Remembering the art & life of Lino Brocka

MANILA, Philippines – Last month was the 23rd death anniversary of filmmaker and National Artist for Film Lino Brocka who died in a car accident on May 21, 1991.

Film lovers are lucky that the cable channel, Cinema One, continues to show some of his classic films, among them, Ina, Kapatid, Anak which showed actors Lolita Rodriguez and Charito Solis at their best. The parting scene between sisters had a quiet Solis looking at Rodriguez from the window. That scene was so taut and illuminating it bagged for Solis the Best Actress award over her closest competitor, Rodriguez.

On the other hand, Brocka’s 1970 film, Wanted: Perfect Mother, was a virtual nostalgia trip as we saw today’s adult stars in their rare childhood roles namely Snooky Serna, Gina Alajar and Arnold Gamboa, among others. Of course, we saw a younger version of Caridad Sanchez and Mary Walter and the rare appearance of the emcee for all seasons, Eddie Mercado. The film had a virginal Boots Anson-Roa paired with the once young and dashing Dante Rivero.

Indeed, today’s cineastes can have the best of Brocka not just on cable channel but on YouTube as well.

We were able to savor Tubog Sa Ginto, which was a far more engrossing movie than the hit teleserye, My Husband’s Lover. Here, you see a young Eddie Garcia making it with the younger Mario O’Hara to the shock of his son played by Jay Ilagan.

On his 23rd death anniversary, Brocka was given a special tribute by Cinema One with a pilot episode of a talk show Inside Cinema Circle aptly called Mga Anak Ni Brocka hosted by Boy Abunda.

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Gathered for this occasion were Brocka’s protégés, namely Philip Salvador, Bembol Roco, Rio Locsin and Chanda Romero, among others.

What the talk show revealed was that Brocka got the best performances from these actors who happen to be personally close to the director.

Roco recalled he was a virtual beginner when he was tapped for the lead role of Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag after a chubby Ilagan was eased out from the part. But with the magic of Brocka, Roco said he was able to summon the best that he could give to the part — even with his then non-existence theater and film credentials.

The talk show became veritable teleserye as Roco became very emotional and cried recalling what a wonderful person Brocka was and a first-rate director.

This was echoed by Locsin and Romero who revealed they didn’t know they could act until Brocka came along and gave them self-confidence.

But the most revealing recollection was from Salvador who appeared in such landmark Brocka films like Jaguar, Bona and Orapronobis, among others.

Salvador said Brocka was not just a director to him. He was also big brother and probably a special friend. “I loved him and I love his family,” Philip declared.

To be sure, they had their share of misunderstanding but in the end, they were the true friends they were.

Philip continued: “The last time we saw each other after we patched up our minor differences, Lino (Brocka) kissed me on my lips in full view of construction workers in the neighborhood. He loved me, he said and I told him, I love you, too. It didn’t occur to me that he would soon die and leave us forever.”

The art and life of Brocka is summed up in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) publication, Lino Brocka: The Artist and His Times edited by Mario Hernando.

Among others, the book has assorted articles on Brocka’s life including film reviews of his landmark films.

The book confirms Brocka was a true-blooded Bicolano (he was born April 3, 1939 in Pilar, Sorsogon) and had a traumatic childhood made worst by close relatives. He grew up in San Jose, Nueva Ecija, studied at UP where he had short theater stints in the company of Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero and Behn Cervantes.

Later, his name became synonymous with Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and the rest was history.

The best account in the Hernando book was Jo-Anne Maglipon’s Brocka’s Battles.

Here, she summed up Brocka’s battles with the board of censors from Maria Kalaw Katigbak to Manoling Morato including his private battles that included a discovery of a family secret: His mother was a mistress of a town policeman.

Maglipon wrote: “To the day he died, he wasn’t done. These last years, the world began to appear to him bigger, more urgent. His political cinema had found its groove. There seemed to be an outpouring of stories to tell in his celluloid: Of the wives and mothers and daughters who waited for their men in prison, of corruption in government, of morals ran aground, of little men’s little joys. He spoke about birds and scuba diving, and how he could never get used to fast cars. He tried up cleaning his finances and investing his money somewhere wise. In his last days, he was still slugging it out merrily for those he held dear, and still hurting friends miserably that had cared for him. ‘Twas said that the man’s judgment was not always the best; his heart not always wise. He was, after all, of many wild and immodest passions driven. He had will, he was stubborn, he was flawed. But always, — always — he was significant. There was no way a man like Lino Brocka would have left the world the same way he found it.”

