A look at reality through the lenses.

(This time, for the films)

This is for my love of films and the admiration to filmmakers and writers. I want to break down the documentaries and films shown at “Sining Siwalat” but I’m no professional but again, I love movies and documentaries so why not and write about it. Get bored.

Disclaimer: THIS IS PURELY MY PERSONAL OPINION AND REALIZATIONS. NOT A PRO BUT WANT TO BE ONE.

  1. Relapse

A story of a teenager fed up by problems at home, a typical story of peer-pressure. This is a bold move by college students to show the reality of drug abuse in our generation and pre-marital sex. It’s funny that it plays with our mind if Ligaya truly exists, so as Mary Jane, or they are just portrayals of a party drug and marijuana given their names. This is a great short that gives us a glimpse of reality and a look to the world of a drug abuser. Good research or personal experience? Nevertheless, great story.

  1. Vlog

This short is a feel good short film but at the end of the film you will see the depth of it. Some may say that it is a cliché ending of an internal family issue but the side where the main character does a video blog to not show how he really feels is also a manifestation of reality. This is what I like short independent films; it can portray a story of many individuals in a short amount of time. Vlog, just like Relapse, gives us what is happening in our real world and letting us see that through lenses. I like that they made the sister close to her brother, and when asked if they’re close he jokingly said no but took it back; a great scene that gives us something in the end which is the real reason why he asks for approval from other people. This short film made me realize the urgent need for more information about mental health and that alone gives this film a commendation.

  1. Tala

If you love film theories and cliffhangers, Tala would be a great one for you. Set in the martial law years (or post-martial law, I cannot remember), Tala gave the audience a taste of what it’s like during those times. I find it interesting that they used a negative tone in asking, “Hindi ka ba malaya?” If you look at it, asking a yes or no on that question gives us just one answer: Hindi ako malaya. Letting the audience know, knowing that the audience is mostly composed of college students not born in that era, that whatever is happening back then, there is no freedom. I also love the way the conversation went on with only just questions. “Bakit hindi mo ako tinatanong ng “bakit?”” “Nasaan na po si Lucilla?”” It deeply tells the story and when the main character gives the portrait he drew, the shot gives us a glimpse of the nurse. It leaves the audience the freedom of asking if the nurse was shocked, are they related, what really happened. The best thing? There’s no wrong answer. Lastly, when the nurse asked the character on how he escaped he began describing the four walls of the room; it got me thinking that, what if he never left and stayed and he does not know what really happened to Lucilla. The best thing? There’s no wrong answer and we can go with whatever theory we want.

  1. Lagda

A not so typical story, shot only in a room. The genius of shooting this one in just a room was enough to tell the story. A story of selfishness, self-approval, self-esteem, domestic violence, and friendship; Lagda, gives us these things. A story of girl who always want her parents to be proud of her and in doing so, always want to excel in any ways and a girl who was raped by his dad who was afraid of going to authorities. Two different stories but that’s just who we are as Filipinos, we always think excelling every time will be the best way to make our parents proud and in the side of parents, pressuring their children on excelling every time. We also think, because of our close family ties culture, relatives are to be defended even though they already broke the law, or in this case, broke the girl as a person. I just feel like this kind of a story would be good in a full length film because the film itself is wanting more storyline with the two girls as best friends and an emphasis on how the idea of writing the story into an essay and winning, for me, will make the suicidal tragic. Over-all, it gives us a great plot with a great tragic ending.

  1. Hapis

Let me just say this, this is the first time a short independent film gave me goosebumps the whole film. A lot of independent films gave me goosebumps in some scenes but this gave me one, the whole time. Hapis was well thought, well written, and well played. The breakdown of each sorrowful mystery into what is happening in the life of the character was just genius; from the agony in the garden, portraying it by there’s no food to eat and just praying. A crucial part would be the guy character; it gives the audience a sense of what will happen next, especially in scourging at the pillars mystery. We thought, at the end, knowing that the last mystery was death of Jesus Christ at the cross, the main character will die but, like what I said that it is well written, the film showed us a different view; a different view of sorrow and agony and leading to doing something not good. The reveal on the last sequence was superb. The minute she was done praying the rosary, revealing that she was already in prison but that’s not the best part. The best part was the last shot, when the camera zooms out, it was a shot well thought by the production, no wonder this film got the best film of the festival.

  1. Istatik

Let me commend the college students who made this film because not all first films of people are horror or thrillers, it is with great thinking these genre are successful. A great use of the setting and a great twist at the end, Istatik gives this to you. While watching the film, I ask myself why is there only one seeing the black lady even though it was so obvious. My only take would be, the storyline would be at its best if it was a full length film with a backstory on what really happened to that place and who the girl was all along. Istatik plays with the audience mind in a different way, not unlike what we usually see in mystery films. It gives us the chills and the portrayal of the actors made the story look better.

(Posters taken from Sining Siwalat Facebook page. Credits to the owners)

Awesome job by the people behind this film festival! Hope everyone can see what you did! Go out and do more, we deserve to see a lot of these!

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Everyone has their story to tell.

I watched a school film festival in Colegio de San Juan de Letran – Calamba. My love for films and documentaries made me and a support to a friend who was part of it. I want to break down the documentaries and films shown at “Sining Siwalat” but I’m n professional but again, I love movies and documentaries so why not and write about it. Get bored. (This will just be for documentaries. I find it very long if the films will be included in one article.)

Disclaimer: THIS IS PURELY MY PERSONAL OPINION AND REALIZATIONS. NOT A PRO BUT WANT TO BE ONE.

