Author Archives: Joel David

About Joel David

Teacher, scholar, & gadfly of film, media, & culture. [Photo of Kiehl courtesy of Danny Y. & Vanny P.]

Writing Pinas Film Commentary

Original Digital Edition (2021)
Cover design by Paolo Miguel G. Tiausas
“Bomba” © 2019 by Mina Saha
[Click on pic to enlarge]

Contents [PDF version]
© 2021 by Amauteurish Publishing
All Rights Reserved

Introduction: Forebearance

Turning Point

Inklings 1
There is no such thing as too much preparation
Start with the long view: history, theory, long-form study
Look inward at your personal motive(s)
Insist on the use of basic study tools
11011Break: But where are the shortcuts?

Inklings 2
Review or critique, or is there a difference? (Part 1)
Review or critique, or is there a difference? (Part 2)
Watch and read the necessary texts more than once
Pay attention to your stylistic approach, to determine its adequacy
11011Break: You call these writing tips?

Inklings 3
Be prepared to revise constantly
Submit or upload your text, then attempt further revisions
Own your errors
Careful with the claims you make
11011Break: What about my actual motives?

Persistence of Vision

Mini-Appendices [including Works Cited section]
11011• A: Self-Study
11011• B: Deconstruction

Works Cited

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Writing Pinas Film Commentary’s entire text was written during the Covid-19 pandemic that left me (and several other citizens) stranded in foreign locales. The Twosome Place coffeehouse branch of Inha University in Incheon, Korea, became my virtual workplace during the several months it was allowed to operate, under the first-rate management of Lee Sanghun, with my occasional craving for Turkish coffee adequately covered by Sinan Çakiltepe’s Itaewon diner. Affairs in the home country were worked out by my brother Aris David, colleague Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil, and scholars Juan Miguel Manansala and John Cris Velasquez. Upon deactivating from social media and discovering I preferred to remain virtually stranded as well, my connections to the digital world were sustained by a small circle of contacts, primarily Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr. and Jerrick Josue David (not a relation). An accumulation of self-doubt was relieved by welcome news from Louie Jon A. Sánchez.

11011As always I managed to count on my colleague, Ha Ju-Yong, to make sure I could accomplish official work requirements that entail reporting or coordinating in my host country’s language (which I still to struggle to learn, embarrassing as that sounds), with Kwon Sungjin and Yoo Hee-chan taking care of the more casual end. The work of scholars from all over such as Patricio N. Abinales, Lulu Torres-Reyes, Caroline S. Hau, and Paul Grant continues to inspire me to be productive, and I share with overseas Filipinos everywhere the fond hope that in a future that ought to arrive soon, we can finally thank everyone who helped us in person, rather than in print. The individual with the most impact on my development as a writer was my high-school English teacher, Teret de Villa, now a professorial lecturer at the national university’s Open University; I dedicated my first book to her and my other HS English teachers, but her influence abides throughout all my publications. In the same spirit of acknowledging formative influences, this book is dedicated to the first circle of friends I made in Korea: 박신구, 박해석, 손범식, 유태윤.

Disclaimer: The manuscript occasionally makes use of literary devices, including satire, hyperbole, and absurd humor, and thereby assumes basic competence in comprehension. The author will not be responsible for any person who observes a literal application of these passages in real life.

National Library of the Philippines CIP Data

David, Joel.
11011Writing Pinas film commentary / Joel David. — Original Digital Edition. — Quezon City : Amauteurish Publishing, [2020], © 2021.
1101152+vi pages ; 30 cm

11011ISBN 978-621-96191-7-2

110111. Film criticism — Philippines — Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Film criticism — Philippines. 3. Philippine essays (English). I. Title.


US Copyright Office Certificate of Registration:
TXu 2-255-122

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Acceptance message for the 2021 Gawad Balagtas for Film Criticism

The Covid-19 global pandemic necessitated an online program for the recognition ceremony of the annual awards of the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (Writers Union of the Philippines). With three minutes set as the limit for the recorded acceptance message, I read out the text below.[1].

An anachronistic pabebe wave to everyone.[2] I will admit that my response to the news of winning the Gawad Balagtas was immensely moving, partly because it reminded me that people at home were keeping tabs on me, and partly because these people represented an organization for whom criticism used to be distinct from and less essential than literature. The big secret I’ve kept to myself was that I never regarded criticism as any different from other forms of literature. I could sense throughout my career that some artists and authors appreciated the efforts I invested in my output, just as I also admired them when they were able to critique their own work and plow back their lessons and insights in their future products.

11011The reason why the UMPIL recognition is meaningful for a still-active critic like me is that the field where I function has been making occasionally valiant efforts at moving forward, to keep up with advances in other areas of criticism as well as in art and literature. But the distractions of more lucrative options in public relations as well as the dangerous assumption that film criticism should never challenge its readers’ intelligence all conspire against introducing new ideas and approaches.

11011This is why whenever I step back to assess how far I’ve been able to arrive, my journey was extensive only in terms of time and space. As public intellectual, I always feel like I’ve barely moved from where I started. I am hopeful that UMPIL will allow me the option of meandering down new pathways, playing with new concepts, championing practitioners who I feel have been overlooked, stumbling around once in a while, and maybe looking like I’m having too much fun – because I’ve learned that that’s the best way that difficult innovations can be announced and implemented.

11011I always delight in pointing out how I keep attacking canon-formation activities but ironically have to set up canons the right way in the first place. And at this stage in my life, I find myself being canonized as well, sometimes by institutions whose premises and motives I find necessary to contend with. This of course is always the risk we face when we announce our approbation of individuals who are still capable of, and intent on, changing.

11011For all the timeliness of the Gawad Balagtas, the careful deliberation that I’m sure must have gone in deciding to add me to the roster, and the symbolic consequence of being cited by the most credible and accomplished community of Pinas citizens, considerately extending their reach overseas, in defiance of a still-ongoing historic health disaster: my sincerest gratitude, lubos na pasasalamat sa inyo, 여러분 정말 더럽.[3]


Thanks to the people who provided advice on what I should (and shouldn’t) be saying: 박신구, 박해석, and 손범식, as well as to 권성진 for helping me pick out an appropriate final greeting. Special shoutout to UMPIL Board Member Louie Jon A. Sánchez, who made sure I had enough time to prepare for the occasion.

[1] The text of the citation was in Filipino and appears in the preceding illustration. It may be translated as follows:

For his vigilant advocacy of his field of practice, his faithful guidance in its nationalist and democratic aspirations, and his interventions in upholding film as a vital component of the everyday life of Filipinos and as a crucial factor in the unfolding of the history of the Philippines.

11011He is not only foremost in his field, but also the primary developer of [Philippine] film criticism, which has become a flourishing and indispensable art form because of his tireless contributions.

[2] “Pabebe” is a Taglish term that may be approximated as “trying to be baby-like.” It was first used for the popular phenomenon on Philippine TV that enjoyed its own coinage, AlDub. The baby-ism specifically referred to a voiceless character appropriating the beauty-queen wave, which in turn was an imitation of the Queen of England’s distinctive hand wave.

[3] The standard utterance, “yeoreobun jeongmal dureob,” is a comic insult that translates to “you’re all really dirty.” The L and R sounds are represented by the same letter (ㄹ) in the Korean featural system, so with the adjustment of a consonant in the last word (to “duleob”), the statement aurally registers as “you’re really all the [ones I] love” in Konglish. Understandably, the wordplay will be recognizable mostly to younger generations of Koreans.

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List of Illustrational Problematics for Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic

Illustrational Problematics is a self-descriptive category spun off from the list of textual problematics. I designated it to explain issues with visual content. These affect pages 38, 45-46, 50, 82, and 127. For discussions of textual problematics, click here. To return to the corrigenda page, click here. The problematics are listed according to the order they appear in the book; for a topical list of issues linked to the discussions:

Bernal, Elena (Ishmael’s mother)
Bongbong at Kris (1987), play by Boy Noriega
Estregan, George, pic of Eric (1969)
Iginuhit ng Tadhana (1965), “Bongbong” Marcos in
Manila Film Center’s Malakas at Maganda mural
11011Si Malakas, si Maganda, at si Mahinhin (1980)
Paloma, Pepsi rape case
When It Is a Gray November in Your Soul Coffee Shop

Page 38, Figure 4:

Several elements in this pair of pictures are capable of generating discussions in themselves, but would detract significantly from the concerns of the book text. To bring up a novel example: one figure is common to both – Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., only son of the Marcos couple and latter-day frustrated vice presidential aspirant. This detail would alter most people’s impression that the first presidential offspring to perform in movies was Corazon Aquino’s daughter Kris. During the euphoric period that followed the 1986 “people-power” revolt that deposed the Marcoses and installed Cory Aquino, playwright Bienvenido M. Noriega Jr. (formerly with Imee Marcos’s Experimental Cinema of the Philippines) wrote a popular stage comedy premised on a speculative Romeo & Juliet-inspired romance titled Bongbong at Kris (1987).

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Pages 45-46, Figure 7:

I would have preferred to use the evocative pic below (click to enlarge) in place of the solo portrait of Elena Bernal. Unfortunately its source, the phenomenal Pro Bernal Anti Bio volume (Manila: ABS-CBN Publishing, 2017) – drafted as an autobiography of Ishmael Bernal, passed on to his confidant Jorge Arago, and completed by Angela Stuart-Santiago in honor of her late friends – came out about the same time as Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic. It would also have corrected the commonly misspelled and uncompleted name of the café run by Bernal, with “When It Is a Gray November in Your Soul Coffee Shop” rather than “When It’s a Grey November in Your Soul.”

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Page 50, Figure 9:

The pic in question came from a framed entry in Cinema Paraiso (Film Paradise), an exhibit of Filipino movie memorabilia with film screenings and lectures, held February to April 2003 at the National Commission for Culture and Arts gallery in Intramuros, Manila. According to historian and archivist Teddy Co, one of the organizers, “It’s actually from my collection of bomba magazines, ca. 1969-70. I cannot find the issue anymore so I cannot name the magazine and what month it was in. The other exhibit curators were Josephine Atienza and Cesar Hernando…. The pic was in a section called A History of Kissing in Filipino Movies, starting from the first smooch between Dimples Cooper and Luis Tuazon to a digitally rendered kiss from Lastikman (dir. Tony Y. Reyes, 2003)” (Facebook Messenger exchange, June 5, 2020). The explanation may be too long for a caption and should probably be written as a footnote.

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Page 82, Figure 15:

I could have replaced either one of two exterior shots of the Manila Film Center with the mural in the lobby, painted by Victor Cabisada Jr. and Peter Alcántara, then-impossible to access after a fire damaged the building. In September 2020, an art historian, John Paul “Lakan” Olivares, posted the pic below (click to enlarge), apparently taken when the object was still new, on his blog Lakbay ng Lakan, and granted me permission to use the illustration. It depicts the native myth of the first cis couple, Malakas (strong) and Maganda (beautiful), the latter resembling Imelda Marcos; both were supposedly locked together in a node of bamboo, pecked open by a curious bird. Although many other Malakas at Maganda murals with the same intent of identifying the Marcoses as first Filipinos can still be found in various government buildings, the Manila Film Center version was far and away the best-rendered of the lot.

11011Incidental observation, which I admit being unprepared to fully comment on: the couple were notoriously sensitive to criticism about themselves, but the biggest queer-themed hit up to that point, Danny L. Zialcita’s Si Malakas, si Maganda, at si Mahinhin [The Strong, the Pretty, and the Timid] (Trigon Cinema Arts, 1980), came out around this time. The surest speculation I can make is that the movie was released just as the controversy over Manila by Night was making headlines all over the world. Imelda was certainly not going to risk her culture-czarina status over what appeared to be a potboiler that would never attract the same amount of attention as the production she deemed was a smear on her dream of setting up what she termed the City of Man.

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Page 127, Figure 26:

Re the caption: upon the prompting of director-writer and actor Bibeth Orteza, a close associate of the accused comedians (one of whom had died), I reread available material on the controversy and was surprised to find that the case for reasonable doubt was strong. Pepsi Paloma advanced her accusation of rape in the media on the basis of a photograph where she was apparently being kissed against her will. Splashed on the front pages of tabloids and now inexplicably unavailable, the picture showed Joey de Leon kissing an unwilling Paloma, with the other comedians looking on with amusement. The worst that the picture denotes would be molestation, rather than rape.

11011The photographer was Guada Guarin, an actress who was also a ward of talent manager Rey de la Cruz; she has since refused to speak on the matter, as do the surviving accused. The rape story attracted renewed attention from an extended article and its follow-ups that were subsequently withdrawn by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, after the current Philippine Senate President, who was part of the comedy team but not present during the incident, successfully contested the timeline of events claimed in the articles.

11011I had to conclude that the rape accusation may have been one of the publicity gimmicks de la Cruz (whom I’d interviewed more than once) was known for. The softdrink beauties and the comedy trio used to have their own regular projects with Regal Films (also Manila by Night’s production outfit). When the production company severed its ties with de la Cruz and his talents as a result of the controversy, that indicated to me that the accused had enough of a strong case to demand that Regal either take their side or risk a lawsuit.

11011The circumstances behind the incident, where the alleged rapists invited the actresses to visit a room in a five-star hotel, had no indication of coercion or the use of an incapacitating agent; each side claimed that the other was enthusiastic about extending invitations to visit the room. The last few weeks before Paloma announced she was dropping her case, only de la Cruz continued to denounce the comedians. The Senate President, unfortunately, is a right-wing pro-Church bigot with the expected sexist and homophobic trains of thought; the condition gives rise to less-informed liberals readily believing that he shares the same type of malevolence with his associates – which, according to people within showbiz circles, is far from true.

11011As a direct result of the suppression of the Inquirer articles, several misimpressions about the incident have proliferated. In one instance, Eraserheads frontperson Ely Buendia found it necessary to debunk the long-standing rumor that the song “Spoliarium” (titled after the famed 1884 painting of Juan Luna) was about the rape of Pepsi Paloma. One other verifiably false claim making the rounds of internet posts concerns the suicide note supposedly left by Paloma, stating “This is a crazy planets.” This was in fact the message left by a near-contemporaneous suicide, Stella Strada, who like Paloma also became famous as a sex-film ingenue.

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List of Textual Problematics for Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic

Textual Problematics is the term I use to refer to issues that occasionally are unresolved, or that otherwise would be too cumbersome to attend to, within the physical and/or editorial limits of the publication. Most of these issues already inhered in the material during the process of its creation, although in one instance, the problem arose some time after publication. They range from the aforementioned complication in attribution, to a queer controversy involving a different film, to the usual quirks in historical interpretation. These affect pages 11-12, 36-38, 53-59, 56, 57n10, 61, 64, 88, 111, 128, and 148-49. For discussions of illustrational problematics, click here. To return to the corrigenda page, click here. The problematics are listed according to the order they appear in the book; for a topical list of issues linked to the discussions:

Availability of First Golden Age titles
Bernal, Ishmael
11011Cooperation with the Metro Manila Commission
11011Traumatized in his first film project
Book writing process, including close reading
Censorship politics during the Marcos presidency
Manila by Night (1980)
11011As a comedy film
11011Censored title (City after Dark)
11011Production design problem
Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1975), missing sequences of
11011Internal censorial troubles
11011Similarity with Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Pito ang Asawa Ko, Huwag Tularan (1974)
11011Falling out with film producer
11011Homage to a François Truffaut film
Smorgasbord movies
11011Iginuhit ng Tadhana (1965), elements in
11011Partial list of prototypes

Pages 11-12:

I prepared for the project by rereading some of my favorite volumes in the British Film Institute Film Classics series (renamed BFI Film and TV Classics) as well as some of the recent Queer Film Classics texts. As far as I could tell, their approaches reflected their respective authors’ scholarly concerns. What they all had in common though was close readings of the specific films after which each volume was titled. In anticipation of this exercise, I drafted a detailed account of Manila by Night’s plotline, running several pages long. To my relief, the editors described it as too long and asked for a story summary instead. (I posted on Ámauteurish! the said extensive storyline.)

11011In writing out the book, I had to provide expositions of the Philippines and its cinema in the first of the standard three chapters, so I thought I could do the close reading in the second chapter. But then I wound up explicating Philippine queer cinema and the auteur I was covering, and in the final chapter I had to explain how the multicharacter movie functioned as a politically responsive genre product. I provided some relevant technical observations and decided to see where the editors might think I could insert the missing close reading of the entire film. To be honest, though, I thought that any scene-by-scene analysis would disrupt the textual flow, if not stanch it altogether. So once more I was relieved when their list of revisions did not include the specification I dreaded.

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Pages 36-38:

In a manner of speaking, the first Ferdinand Marcos biopic that Sampaguita Pictures produced had the trappings of a smorgasbord production (see page 88) – multi-episodic and multi-directed – except where it mattered: it featured a singular (pseudo-)heroic character. I am only certain of the availability of few of the proto-smorgasbord Sampaguita films in this listing, Tony Cayado’s Mga Ligaw na Bulaklak and Kaming mga Talyada, Armando Garces’s Sino ang Maysala?, as well as the final one referenced here, Iginuhit ng Tadhana: The Ferdinand E. Marcos Story. All the other ones are apparently lost. Will update if any of the others surfaces. [Update: An apparent smorgasbord-movie predecessor, produced by LVN Pictures and more aligned in fact with the late-1950s bad-boy Lo’ Waist Gang trend initiated by Larry Santiago of Premiere Productions, has surfaced: Barkada [Gang], a 1958 release directed by Lou Salvador Sr., may be accessed at Mike de Leon’s Citizen Jake Vimeo page.]

