Thursday, June 12, 2014

*368. JULIAN MANANSALA , The Father of Philippine Nationalist Films

MASANTOL'S MOVIE MAN. Julian Manansala, director, producer, film makee, was known as "The Father of Philippine Nationalist Films" for his many movies with patriotic themes.

 The esteemed director-peliculero from Masantol who would leave a name in Philippine movie history as a foremost producer of patriotic and historical films, was born Julian Manansala on 28 January 1899, to Miguel Manansala and Leoniza Mendoza. Julian, ho also was an accomplished layer, comes from an artistic family that counts Vicente Silva Manansala as a member; the future national artist is his nephew.

 In his teens, he was quite a popular figure in his hometown, heading social clubs like “Bulaclac ning Pamacalugud  in 1913 and as an adult, “Batis ning Tula” and ‘’Panyulat Capampangan’’, a literary group. He moved to Manila for his high school education, which he finished at the National University in 1915. Manansala next pursued his Bachelor of Laws, at Escuela de Derecho, which he completed in 1919.

 After taking the bar, he opted to work in Washington D.C. as a Solicitor for Pensioners for over 200 Filipino veteran soldiers who fought for America, helping them secure their benefits and rights as provided by the Law of Pensions and Compensations. He held this post at the Bureau of Pension from 1921-28.

Upon his return to the Philippines, Manansala surprised everyone when he jumped into the fledgling Philippine movie industry bandwagon, joining pioneers Juan Nepomuceno, Atty. Vicente Salumbides, Sen. Jose Vera and Dña. Narcisa vda. De Leon. After all, he had always believed in taking risks and capitalizing on opportunities: ‘’Samantalanan me at gamitan ing guintu mung panahun, qñg pamagaral ang metung a cabiasnan a talagan cajiligan mu, ebala ing nung emu man abalu ing aliwa,uling mayap at pakinabangnan mu nung lunto cang especialista qñg metung a cabiasnan, kesa qñg abalu mu ing sabla, dapot puguit naca man dili.’’ (Grab and use your time of gold to learn one field of interest. Do not worry if you cannot learn everything—it is better to be a master of one, than to be a Jack of all trades).

 Manansala directed his first movie, ‘’Patria Amore’’ in 1929, and proved to be a masterful film make. The movie created quite a stir with its direct reference to Spanish abuses. Considered as discriminatory, the Spanish community filed a case in court, asking to stop the screening of the movie for fear of a backlash against them. The request for a restraining order was denied. From thenceforth, Manansala continued to produce a list of movies with strong nationalistic themes.

 The next year, in 1930, he completed ‘’Dimasalang’’, starring Mary Walter and kabalen, Dr. Gregorio Fernandez, who would also foray into directing. He next signed up with Banahaw Pictures Corp. as its Technical Director and megged ‘’Ang Kilabot ng mga Tulisan’’ (1932), with Dolly Garcia and Salvador Zaragosa.

Unhappy being an employee, he resigned to put up his own Liberty Cinema Corp. Manansala directed and produced ‘’Pag-ibig ng Kadete’’, headlined by the Kapampangan poet, Amado Yuson. He next shot “Mutya ng Katipunan” (1939), with favorite actress, Arsenia Francisco, whom he would use again in one of his last films, “Tawag ng Bayan’’(1940).

 His political interest was piqued when he became the Secretary-General of Manila-based ‘’Nais Capampangan’’. Later, he would also join the consolidated Nationalist Party in Manila as a committee president, for 6 years.

 When his heyday as a filmmaker was over, Manansala returned to his first love--Law. A full 26 years after his graduation, he was finally admitted to the Philippine bar on 19 November 1945, and practiced his profession. He was married to married Donata Quito, 1921, with whom he had 4 children: Antonio, Bonifacio (who would also become a very successful criminal lawyer , at times, working side-by-side with his father), Carolina and Donata.

 Manansala lived by his life credo: ‘’Ing catapatan qng sinta qng calupang cayanacan, qñg meguing cabislac na ning caldua, at qñg Indung Balen, landas neng tune ning pamagtagumpe at caligayan.’’ (Your faith in your young love, in your soul mate, and in your Motherland are the real paths to achieving personal glory and fulfillment). Manansala has certainly treaded on the right path; today, lawyer-director is known as the First Father of Philippine Nationalist Films.

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