Original article is published at Philippine Star on June 3, 2014.

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‘Tree tunnel’ in Sorsogon lost to road widening

A tree-lined portion of the highway is among the most photographed spots in Bulan, Sorsogon, but some fear the so-called “tree tunnel” will soon be seen only in photos.

Hundreds of almost century-old trees are set to be cut down to make way for wider roads in the coastal town, which is among the busiest and richest in the province.

Angry locals have questioned the government’s road widening projects. An online petition has been launched to stop the tree-cutting. Others have taken to the streets.

“Bulanenos should unite now to save the trees that have yet to be cut down by the Department of Public Works and Highways,” a Change.org petition read.

Bulan resident Ramil Agne, who posted the petition, told Yahoo Philippines that the DPWH has temporarily stopped the cutting of trees, pending a consultation.

He noted that the move came too late, however, as about 185 have already been cut from May 14 to 21. A total of 235 trees would be cut for the road work.

Officials have claimed that the roadside had to be cleared of trees to expand the highway to 20 meters from 15 meters, by adding 2.5 meters to each side.

“The traffic volume on our highway does not warrant a road widening project,” Agne said. He added that the 5-meter expansion “is not enough to call progress versus cutting trees.”

Many residents have also wondered why the road will be expanded when the local airport it leads to has been idle for decades. DPWH has not responded to requests for comment.

“I don’t want the trees to be cut down for the sake of useless road widening project. Road widening project will benefit only few people specially in terms of corruption,” said Andrew Zuniga, who signed the petition.

A “selfie campaign” has also been launched against the project, with netizens posting photos of themselves holding up appeals to save the town’s “tree tunnel.”

More than 100 trees have already been cut to make way for wider roads in Bulan, Sorsogon. (Photo by Karl CK)

Bulan’s case is the latest in what netizens have taken to calling a tree-cutting rampage by the DPWH, most of them tagged unnecessary by the areas’ locals.

Earlier this month, locals in Los Banos, Laguna, protested the cutting of trees for a widening project covering a 5.6-kilometer stretch of road near Mt. Makiling.

Local officials in Iloilo City have meanwhile asked the DPWH to explain why so-called “heritage trees” have been cut down along the city’s General Luna highway.

In Naga City, the local government is also leading efforts against a plan to cut down at least 650 trees along the Maharlika Highway in Camarines Sur province.

“Thousands of trees all over the Philippines, many of them century-old, have been cut for road widening… Many more trees face the same fate,” a separate Change.org petition said.

The petition, posted by Ivan Henares, called on the DPWH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop cutting trees and review the policy.

“This review should provide a mechanism for genuine public consultation and a detailed scientific assessment the cutting of trees may have on the environment,” Henares said.

The original article is published at Yahoo news on May 28, 2014.

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4 Sorsogon cops axed for extortion

SORSOGON – The chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has ordered the relief of 4 CIDG men for allegedly attempting to extort money from a barangay councilor.

CIDG Director Benjamin Magalong removed the personnel from office based on the complaint filed by the sibling of the the victim, identified as Jimmy Espaldon.

According to CIDG Public Information Officer Police C/Insp. Elizabeth Jasmin, the officers were under the leadership of Police Sr. Insp. Marvin Pedere.

Based on an investigation, Pedere and 3 of his personnel went to Espaldon’s house in Barangay Mabini in Casiguran, Sorsogon, with a search warrant.

However, they did not find any weapon inside the house except for some bullets that the victim’s sibling used when he was training under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The police also searched and entered neighboring houses but found nothing.

Despite this, the policemen still brought Espaldon with them to “court,” but the complainant said the victim was brought to a restaurant.

Inside the restaurant, the policemen asked for P35,000 and even asked Espaldon to pay for their meals. — report from Edwin Sevidal, DZMM

Original article is published at abs-cnbnews.com on May 26, 2014.

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Sorsogon governor suspends himself

Governor Raul Lee of Sorsogon provicne. Imave via bicoltoday.com

Sorsogon City – Sorsogon Governor Raul R. Lee requested Vice Governor Antonio H. Escudero to assume as officer-in-charge of the Office of the Provincial Governor during the next 90 days, starting June 1.