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Pages 53-59:

I ought to express with utmost care the dynamics behind censorship as a political process during the Marcos martial-law era. When the Philippines began to acquire a higher global profile and a then-upstart studio, Regal Films, made its bid for overseas presence via Manila by Night, only someone with the right combination of motives and connections could step up and make sure that the powers-that-be develop an animosity toward the film. Why against Ishmael Bernal but not against the Cannes Film Festival celebrants, Lino Brocka and Mike de Leon? The person in question, Marichu Vera-Perez Maceda, may have been connected as much with Brocka, or at least with the Philippine Educational Theater Association, as with the Marcoses. Brocka and de Leon worked for Maceda’s outfit. Bernal however had a celebrated falling-out over Huwag Tularan: Pito ang Asawa Ko, the film project he completed with Sampaguita Pictures, the studio run by her father, after the latter shot additional scenes without the director’s approval. This means that reports of her behavior in mediating between the conflicting sides in the censorship controversy must be subjected to intensive critical scrutiny.

11011I had the opportunity to observe, as an insider in the Marcos film agency, how Maceda opted for the program that directly handled the disbursement of funds to favored film projects. When a project she produced potentially conflicted with the output of Marilou Diaz-Abaya, an associate of Bernal, I heard her make an excessively dramatic claim to mediating between the creative team and the forces of censorship. Bernal carefully demonstrated deference for someone who was after all part of the inner circle of the First Lady, but condemned her in the strongest terms after she left, for once more finding ways to advance her political and financial standing at the expense of some of the most outstanding films of the time. The Philippine critical community continues to hold Maceda in high esteem, mainly because of her association with a noteworthy period in film history; for this reason the many significant accomplishments of her family’s studio (active during and beyond the First Golden Age) will have to be qualified with the underhanded intrigues she fomented during a period when opposing figures of power carried inordinate political, professional, and personal risks.

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Page 56, second (parenthesized) sentence:

Bernal’s familiarity with official government communication policy derived from his working relation with another functionary, similar in terms of access to power as the two-faced censoring agent in the preceding entry, but benevolent for a change. Marita Manuel, whose tracks since the end of the Marcos dispensation have become scarce, ran Metro Manila Commission, one of many agencies that accommodated people with radical backgrounds who needed to be “rehabilitated” after a spell in political detention. By this means Marcos was able to harness talent that would have otherwise remained dormant or that would have returned to underground activities. In 1980, apparently as a means of mollifying the government, she initiated a “documentary” project titled Manila, with Bernal directing and several of the Manila by Night talents appearing. Rediscovered in 2018, the 45-minute curiosity was more of a travelogue that aimed to persuade foreign viewers to tour the city. See Edwin P. Sallan, “Ishmael Bernal’s ‘Lost’ Manila Docu Evokes Nostalgia,” Daily Tribune (July 8, 2018).

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Page 57, footnote 10:

This may well be an unnecessary inclusion but I’ll just be placing it here for thoroughness’s sake. The claim I made that the title “Manila after Dark” does not exist in Philippine cinema now has to be qualified, as of mid-2021, with the streaming release of Joel Lamangan’s Lockdown. It’s a meta-detail though, since it’s a fiction within a fiction, fascinating in itself and utterly attuned to the world envisioned by Manila by Night. A police-protected proprietor’s illicit vidjakol website – which provides erogenous solo-male or man-on-man displays for paying customers – is depicted as using the title in question, as screen-capped below. (The internet-specific coinage vidjakol, a pun on “video call,” is a portmanteau conflating “video” with the Tagalog slang word for masturbation, jakól, from the word “ejaculate.”)

Screen cap from Joel Lamangan’s 2021 film Lockdown.

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Page 61, end of first paragraph:

The out-of-court settlement between the author of the novel Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag and the production team of the film adaptation Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag may have involved a demand from the novelist to delete the improvised gay-hustler sequences. The current existing product, including the Blu-ray versions released by the British Film Institute and the Criterion Collection, contains the section from Julio Madiaga (Rafael Roco Jr.) wandering the Metropolitan Theater’s adjacent Mehan Garden, where he is befriended by Bobby (Jojo Abella), through Julio’s first night at Bobby’s apartment where he witnesses Bobby accommodating a client, to his initial attempt at gay-for-pay sex in the brothel where Bobby works.

11011We may be allowed to speculate here (based on scriptwriter Clodualdo del Mundo Jr.’s account) that Edgardo Reyes, the novelist, demanded that the entire rentboy detour be excised, while Lino Brocka held fast on retaining its opening section. The fact that a literary figure insisted on anti-queer censorship while a filmmaker immersed his material in homophobic imaging – both artists left-identified and left-supported – may be reflective of a period when perversion was regarded as immoral rather than potentially transgressive. Hence unlike Manila by Night, Maynila’s censorial difficulties were internal, waged by one progressive side against another, one outraged by the attempt “to sissify a manly novel about an ever-masculine city” (actual words used in an article written by a defender of the novelist’s claims) and the other insistent on presenting the underworld of male hustling in the worst possible light.

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Page 64, second paragraph, third sentence continuing to next page:

The Ideal Theater sequence recalls a similar episode in John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy (1969), where Joe Buck (Jon Voight), broke and homeless after being fleeced by “Ratso” Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), agrees to be fellated by a student (Bob Balaban) in a movie theater. Afterward the latter reveals he has no money, angering Joe but ending with him letting the kid go. Midnight Cowboy turns out to have a broader connection with Maynila, in the sense that, symptomatic of their era, their moralism and homophobia were in effect rewarded by top industry prizes in their respective countries.

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Page 88, Figure 18:

The “first” smorgasbord title is nominal; Sampaguita Pictures had been known for multi-performer presentations as early as the late 1950s, with Tony Cayado’s Mga Ligaw na Bulaklak [Wildflowers] (1957). A sampling of titles up to and including the year of Maraming Kulay ang Pag-ibig [Love Has Many Colors] (1966), featuring large casts in “epic” narratives: Armando Garces’s Sino ang Maysala? [Who Is to Blame?] (1957) Ding M. de Jesus’s Ginang Hukom [Madame Judge] (1960); Octavio Silos’s Mga Kwela sa Eskwela [The Cool Kids of School] (1963); Tony Santos’s Pinakamalaking Takas (ng 7 Atsay) [Biggest Escape (of 7 Helpers)] (1963); Mar S. Torres’s Bathing Beauties and Mga Bata ng Lagim [Kids of Horror] (1964); Tony Cayado’s Kaming mga Talyada [Who Who Are Sexy] (1962), Mga Batang Iskwater [Slum Kids] and Pitong Desperada [Seven Women Bandits] (1964); Octavio Silos’s Mga Batang Bakasyonista [Vacationing Kids], Mga Batang Milyonaryo [Millionaire Kids], and Mga Batang Artista [Showbiz Kids] (1964); Conrado Conde’s Apat na Kagandahan [Four Daughters] (1965); Octavio Silos’s Mga Batang Turista [Tourist Kids] (1965); Jose de Villa’s Paano Kita Lilimutin [How Will I Forget You] (1966); and Luciano B. Carlos’s Jamboree ’66 (1966).

11011Closer to the multiply directed example of Maraming Kulay ang Pag-ibig would be Sweet Valentines, directed by Tony Cayado, Conrado Conde, Rosa Mia, Octavio Silos, Carlos Vander Tolosa, Jose de Villa, and Romy Villaflor (1963); and Umibig Ay Di Biro [Love Is No Joke], directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Luciano Carlos, Conrado Conde, Rosa Mia, Octavio Silos, Carlos Vander Tolosa, and Romy Villaflor (1964). All were produced by Sampaguita Pictures and/or its subsidiary, VP Pictures; in the instance of Pinakamalaking Takas, Sampaguita linked up with a rival studio’s subsidiary, Dalisay Pictures. Pitong Desperada was by Ambassador Productions, but its talents and stars were all also identified with Sampaguita.

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Page 111, first paragraph:

Around the time I was drafting the book, Manila by Night production designer Peque Gallaga reminisced, on his own and on others’ Facebook posts, regarding his participation in the project. He expressed extreme frustration with the cinematographer’s failure to use the proper filters for the breakwater sequence. Ishmael Bernal also mentioned this as one of the scenes he wanted to trim for the print expected to be finalized for the film’s Berlinale participation – which Moritz de Hadeln overruled (see page 55).

11011Gallaga’s recollection of his problem went as follows: “I talked to Sergio Lobo who was the cameraman. I said, ‘For their LSD sequence what I want to do is to get those little cups for the candles and float them by fitting them in small Styropors. But is it possible if you can put Vaseline around your lens so that it will just be out-of-focus lights and it’s only the faces of Cherie [Gil] and William [Martinez] that are going to be seen, so that all of a sudden these lights come on?’ He said ‘Yeah just paint the Styropor orange so that the lights would still be warm.’ So we bought about 200 [candles on Styropor] and on two [small outrigger boats], we lit each and every one of them and swept them with bamboo so that as the scene goes on these things start floating in.

11011“When we saw the rushes, I said, ‘Bernie, that’s shit! He didn’t defocus it in any way!’ All of a sudden they were surrounded by stupid candles and Styropors. ‘It’s ridiculous. This is really bad. We have to reshoot it!’ He said ‘No, just remember this scene will keep you humble the rest of your life’” (“Brocka-Bernal Interviews, 2018-2019,” for the exhibit Brocka, Bernal, and the City, January 24 to April 29, 2019, at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde’s School of Design and Arts, excerpted from “Peque on Bernie: Full Interview,” posted on YouTube by Benilde Campus Art).

11011A further insight that necessarily entails provisional and speculative conclusions was provided by one of Bernal’s colleagues, who must remain anonymous for now: Bernal was bullied by the cinematographer on the set of his first film assignment, Ah, Ewan! Basta sa Maynila Pa Rin Ako! (I am indebted to the innovative and dedicated archivist Jojo Devera for this exclusive bit of information.) Apparently angered and/or traumatized enough to refuse directorial credit (too late for the celluloid print, but observed in all the film’s print announcements), Bernal’s maltreatment may account for his hesitation in trying out other directors of photography until years later, when younger filmmakers could assure him of the reliability of their own cinematographers. Once more, homophobia (on the part of the house staff of Virgo Productions) may have factored in their engagement with the then-newbie. (See footnote 15 on page 99.)

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Page 128, second sentence of second paragraph:

Not a correction, more of a reminder for myself. I heard of Huwag Tularan: Pito ang Asawa Ko years before I saw it, which meant I’d seen most of François Truffaut’s films by then. I vaguely remembered a connection between a Truffaut film and this specific Bernal title, so I concluded that it must have been L’Homme qui aimait les femmes, since their main characters resembled each other. (Pito ang Asawa Ko is privileged by the same queer twist that appeared in a near-contemporaneous Truffaut film, La nuit américaine, and I insist on following the popular practice of dropping Huwag Tularan since it was imposed by the censors and was not present in initial publicity announcements.) In writing the Queer Film Classic text I checked the usual sources, and was flabbergasted at how my memory had tricked me: The Man Who Loved Women (as it was known in English) came out three years after Pito ang Asawa Ko.

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Pages 148-49, paragraph in common:

I ought to have proposed considering Ishmael Bernal as a comic filmmaker, with Manila by Night as black comedy – similar to the way that a review of Robert Altman’s Nashville was anthologized in The National Society of Film Critics on Movie Comedy (ed. Stuart Byron, New York: Grossman, 1977). The perspective would have been unthinkable for people who approach the text with advanced knowledge of its censorship troubles. The notion of laughter as subversive force, however, would have considerably explained why its persecution by the Marcos administration exceeded that of the other city movie, Lino Brocka’s Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag. This would also have enabled me to raise issues of masquerade and irony more logically.

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NUT’s Kernel

When I started looking out for bylines of prolific Filipino writers in English, Nestor U. Torre’s was the one I wound up reading most often. His writing style could be summed up in a string of adjectives that would soon be considered embarrassing, if not unacceptable, for anyone caught up in the call to resist Ferdinand E. Marcos’s then-emergent fascism.

11011He didn’t help matters for his standing among progressives when martial law was finally declared, and he moved from the opposition’s already-shuttered Manila Chronicle to the Philippines Daily Express, edited by a brother of the First Lady. Yet this was the period of the ascendancy of Torre (or NUT as he preferred to refer to himself) as film commentator. He was also known as the director-writer of Crush Ko si Sir (1971), a pre-ML vehicle for Lino Brocka’s muse Hilda Koronel. A few years later, a movie by another gifted critic-director, Ishmael Bernal, would attempt the same sly reference to Macoy’s womanizing, but the censors by then were sharp and fast enough to take action: Aliw, Sir! simply became Aliw [Pleasure] (1979).

11011These connections will become significant later, but not enough focus was placed then on NUT’s film writing, just as it was relegated to the background in nearly all the tributes paid to him by his colleagues in theater. This was the moment when film was setting out to stake its claim as a creative activity worth taking seriously. Most reviewers, then as now, claimed academic credentials and wrote accordingly. Like Bernal, however, NUT stepped in from an immersion in pop culture. Academia eventually came around to appreciating that kind of orientation, but it was too late for NUT.

11011Hence the (usually self-serving) drama of asking after theoretical foundations and political allegiances was just about to assert itself, but NUT first made sure that the local intelligentsia would be enthralled and challenged by the prospect of film analysis and evaluation written for its own sake. He published film reviews in a breezy, amused, occasionally ironic, sometimes self-deprecating manner (hence his acronym), in a style that serious students of English literature recognized as highly accomplished. Of his Chronicle-era batch, only Bernal came close, but then “Ishma” eventually pulled away by attaining success as a filmmaker.

11011When a NUT review appeared in the Express, some of my classmates and professors would engage in discussion about it. I remember a senior stating that his take on Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) was better than what came out in foreign newspapers – so I did spend some time afterward at the national university’s main library to check out the claim. Around this time an announcement involving NUT came out, one that I was still too young to realize was ominous: he and the other reviewers published by the Express were forming a critics’ organization, with NUT as founding chair.

11011I was to subsequently become a member of this group, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Filipino Film Critics Circle), which was how I learned about NUT’s departure. He was able to work on his last film project, Ang Isinilang Ko Ba’y Kasalanan? [Is It Wrong to Give Birth?] (1977), the year after the group launched its still-ongoing annual awards. At the meeting where it was discussed, the other members raised questions pertaining to its lack of political content and its derivative quality. He walked out and never showed up again.

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11011The MPP prided itself on objectivity and admitted being harsher on its own members who aspired to industry practice. NUT’s misfortune was that he was the first to be subjected to this type of critical interrogation; ironically another founding member, Behn Cervantes, released Sakada [Plantation Peons] during the year of the MPP’s founding.[1] It had enough so-called social relevance to be considered subversive and was eventually banned by the government. Not surprisingly, it elicited rave reviews from the MPP members and was able to receive citations in major film categories, though its later unavailability excluded it from the awards competition.

11011Still another founding member, Pio de Castro III, came up with Soltero [Bachelor] in 1984 and was rewarded with nominations from the group for direction, performance, and technical categories. Yet although AIKBK was completely bypassed, it had qualities that placed it a cut above the other two films: it featured eight women at a well-known halfway house for unwed mothers-to-be, and although the narrative finally gave precedence to the male superintendent burdened by empathizing with the expectant mothers, several of the individual stories succeeded in focusing attention on the plight of outcast women.

11011I remember AIKBK coming out a few months after Brocka’s Lunes, Martes, Miyerkules, Huwebes, Biyernes, Sabado, Linggo [Monday through Sunday] (1976), which had almost the same number of female characters but which more easily capitulated to the central tale of a son seeking his mother and discovering how she worked as a has-been hooker in Olongapo. Unfortunately these last two films may be lost for good, so we have no way of revaluating the merits of NUT’s entry vis-à-vis the others. All I can attest, to the best of my recollection, is that it left a far more positive impression on me than all the other films I mentioned except for Aliw, which finally succeeded in interweaving its fallen-women tales into an impressive equal-opportunity balancing act.

11011I had only one interaction with NUT, years after he gave up most “creative” film activities including his distinctive brand of film reviewing.[2] We were covering a 1980s film set troubled by serious conflicts among the artists and producers. Upon arriving, he immediately launched into an expertly parodic performance of film buffery (not all that far removed from buffoonery): he would mention an obscure decades-old movie title and state what its opening-day gross was, then he would start mentioning bit players no one ever heard of, as well as running times of ancient films no one had seen. “Isn’t it great to waste everyone’s time with information no one will ever need?” he went.

11011I later asked him what he thought film critics should be doing if they wanted to make a positive contribution. “Make sure to connect,” he said, “and don’t take things too seriously.”[3] Bibeth Orteza, whom I remember made the strongest impression in AIKBK (where she was ironically only one of two newcomers), once mentioned that NUT was determined to compile an anthology of his early articles – so at least his stature as film critic could be recouped. This was before he had his stroke in 2018, after which his mother died, he contracted Covid-19, and passed away last April 6, at 78. He was determined to recover from his stroke, but got exposed to the pandemic virus via his physiotherapy program. He will be remembered for several accomplishments like public relations and theater activities, but not for far more significant ones, which will remain one more cultural anomaly in our time that demands to be redressed.


First published April 14, 2021, as “NUT to Film Critics: ‘Don’t Take Things Too Seriously,’” in The FilAm, and reprinted as “Writer, Director, Critic Nestor U. Torre, 78,” in the May 2021 issue of The FilAm: Newsmagazine Serving Filipino Americans in New York. The author acknowledges discussions on NUT with Lulu Torres Reyes, Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr., and Jerrick Josue David.

