Monday, June 16, 2008

*88.HUK ON FILMS: From Movement to the Movies

DANTE'S INFERNO. Film poster of Kumander Dante's (Bernabe Buscayno) biopic, portrayed by Phillip Salvador and filmed in 1988. Buscayno, founder of the New People's Army in 1969, was a former worker in the sugar plantations owned by the Cojuangcos. The film was directed by Ben Yalung.

The Philippine movie industry began in the early 1900s, and since then, the medium has become one of the more popular sources of entertainment for many generations of Filipinos. Early films about the Philippines were story-less, featuring scenics and events such as Fiesta de Quiapo and Panorama de Manila. Narrative films with patriotic themes like La Vida de Jose Rizal and Los Tres Martires became the vogue in the first 2 decades of the new century.

With the formalization of the studio system, the film emerged as an effective medium for storytelling, with themes that often mirrored the thoughts of the country. After World War II, the local film industry rose from the ashes quickly, with a motherlode of tales from the ruins of the war—the 1st postwar film was Manuel Conde’s Orasang Ginto (The Golden Clock) which pictured graphically the heroism and sufferings of the Filipino guerilla. The mood had shifted dramatically from innocent romance to the harsh realism of violence and criminality.

The end of the war also signaled the start of our independence, but the pervading euphoria quickly gave way to feelings of betrayal as corruption and the struggles of the social class all but erased the gains of our new independence. The Communist HUKBALAHAP (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon) movement had gained grounds and support—providing the film industry with more eye-opening stories to tell about the revolt of the masses. Agrarian unrest, peasants bound to the soil, the heroic lives of Huk kumanders—all these found expressions on the screen, providing the audience a real hard look into the movement and its causes, its often-bloody struggles and its larger-than-life rebel heroes.

A comprehensive list of Huk-inspired films:

BACKPAY. (1947) Plot: Post-war guerrillas, disappointed because of the non-payment of their benefits and failure of the government to implement agrarian reforms decide to join the Huk movement

MGA BUSABOS NG PALAD (1948, Slaves of Destiny). Cast: Leopoldo Salcedo, Gil de Leon, Plot: Guerrillas find themselves jobless and resort to stealing, begging and boxing.

LUPANG PANGAKO (1949, Promised Land). Cast: Leopoldo salcedo, Mila del Sol. Plot: Returning guerrillas find difficulties in adjusting to mainstream life and find unemployment.

CANDABA. (1950) Cast: Tessie Quintana, Teody Belarmino and Tony Santos. Directed by: Gregorio Fernandez. Plot: Agrarian conflict.

TIGANG NA LUPA (1950, Parched Land). Cast: Rogelio de la Rosa and Leila Moreno. Plot: Agrarian conflict.

HUK, SA BAGONG PAMUMUHAY (1953, Huks, A New Life). Cast: Jose Padilla Jr., and Celia Flor.

HUK. (1956) A U.S. made movie. Cast: George Montgomery, Mona Freeman. Plot: A plantation owner struggles to fend off native insurrectionists (the "Huks" of the title).

KUMANDER 13. (1956) Cast: Rogelio de la Rosa, Carmencita Abad.

KUMANDER ALIBASBAS. (1981) Cast: Joseph Estrada, Perla Bautista. Bipic of Cesario Manarang, Huk leader from Concepcion, Tarlac.

PEDRING TARUC. (1982) Cast: Joseph Estrada, Ronaldo Valdez. Biopic of Huk leader, Pedro Taruc. The showing of this movie was blocked by the Marcos regime, citing that no outlaw should be made into a hero for a film.

KUMANDER DANTE. (1988) Cast: Phillip Salvador. Plot: Biopic of Bernabe Buscayno, leader and founder of New People’s Army (NPA).

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

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