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Going After ‘Guimaras’

October 11, 2006

By Iñigo S. Roces
BusinessMirror, Oct. 11, 2006

SIXTEEN independent filmmakers headed to disaster-stricken Guimaras on September 9 to shoot short films for ABC’s weekly Shorts program, which airs independently made films. The project is a collaboration between the TV network and the Independent Filmmakers Cooperative of the Philippines (IFCP) which hope to raise public awareness on the effects of the recent oil-spill disaster.

Directors Kidlat Tahimik, Rox Lee, Milo Paz, Khavn de la Cruz, Emmanuel de la Cruz, Paolo Villaluna, “Kidlat Maingay” de Guia, JP Carpio, Raya Martin, Seymour Sanchez, Wilfred Allen Galila, Drei Boquiren, Jeck Cogama, Victor Louie Villanueva and Ann Shy spent four days in Guimaras, some reportedly longer, to shoot their 10-minute films with digital video cameras. The short films were originally scheduled to air on September 30.

The airing was postponed to October 8 to give the filmmakers more time to finalize their works.

With the special episode entitled “Guimaras: Short Films From the Oil Spill,” Shorts featured four-minute versions of the films on October 8 at 11 pm. In between the shorts, the show documents the production showing the directors’ creative process, as well as their personal views on the matter. The films range from humorous takes on the issue, to poetic, dramatic and fictional stories. The objective was not to create documentary films, but to allow the filmmakers to express their views on the matter in their own chosen ways.

Only 13 of the films were actually aired: Biyaheng Guimaras of Milo Paz, Guima of Oscar Nava, Ang Hele ni Guima of Drei Boquiron, Oil Spill on Canvas by Rox Lee, Ayos Na Ba? by Kidlat Maingay, Ephemeral by Louie Villanueva, Huna Huna by Wilfred Galila, Itim by Jeck Cogama, Bunker O by JP Caprio, La Paz by Ann Shy, Life Projections by Raya Martin, Atong sa Guimaras by Kidlat Tahimik and Pagbugtaw by Seymour Sanchez.

Two works, those of Paolo Villaluna and Emmanuel de la Cruz, failed to make the deadline set by the network. The last, Toxic Mango of Khavn de la Cruz, received an “X” rating from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), and as such could not be aired. The reason, as written in the MTRCB’s official voting slip for television, was “for six (6) pumping scenes” in the short film.

Toxic Mango depicts, in a fictional tongue-in-cheek manner, the harmful effects of exposure to the oil. The short film can be searched and viewed on the video-sharing web site http://www.youtube.com.

“If you watch Toxic Mango, you will wonder why it received the rating,” said Chits Jimenez, vice chairman of the IFCP. “It’s very disappointing.”

Jim Libiran, head of ABC’s News and Public Affairs, who headed the Guimaras project, said that these independent films “break ground in terms of theme and topics. Marami sa kanila ang nagtsa-challenge sa moral standard [A lot of them challenge moral standards].”

“We may have a renaissance in terms of topicality, themes and techniques in independent cinema, but unfortunately we still have medieval structures like the MTRCB,” he continued.

Marissa Laguardia, chairman of the MTRCB, has not personally reviewed the film but stands by her reviewers’ classifications. “We have to make these decisions. Some are unpopular.”

“We always have constant dialogues with [the networks], when [their shows] are suspended,” she continued. “They are free to express their views. That’s their opinion. We still have to make a firm stand. I’m glad that these networks also respect our decisions.”

For those who missed last Sunday’s airing, the shorts will be shown, this time in their full 10-minute versions, in the THX theater of Robinsons Galleria from October 13 to 15.

Khavn’s film, however, will not be included on the roster. As of this writing, the works of Paolo Villaluna and Emmanuel de la Cruz still await their MTRCB rating.

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