[1] The only social-media posts that acknowledged NUT’s stint as founding chair of the local critics circle came first from Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr., head of the FACINE International Film Festival, and later from the Directors Guild of the Philippines. All the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino came out with was a post announcing the birthday of its oldest founding member.

[2] One positive result for Pinas pop-culture commentary was NUT’s turn to television criticism, explicated in Louie Jon A. Sánchez’s exemplary assessment in Filipino, titled “Kritisismong Pantelebisyon at si Nestor U. Torre Jr. [Television Criticism and Nestor U. Torre Jr.]”: “During Torre’s active period, he was the only one who focused insistently on reviewing programs in the hurried and impatient medium. When his byline started appearing less frequently starting in 2018, after he suffered a stroke, there was also a decline, in my view, of a high quality of commentary on television in our publications” (Squeeze News Agency Services, April 14, 2021; my translation). See as well “Mga Kislap-Diwa: Ilang Tala sa Mga Gawa ni Nestor Torre Jr. [Ingenious Insights: Some Notes on the Output of Nestor U. Torre Jr.]” by the same author (also SNAS, April 14, 2021). [Usage note: Since Torre’s more recent bylines eschewed the suffix “Jr.,” I have opted to drop it as well. Always NUT, never NUTJ.]

[3] As someone who occasionally gets scolded for supposedly incompatible elements in my writing, I can confirm for myself, and anyone who cares to take notice, that I don’t always faithfully conform to the prescriptions of my predecessors. (Sometimes I even perform the exact opposite of what they advice, but that’s a subject for another article.) The incompatibility I mentioned hinges on my pursuit of useful – and inevitably serious – insights while aspiring to wield the airiest tone I can muster. This constitutes my guarantee to myself that every writing activity poses a formal challenge constantly in danger of failure. Certain contexts are more permissive than others in allowing this anomalous combination (blogs included, fortunately), and such precarious balancing acts don’t always succeed, but I draw some lines whenever necessary: against airheaded whiners who think I should settle for simpler ideas, and against high-minded pretenders who disavow the usefulness of laughter.

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Listing of Publications: Reverse Chronological Order

Warning: you might find this (incomplete but still-growing) section too extensive for casual browsing. For chronologically ordered listing, click here.

11011A number of entries may appear bloated because of my insistence in tracking where they may have been reprinted; similarly, the reprints would be extended by the acknowledgments of original publication. I do not hold copies any longer of everything listed here. The claim I can make, however, is that each entry existed in a legally definable published format (including on the internet) that I once laid eyes on, if not actually possessed, except for a number of reviews whose non-publication arose from the editor’s backward orientation or the periodical’s inability to come out. When I realized that I would have to leave most of my collected materials behind to commence graduate studies abroad, I endeavored to list everything I had – a wise decision, since nearly the entirety of my possessions were either pilfered or damaged by the time I returned. My work as university faculty similarly inculcated in me the discipline of summarizing my output every yearend.

11011Pointedly missing from this list are three types of mimeographed material, some of which I was able to jot down, as well as news items generated in my capacity as journalism intern or reporter. The latter were contractually anonymized although my initials started appearing as taglines in some of the later published material; but the requirement of writing up to four reports a day, none of which were guaranteed to see print unless a desk editor happened to favor them, resonates in the most disagreeable way with me. Of the mimeo publications, one was legitimate but literally juvenile: my stint as editor-in-chief of the low-end student paper of my public elementary school (during the time when such institutions were markedly superior to private schools, which I had also attended). The other two types, where I first made use of pseudonyms, were juvenile in other senses: college-era fundamentalist-Christian newsletters and orthodox-Marxist underground propaganda, both types of which are, for better or worse, still around, and not much different from each other, if I may speak from experience.

11011To jump to half-decade marks, please click here for: 2020; 2015; 2010; 2005; 2000; 1995; 1990; 1985; 1980. To find an entry’s link in the blog, enter the title in the Search box in the footer (for the website version). Or track the source of the article using these means of identification: book titles (including anthologies and conference proceedings) in Books; journal and non-journal titles in Articles; non-journal periodicals after 2016 and independent statements in Remarks; and all other unclassifiable texts in Extras. If you’re searching for any number of commentaries on film, book, or stage titles, I recommend you look them up in Reviews instead, or in Auteurs & Authors if you prefer to search according to artist. For a tentative evaluation of these listings as data entries, I prepared a page titled Empiricals.


David, Joel, and Jo-Ann Q. Maglipon. SINÉ: The YES! List of 100 Films That Celebrate Philippine Cinema (Mandaluyong: Summit Media, 2021 forthcoming).

———. “Bringing Theater to the Home.” The PETA Milestone Book Project. Eds. Brenda Fajardo, CB Garrucho, Maribel Legarda, & Beng Cabangon (Quezon City: Philippine Educational Theater Association, 2021 forthcoming).

David, Joel. Writing Pinas Film Commentary. (Quezon City: Amauteurish Publishing, 2021). Posted online.

———. “Videodisc Piracy as an Instance of Resistance.” International Journal of Diaspora & Cultural Criticism 11.1 (January 2021): 98-137. Posted online.

———. “Selected Exchanges.” In Queries section. Amauteurish! (January 13, 2021). Posted online.

———. “An Intro to Chapter 16 of Marcos’ Lovey Dovie.” Belated tribute to Dovie Beams (1932-2017). Amauteurish! (February 2, 2021). Posted online.

———. “Experimental Cinema of the Philippines: A Hasty Recollection.” Landing page (et al.) for uploaded ECP materials. Amauteurish! (February 15, 2021). Posted online.

———. “Bibliographic Mini-Essay 2: The Rise in Spin-offs.” Amauteurish! (February 21, 2021). Posted online.

———. “[Nestor U. Torre] to Film Critics: ‘Don’t Take Things Too Seriously.’” The FilAm (April 14, 2021). Posted online.

———. “NUT’s Kernel.” Expanded version of “[Nestor U. Torre] to Film Critics: ‘Don’t Take Things Too Seriously,’” previously published April 14, 2021, in The FilAm. Amauteurish! (April 15, 2021). Posted online.

———. “Acceptance Message for the 2021 Gawad Balagtas for Film Criticism.” Amauteurish! (May 1, 2021). Posted online.

———. “An Error in the Urian’s Internet Record.” Amauteurish! (July 16, 2021). Posted online.

———. “In Nerisa, Viva Brings Back Regal’s Low-Budget Blockbuster Formula.” Review of Nerisa, dir. Lawrence Fajardo. The FilAm (August 23, 2021). Posted online.

———. “Siren Call.” Review of Nerisa, dir. Lawrence Fajardo. Previously published August 23, 2021, as “In Nerisa, Viva Brings Back Regal’s Low-Budget Blockbuster Formula” in The FilAm. Amauteurish! (August 25, 2021). Posted online.


David, Joel. Authoring Auteurs: The Comprehensive Pinas Film Bibliography (Quezon City: Amauteurish Publishing, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Authoring Auteurs: A Bibliographical Essay.” In relation to the Comprehensive Pinas Film Biblio posted on December 4, 2019. Amauteurish! (January 18, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Bibliographic Mini-Essay 1: The Aunor Effect in Philippine Film Book Publications.” A spinoff of the bibliographical essay “Authoring Auteurs,” posted on January 18, 2020. Amauteurish! (January 28, 2020). Posted online.

David, Joel, and Joyce L. Arriola. “Film Criticism in the Philippines: Introduction to a Symposium.” UNITAS: Semi-Annual Peer-Reviewed International Journal of Advanced Research in Literature, Culture, and Society 93.1 (May 2020): 1-16. Posted online.

David, Joel. “Auteurs & Amateurs: Toward an Ethics of Film Criticism.” UNITAS: Semi-Annual Peer-Reviewed International Journal of Advanced Research in Literature, Culture, and Society 93.1 (May 2020): 17-36. Posted online.

———. “My Peque Gallaga Interview.” Commemoration of the recently departed filmmaker. Amauteurish! (May 9, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Peque’s Rage: A Retelling.” Abridgment of “My Peque Gallaga Interview,” printed in Amauteurish! on May 9, 2020. The FilAm (May 12, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Peque’s Rage: A Retelling.” Condensed version of the same-titled article published May 9, 2019, in The FilAm. The FilAm: Newsmagazine Serving Filipino Americans in New York 28 (June 2020): 17. Print edition.

———. “Corrigenda & Problematics for Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic.” A supplement to the Arsenal Pulp Press 2017 publication. Amauteurish! (June 6, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Remembering Anita Linda: She Devoted Her Life So Completely to Her Craft that It Defined Her.” Tribute to the late film actress. ABS-CBN News Channel [ANCX, formerly] (June 13, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Comprehensive Pinas Film Biblio: Reverse-Chronologized.” Amauteurish! (June 22, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Mother Pinas, Onscreen.” Expanded version of “Remembering Anita Linda: She Devoted Her Life So Completely to Her Craft that It Defined Her,” published June 13, 2020, in ABS-CBN News Channel. Amauteurish! (July 9, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Bibliographic Mini-Reviews: Memoirs & Bios.” Amauteurish! (July 30, 2020). Posted online.

———. “The Marcos Dictatorship and the Irreparable Damage to a Family.” Condensed version of “The Marcos Dictatorship and the Irreparable Damage to a Family and the Filipino Experience,” published September 18, 2012, in The FilAm. The FilAm: Newsmagazine Serving Filipino Americans in New York 30 (August 2020): 8. Print edition.

———. “By Way of an Epilogue: Commemorating Laura Samson (September 1, 1953 – September 10, 2020).” Commemoration of the co-conceptualizer and publisher of Wages of Cinema (University of the Philippines Press, 1998). Amauteurish! (September 16, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Comprehensive Pinas Film Biblio: Alphabetized List by Title.” Amauteurish! (October 2, 2020). Posted online.

———. “Comprehensive Pinas Film Biblio: Chronologized List: Earliest to Latest.” Amauteurish! (October 4, 2020). Posted online.

———. “The Masses Matter: A Review of Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic by Joel David.” Translation of “Mahalaga ang Marami: Rebyu ng Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic ni Joel David” by Chuckberry J. Pascual, 2020 in Pelikula: A Journal of Philippine Cinema. Amauteurish! (December 21, 2020), pp. 76-77. Posted online.


David, Joel. Millennial Traversals: Outliers, Juvenilia, & Quondam Popcult Blabbery. Book Edition (single-volume, back-to-back). Quezon City: Ámauteurish Publishing, 2019.

———. “Theater, Film, & Everything in Between.” Introduction. Two Women as Specters of History: Lakambini & Indigo Child by Rody Vera. Ed. Ellen Ongkeko Marfil (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2019): xiii-xxii.

———. “A Salute to Our Pinay Filmmakers.” Amauteurish! (March 26, 2019). Originally posted March 25, 2019, on Facebook.

———. “Manoy Takes His Leave.” Tribute to the late Eddie Garcia. The FilAm (July 23, 2019). Posted online.

———. “Di/Visibility: Marks of Bisexuality in Philippine Cinema.” Survey article. Journal of Bisexuality 19.3 (September 2019): 440-54. Posted online.

———. “The Barrettos and the Privilege of Behaving Badly.” On the latest saga in the long-running showbiz family scandal. The FilAm (October 28, 2019). Posted online.

———. “Showbiz Babylon: A Tribute-of-Sorts to the Barretto Sisters.” Expanded version of “The Barrettos and the Privilege of Behaving Badly,” published October 28, 2019, in The FilAm. Amauteurish! (October 29, 2019). Posted online.

———. “Barretto Sisters: The Privilege of Behaving Badly.” Condensed version of “The Barrettos and the Privilege of Behaving Badly,” published October 28, 2019, in The FilAm. The FilAm: Newsmagazine Serving Filipino Americans in New York 22 (December 2019): 6. Print edition.

———. “Comprehensive Pinas Film Biblio: Categorized.” Amauteurish! (December 4, 2019). Posted online.

———. “Comprehensive Pinas Film Biblio: Alphabetized.” Amauteurish! (December 4, 2019). Posted online.


David, Joel. “The Storyline of Ishmael Bernal’s Manila by Night (1980).” Originally drafted for Arsenal Pulp Press’s Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic. Amauteurish! (February 9, 2018). Posted online.

———. “Parallel Growths.” Kolum Kritika on the 30th Anniversary. Kritika Kultura 30/31 (February-August 2018): 90-91. Posted online.

———. “Farewell Farewell, Bernardo Bernardo” “Toward the End, a Hopeful Outlook for the Philippines.” The FilAm (March 21, 2018). Posted online.

———. “Statement on the Availability of Filipino Films during the Internet Era.” Amauteurish! (April 15, 2018). Posted online.

———. “High Five for Ninotchka Rosca’s Gang of 5.” Condensed version of “High Five for Ninotchka Rosca’s Sanaysay Anthology,” published February 21, 2013, in The FilAm. The FilAm: Newsmagazine Serving Filipino Americans in New York 3 (May 2018): 6. Print edition.

———. “Amid the Nightmare of War, a Coming-of-Age.” Review of Balangiga: Howling Wilderness, dir. Khavn. The FilAm (July 16, 2018). Posted online.

———. “Queerness as Defiance in Manila by Night.” Lecture delivered during the launch of Angela Stuart-Santiago’s Pro Bernal, Anti Bio. Amauteurish! (August 7, 2018). Posted online.

———. “The Millennial Traversals of Millennial Traversals.” Lecture delivered during the launch of the University of Santo Tomas’s UNITAS website. Amauteurish! (August 16, 2018). Posted online.

———. “Signal Rock and a Hard Place.” Review of Signal Rock, dir. Chito Roño. Philippine Entertainment Portal (August 17, 2018). Posted online.

———. “Tears Go By.” Review of Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha, dir. Mes de Guzman. All Things Sharon (October 18, 2018). Posted online.


David, Joel. Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic. Queer Film Classics series, eds. Thomas Waugh & Matthew Hayes. Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017.

David, Joel. Various entries for Film, vol. 6 of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Manila: CCP & the Office of the Chancellor, University of the Philippines Diliman, 2017): “Aksyon” (with Lynn Pareja, updated by Mesandel Arguelles), 112-13; “Animation” (with Lynn Pareja, updated by Michael Kho Lim), 114-17; “Horror” (with Lynn Pareja, updated by Erika Carreon), 134-35; “Komedi” (with Lynn Pareja, updated by Mesandel Arguelles), 136-38; “Musical” (with Lynn Pareja & Nicanor G. Tiongson, updated by Johann Vladimir J. Espiritu), 139-40; “Acting in Film” (with Justino Dormiendo, updated by Johann Vladimir J. Espiritu), 146-47; “Cinematography” (with Nick Cruz, updated by Elvin Valerio and Clodualdo del Mundo Jr.), 161-64; “Distribution in Film” (with Rosalie Matilac, updated by Albert Almendralejo), 179-82; “Producing for Film” (with Nick Cruz & Rosalie Matilac, updated by Jose Javier Reyes, 196-99; “Sound Recording in Film” (with Nick Cruz, updated by Rica Arevalo), 210-11; and “Training and Education for Film” (with Lynn Pareja, updated by Johann Vladimir J. Espiritu), 213-14.

David, Joel. “Velasco, Johven.” Theater, vol. 9 of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Manila: CCP & the Office of the Chancellor, University of the Philippines Diliman, 2017) 796.

호세 에르나니 S. 다비드. “녹슨 팔과 가려운 손가락; 두테르테 대통령의 마약과의 전쟁에 대한 문화적 시각.” 5회 국가폭력과 트라우마 국제회의. Trans. n.a. (Gwangju: Trauma Center, 2017) 103-12.

David, Jose Hernani S. “Rusty Arms and Itchy Fingers: A Cultural Perspective on President Duterte’s War on Drugs.” The 5th International Conference on State Violence and Trauma. (Gwangju: Trauma Center, 2017) 113-27.

David, Joel. “Contestable Nation-Space: Cinema, Cultural Politics, and Transnationalism in the Marcos-Brocka Philippines. By Rolando B. Tolentino. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2014. Pp. 267 + xii. ISBN-10: 971-5427359; ISBN-13: 978-9715427357.” Book review. International Journal of Asian Studies (January 2017): 112-15. Posted online.

———. “Vampariah as Subversive Aswang Film.” Originally titled “Peerless Vampire Killers.” Review of Vampariah, dir. Matthew Abaya. The FilAm (January 12, 2017). Posted online.

———. “Remembering the Forgotten War: Origins of the Korean War Film and Its Development during Hallyu.” Kritika Kultura 28 (February 2017): 112-46. Posted online.

———. “The Transnational Pastime: An Interview with Joel David.” Interviewed by Paul Douglas Grant. Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 14.1 (June 2017): 135-45. Posted online.

———. “Seeds in the Garden of Letters: A Review of The End of National Cinema by Patrick F. Campos.” Humanities Diliman: A Philippine Journal of Humanities 14.2 (July-December 2017) 153-57. Posted online.

———. “Film May Be Dead, But Film Culture Is Alive and Well.” Review of Respeto, dir. Treb Monteras II. The FilAm (August 18, 2017). Posted online.

———. “Muzzled Bombardments: The Philippine Film Canon and Its Discontents.” Roundtable on the Filipino Film Canon. Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 14.2 (November 2017): 221-31. Posted online.

———. “A Certain Tendency: Europeanization as a Response to Americanization in the Philippines’s ‘Golden Age’ Studio System.” UNITAS: Semi-Annual Peer-Reviewed International Journal of Advanced Research in Literature, Culture, and Society 90.2 (November 2017): 24-53. Posted online.


