water down women’s roles as simply pawns of the men-splayed environment?

Dissecting the Initial Premise of the Show

The whole idea of the show displays a tangled story between Daniela Mondragon (played by Dimples Romana) and Romina Andrada (played by Beauty Gonzales). Romina, a glorified Secretary, marries the business tycoon and father of Daniela, Robert Mondragon (played by Albert Martinez).

Caused by jealousy, Daniela strived to emerge relevant by physically and emotionally belittling Romina to death, hoping that she could at least gain more relevance in the old Mondragon’s life. It gets more complicated when Daniela marries Romina’s past lover, Carlos (played by Adrian Alandy), who still has unresolved feelings for the latter.

While Daniela’s past actions remain important both in their family business and in the lives of the men involved, it seems questionable that all her intentions were for the sake of these men.

While it is also applauding that Daniela and Romina are their own persons who are fully responsible to stir changes necessary to keep the show going, one may question the end of not just the character’s intentions, but as well as the writers’ inclination to probe and provide a substantial arc for these characters.

It raises the question, especially during a period when a new character was introduced in the persona of Richard Yap, a rich businessman, who somehow became a catalyst on how the character of Romina can get back on track. 

Are the women in Philippine teleserye doomed to always be swept off their feet by some men to garner the easiest way out?

The show may seem ordinary in the spectrum of teleseryes presented by the network, but with the bouts of recognition and attention it harbors, shows like Kadenang Ginto may have the tendency to succumb to society’s patriarchal roots—a premise that has been the show’s subdued message from the very beginning.

Now (with the plot lines tangled and recurring), the characters and their progressions can be attested to hopeful major changes (thankfully), as lead female characters are taking matters on their hands especially with Romina Andrada-Mondragon gaining more control over her circumstances, a (seemingly progressive) march of silent revolution, veering away from the initial premises of the show – yet still bound to its original plot line.  

Trudging the Conventional

While the network’s teleseryes’ cookie-cutter and cardboard characterizations of women are proven formulas, fresh perspectives are always a welcome venture with the exploration of complex female characters. 

Writers and show producers must become more socially-reverberant that they not only choose to showcase shows that pay the rent. In the Philippines, it is slowly building its pace with independent films being at the forefront.

Unfortunately, most mainstream media consumers are still inclined with choosing the proven formulas so mass media practitioners also stick to what generates more audiences. What the consumers can do now is to try to become more adamant to good and progressive changes – utilize the everlasting “get out of your comfort zone” notion. 

Media, as compared to what it tries to cater to before, has certainly come a long way with the sprouts of powerful women characters here and there. Unfortunately, Philippine mainstream media and its consumers sat way comfortably in the reassurance of these boxed and usual beliefs.

It may possibly take a while for these teleseryes to do the same with their high intentions to generate money, even if the essential purpose of art to heighten and challenge the empathic tendencies of the people can definitely suffer.

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