Lee requested Escudero to take his post, following the voluntary preventive suspension he had submitted to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) last Monday after his motion for reconsideration was denied by the Sandiganbayan.

Lee, who ran under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party during the 2013 midterm elections, is facing a Criminal Case (SB-11-Crm-0036 to 0039) at the Sandiganbayan for violations of Sec. 3(e) and (g) of Republic Act 3019 pending before the Court’s First Division.

In his letter to Escudero dated May 30, he stated that sometime in May 26, 2014, he wrote a letter to DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas informing him of his voluntary submission to the preventive suspension order for a period of ninety days effective June 1, 2014 to August 29, 2014.

“I personally talked to him about the matter and he advised me to wait for a formal notice of acceptance. I deemed it wise however, not to wait for the formal notice of acceptance and instead, formally relinquish my post to the Vice Governor,” Lee said during the press conference at the Provincial Capitol on Friday.

Original article is posted at Yahoo site on June 1, 2014.

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Heritage clinics, cleanups mark Taoid 2014

The National Heritage Month of May ushered in the Taoid celebration of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

The Ilocano word for “heritage,” Taoid is the flagship program of NCCA’s Subcommission on Cultural Heritage (SCH), headed by Commissioner Fr. Harold Rentoria, OSA. The theme this year was “Pamanang Pinoy: Taoid 2014.”

Heritage clinics all over the country were being conducted by the NCCA national committees on archives, art galleries, historical research, libraries and information services, monuments and sites, and museums.

Almasor

The Taoid tour was held recently in Bicol to focus on heritage structures and sites in the provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon, known collectively as Almasor.

The main celebration was held in Albay to focus on Daraga Church and Mayon Volcano. Declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 2007, Daraga Church has its eastern and western façades and baptistery still intact.

Also considered a cultural landmark are the ruins of Cagsawa Church, which was buried by lava from the eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1814.

“Cagsawa Church is a historical site, and, behind it, Mayon Volcano, is a natural heritage,” explained Father Rentoria. “We would like to send the message that we need to protect both built and natural heritage.”

The Augustinian friar added that Taoid and the NCCA sought to foster awareness about heritage and to look for structures and sites that could be formally declared of cultural or historical importance.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said his administration was united with the NCCA in conserving cultural landmarks and fostering public awareness of their significance.

Salceda said Albay sustained “cultural practices” so that they could form part of the people’s “muscle memory.”

“Unang-una talaga, kailangan you should practice culture para maging kasama sa muscle memory mo,” he pointed out. “Katulad dito sa Albay, ang paggawa ng handicraft ay parang muscle memory dahil sa practice.”

Salceda added that all tourism programs in the province were “culture-based.”

 

He explained that an “investment-driven” tourism program might put up resorts and tourist facilities that could be wiped out by storms and disasters. He said it was best to anchor tourism on culture and creative practices.

“So our cultural assets are immune from natural disasters,” he added.

Salceda emphasized that tourists were looking for a tourist site’s distinct cultural identity and look. He said it was culture that united the people and provided them a distinct identity.

“Mahirap magpagalaw ng bayan in one direction but through culture, and because 92 percent of Albay is Christian, it became easy,” Salceda said. “Everybody paddles in the same direction, therefore we’re closer and closer to the aspirations of our own people and we have done that because of culture.”

 

First Catholic Mass

Even before May, there had been run-up festivities such as the one on Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte, the site of the first Catholic Mass in the country, in line with the 493rd anniversary of the historic event.

SCH conducted an ocular inspection and technical assessment of cultural properties, sites and structures on Limasawa, as well as natural heritage sites.

There was a heritage cleanup drive as part of the Bayanihan Project Series (BPS).

Taoid held heritage school tours called “Mga Kuwentong Pamana sa Mga Batang Bida,” which aimed to spread the message of heritage conservation advocacy to the younger generation.