David, Joel. Book Texts: A Pinoy Film Course, original digital edition (Amauteurish, 2016).

———. “Manay Revisits Manila by Night.” Interview with Bernardo Bernardo. Amauteurish! (January 26, 2016). Formerly posted online, now an Appendix in Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic.

———. “Roads Less Traveled.” Review of Lakbay2Love, dir. Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil. Rappler (February 10, 2016). Posted online.

———. “Annual Filipino Film Production Chart.” Amauteurish! (February 25, 2016). Posted online.

———. Millennial Traversals: Outliers, Juvenilia, & Quondam Popcult Blabbery. Part II: Expanded Perspectives – special issue of UNITAS: Semi-Annual Peer-Reviewed International Journal of Advanced Research in Literature, Culture, and Society (May 2016). Posted online.

———. “How Pop Culture, Social Media Played a Role in Halalan 2016.” Commentary on the 2016 Philippine presidential election campaign. The FilAm (May 15, 2016). Posted online.

———. “Doy del Mundo on a Controversy over Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag.” Interview with Clodualdo del Mundo Jr. Amauteurish! (July 2, 2016). Posted online.

———. “In Ma’ Rosa, Cannes Best Actress Jaclyn Jose Plays a Meth Dealer with Eloquence, Warmth.” Originally titled “Ice with a Face.” Review of Ma’ Rosa, dir. Brillante Ma. Mendoza. The FilAm (July 14, 2016). Posted online.

———. “Searched For, But Not Missing.” Review of Ang Nawawala, dir. Marie Jamora. Amauteurish! (September 1, 2016). Posted online.

———. “Fallout over ‘A Lover’s Polemic’.” Amauteurish! (September 19, 2016). Posted online.

———. “Cold Word Wars: Philippine Film as a Critical Activity.” 2016 FACINE Gawad Lingap Sining Lecture, delivered October 18, 2016 at the Diego Rivera Theater, City College of San Francisco. Amauteurish! (October 19, 2016). Posted online.

———. “The Role of the Film Critic in Cultural Discourse.” Abridged version of “Cold Word Wars: Philippine Film as a Critical Activity.” 2016 FACINE Gawad Lingap Sining Lecture. The FilAm (October 23, 2016). Posted online.

———. “Grains and Flickers.” Remembering/Rethinking EDSA, eds. JPaul S. Manzanilla and Carolyn Hau (Mandaluyong City: Anvil, 2016): 172-87.


David, Joel. Millennial Traversals: Outliers, Juvenilia, & Quondam Popcult Blabbery. Original digital edition. Amauteurish, 2015.

———. Millennial Traversals: Outliers, Juvenilia, & Quondam Popcult Blabbery. Part I: Traversals within Cinema – special issue of UNITAS: Semi-Annual Peer-Reviewed International Journal of Advanced Research in Literature, Culture, and Society (May 2015). Posted online.

———. “On Nora Aunor and the Philippine Star System: An Introduction.” Guest Editor’s introduction. Kritika Kultura 25 (August 2015): 46-48. Posted online.

———. “Firmament Occupation: The Philippine Star System.” Kritika Kultura 25 (August 2015): 248-84. Posted online.

———. “Historical Film Depicts Antonio Luna’s Fall and Rise.” Originally titled “Antonio Luna’s Fall and Rise.” Review of Heneral Luna, dir. Jerrold Tarog. The FilAm (October 15, 2015). Posted online.

———. “Alien Abjection amid the Morning Calm: A Singular Reading of Horror Films from beyond Southeast Asia.” Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 12.2 (August 2015): 201-23. Posted online.

———. “Intrigues, Maneuvers, Interventions: Screen Images of the Korean War and its Aftermath.” Keynote lecture. 4PKSS: Proceedings of the 4th Philippine Korean Studies Symposium (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Department of Linguistics, 2015): 25-49.


David, Joel. The National Pastime: The Digital Edition. Revision, update, & digitalization of The National Pastime: Contemporary Philippine Cinema (1990). Amauteurish, 2014.

———. Fields of Vision: The Digital Edition. Revision, update, & digitalization edition of Fields of Vision: Critical Applications in Recent Philippine Cinema. Amauteurish, 2014.

———. Wages of Cinema: The Digital Edition. Revision, update, & digitalization edition of Wages of Cinema: Film in Philippine Perspective. Amauteurish, 2014.

———. “Pinoy Filmfests circa 2013.” The Manila Review 4 (February 2014): 29-32. Posted online.

———. “Phantom Limbs in the Body Politic: Filipinos in Foreign Cinema.” Plaridel 11.1 (February 2014): 35-60.

———. “Norte, a Four-Hour Ideological Tearjerker by Lav Diaz.” Originally titled “Beyond Borders.” Review of Norte, dir. Lav Diaz. The FilAm (March 12, 2014). Posted online.

———. “Sight & Sound ’02.” Inside account of the process of my submission to the decadal poll. Amauteurish! (May 30, 2014). Posted online.

———. “A National Artist We Deserve.” The FilAm (June 21, 2014). Posted online.

———. “Nora Aunor: A National Artist We Deserve.” Rappler (June 23, 2014). Posted online.

David, Joel, and Ha Ju-Yong. “A Revaluation of the Use of Trauma as an Approach to Understanding Contemporary Korean Cinema.” Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia 50.1 (2014): 16-50.


David, Joel. “A Benediction We Deserve.” The FilAm (February 13, 2013). Posted online.

———. “High Five for Ninotchka Rosca’s Sanaysay Anthology.” Originally titled “High Five.” Review of Gang of 5: Tales, Cuentos, Sanaysay ([Los Angeles]: Mariposa Center [for Change], 2012). The FilAm (February 21, 2013). Posted online.

———. “Across the Korean Peninsula, Unease in the Morning Calm.” The FilAm (April 18, 2013). Posted online. Rpt. as “Kwentong Kapuso: Unease in the ‘Land of the Morning Calm,’” GMA News Online (April 19, 2013), also posted online.

———. “Tribute to Bangy Dioquino.” Amauteurish! (Delivered May 2013). Posted online on October 5, 2017.

———. “OFWs in Foreign Cinema: An Introduction.” Guest Editor’s introduction to Monograph Section. Kritika Kultura 21/22 (August 2013): 557-59. Posted online.

———. “Phantom in Paradise: A Philippine Presence in Hollywood Cinema.” Kritika Kultura 21/22 (August 2013): 560-83. Posted online.

———. “Pinoy Film Criticism: A Lover’s Polemic.” The Manila Review 3 (August 2013): 6-8 [n.b.: print edition is erroneously indicated as issue “1”]. Posted online.

———. “On the Job: On the Edge.” Originally titled “On the Edge.” Review of On the Job, dir. Erik Matti. The FilAm (September 12, 2013). Posted online.

———. “The OFW Finds Well-Deserved Recognition in Hollywood (Part 1).” Originally titled “A Desire Named Oscar,” first part. Including review of Ilo Ilo, dir. Anthony Chen. The FilAm (December 4, 2013). Posted online.

———. “Metro Manila and Transit: Ambitious, Impressive (Part 2).” Originally titled “A Desire Named Oscar,” second part. Reviews of Metro Manila, dir. Sean Ellis; and Transit, dir. Hannah Espia. The FilAm (December 4, 2013). Posted online.


David, Joel. “The Dolphy Conundrum.” The FilAm (July 16, 2012). Posted online. Rpt. as “Kwentong Kapuso: The Dolphy ‘Riddle,’” GMA News Online (July 17, 2012), also posted online.

———. “Introduction.” Guest Editor’s introduction to Forum Kritika: A Closer Look at Manila by Night. Kritika Kultura 19 (August 2012): 6-13. Posted online.

———. “Film Plastics in Manila by Night.” Kritika Kultura 19 (August 2012): 36-69. Posted online.

———, transcription and notes. “Ishmael Bernal’s Manila by Night.” Screenplay, with transcription by Alfred A. Yuson. Kritika Kultura 19 (August 2012): 172-272. Posted online.

———. “The Marcos Dictatorship and the Irreparable Damage to a Family and the Filipino Experience.” Review of Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years, by Susan F. Quimpo & Nathan Gilbert Quimpo. Originally titled “Disorder & Constant Sorrow (A Review of Subversive Lives).” The FilAm (September 18, 2012). Posted online. Rpt. as “The Marcos Regime and Its Impact on the Pinoy Family,” GMA News Online (September 18, 2012), also posted online.

———. “Marilou Diaz-Abaya, 57: Rule Breaker, Risk Taker.” Obituary. Originally titled “The Carnal Moral of a Brutal Miracle.” The FilAm (October 12, 2012). Posted online. Rpt. as “Acclaimed Filmmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya Was a Rule Breaker,” GMA News Online (October 12, 2012), also posted online.

———. “High Drama and Low Humor in Ricky Lee’s New Fiction about a Cross-Dressing Manananggal.” Review of Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata, by Ricky Lee. Originally titled “The Novel Pinoy Novel.” The FilAm (November 8, 2012). Posted online. Rpt. as “What Republicans Could Have Learned from Ricky Lee’s Amapola,” GMA News Online (November 9, 2012), also posted online.

———. “Thinking Straight: Queer Imaging in Lino Brocka’s Maynila (1975).” Plaridel 9.2 (August 2012): 21-40.

———. “Glimpses of Freedom: Independent Cinema in Southeast Asia [by] May Adadol Ingawanij & Benjamin McKay, eds, Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2012, viii+246 pp.” Book review. Southeast Asian Studies 1.3 (December 2012): 529-33. Posted online.


David, Joel. “Primates in Paradise: Critical Possibilities of the Milieu Movie.” Kritika Kultura 17 (August 2011): 70-104. Posted online.

———. “Punch Tackles Fil-Korean’s Search for Mother.” Film review of Wandeugi, dir. Lee Han. (November 28, 2011). Posted online. Rpt. in Chinese News of Las Vegas (November 28, 2011); Filipinos Abroad (November 27, 2011); H3 blog (November 28, 2011); (November 28, 2011); Philippine Times of Southern Nevada (November 28, 2011); Saigon News of Las Vegas (November 28 2011); US News Las Vegas (November 28, 2011); US News Los Angeles (November 28, 2011) – all posted online.


David, Joel. “A Few Insights into our Asian Casanovas.” Pinoy Voices column. JungAng Daily (January 25, 2010): 11. Posted online.

———. “The Sins of the Fathers.” Viewpoints (formerly Pinoy Voices) column. JungAng Daily (April 12, 2010): 11. Posted online.

———. “2 Guys Watching Avatar.” Viewpoints (formerly Pinoy Voices) column. JungAng Daily (March 8, 2010): unpublished. Anthologized in Millennial Traversals, Part I: Traversals within Cinema 154-57. Posted online.

———. “Sighs and Whispers.” Film review of Biyaheng Lupa, dir. Armando Lao. Philippine Star (May 2, 2010): E2. Posted online.

David, Joel, and Ha Ju-Yong. “A Yearning for Tenderness in Korean Cinema.” Global Makeover: Media and Culture in Asia, ed. Danilo Araña Arao (Quezon City and Seoul: Development Center for Asia Africa Pacific and Asian Media and Culture Forum, 2010) 35-54.

David, Joel. “Orientalism and Classical Film Practice.” Global Makeover: Media and Culture in Asia, ed. Danilo Araña Arao (Quezon City and Seoul: Development Center for Asia Africa Pacific and Asian Media and Culture Forum, 2010) 139-54.

———. “Las edades de oro del cine Filipino: Una reevaluación crítica.” Cinema Filipinas: Historia, teoría y crítica fílmica (1999-2009), ed. Juan Guardiola ([Andalucía]: Juna de Andalucía, Consejería de Cultura Fundación El Legado Andalusí, [2010]) 37-48.

———. “The Golden Ages of Philippine Cinema: A Critical Reassessment.” Cinema Filipinas 217-24.


David, Joel. “Translating Time: Cinema, the Fantastic, and Temporal Critique [by] Bliss Cua Lim, Durham: Duke University Press, 2009, 246+xiv pages.” Book review. Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 15.4 (Winter 2009): 124-32.

———. “Retrospective: Serbis Review.” Film review of Serbis, dir. Brillante Ma. Mendoza. Philippine Entertainment Portal (May 31, 2009). Posted online.

———. “A New Role for Korea in Asia.” Korea Times (June 2, 2009): 15. Posted online.

———. “Kim Dae-jung & the Aquinos.” Korea Times (August 24, 2009): 4. Posted online.

———. “Boses Is for the World.” Film review of Boses, dir. Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil. Philippine Daily Inquirer (October 16, 2009): F2. Posted online.

———. “Clueless Global Hybrid, Now Showing.” Film review of I Come with the Rain, dir. Tran Anh Hung. Pinoy Voices column. JungAng Daily (November 9, 2009): 11. Posted online.

———. “Heartbreak in Mindanao.” Pinoy Voices column. JungAng Daily (December 14, 2009): 11. Posted online.

———. [“Film-Writing.”] Excerpt of book review. Si Tatang at mga Himala ng Ating Panahon: Koleksyon ng mga Akda by Ricky Lee. (Quezon City: Writers Studio Foundation, 2009) 11. Originally in National Midweek (February 8, 1989): 27-28.

———. “Context: An Introduction.” Hulmahan/Huwaran Atbp.: The Film Writings of Johven Velasco, ed. Joel David (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2009) ix-xiv.

데이비드, 조엘. “냉전시기필리핀의영화정책.” 냉전 아시아의 문화풍경 2: 1960~1970년대, trans. 김수현 (Seoul: Institute for East Asian Studies, SungKongHoe University, 2009) 277-96.


David, Joel. “Awake in the Dark: Philippine Film During the Marcos Era.” Philippine Studies: Have We Gone Beyond St. Louis? ed. Priscelina Patajo Legasto (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2008) 227-43.

———. “The Cold-War and Marcos-Era Cinema in the Philippines.” Paper read at the 8th ASEAN Inter-University Conference on Social Development (Manila, 2008).

———. “Understanding Film.” Paper read at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication Faculty Colloquium (Quezon City, 2008).

———. “The Philippine Culture Industry (with Emphasis on Cinema).” Paper read at the Institute of Asian Studies Colloquium. SungKongHoe University (Seoul, 2008).


데이비드, 조엘. “필리핀의 냉전 영화정책” and “Cold-War Film Policy in the Philippines.” 동아시아 냉전문화의 역학: 1960~70년대 냉전기 동아시아 지역의 문화변동과 국민국가의 문화정치학 세미나, 성공회대학교 동아시아연구소, translator unknown (Seoul: Institute for East Asian Studies, SungKongHoe University, 2007) 74-86 and 186-99 resp. Paper read at the Dynamics of Cold War Culture in East Asia: Cultural Changes in the Region during the Cold War in the 1960s-70s and Cultural Politics of the Nation-State conference sponsored by the Institute for East Asian Studies, Sungkonghoe University (Seoul, 2007).


David, Joel. “Queer Shuttling: Korea – Manila – New York.” Queer Film and Video Festival Forum, Take Two: Critics Speak Out section. Ed. Chris Straayer and Thomas Waugh. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 12.4 (2006): 614-17.

———. “Indochine and the Dynamics of Gender.” Proceedings of the Whither the Orient: Asians in Asian and Non-Asian Cinema Conference, Kimdaejung Convention Center, Gwangju, Korea, 28-29 October 2006, ed. Joel David (Seoul: Asia Culture Forum, 2006) 248-72.

———. “Indochine and the Politics of Gender.” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 12.4 (Winter 2006): 61-93.

———. “Condemned Property: Film Piracy in the Philippines.” Paper read at The Film Scene: Cinema, the Arts, and Social Change conference sponsored by the Film Culture Project of the Department of Comparative Literature, Department of Music, and the Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong, 2006).


David, Joel. “Cutthroat Archipelago: Video Piracy in and around the Philippines.” Culture Industry and Cultural Capital: Transnational Media Consumption and the Korean New Wave in East Asia: Conference Proceedings, ed. Kim Shin-dong. Paper read at the Culture Industry and Cultural Capital: Transnational Media Consumption and the Korean New Wave in East Asia conference sponsored by the Institute for Communication Arts & Technology, Hallym University (Seoul, Korea, 2005).

———. “Introduction.” Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: A Folio by the Feature Writing Class, Fall Semester 2004-2005, School of Communication, Hallym University (Chuncheon: Hallym University, 2005) 3.

———. “Growing Old in New York (or Small World, Big Apple).” Personal essay. The Hallym Post 21 (May 2, 2005): 4.

———. “A Yearning for Tenderness: A Scenario for Korean Cinema.” Paper for “Waves from Korea and Japan in a Cross-Cultural Context” panel at the National, Transnational, and International: Asian Cinema in the Context of Globalization – Centennial Celebration of Chinese Cinema conference sponsored by the Shanghai University School of Film and TV Arts and Technology, Beijing University Department of Arts Studies, and (US) Asian Cinema Studies Society (Shanghai and Beijing, China, 2005).


David, Joel. “Sabel: Heaven in Mind.” Film review of Sabel, dir. Joel C. Lamangan. Philippine Star (July 11, 2004): E6. Posted online. Also posted online at Rpt. as “They Don’t Make Films Like Sabel Anymore,” Philippine Daily Inquirer (July 13, 2004): A23.

———. “They Don’t Make Films Like Sabel Anymore.” Film review of Sabel, dir. Joel C. Lamangan. Philippine Daily Inquirer (July 13, 2004): A23. Also posted online at Originally published as “Sabel: Heaven in Mind,” Philippine Star (July 11, 2004): E6.