  1. Aragonite

I failed to start this documentary but what caught me even though I just saw midway is that the fact that the people who made this gave the audience a glimpse of what art is supposed to be. I love the fact that they featured a Filipino artist who found his success abroad. Yes we all know about Luna, Abueva, Cabrera, but does our generation know who Edd Aragon is? I also admire when the former NCCA Commissioner said something about art being the soul of our culture and the sad truth about artists going abroad just to be recognized. This is where our nationalism enters. The moment we support and recognize our own artists, in any genre, does not need to go abroad to be recognized, international media will go to the Philippines and we let them recognize us.

  1. Lakbay Silo

A local story of a puto vendor may be odd for some but not for me. Yes, it started as odd because I asked myself the question why, but as the story continues on I said to myself that, “That is the main point, everyone has their own story worth telling, this is the perfect example for that one.” Yes, I was right, I was struck when the vendor said that even with a degree she chose to sell for a living and the most admirable thing she said is that she does not care if her children sell rice cakes also for a living when the time comes. This story gives us the importance of education and it does not matter how small or big your job is, it is far more important on why and how you do it.

  1. Buhay sa Hukay

Buhay sa Hukay is an documentary full of information. A bold story from the production giving us a point of view of what it’s like working in the cemetery, not much of excitement but what I like with this one is the boldness of shots. College students making this kind of documentaries made a bold statement: No story is too big or too small to tell.

  1. Bahay ni Maria

This documentary, like Buhay sa Hukay, is full of information. Introducing a place where old people are being taken care of. This documentary for me says something about volunteerism especially when the caretaker said that even though there is no monetary value on what he is doing the happiness in doing it is more than enough. Another thing that I realized while watching this would be, nuns will always be of service to us. As we all know that the Roman Catholic Church has been the oldest and largest charitable institution and Bahay ni Maria is a great example of this one, that it is not just through orphanages but also with old people. Lastly, our elders have a lot of story to tell. Now, I challenge you to visit Bahay ni Maria and experience it yourself (You can collaborate with us and contact me)

  1. Butil

Butil for me is like watching a documentary film in television (No bias). I love the fact that it started with us, hearing natural sounds in the field. The rawness of the introduction gave an impression to the audience that what we will see would also be raw. I also like that they incorporate statistics showing how much rice we are wasting. In the documentary, it is stated that “Rice is life”, and an anecdote like this would help us realize the value of little things, as little as a grain of rice. Bonus: I love that what they did with the closing song is an original one, it makes the story more personal as rice and farmers have personal attachment to us, Filipinos.

  1. Kubling Ngiti

Starting with a narration of facial expressions kind of set the tone of how deep or how hard is it for a person to not even smile. I always love seeing people smile and to be honest this documentary opened my mind that there is such disability of someone that cannot smile or even express themselves through facial expressions. This is a mind opener and also a story of acceptance, especially when the mother went to school and to let the students look at small mirrors and explain the state of her child. You can see the love and hurt of the mother in that instance. The innocence of a child, even without a smile, can bring joy to anyone.

(Posters taken from Sining Siwalat Facebook page. Credits to the owners)

The kid who chants Never Say Die

Ever since I started following PBA, at a young age, Ginebra was the one and is the only one I cheered for. I was that young kid that grew up cheering for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and being like Bal David was one of my childhood dream. I was that child that was excited seeing Mark Caguioa in his rookie year and seeing the fast and the furious tandem gets their back-to-back championship under coach Siot. Watching Eric Menk dominate the league with 2 straight MVPs, shouting everytime Rodney Santos slashes and Sunday Salvacion shoots the three. I chanted “Pula hindi Lila” the last championship Ginebra won against Air21, 8 years ago. I am still that person who always gets excited to see Ginebra live or on TV. I grew up admiring the game and loving basketball because of Ginebra and 8 years later, I am the fan who wants Ginebra win it all again.

The hopes are up even at the start of the season, with Scottie Thompson being drafted. We tried to advance in the All-Filipino but that last defensive call against the Globalport stole the chance from us. We then hope again with Othyus Jeffers helping us and having a best-of-three series with Rain or Shine in the quarter finals was just disaster for Ginebra. I saw what happened in Cuneta, we were up by a big margin but Rain or Shine with the help of Jeff Chan’s game winning basket gave us another heart-breaking loss. Now, we do not have Greg, but we do have arguably the best import of the conference with Justin Brownlee. We won the games we should’ve won in the eliminations and loss to great teams but Ginebra has something to prove. With a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarter finals and a comeback scare from Alaska, we managed to get the win.

Game 1 of Semi-finals is an unfamiliar territory for everyone. For me, I somewhat wanted it to happen but did not expect it to happen this soon, I told early in the conference that we may not win this one again, but come All Filipino next conference, we should have that already but here we are, in the semi-finals with a chance to claim go to the finals once again. We just need to beat, San Miguel Beermen. Defending champion and with Junemar in and Greg out, cleary, Ginebra is the underdogs. Ginebra’s never say die attitude was manifested all first three games. Yes, we lost game 2 but that could’ve been overtime and we can never know what will happen if Brownlee’s last second shot got it. We were destroyed in game 4. For me, that was the worst game of Ginebra this season but what got me is the chants of everyone in Araneta. They are chanting “GINEBRA! GINEBRA! GINEBRA!” as if we were only down by a single possession with few minutes left. After the game, Ginebra huddled. For me, at this point, I knew that we lost a battle but we did not lose the war.

I am writing this, hours before Game 5 of the semi-finals. We just need 5 more wins to get the crown back. Game 5 may not be a win for the championship but it will be a win to prove something. We all know SMB will not back down, but how about another triple-double performance from Scottie, A good shooting night for Sol, a solid offense-defense from both Brownlee and Japeth and another phenomenal performance from LA and if it is not too much to ask, how about a vintage game from JJ and Mark. We will never know but one thing I am sure about is that I’m sure we will never say die.