Because of recent disasters in the Visayas, the 2014 Taoid also touched on disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

The steering committee of Taoid 2014 was composed of Fr. Rentoria, head of SCH and the National Committee on Archives; Stephen S. Totanes, vice head of SCH and head of the National Committee on Historical Research; Lucille Karen E. Malilong-Isberto, head of the National Committee on Monuments and Sites; Marilou P. Tadlip, head of the National Committee on Libraries and Information Service; Robert Bjorn O. Santos, head of the National Committee on Art Galleries, as represented by Delan Robillos, vice head of the Galleries group; and Amado R. Alvarez, head of the National Committee on Museums.

Proclamation No. 439, signed on Aug. 11, 2003, declares the month of May as National Heritage Month “in recognition of the need to create among the people a consciousness, respect, and pride for the legacies of Filipino cultural history and love of country.”

In 2009, the government formally made heritage conservation a legal mandate, by ratifying and implementing Republic Act 10066, the National Heritage Act of 2009, empowering NCCA and its affiliated agencies in policy-making and conservation enforcement.

Call NCCA Public Affairs and Information Office head Rene Napeñas at 5272192 or 0928-5081057. E-mail ncca.paio@gmail.com; visit http://www.ncca.gov.ph.

The original article is published at Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 2, 2014.

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‘Butanding’s visit in Legazpi shortened by dirty water

Butanding or Whale Shark. Image is via wikimedia.org.

LEGAZPI CITY—They could have stayed longer at this city’s waters, but noises and contaminated water could have driven away the nine gentle giant whale sharks locally known as butanding to find a better haven.

Tourism officials believed the whale sharks came from Donsol in Sorsogon and wandered to the city’s open waters.

Donsol water is the known sanctuary of whale sharks in Bicol for the past years, although they would sometimes disappear for months only to return after a time.

The nine whale sharks showed up near the shoreline of Legazpi waters on February 10, and already attracted foreign and local tourists. It was the third showing since 2010.

The World Wildlife Fund and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had named three of the gentle giants in a Bicol dialect as “Magaro” (sociable), “Durat” (flirt) and “Mailyas” (unfriendly).

A radio report, however, said some of the butanding already left the city’s waters, which is part of the Albay gulf. The remaining may also follow, quoting former city councilor Carlos Ante of the Bantay Dagat.

Ante said a BFAR report showed that the coastal Legazpi water stretching from barangays Pigcale and Lamba to the four kilometers of the highly developed boulevard at Barangay Puro was highly contaminated due to garbage and human waste.

Puro Boulevard starts from the biggest Bicol waterfront commercial complex Embarcadero De Legazpi Mall, one of the Legazpi’s major tourist attractions.

Early this week, the butanding visitors reportedly dwindled to three.

A source said the butanding would certainly leave the place because of the excessive close interaction from residents to the extent of riding them.

Some residents, however, assailed the Office of Civil Defense for its regular drilling exercise using the Puro coastal area as venue, saying the butanding are disturbed by noises from the helicopter.

Mayor Noel Rosal said he had warned OCD Regional Head Raffy Alejandro to change their venue, believing the disaster-preparedness exercise and helicopter noise could irritate the visiting butanding.

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Syndicate hounding claimants, says CHR

Karen Gomez-Dumpit, CHR director of government linkages, said members of the syndicate had been hounding legitimate beneficiaries so their names would not be stricken off the list of claimants.

The warning came as the agency awaited the appearance of 387 victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime to receive P50,000 each as compensation for the abuses they suffered during martial law in the 1970s.

A total of P19.3 million will go to the victims from the six provinces in Bicol, Dumpit said. The amount is the victims’ share from a court-ordered settlement that arose from a class suit filed in the United States against the estate of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Dumpit, in a phone interview, said the P50,000 was part of the second tranche arising from the $10-million settlement of a case involving a British millionaire who bought a Monet painting believed to be part of the ill-gotten Marcos art collection.  Reports said the buyer had agreed to the settlement for as long as he would not be dragged into the case.

The first tranche amounting to P43,000 was distributed in 2012 to each of the victims for a total of P16.6 million. It came from the $7.5 million awarded to 10,000 martial law victims following a 2011 ruling by a US court in Hawaii on a class suit filed by Robert Swift, the American lead counsel of the claimants.

As early as 4 a.m. on Monday, Myrna Gallardo, a daughter of a human rights abuse victim, and other persons from Sorsogon province were at the CHR office to collect their compensation checks. Mar S. Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon

The article is originally published on February 25, 2014 on Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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