———. “Literalized Communities: The Pinoy Milieu Movie’s Aesthetic and Social Dimensions.” Ramon Cojuangco Professorial Chair lecture read at the UP College of Mass Communication Faculty Colloquia (Quezon City, 2004).

———. “Multiple Choices, Multiple Voices: Critical Possibilities of the Milieu Movie.” Paper read at the 40th Communication Colloquium, Institute for Communication Arts & Technology, Hallym University (Chuncheon, Korea, 2004).


David, Joel. “A Certain Tendency: Europeanization as a Response to Americanization and Other Issues in the ‘Golden-Age’ Studio System.” Paper read at the Sangandaan: Arts and Media in Philippine-American Relations, 1899-2002 conference sponsored by the University of the Philippines and the Filipino American National Historical Society (Quezon City, 2003).

———. “Chosen Few: Minimal Multi-Character Patterns in Recent Filipino Films.” Paper read at the Freeze-Frame: New Issues in Philippine Cinema conference sponsored by the University of the Philippines Visayas Cebu College (Cebu City, 2003).


David, Jose Hernani Segovia. Primates in Paradise: The Multiple-Character Format in Philippine Film Practice (New York University, 2002 and Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 2002). UMI 3048810.

David, Joel. “Ten Best Films of All Time” contribution. Sight & Sound, British Film Institute magazine (September 2002): 29. Posted online.


David, Joel. Reviews and essays. The Urian Anthology 1980-1989, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Quezon City: Tuviera, 2001). Originally published in various print outlets.


David, Joel. “Philippine Film History as a Site of Postcolonial Discourse.” Geopolitics of the Visible: Essays on Philippine Film Cultures, ed. Rolando B. Tolentino (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2000) 3-12.


David, Joel. Wages of Cinema: Film in Philippine Perspective. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1998.

———. “A Question of Appositeness: Structuralism to Poststructuralism.” Wages of Cinema: Film in Philippine Perspective (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1998) 3-13.

———. “The Multiple-Character Film Format.” Wages of Cinema 14-25.

———. “Genre Pastiche in the Horror Film.” Wages of Cinema 26-37.

———. “Auteur Criticism: A Non-Recuperative Reappraisal.” Wages of Cinema 38-47. Originally read at the New York University Annual Student Conference (New York, 1994).

———. “A Cultural Policy Experience in Philippine Cinema.” Wages of Cinema 48-61. Originally read at the Socio-Politics of the Cinema of the Philippines panel at the Asian Cinema (Poetics & Politics) Annual Ohio University Film Conference (Athens, 1994).

———. “Viable Lessons From Another Third-World Model.” Wages of Cinema 65-79.

———. “Race as Discourse in Southeast Asia Film Ethnographies.” Wages of Cinema 80-91.

———. “Ideas in Philippine Film: A Critical Survey.” Wages of Cinema. 92-101. Originally read in altered form at the Pelikulang Pilipino: A Review of Contemporary Philippine Cinema forum at Columbia University, sponsored by Liga Filipina and Arkipelago (New York, 1994).

———. “Practice Makes Perfect: Alternative Philippine Cinema.” Wages of Cinema. 102-12. Originally read at the (In)Dependent Film Practice in a Third-World Setting panel of the Society for Cinema Studies Annual Conference (Syracuse, 1994).

———. “A History of the History of a History-To-Be.” Wages of Cinema. 113-28. Originally read at the PeregriNations: The Philippines as a Nation in Cinema panel of the Society for Cinema Studies Annual Conference (New York, 1995).

———. “Gender as Masquerade in the Vietnam-War Film.” Wages of Cinema 131-45. Originally read at the New York University Annual Student Conference (New York, 1995).

———. “Film in the Light of the ‘History’ of Sexuality.” Wages of Cinema 146-56.

———. “Pornography and Erotica: Boundaries in Dissolution.” Wages of Cinema 157-68.

———. “Womanliness as (Masculine) Masquerade in Psychoanalytic Film-Texts.” Wages of Cinema 169-79.

———. “Postcolonial Conundrum: Third-World Film in Perverse Perspective.” Wages of Cinema. 180-200. Originally read at the New York University Annual Student Conference (New York, 1996).


David, Joel. Fields of Vision: Critical Applications in Recent Philippine Cinema. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1995.

———. “The ‘New’ Cinema in Retrospect.” Fields of Vision 1-36. Anthologized in The Urian Anthology 1990-1999, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Manila: University of the Philippines Press, 2010) 58-83.


David, Joel. Various entries for Philippine Film, vol. 8 of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994): “Aksyon” (with Lynn Pareja) 82-83; “Animation” (with Lynn Pareja) 83-84; “Horror” (with Lynn Pareja) 90; “Komedi” (with Lynn Pareja) 90-91; “Musical” (with Lynn Pareja & Nicanor G. Tiongson) 92-93; “Acting” (with Justino Dormiendo) 96-97; “Cinematography” (with Nick Cruz) 105-07; “Distribution” (with Rosalie Matilac) 112-14; “Production” (with Nick Cruz & Rosalie Matilac) 124-28; “Sound Recording” (with Nick Cruz) 134-36; and “Studies and Training” (with Lynn Pareja) 136-37.

David, Joel. Various entries for Philippine Literature, vol. 9 of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994): “Movie Times” 473; “Notes on Philippine Cinema” 475; “Readings in Philippine Cinema” 484-85; and “The Urian Anthology 1970-1979” 495.


David, Jose Hernani S. “Fictions in Flux: Documentary Dimensions of Philippine Cinema.” Paper read at the Documenting Fictions: Documentary Dimensions of the Fiction Film conference sponsored by the Centre Universitaire de Luxembourg American Studies Center, Clark European Center in Luxembourg, Fondation Promomedia, Bibliotheque Nationale, Cinematheque Municipale, and the American Embassy. Luxembourg City, 1993.

———. “Queer Representation in Philippine Cinema.” Paper read at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center sponsored by the Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York. New York, 1993.


David, Joel. “Adaptation Comes of Age.” Opera review of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohéme, dir. Rolando Tinio. Manila Standard (submitted 1992). Anthologized in Millennial Traversals, Part II: Expanded Perspectives 1-3. Posted online.

———. “Some Words on Film Awards.” Mediawatch. [N.d. 1992?]: [Pp. undetermined, 3 pp. + 2-p. sidebar titled “List of Film Awards for 1991 Productions].

———. “Black and Blue and Red.” Film review of Bayani, dir. Raymond Red. Manila Standard (July 1, 1992): 19.


David, Joel. “Sequacious and Second-Rate.” Comparative film review of Pido Dida 2 (Kasal Na), dir. Tony Cruz, and Anak ni Baby Ama, dir. Deo J. Fajardo Jr. National Midweek (submitted 1991): unpublished. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 71-74.

———. “Persistence of Vision.” Film review of Bakit Kay Tagal ng Sandali, dir. Chito Roño. National Midweek (submitted 1991): unpublished. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 47-51.

———. “No End in Sight.” Film review of Kung Tapos Na ang Kailanman, dir. Lino Brocka. National Midweek (submitted 1991): unpublished. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 62-65.

———. “Maryo J. and Mr. de los Reyes.” Comparative film review of My Other Woman and Underage Too, both dir. Maryo J. de los Reyes. National Midweek (submitted 1991): unpublished. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 44-47.

———. “Indigenous Ingenuity.” Film review of Andrea, Paano Ba ang Maging Isang Ina?, dir. Gil Portes. National Midweek (submitted 1991): unpublished. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 56-62.

———. “Directors-Editors.” Comparative film review of Kaaway ng Batas, dir. Pepe Marcos, and Angel Molave, dir. Augusto Salvador. National Midweek (submitted 1991): unpublished. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 41-44.

———. “Horse Yearender.” 1990 in review. National Midweek (February 27, 1991): 30.

———. “Class Clamorers.” Comparative film review of Too Young and Shake, Rattle & Roll II, dir. Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes, and Biktima and Ama … Bakit Mo Ako Pinabayaan?, dir. Lino Brocka. National Midweek (February 13, 1991): 28-29. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 92-97.

———. “Great Philippine All-Time One-Shot Awards Ceremony.” National Midweek (February 20, 1991): 28-29. Anthologized as “All-Time One-Shot Awards Ceremony” in Fields of Vision 137-42.

———. “Three Careers.” Comparative film review of Umiyak Pati Langit, dir. Eduardo Palmos, Bago Matapos ang Lahat, dir. Joselito “Abbo” de la Cruz, and Ganito Ba ang Umibig?, dir. Laurice Guillen. National Midweek (March 27, 1991): 28-29. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 37-41.


David, Joel. The National Pastime: Contemporary Philippine Cinema. Pasig City: Anvil, 1990.

———. “A Second Golden Age: An Informal History.” The National Pastime 1-17. Originally published in Kultura.

———. Reviews and essays. The National Pastime. Originally published in various print outlets.

——— [uncredited]. “After the Revolution.” Film review of Orapronobis, dir. Lino Brocka. National Midweek (January 10, 1990): 28-29. Error in missing credit acknowledged in “Self-Criticism Department” (January 17, 1990): 43. Anthologized in The National Pastime 185-89.

———. “From ‘Sister Stella L.’ to ‘Starzan.’” 1980s Philippine cinema in review. National Midweek (January 24, 1990): 14-16.

———. “Slugged Out.” Comparative film review of Imortal, dir. Eddie Garcia, and Ang Bukas Ay Akin: Langit ang Uusig, dir. Laurice Guillen. National Midweek (January 31, 1990): 30-31. Anthologized in The National Pastime 147-50.

———. “Carnival Cinema.” Exhibition review of Cinevision 2000’s “Adventures of America.” National Midweek (February 7, 1990): 28-29. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 102-05.

———. “…And the First Shall Be the Last.” Film review of The Last Temptation of Christ, dir. Martin Scorsese. National Midweek (March 14, 1990): 31.

———. “’80s Foreign Fare.” 1980s foreign cinema in review. National Midweek (March 28, 1990): 28-29.

———. “No End in Sight.” Film review of Kung Tapos Na ang Kailanman, dir. Lino Brocka. National Midweek (March 28, 1990): 29-30. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 62-65.

———. “Bienvenido Lumbera.” Interview (cover title “Critic in Academe). National Midweek (April 4, 1990): 20-22, 46.

———. “Levels of Independence.” Attempted definition of indie cinema. National Midweek (April 25, 1990): 29-30.

———. “Soldier Blues.” Film review of Casualties of War, dir. Brian De Palma. National Midweek (May 9, 1990): 29.

———. “Ma(so?)chismo.” Comparative film review of Barumbado, dir. Willy Milan, and Kasalanan ang Buhayin Ka, dir. Francisco “Jun” Posadas. National Midweek (May 23, 1990): 30. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 82-84.

———. “Firmament Occupation.” Discussion of star system. National Midweek (May 30, 1990): 29-30. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 114-16.

———. “I.O.U.” Film review of Kahit Singko Hindi Ko Babayaran ang Buhay Mo, dir. Jesus Jose. National Midweek (June 6, 1990): 31. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 85-87.

———. “Men & Myths.” Film review of Bala at Rosaryo, dir. Pepe Marcos. National Midweek (June 6, 1990): 31. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 80-82.

———. “Head Held High.” Film review of Gumapang Ka sa Lusak, dir. Lino Brocka. National Midweek (June 20, 1990): 28-29. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 65-68; and in The Urian Anthology 1990-1999, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2010) 148-51.

———. “Record-Breaking Blues.” Originally titled “Blues Hit Parade.” Discussion of blockbusters. National Midweek (June 27, 1990): 28. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 116-18.

———. “Film on Film.” Film review of Big Flick in the Sky, dir. Kenneth M. Angliongto. National Midweek (June 27, 1990): 29.

David, Joel, with Melanie Joy C. Garduño. “The 10 Best Filipino Films.” Cover story, titled “The 10 Best Filipino Films Ever Made.” National Midweek (July 4, 1990): 3-9. Anthologized as “Ten Best Filipino Films Up to 1990” in Fields of Vision 125-36.

David, Joel. “Gloria in Excessus.” Film review of Glory, dir. Edward Zwick. National Midweek (July 4, 1990): 30.

———. “Frontline.” Film review of Born on the Fourth of July, dir. Oliver Stone. National Midweek (August 22, 1990): 30.

———. “Cool Film.” Film review of Hot Summer, dir. Mel Chionglo. National Midweek (September 5, 1990): 29. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 51-53.

———. “Mudslung.” Comparative film review of Ibabaon Kita sa Lupa, dir. Toto Natividad, and Ayaw Matulog ng Gabi, dir. Carlo J. Caparas. National Midweek (September 19, 1990): 31. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 87-89.

———. “Demachofication.” Film review of Kristobal, dir. Francis “Jun” Posadas. National Midweek (September 26, 1990): 30. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 77-80.

———. “Worth the While.” Listing of “memorable” ’80s film scenes. National Midweek (September 26, 1990): 30-32. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 119-24.

———. “World’s Longest Footnote.” “From the author’s forthcoming Anvil Publishing volume, Contemporary Philippine Cinema: Reviews and Criticism [sic – title should read The National Pastime: Contemporary Philippine Cinema].” National Midweek (October 3, 1990): 30. Anthologized as “World’s Longest Prequel” in The National Pastime 198-99.

———. “Film Critics Speak.” “Prepared by Mike Feria, Patrick Flores, and the author as State of Criticism statement of the Young Critics Circle.” National Midweek (October 3, 1990): 32. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 80-82. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 107-09.

———. “Woman-Worthy.” Comparative film review of Kasalanan Ba’ng Sambahin Ka?, dir. Chito Roño, and Hahamakin Lahat, dir. Lino Brocka. National Midweek (October 17, 1990): 28-30. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 74-77.

———. “Classroom as Theater.” Discussion of film education policy. National Midweek (October 17, 1990): 31-32. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 105-07.

———. “Nothing Much about Ado.” Film review of Pido Dida (Sabay Tayo), dir. Tony Cruz. National Midweek (October 24, 1990): 28. Anthologized in The Urian Anthology 1990-1999, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2010) 136-37; and as “Family Affairs” in Fields of Vision 69-71.

———. “Updates.” Short discussions of the horror, sex, and action genres; melodrama; performers; formats; and media. National Midweek (October 24, 1990): 30. Anthologized in The National Pastime 65, 151, 97, 83, 163 resp.

———. “Movable Fists.” Comparative film review of Walang Awa Kung Pumatay, dir. Junn P. Cabreira, Iisa-Isahin Ko Kayo, Francis “Jun” Posadas, and Apoy sa Lupang Hinirang, dir. Mauro Gia Samonte. National Midweek (November 28, 1990): 30. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 89-92.

———. “Sedulously Cebuano.” Film review of Eh … Kasi … Bisaya!, dir. Junn P. Cabreira. National Midweek (November 28, 1990): p. unkn. Anthologized in Fields of Vision 97-99.

———. “Film Reviewing and Criticism I,” “Film Reviewing and Criticism II,” & “Film Reviewing and Criticism III.” National Midweek (December 5, 12, & 26 [resp.], 1990): 29, 30, & 29-30 resp. Anthologized as “Film Reviewing and Criticism” in The National Pastime 42-47.


David, Joel. “To Give Critical Support to Filmmakers.” Kultura. Quarterly journal of the Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas. 2.1 (1989): 52-56. Originally titled “Film Reviewing and Film Criticism” and anthologized as “Film Reviewing and Criticism” in The National Pastime 42-47.

———. “Filmfest Flimflam.” 1988 Metro Manila Film Festival evaluation. National Midweek (January 18, 1989): 8-9. Originally titled “Filmfest Flimflammery”; with cover citation and sidebar “MMFF Winners” 9.

———. “Local Cinema ’88.” 1988 yearend evaluation of Filipino films. National Midweek (January 25, 1989): 28-29.

———. “Film-Writing.” Book review of Ricardo Lee’s Si Tatang at mga Himala ng Ating Panahon. National Midweek (February 8, 1989): 27-28. Anthologized in The National Pastime 161-62. Excerpted in Ricky Lee, Si Tatang at mga Himala ng Ating Panahon: Koleksyon ng mga Akda (Quezon City: Writers Studio Foundation, 2009) 11.

———. “Roño’s Rondos.” Comparative film review of Itanong Mo sa Buwan and Si Baleleng at ang Gintong Sirena, dir. Chito Roño. National Midweek (March 1, 1989): 29-30. Anthologized as “Roño’s Rondo,” excluding Si Baleleng review, in The Urian Anthology 1980-1989 236-37.

———. “High-Flying.” Video review of Imelda: Paruparong Bakal, dir. Chito Roño. National Midweek (March 15, 1989): 32. Anthologized in The National Pastime 81-82.

———. “Macho Dancer: Text vs. Texture.” Cover story, film review of Macho Dancer, dir. Lino Brocka. Kultura 2.2 (1989): 26-33. Originally titled “Text vs. Texture” and anthologized in The National Pastime 179-84.

———. “Empire of the (Risen) Sun.” Cover topic, interpretive report on contemporary Japanese film scene. National Midweek (April 12, 1989): 3-7.

———. “An Awakening.” Film review of Pahiram ng Isang Umaga, dir. Ishmael Bernal. National Midweek (April 12, 1989): 32. Anthologized in The National Pastime 172-74.

———. “Short Subjects.” Comparative film review of Mga Kuwento ng Pag-ibig, dir. Jun Cabreira, Luciano Carlos, and Artemio Marquez, and 3 Mukha ng Pag-ibig, dir. Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Lino Brocka, and Leroy Salvador. National Midweek (May 10, 1989): 28-29. Anthologized in The National Pastime 68-70.

———. “Life after Life.” Comparative film review of Mississippi Burning, dir. Alan Parker, and They Live, dir. John Carpenter. National Midweek (June 21, 1989): 29-30.

David, Jose Hernani S. “Ethics First (Rather than Aesthetics).” The National Pastime 190-97. Originally read at the Aspects of Philippine Film panel of the Third International Philippine Studies Conference. Quezon City, 1989.


———. “A Festival to Forget.” 1987 Metro Manila Film Festival evaluation. Conjuncture [Institute for Popular Democracy publication] 1.4 (January 1988): 8.

———. “Chauvinist’s Nightmare.” Film review of Kumander Gringa, dir. Mike Relon Makiling. National Midweek (January 13, 1988): 33-34. Inside pages erroneously bear “1987” as year. Anthologized in The National Pastime 91-93 and in The Urian Anthology 1980-1989 136-39.

———. “The Curse of Good Intentions.” 1987 Metro Manila Film Festival evaluation. National Midweek (January 20, 1988): 29-31.

———. “Movie(?) of ’87.” Film review of Film Trilogy on the Theme of Poverty and Prostitution, dir. Rosa ng Maynila. National Midweek (January 27, 1988): 29-30. Anthologized as “Movie(?) of the Year” in The National Pastime 75-77 and in The Urian Anthology 1980-1989 260-63.

———. “Bad Takes for the Film Industry,” Conjuncture 1.5-6 (February-March 1988): 8.

———. “’87 in Review: Quo Vadis?” 1987 yearend evaluation of Filipino films. National Midweek (February 3, 1988): 30-31.

———. “Image-Building.” Film review of Huwag Mong Itanong Kung Bakit, dir. Eddie Garcia. National Midweek (February 3, 1988): 31-32.

———. “Down But Not Out.” Comparative film review of Nektar, dir. Francis “Jun” Posadas, and Tubusin Mo ng Dugo, dir. Pepe Marcos. National Midweek (February 17, 1988): 28-29. Anthologized in The National Pastime 56-58.

———. “Reversals.” Film review of Misis Mo, Misis Ko, dir. Carlos Siguion Reyna. National Midweek (March 2, 1988): 35-36. Anthologized in The National Pastime 138-40 and in The Urian Anthology 1980-1989 238-40.

———. “Renewal of Appreciation.” Film review of Manila by Night, dir. Ishmael Bernal. National Midweek (March 16, 1988): 4-5. Anthologized in The National Pastime 169-71.

———. “Moments of Truth.” Comparative film review of Anak ng Cabron, dir. Wilfredo Milan, and Afuang: Bounty Hunter, dir. Mike Relon Makiling. National Midweek (March 23, 1988): 29-30. Anthologized in The National Pastime 59-61.

———. “Form and Function.” Comparative film review of Silent Voice, dir. Mike Newell, and Full Metal Jacket, dir. Stanley Kubrick. National Midweek (April 6, 1988): 30-31.

———. “Komiks Without Pain.” Film review of Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-ibig?, dir. Eddie Garcia. National Midweek (April 13, 1988): 31.

———. “Balancing Acts.” Film review of Hati Tayo sa Magdamag, dir. Lupita A. Kashiwahara. National Midweek (April 27, 1988): 29-30.

———. “Slow Train to Thailand.” Interpretive report on contemporary Thai film scene. National Midweek (July 20, 1988): 20-22.

———. “Studious Studios.” Interpretive report on re-emergence of Filipino studio system. National Midweek (July 20, 1988): 30-31. Anthologized in The National Pastime 126-28.

———. “Progressions, Retrogressions.” Comparative film review of Isusumbong Kita sa Diyos, dir. Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Kapag Napagod ang Puso, dir. Maryo J. de los Reyes, and Nagbabagang Luha, dir. Ishmael Bernal. National Midweek (August 24, 1988): 31-32. Originally titled “Progressions” and anthologized in The National Pastime 141-43.

———. “Bioflicks.” Comparative film review of Operation: Get Victor Corpus, the Rebel Soldier, dir. Pablo Santiago, Balweg: The Rebel Priest, dir. Butch Perez, and Kumander Dante, dir. Ben (M-7) Yalung. National Midweek (October 26, 1988): 29-30. Anthologized in The National Pastime 62-64.

David, Joel. “Perils of Politics.” Film review of A Dangerous Life, dir. Robert Markowitz. National Midweek (submitted November 1988): unpublished. Anthologized in The National Pastime 78-80.

———. “Campout.” Comparative film review of Natutulog Pa ang Diyos, dir. Lino Brocka, Paano Tatakasan ang Bukas, dir. Emmanuel H. Borlaza, and Sa Puso Ko Hahalik ang Mundo, dir. Artemio Marquez. National Midweek (November 9, 1988): 33. Anthologized in The National Pastime 144-46.

———. “Causes for Cerebration.” Comparative film review of Tiyanak, dir. Peque Gallaga and Lorenzo Reyes, and Babaing Hampaslupa, dir. Mel Chionglo. National Midweek (December 21, 1988): 28-29. Anthologized in The National Pastime 53-55.

———. “Perils of Politics.” Unpublished film review of A Dangerous Life, dir. Robert Markowitz. Submitted to National Midweek, 1988. Anthologized in The National Pastime 78-80.


Legaspi, Jojo. “Exploring the World of Dreams.” Film review of Dreamscape, dir. Joseph Ruben. National Midweek (January 7, 1987): 49.

———. “Ten Years of the Metro Filmfest.” National Midweek (January 28, 1987): 39-40.

———. “Niño’s Comeback.” Film review of Kontra Bandido, dir. J. Erastheo Navoa. National Midweek (February 11, 1987): 41. Anthologized in The National Pastime 86-87.

———. “Waiting for a Renaissance.” 1986 yearend evaluation of Filipino films. National Midweek (February 11, 1987): 42-43.

———. “The Return of the Melodrama.” Film review of Kung Aagawin Mo ang Lahat sa Akin, dir. Eddie Garcia. National Midweek (March 18, 1987): 45. Anthologized as “Return of the Melodrama” in The National Pastime 132-33.

David, Joel. “Film Book Publishing.” Philippines Communication Journal 3 (June 1987): 76-79. Rpt. as “Film Books,” National Midweek (December 9, 1987): 34-35.

———. “Searching for Options.” Film review of Kid … Huwag Kang Susuko!, dir. Peque Gallaga. National Midweek (August 19, 1987): 37-38. Anthologized in The National Pastime 110-11.

———. “Mid-Year in Review.” 1987 mid-year evaluation of Filipino films. National Midweek (August 26, 1987): 41-42.

———. “O’Hara Strikes Again.” Film review of Tatlong Ina, Isang Anak, dir. Mario O’Hara. National Midweek (September 2, 1987): 40-41. Anthologized in The National Pastime 103-05.

———. “Film Education Comes of Age.” National Midweek (September 16, 1987): 31-33.

———. “Secret Love.” Film review of Mga Lihim ng Kalapati, dir. Celso Ad. Castillo. National Midweek (September 23, 1987): 34.

———. “Romero’s Flip-Flop.” Film review of Hari sa Hari, Lahi sa Lahi, dir. Eddie Romero for Philippine version and Hsiao Lang and Chou Lili for Chinese version. National Midweek (September 23, 1987): 35. Anthologized in The National Pastime 26-27.

———. “Gay Days.” Film review of Ako si Kiko, Ako si Kikay, dir. Mike Relon Makiling. National Midweek (September 30, 1987): 33-34. Anthologized as “Gross, Gaudy, & Gay” in The National Pastime 88-90.

———. “Classics for College Kids.” National Midweek (October 7, 1987): 32-33.

———. “Mellow Drama.” Film review of Paano Kung Wala Ka Na, dir. Mel Chionglo. National Midweek (October 14, 1987): 36. Anthologized in The National Pastime 134-35.

———. “Grave Burden.” Film review of Pasan Ko ang Daigdig, dir. Lino Brocka. National Midweek (October 21, 1987): 34.

———. “People Power & Cinema.” National Midweek (October 28, 1987): 36. Anthologized as “People-Power Cinema” in The National Pastime 124-26 and as “People Power and Cinema” in The Urian Anthology 1980-1989 56-59.

———. “Regal Fest.” 1987 Regal Films retrospective National Midweek (submitted November 1987): unpublished.

———. “Movie Worker.” Autobiographical account for cover feature on theme “Ordinary People.” National Midweek (November 4, 1987): 15-16.

———. “Bloody Fine.” Film review of The Untouchables, dir. Brian De Palma. National Midweek (November 11, 1987): 36, 44.

———. “Earthbound.” Film review of Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa, dir. Ishmael Bernal. National Midweek (November 18, 1987): 36.

———. “Child’s Play.” Film review of Takot Ako, Eh!, dir. Mario O’Hara. National Midweek (November 25, 1987): 34-35. Anthologized in The National Pastime 94-96.

———. “Preeminence of Film as Artistic Mass Medium.” Philippines Communication Journal 5 (December 1987): 43-48. Originally titled “Reflections on a National Pastime”; includes sidebar “Filmography of Titles Cited” 48.

———. “Home Sweet Home.” Theater review of Elsa Martinez Coscolluela’s Sa Tahanan ng Aking Ama, translated by Raul Regalado. National Midweek (December 2, 1987): 34-35. Anthologized in The National Pastime 158-60.

———. “Reactions to UP Film Major’s Letter.” “Feedback” section, addressed to “My dear Mr. UP Film Major.” National Midweek (December 2, 1987): 42-43.

———. “Film Books.” National Midweek (December 9, 1987): 34-35. Originally published as “Film Book Publishing” in Philippines Communication Journal 3 (June 1987): 76-79.

———. “Failed-Safe.” Film review of Walang Karugtong ang Nakaraan, dir. Leroy Salvador. National Midweek (December 16, 1987): 33. Anthologized in The National Pastime 136-37.

———. “The Devil to Pay.” Film review of The Witches of Eastwick, dir. George Miller. National Midweek (December 23, 1987): 35-36.


David, J. Hernani. “Censorship and Other Compromises.” New Day, weekend supplement of Business Day (September 15, 1986): 13. Anthologized in The National Pastime 40-41.

David, Joel. “Mike de Leon at His Best in Bilanggo sa Dilim.” Film review of Bilanggo sa Dilim, dir. Mike de Leon. New Day (September 22, 1986): 15. Includes sidebar “Mike de Leon Filmography” 15. Anthologized as “Return to Form” (without sidebar) in The National Pastime 35-37 and in The Urian Anthology 1980-1989 256-59.

———. “A Film Writer’s Experience.” Interview with Ricardo Lee. New Day (September 29, 1986): 13.

———. “The Fantasy World of Rey de la Cruz.” Interview. New Day (October 6, 1986): 12, 14.

———. “Underground, in the Heat of the Night.” Interpretive report on Filipino pornographic komiks. New Day (October 13, 1986): 17. Anthologized in The National Pastime 154-57.

———. “Triumph of 16mm. Film.” “Fantalk” column, film review of Damortis, dir. Briccio Santos. New Day (October 20, 1986): 13. Anthologized as “Triumph in 16mm.” in The National Pastime 71-74.

———. “The Business of Pleasure in ’Gapo.” Interpretive report on Olongapo City. New Day (October 27, 1986): 13-14.

———. “Where Have All Horror Films Gone?” Survey of Filipino horror films. New Day (November 3, 1986): 13. Anthologized as “Where Has All the Horror Gone?” in The National Pastime 50-52.

———. “School Lures Film Buffs to Pioneer UP Course.” New Day (November 10, 1986): 13.

———. “Local Cinema in Today’s Mass Media.” Philippines Communication Journal [quarterly publication of the University of the Philippines Institute of Mass Communication] 1 (December 1986): 69-71. Anthologized as “Film Since February 1986” in The National Pastime 120-23.

Legaspi, Jojo. “Epic Grandstanding.” Film review of The Mission, dir. Roland Joffe. National Midweek (December 10, 1986): 40(?).


David, Joel. “Historical Lessons.” Film review of Virgin Forest, dir. Peque Gallaga. Manila Standard (submitted 1985): unpublished. Anthologized in Millennial Traversals, Part I: Traversals within Cinema 60-61. Posted online.

———. “Major Bid.” Film review of Bulaklak sa City Jail, dir. Mario O’Hara. Tinig ng Plaridel (submitted 1985): unpublished. Anthologized in The National Pastime 100-02 and in The Urian Anthology 1980-1989 203-05.

———. “Bulaklak sa City Jail.” Excerpt of unpublished film review of Bulaklak sa City Jail, dir. Mario O’Hara. Ikasiyam na Gawad Urian, MPP souvenir program (March 15, 1985): n.p. Erroneously attributed to “Tinig, a UP publication.”

———. “Search Point.” Personal essay. Ang Aninag (October 1985): 4, 7. Originally titled “Searchpoint.”


David, Joel. “Perseverance in a Neglected Dimension.” Interview with soundperson Ramon Reyes. Diliman Review 32.2 (March-April 1984): 66-72. Includes sidebar “Partial Filmography” 69.

———. “Scenario.” Editor’s introduction. SineManila, maiden issue of Experimental Cinema of the Philippines film journal (July-September 1984): 1.

———, introducer and translator. “The Screenplay of ‘Ang Magpakailanman,’” Raymond “Goto” Red, screenwriter. SineManila (July-September 1984): 14-20. Rpt. without credit in Nick Deocampo, Short Film: Emergence of a New Philippine Cinema (Metro Manila: Communication Foundation for Asia, 1985) 143-48.

———. “Critics’ Quarterly Citations.” Report. SineManila (July-September 1984): 44.

———. “Manila Short Film Competition.” Report. SineManila (July-September 1984): 44.

———. “The Critic as Creator.” Interview with Pio de Castro III. Philippine Collegian (December 4, 1984): 4, 7.

Deloso, Rollie. “Review: Misteryo sa Tuwa.” Film review of Misteryo sa Tuwa, dir. Abbo Q. de la Cruz. Bulletin Today (December 28, 1984): 27.


ALR Contributor. “Trends: A Fillip for Film Books.” Asiaweek [international weekly newsmagazine; in Literary Review section] (February 25, 1983): 46-47.

David, Joel. “In Defense of Oro.” Opening installment of comparative review of Oro, Plata, Mata, dir. Peque Gallaga, and Moral, dir. Marilou Diaz-Abaya, in Eddie Pacheco’s “Simply Divine” column. Sunday Special, supplement of Times Journal (May 1, 1983): 10. Originally titled “Transcendence” and anthologized in The National Pastime 106-09.

———. “Transcendence.” Concluding installment of comparative review of Oro, Plata, Mata, dir. Peque Gallaga, and Moral, dir. Marilou Diaz-Abaya, in Eddie Pacheco’s “Simply Divine” column. Sunday Special (May 8, 1983): 10. Anthologized in The National Pastime 106-09.

———. “Filipino Films Well-Received in Moscow.” Interview with Ishmael Bernal re Himala. Times Journal (July 10, 1983): 20, 19.

———. “Maestro Bandido: Refreshing Change, Precious Insights.” Film review of Maestro Bandido, dir. Reginald King. Times Mirror, afternoon newspaper of Times Journal (Aug. 15, 1983): 8.

———. “Repression and Rebellion.” Film review of Pedro Tunasan, dir. Celso Ad. Castillo. Jario Scenario, official monthly newsletter of the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines (September 1983): 4.

———. “An Everyday Tragedy.” Feature. Jario Scenario (September 1983): 3, 6.

———. “Dope Godfather: Petty, Deficient.” Film review of Dope Godfather, dir. Junn P. Cabreira. Times Mirror (September 13, 1983): 8.

———. “ECP: Indispensable to Movie Industry.” “Special Report on Film Industry” in Supplement section. Manila Evening Post, afternoon daily newspaper (September 28, 1983): 5.

———. “Pagputi: Birds of Omen.” “The New Cinema” section, film review of Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak dir. Celso Ad. Castillo. The Urian Anthology 1970-1979, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Manila: Morato, 1983) 268-71. Originally published in Philippine Collegian (July 26, 1978): 3, 6.


David, Joel. “Ragtime (USA), dir. Milos Forman.” Film review. The Review (February 1982): 13.

———. “Man of Iron (Poland), dir. Andrzej Wajda.” Film review. The Review (February 1982): 14-15.

———. “Insurgency in These Islands.” Feature article. The Review (March 1982): 28-31. Includes as sidebar “The 10-Point Program of the National Democratic Front,” rpt. from Southeast Asia Chronicle (May-June 1978).

———. “Holy Pain.” “Literary Folio” short story. Observer. [Sunday supplement of Times Journal, vice Parade] (May 16, 1982): 24-26. Anthologized in The Literary Apprentice 1981-1982 (Quezon City: UP Writers Club, 1982) 142-51.

———. “Waiting for Godard.” Film review of Batch ’81, dir. Mike de Leon. Who (June 16, 1982): 19-20. Anthologized in The National Pastime 32-34.

———. “Naked Debut.” Film review of Hubad na Gubat, dir. Lito Tiongson. The Review (August 1982): 43.

———. “Cinemasex.” Survey of Filipino sex films. Who (August 25, 1982): 20-22.

———. “Philippine Fisheries: A Fish-Eye View.” Feature article. The Review (September 1982): 23-25.

———. “Holy Pain.” Short story. The Literary Apprentice 1981-1982. University of the Philippines Writers Club anthology. Quezon City: UPWC, 1982. 142-51. Originally published in Observer (May 16, 1982): 24-26.

———. “Revolutionary from the Center.” The Review Corner interview with Nilo S. Tayag re the Daop Palad program. The Review (September 1982): 48.

———. “Big Hopes for Short Films.” The First Experimental Cinema of the Philippines’ Annual Short Film Festival [souvenir program] (November 16-21, 1982): 28-31. Rpt. Who (Nov. 24, 1982): 19-20.


David, Joel. “Local Cinema ’80: New Directions for a New Decade.” Yearend evaluation of Filipino films. The Review (January 1981): 13-17.

———. “Nine Days that Shook the Campus.” Feature article. The Review (February 1981): 6-11. Originally published in Philippine Collegian (February 2, 1979): 7; includes sidebar “A Loss Remembered,” feature on Pastor Mesina, Jr. as recounted by his parents.

———. “A Festival to Forget.” Interpretive report on Manila ’81 Event. The Review (February 1981): 51.

———. “Manila by Night Under the Knife: Those Scissors-Happy Censors Don’t Know What They’ve Missed.” Who (February 21, 1981): 28-29. Original of “Bernal’s Manila by Night Mangled,” Times Journal (December 18, 1980): 25-26.

———, transcriber and introducer. “A Review Exclusive: Manila by Night.” Original screenplay by Ishmael Bernal. The Review (March 1981): 23-41.

———. “Brocka’s Satire is Effective.” Film review of Kontrobersyal, dir. Lino Brocka. Times Journal (April 3, 1981): 21-22.

David, Joel, and Geselle Militante. “Student Activism through the Years.” Feature article. The Review (June 1981): 24-29. Includes as sidebar Roberto Z. Coloma, “The Continuing Myth.”

David, Joel. “The Value of Humility.” “Book shorts” review of Philippine Prehistory: An Anthropological Overview of the Beginnings of Filipino Society and Culture by F. Landa Jocano. The Review (June 1981): 61.

———. “Oversimplifying Class Conflicts.” “The Arts” film review of Burgis, dir. Lino Brocka. Who (August 1, 1981): 16.

———. “Our Critical Condition.” Fictional forum on Filipino film criticism. The Review (September 1981): 41-44. Derived from “How to Become a Film Critic,” Who (November 28, 1981): 27-29.

———. “Pinoy in Gangsterland.” Survey of Filipino gangster films. The Review (October 1981): 10-12.

———. “Hateful Love.” Film review of Endless Love, dir. Franco Zeffirelli. The Review (October 1981): 55-56. Originally titled “Brainless Love.”

———. “Sense (or Its Absence) in Censorship.” The Review (November-December 1981): 11-13.

———. “Exceptions.” Comparative film review of Kamakalawa, dir. Eddie Romero, and Kisapmata, dir. Mike de Leon. The Review (November-December 1981): 44-45. Anthologized in The National Pastime 28-31.

———. “How to Become a Film Critic.” “The Arts” feature. Who (November 28, 1981): 27-29. Original of “Our Critical Condition,” The Review (September 1981): 41-44.


David, Jose Hernani S. “Malou Mangahas: Child of the Seventies.” “Campus” feature. Who [Who? renamed] (January 5, 1980): 32-33, 35.

———. “Rumpus at the International School.” “Campus” feature. Who (January 19, 1980): 1, 7. Original published as “At the International School: A Striking Story,” Philippine Collegian (January 23, 1980): 1, 7.

David, Joel. “A Festival to Forget.” “The Arts” feature, omnibus film review of 1979 Metro Manila Film Festival entries. Who (January 19, 1980): 40, 42.

David, Jose Hernani S. “At the International School: A Striking Story.” Interpretive report. Philippine Collegian (January 23, 1980): 1, 7.

———. “The World According to Aguila.” “Entertainment” feature, film review of Aguila, dir. Eddie Romero. Who (February 2, 1980): 44, 46. Anthologized in The National Pastime: Contemporary Philippine Cinema (Pasig City: Anvil, 1990) 20-23 and in The Urian Anthology 1980-1989, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Quezon City: Tuviera, 2001) 142-45.

———. “A Clockwork Yellow.” “The Arts” feature, film review of The China Syndrome, dir. James Bridges. Who (February 22, 1980): 24-25, 42.

———. “The Night the Critics Gave Out Their Awards.” Interpretive report. Philippines Daily Express (March 4, 1980): 20-21.

———. “Why Aguila Was a Success at the Box-Office.” Interpretive report. Philippines Daily Express (March 6, 1980): 20-21.

———. “The World is a Newspaper.” Column. Tinig ng Plaridel [University of the Philippines Institute of Mass Communication official newspaper] (March 19, 1980): 8. Rpt. in Who (June 7, 1980): 42.

———. “Lighting Up the Countryside: Lesson in Rural Electrification.” Book review of Lighting Up the Countryside: The Story of Electric Cooperatives in the Philippines by Frank H. Denton. Daluyan [Development Academy of the Philippines bimonthly magazine] 80.1 (May-June 1980): 34- 39.

David, Joel. “Cartooning in the Philippines: A Win, Lose, and Draw Proposition.” “The Arts” feature, critical interviews of Willy Aquino, Pol Galvez, and Boy Togonon. Who (May 17, 1980): 27-29.

———. “Star-Building Pays.” Critical interviews of Dr. Rey de la Cruz, Jesse Ejercito, and Douglas Quijano. Times Journal (May 26, 1980): 21, 23.

David, Jose Hernani S. “The World is a Newspaper.” “Essay” feature. Who (June 7, 1980): 42. Originally published in Tinig ng Plaridel (March 19, 1980): 8.

———. “Second Thoughts on Kramer vs. Kramer.” Film review of Kramer vs. Kramer, dir. Robert Benton. Parade [Sunday supplement of Times Journal] (June 8, 1980): 5. Originally titled “Kramer vs. Women.”

———. “Star-Crossed.” Film review of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, dir. Robert Wise. Parade (June 15, 1980): 20.

———. “Palaban Puts Up a Decent Fight.” Film review of Palaban, dir. Eddie Romero. Times Journal (June 28, 1980): 23. Anthologized as “A Decent Fight” in The National Pastime 24-25.

———. “Rural Immersion for Career Executives.” Book review of The Indang Experience by Ledivina V. Cavino and Emma B. Vineza. Daluyan (July-August 1980): 46-48.

David, Joel. “In Bongga: Commercialism Triumphs Again.” Film review of Bongga Ka ’Day, dir. Maryo J. de los Reyes. Times Journal (August 1, 1980): 23.

David, Jose Hernani S. “Rural Organizations: In Search of Foolproof Answers.” Book review of Rural Organizations in the Philippines, ed. Marie S. Fernandez. Daluyan (November-December 1980): 36, 39.

David, Joel. “Just Another Brocka Film.” Film review of Angela Markado, dir. Lino Brocka. Times Journal (November 21, 1980): 28. Anthologized as “Just Another Exercise” in The National Pastime 175-78.

———. “Bernal’s Manila by Night Mangled.” Comparative report on Manila by Night (preview version) and City after Dark (censored version), dir. Ishmael Bernal. Times Journal (December 18, 1980): 25-26. Original published as “Manila by Night under the Knife: Those Scissors-Happy Censors Don’t Know What They’ve Missed,” Who (February 21, 1981): 28-29.


David, J. Hernani S. “When Enough is Enough.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (January 25, 1979): 8.

———. “The Provisional Directorate of the Diliman Commune, Feb. 1-9, 1971: 9 Days that Shook the Campus.” Feature article. Philippine Collegian (February 2, 1979): 7. Revised and published in The Review (February 1981): 6-11.

———. “NPC Under Water.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (February 2, 1979): 12.

———. “Oil Mighty.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (February 22, 1979): 8.

———. “Winning Editorials: Student Participation in University Affairs.” Philippine Collegian (March 2, 1979): 7.

———. “Oil Mighty II.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (April 20, 1979): 4.

David, Jose Hernani Segovia. “The Events in the Diliman Campus on February 1-9, 1971: A Historical Study.” Undergraduate thesis for B.A. Journalism. Bridget Zubiri, adviser. University of the Philippines, April 1979.

David, Joel. “Focus on the BPI Economic Garden.” Feature article. Greenfields 9.11 (November 1979): 40-45; with sidebar “The Plant Propagators,” 44-45.

David, Jose Hernani S., and Miguel Y. Puzon. “Introducing Fiberglass Fishing Boats in the Philippines.” “Research Features” section. Fisheries Today [Fishery Industry Development Council quarterly magazine] (November 4, 1979): 49-50.

David, Jose Hernani S. “Valiant Try.” Film review of Aliw, dir. Ishmael Bernal. Who (submitted November 1979). Anthologized in The National Pastime: Contemporary Philippine Cinema (Pasig City: Anvil, 1990).


David, Joel. “A New Twist to an Old Game.” “Common People” section. Who? [weekly magazine] (May 20, 1978): 6-7.

David, J. Hernani S. “The Student Regent: Work to Do.” “Winning Editorials (Topic: ‘Student Regent, Tuition Fee Hike and Minimum Wage’)” feature. Philippine Collegian [University of the Philippines official weekly student newspaper] (June 16, 1978): 3.

———. “Changes We’d Like to See.” “Innovations” column, “based on the editor’s entry to the layout phase of this year’s editorial exams.” Philippine Collegian (June 16, 1978): 8, 6.

———. “Today’s Press Systems: Four Tunes Western Theorists Sing.” Book review of Four Theories of the Press by Fred S. Siebert, Theodore Peterson, and Wilbur Schramm. Philippine Collegian (June 23, 1978): 3, 6.

———. “Pressed Freedom.” Editorial. Philippine Collegian (June 23, 1978): 8.

———. “Question Time.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (July 12, 1978): 8.

———. “The Fire Cure.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (July 20, 1978): 8.

———. “Birds of Omen.” Film review of Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak dir. Celso Ad. Castillo. Philippine Collegian (July 26, 1978): 3, 6. Anthologized in The Urian Anthology 1970-1979, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Manila: Morato, 1983) 268-71.

———. “A Semestral Carol.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (August 9, 1978): 8.

———. “Low Flight.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (September 8, 1978): 8.

———. “Youths Stage September 21 Rally.” Interpretive report. Campus Journal [University of the Philippines Institute of Mass Communication semestral laboratory newspaper] (October 2, 1978): 1, 6.

———. “A Clockwork Crimson.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (October 4, 1978): 12, 10.

———. “Behind Bicutan.” “Tugon” column. Philippine Collegian (November 16, 1978): 8.


David, Jose Hernani S. “Trivia.” “Deliberations” column. Ang Aninag (January-February 1975): 3.


David, Jose Hernani S. “Facing the Drug Abuse Problem.” “Piece of Mind” column. Ang Aninag (July-September 1974): 12.

———. “Of Population Boom and Errata.” “Deliberations” column. Ang Aninag (October-December 1974): 3.

———. “Eva Fernandez.” “Camera On” feature. Ang Aninag (October-December 1974): 5.

———. “Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell.” Book review. Ang Aninag. (October-December 1974): 6.

———. “Lidy Nacpil.” “Camera On” feature. Ang Aninag (Christmas 1974): 3.

———. “But for the Lovers by Wilfrido Nolledo” and “Magister Ludi (The Glass Bead Game) by Hermann Hesse, translated by Richard and Clara Winston.” Book reviews. Ang Aninag (October-December 1974): 4.

Bibliographic Mini-Essay 3: The Rise in Spin-offs

One game I’ve been playing in uploading and updating the Pinas film bibliography is predicting what category would be first to require splitting up because of a too-large number of entries. A few categories had to be handled this way right after I first posted the categorized file – which only meant that I observed how the majority of categories tended toward the same range. So after a period where some categories needed to be expanded – Novelizations added to Screenplays, Teleplays, and (filmmaking) Accounts; Special Journal Issues added to Studies & Festschrifts – the next stage was a reclassification of the largest groups in order to align them within the same range as the others.

11011Initially it seemed to me that the Reviews and Criticism category might be the first to require this treatment. As it turned out, the first three that needed to be adjusted, over a year since the bibliography went online, were: Histories – a good sign, since that meant that people were paying more attention to film development, with enough material to constitute its own pre-Marcos category); Auteurist Materials and Memoirs – essentially an overlapping differentiation, since the objects of the biographical issues would be auteurs in either instance, but I enforced a distinction wherein Memoirs would be personalized accounts of a subject’s private and professional experiences, while Auteurist Materials would be screen cultural studies that proceeded (partly or entirely) from an auteur’s psychobiography; and Screenplays, Teleplays, Novelizations, Accounts (the first to be expanded) – an extensive-seeming group that actually neatly subdivided itself in the middle.

11011My critical-academic biases, the same ones that led me to expect that Reviews and Criticism would be the fastest-growing category, caused me to pay the least attention to the last category I mentioned until the number of entries called for adjustment. One film-derived adaptation comprised short stories while another was a musical (of which several more can be published even at this point), so I changed the subcategory’s title, from Novelizations to Literary Adaptations. And had to confront the proverbial can of (book)worms: a great number of local films, especially during the early years, may not have been spun off into literary texts but were definitely adapted from pre-existing material. We may think that the end of our equivalent of the Classical Hollywood period, the First Golden Age, finally liberated us from relying on “worthy” samples like metric romances and historical novels, but look more closely. Some of the best output of that period actually originated from a still grossly underappreciated source: serialized graphic novels called komiks, to differentiate them from the US innovation that inspired and inspirited them.

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11011Komiks at one point became the primary print form for Philippine readers, so it naturally made sense for producers to schedule projects at around the time when a serialization was expected to conclude. This symbiosis between film and print proved fail-safe, so in fact we might make two corollary claims: that Filipinos were the most avid consumers per-capita of visual media (of which film was merely one among several possible instances), and that the closest to a unifying national language we ever had was, propitiously yet problematically, audiovisual.

11011If this sounds like an apology for an extensive gap in bibliographical material – Where are the literary sources of our film products? – I don’t see how it can be anything else but.[1] It’s a doable challenge for ambitious cultural historians, but it lies beyond the scope of other tasks I’ve designated for myself. For one thing, someone already counting down to retirement (as I am) will have to reset her timetable to accommodate the equivalent of a doctoral dissertation, just to accomplish the empirical groundwork. Let this goblet pass from me and I promise to fill it later with some delightfully filthy potables. Patience is our key.

11011As for the recent adaptational flurry of publishing activity on the part of pop-oriented publishers and alert production houses, education officials should be able to recognize how a decline in komiks patronage may have been replaced by our audience members’ willingness to read texts that recapture or enhance their movie-watching experience. It may have been a few years’ trend that does appear to be waning, another opportunity to upgrade young people’s literacy wasted by local educators’ inability to cope with the fairly dated challenge of teaching audiovisual appreciation.


[1] The emergence of new media has occasioned several novel instances of narrative renewal and adaptation. Those written about in books include films derived from Wattpad stories, Facebook exchanges, viral videos (converging on the TikTok app during the Covid-19 pandemic), and online games. Mobile-phone content – in terms of oral conversations as well as SMS chats – have also become standard fiction-film features.

11011One might also have to face the possibility that the challenge of tracking every possible prior influence in Philippine cinema might amount to a snipe hunt, inasmuch as the country’s Westernization provided a wide range of influences from two continents through premodern to postmodern periods. Moreover, the still-unresolved obsession with “originality” that (at least during the early years of organized criticism) constantly intruded on useful film evaluation, along with the ever-present concern for moral values, promise to constitute stumbling blocks even for progressive thinkers. Finally, Pinas is nothing if not a globalized entity, from its inception to the foreseeable future; as a specific prominent sample, consider John du Pont’s Philippine Birds, a 1971 monograph published by the Delaware Museum of Natural History, determinedly innocuous if not for the subsequent sensation of its Forbes 400 author’s “guilty but mentally ill” conviction for the fatal shooting in 1996 of Dave Schultz, an Olympic freestyle wrestler. Du Pont died in prison, with the tragedy subsequently dramatized in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher (2014), a prestige project named after the family estate where he sponsored and trained a number of athletes.

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Experimental Cinema of the Philippines: A Hasty Recollection

The Experimental Cinema of the Philippines only appears as a category in my list of pre-internet non-journal non-newspaper periodicals, which provides an incomplete picture of the agency’s persistence in my output. For this reason I thought of providing this landing page, essentially a provisional and still gap-filled collection. I happened to have just a few materials from the agency and only one from the Manila International Film Festival, which was officially one of the ECP’s departments but repudiated by the director-general (originally slated to be Imelda Marcos but preempted by her daughter Ma. Imelda a.k.a. Imee). These were the publications I brought along with me to my graduate studies abroad, to serve as basic research material; as it turned out, everything else I left back home – periodicals, videos, and memorabilia – was either pilfered or damaged by typhoons and/or termites.

11011The discovery of a building proposal, submitted in 1981 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, classified as restricted and titled “The Manila Film Centre,” was something I found online, presumably after having been cleared for whatever was confidential about it. The historical structure appears to have followed the proposal, implying that the former First Lady was closely involved in its design from the start.

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The Film Palace: A Divergence

Regarding the collapse of the Manila Film Center scaffolding during its construction in November 1981, attributed to careless building procedures, I have consistently presented the following qualifications:

  • the architect in charge, Froilan Hong, had extensive global academic preparation and experience in modernist construction (he was Dean of the national university’s College of Architecture around that period), so he understandably contested the number of victims – of which, typically, an exact number will never be determined;[1]
  • also, anyone then who still remembered the temblor-triggered collapse of the Ruby Tower residential building about a decade earlier (an event that vicariously traumatized Filipino architects everywhere, including my father) would not be tempted to cut corners in a far more complicated undertaking.

Since the martial-law regime imposed a news blackout for over a day, I have found it impossible to confirm any preliminary report of the incident even in foreign-press accounts. For this reason, two dates are also mentioned in various accounts (either the 17th or the 18th), possibly arising from the confusion caused by the delay in the release of information.

11011The national dailies that carefully printed similar-sounding news acknowledged that some workers died but that construction activities had resumed. As anyone with sufficient experience with media psychology could have foretold, several speculations – ranging from natural to metaphysical – emerged to clarify, embellish, or challenge the official version of events.

11011For my part, I can only add what first-hand experience could affirm: on the (still-to-be-determined) date of the incident, I was in the vicinity of the construction, along with the rest of the public-relations staff, winding up overnight preparations required to beat some printing deadline for the production of materials for the MIFF. Our office at the Philippine International Convention Center faced the same parking lot where the MFC was rising dextrally, so occasionally we would peer out to see the structure, brightly lit as if being readied for a Hollywood blockbuster, with ladders, derricks, and hoists on all sides.

11011A few hours after midnight a strong tremor shook the place. Everyone rushed to the windows to see what happened to the construction. The sight was uncanny, with workers scampering everywhere, the ladders filled with men clambering downward. From this distant spectacle we knew that something dreadful could have happened (as it did), but we had our tasks to complete and were groggy from working nonstop already.

11011I mention this specific detail because it appears in no other account except “Grains & Flickers,” the article I wrote for the 2016 book edited by JPaul S. Manzanilla and Caroline S. Hau, titled Remembering/Rethinking EDSA, as well as in my monograph Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic (Arsenal Press, 2017). One careless commentator blurted out in a group discussion (all right, chat) that my story sounds like an exoneration of the people involved in the tragedy – neglecting the crucial facts that first, it happened, and second, I was with witnesses. Undeniably it complicates the narrative, but I wouldn’t say it exculpates the usual suspects unless one were to operate within the fully guilty-vs.-fully innocent binary that critically ill-equipped (though unfortunately typical) netizens have become accustomed to.[2]

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The Malakas at Maganda mural displayed at the entrance to the main theater of the Manila Film Center (from Lakbay ng Lakan, reprinted with permission). For a discussion, please see the Illustrational Problematics page I uploaded for my book Manila by Night: A Queer Film Classic.

A Haunting

I have to begin by expressing my mounting vexation at the number of netizens asking about the presence of ghosts in the building. Scientific and historical materialism before everything else, please (and sorry for stating what should have been obvious already). We moved in after the MIFF for which the MFC was constructed had ended, and a number of accounts correctly state that government officials were hoping for an exorcism ritual – but identify Imelda Marcos as its instigator. This made no sense, since her event had just finished and it was the ECP, led by Imee Marcos, that was to hold office in the building; it was also out of character for Mrs. Marcos, whose advisers would have dissuaded her from conducting such an exercise. (The MIFF, as an independently run ECP department, occupied an upper floor but was operated by its Deputy Director John J. Litton, who preferred to use the initials JJL.) Fortunately a former supervisor, Nena C. Benigno, provided a definitive account of Imee Marcos’s direct involvement in the ritual in a magazine interview in 2015.

11011The news about Betty Benitez perishing in a vehicular accident after an assignation with Onofre D. Corpuz had a whiff of karmic schadenfreude about it, since Benitez was in charge of the MFC construction project. The story that what caused their car to swerve disastrously was a vision of bloodied workers crossing the street first circulated as a persistent rumor, but it was another death – that of Benigno Aquino Jr. in September 1983, returning from exile in the US – that finally facilitated the publication of the tale. It came out in a Catholic Church opposition broadsheet, Veritas, minus any authorial credit, and added the slant that the couple, married but not to each other, were conducting an affair. I recognized the article’s stylistic flourishes as typical of a former office co-worker, Eddie Pacheco, who had started expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the Aquino assassination and resigned soon afterward. (Pacheco lived in Pampanga after his retirement but was killed in an apparent early-morning burglary in 2012.)

11011What haunted my memory during and after my stint at the agency was an encounter with an old security guard. He was extraordinarily avuncular, in the manner that elderly working-class men carry over from their drunken states when they realize how well it goes over with strangers they want to impress. I was leaving work with some of my office mates and lingered by the exit as they timestamped their employee-record cards. The old man started talking about how he’d been guarding the place during the construction period, so I asked if he witnessed the collapse of the scaffolding. He talked at length about workers who lost their limbs, if not their lives, and bodies that had to be cemented over in order to meet the building completion deadline.

11011I knew he was gravely endangering himself but he seemed to be unaware of the kind of reality I’d been able to observe: Imee Marcos enrolled in the same class on Philippine nationalism that I was taking under Renato Constantino a few years earlier, and several heavyset middle-aged barong-clad men, definitely not national-university types, presented their registration credentials and positioned themselves all over the classroom while she sat in the center. I thought I could just warn him another time, when less of a crowd would be standing around … but he never showed up again afterward.

11011He could have been fired, or transferred, or just scared away from his job – but this was martial law, and it was never advisable to assume anything less than the worst. If I’d been one of the over-imaginative (though frankly airheaded) cinema attendants who loved indulging in ghost tales and never wanted for listeners prepped by the MFC’s bloody history, I would have spread the story that he must have been one of the fallen workers who wanted his version of events told right, a revenant who returned to the afterlife upon accomplishing his mission. It would have been a far less distressing account than the real-life possibilities I had to accept.

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Other ECP Materials in Ámauteurish!

I’d reviewed a few films that came out during this period, including the ECP productions except the last one. I’d still been working out a critical voice and perspective then, so I’d prefer not to list these titles here, although anyone interested for whatever reason will be able to find the films in this blog’s Reviews section.

11011The release (in more ways than one) of the Ishmael Bernal film Manila by Night may be regarded as the ECP’s final positive contribution to Pinas pop-culture history: it was banned upon completion in early 1980 and screened with seemingly uncountable cuts and deletions – the most severely censored movie ever in local cinema. After the MIFF’s reliance on pornographic films in order to fund the First Lady’s world-scale bacchanals followed a few months later by the killing of Aquino, the MFC sounded out a call for artistic sex-themed products.[3] I remember writing an informal letter to an official suggesting that MbN should be considered a prime candidate because it was officially accepted for the Berlin International Film Festival competition (though prevented from leaving at the time because of the First Lady’s disapprobation); it won the local critics’ award despite its badly mangled condition; and its producer actively participated in providing well-attended titles for MFC screenings. After this I also recall processing the documentation necessary for the release of the integral version of the film for screening exclusively at the MFC.[4]

11011The definitive empirical summary of the agency’s performance lies in documents, stored on drives, that are now lost: its annual reports, all of which I researched, compiled, and wrote. The first one, titled Experimental Cinema of the Philippines: Year One, came out as a glossy publication, while the second and third were bound printouts. Why only three years, when the ECP was set up in 1981 and the EDSA uprising was in 1986? Once more, despite most accounts’ misperception, the organization existed only for as long as Imee Marcos could devote her full attention to it. After the Aquino assassination (and upon getting her now-controversial law degree from the national university), she decided to run for the interim parliament and focus on her duties therein. With the MIFF only too willing to take over the agency, she arranged for the ECP to be dissolved and a new body called the Film Development Foundation of the Philippines set up in its place. This was the body that was shut down in February 1986.

11011While it was around, the public relations department where I worked managed to come up with a magazine, SineManila, limited to a maiden issue because of a nasty turf war waged by a military agent and her staff who insisted that her department’s tiny magazine, Filipino Film Review (my complete file of which was lost), be the only ECP publication that the public could access. We also managed to come up with only one in-house publication, Jario Scenario, since the ECP at this stage was nearing its transition to the FDFP.

11011Since the officials in our department were outsourced from the National Media Production Center (now the Philippine Information Agency), we were obliged to serve all ECP departments including the MIFF. (Recall the opening account where our experience of the tremor that caused the MFC tragedy was due to one of several all-nighters necessitated by an impending MIFF printer’s deadline.) The start of my employment was right after the MIFF dry-run edition, during which I managed to secure passes for the critics circle and experienced the kind of overload that led me to regard filmfests as less-than-ideal venues for appreciating movies.

11011The next year’s (first regular) MIFF was the one held at the MFC building, already and inevitably notorious even before it opened. It had Satyajit Ray as chair of the competition jury, and honored a now-forgotten film, 36 Chowringhee Lane, Aparna Sen’s debut as a director, defeating entries by the likes of Roger Donaldson, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Lawrence Kasdan, Karel Reisz, François Truffaut, and Peter Weir. A daily magazine, Manila Film International (of which my complete file was also irretrievably damaged), was published but not by our department. The next year’s winner was another close-to-forgotten entry, the late Yu Wigong’s Memories of Old Peking (a.k.a. My Memories of Old Beijing), but it also had Filipino films in competition: Oro, Plata, Mata (which won a special jury prize) by Peque Gallaga and Moral by Marilou Diaz-Abaya.

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Essential Readings

In coordination with the now-defunct Metro Manila Commission, the ECP and MIFF launched separate publications the next year. The ECP’s was a book edited by Rafael Ma. Guerrero, titled Readings in Philippine Cinema – as definitive a text as it was possible to compile up to that point. The MIFF had strictly supplementary material, also edited (though uncredited) by Guerrero, titled Focus on Filipino Films. The eponymously titled film module that the latter accompanied can well be regarded as the highlight of all the MIFF editions put together: a nearly ideal canon-formation project that conscripted film experts who screened available films (though only once) and deliberated on whether they should be included or not; new prints of the selected titles were then struck, with French and English subtitles. Eye-opener accounts such as “Manila’s Angels,” Elliott Stein’s article in Film Comment, made exceptions in a properly critical report of the MIFF’s proceedings in order to express admiration for several of the module entries.

11011Needless to add, this first-time attempt was never to be replicated thereafter. Many of the now faded prints are regarded as still the most acceptable available copies of their specific titles, with digital remastering the only possible future stage for them. The next year’s MIFF reverted to the dry-run dimension, to be able to evade the then-growing united-front movement that arose in protest over the Aquino assassination.

11011A still insistently forward-thinking ECP administration proceeded with its last batch of productions, which gave me the opportunity to interview Soltero director Pio de Castro III on location in Baguio – at the Hyatt Terraces, the same hotel that collapsed from another tremor several years after. They also assigned me to attend the courses of the lately introduced undergraduate film specialization at the national university, to be able to eventually set up our own education program. I countered that, since I already held a bachelor’s diploma from the institute that proffered the degree, I would need only a few extra units in order to earn the new baccalaureate itself. I thought my proposal would have come across as audacious, but then there were already less tasks to attend to with the “indefinitely postponed” MIFF and the impending transition of the director-general to her interim Batasang Pambansa commitment. The February 1986 ouster of the Marcos administration occurred during my final semester of undergrad film studies, so just like in my first bachelor’s degree, I was once more a working student who was out of a job upon graduation.[5]

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I do acknowledge that the memoir format will better serve some of the material presented here, but I prefer not to let this opportunity pass in case I wind up unable to complete the writing project. So I will name this early the people to whom I plan to dedicate the forthcoming effort: the ones (possibly entirely men, but we have no way of knowing any longer) who unwillingly and prematurely gave up their lives for the construction of the hideously pretentious building where we had to work for too long. The ouster of the Marcos regime was not bloody enough to redress the violence visited on you (as well as on countless others), and the silence with which your annihilation was completed.

[1] A letter sent by Baltazar N. Endriga, former chair and president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, states that Froilan Hong counted seven fatalities and recapitulates the standard account of how “the scaffolding supporting the platform into which concrete was being poured collapsed and the seven workers fell to their deaths. The bodies of all seven were then retrieved and given the proper rites befitting the dead. [Hong] belied the popular story that many workers were buried alive in concrete and that in the hurry to finish the construction, they were simply entombed under the Film Center’s bowels” (“Account on the 1981 Manila Film Center Deaths,”, February 26, 2021). Endriga does not state his involvement in the project or whether Hong was present during the accident and/or rescue operations.

[2] I did manage to secure recent official confirmation that short night tremors, ranging from moderate to strong, hit Luzon during both dates, after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology referred my query to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration – inasmuch as the former was founded only afterward, in September 1982, and therefore the pre-PHIVOLCS tracking of earthquakes was performed by PAGASA. I have no knowledge of the reliability of the government’s seismographic instruments or record-keeping activities during that time, however, so these questions will have to be regarded for now as compounding the other problem I mentioned of determining the exact date of the MFC tragedy.

[3] Not surprisingly, the MIFF concerned itself with the same goal, since it had already reaped profits from adults-only screenings from all over (downtown venues were censorship-exempt during the festival period). Producers were convened at the MFC’s MIFF office for specific instructions as to what they may be allowed to present – in porn parlance, tits & asses as well as simulated sex scenes. The ECP, for its part, provided support in the form of flyers and warm bodies for the Concerned Artists of the Philippines’s anti-censorship rallies.

11011When the expected moralist backlash occurred, with the chief of the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures asserting her presidential appointment and thereby operating at the same governmental level as Imee Marcos, a high-ranking MIFF official issued a statement that the films were smutty because producers were deliberately violating the limits that the government prescribed. The producers themselves, who were constant visitors at the MFC because of other services such as funding subsidies and tax rebates, replied (in strict confidence, understandably) that it was this same top MIFF official who kept pestering them to shoot far raunchier scenes even if these no longer had any relevance to the films being considered. Said official was blasted on national television after February 1986 by Lino Brocka, for his opportunistic claim that he had been supportive of the anti-Marcos opposition all along.

[4] What mystifies me is why members of the critics circle (who that time congratulated me for actualizing the release of the uncensored print) insist on calling the film anything except the title its producer and director-writer provided: because the film that their awards honored was not titled Manila by Night? (City after Dark was the censored version, while Manila after Dark does not even apply to any movie whatsoever, although check out this kink in my argument.) The same government that banned, then censored, the film, also restored the original title when it was approved for an MFC screening. As the person assigned to host the premiere, I saw with my own eyes the words “Manila by Night” projected onscreen during the movie’s opening credits.

[5] I might as well provide one of the plausible urban myths that some media colleagues of mine claim as factual, since it does denote a happy ending and resembles my experience: one of Imee Marcos’s bodyguards supposedly realized that his official enrollment in the same courses she was taking at the national university was an opportunity for self-advancement, and actually completed for his own credit the same undergraduate and law degrees that she claimed to have finished (though without any official documentation in her case); he passed the bar exam and no longer had to risk his life for the sake of any high-ranking government bigwig. Some day some enterprising investigative journalist will have to uncover the truth (or falsity) of this singularly marvelous story.

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An Intro to Chapter 16 of Marcos’ Lovey Dovie

I uploaded a PDF copy of the chapter comprising the transcription of the audiotape surreptitiously recorded by Dovie Beams during her intimate sessions with Ferdinand E. Marcos. Both parties are gone but I found out only recently that Beams had passed away over three years ago. I consider her a definite and indispensable historical figure in Philippine cinema, not only for having starred in the fake Marcos biopic, Jerry Hopper’s Maharlika a.k.a. Guerrilla Strike Force (Roadshow Films International, 1970), but also because of the intrepid and colorful (though rather purplish) way she stood up to the harassment of Imelda Marcos, who arguably claimed her own share from her husband afterward by staging the ludicrously extravagant editions of the Manila International Film Festival.

11011We have to note at the outset that Beams sued Hermie Rotea, author of Marcos’ Lovey Dovie (Los Angeles: Liberty Publishing, 1983) – a 180-degree turnaround apparently, considering the “very special wishes to a very special guy” message that she scribbled on the photo reprinted on the back cover of the book; her lawsuit alleged that Rotea pilfered some items that were relevant to her account of her high-profile romance. Hence the textual version of incontrovertible material that she went on record as authentically sourced (from and by her) would be the safest portion in a book that made no bones about waging its own political agendum, as manifested in its preliminary sections.

11011Beams lived to a ripe old age, dying at 85 in her birth city, Nashville. By the time that the Marcoses fell from power, she had apparently given up on her Hollywood acting prospects but was able to acquire some valuable property; in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she clarified two important matters: first, that the money came from the man she just married and not from the recently deposed President; and second, more surprisingly, that she still loved Marcos even though she felt compelled to leave him when he admitted to her that he was declaring martial law, upon which she realized that he was having people killed.[1]

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11011What happened to her to occasion her return to her place of birth? That part of her narrative still has to be told, along with the cause of her death in 2017. Nevertheless a conflict in her fiscal claim seems to override most observers’ appreciation of the consistency of her affection: if she really did love Ferdie in spite of the many awful things that he and his spouse did to her, then Rotea’s book would have come across as a betrayal – as it did. A far more potentially upsetting scandal is how, with one exception,[2] real (sex-positive) feminists from either side of the Pacific still have to recuperate her narrative, as if being a then-emerging Third World dictator’s paramour positioned her beyond redemption.

From the Law and Behold! Blogspot c/o Jun Brioso.

11011Speculation that any funds she had during the mid-1980s might have come from a mortally ill Ferdinand, could have proceeded from the guilt-ridden drive in liberal Western media (formerly protective, if not supportive, of pro-US despots) to track down and help recover the Marcoses’ record-breaking ill-gotten wealth, a project that still has to be completed at present. Beams though would have been an example of a contemporary Mata Hari[3] who barely got away from the wrath of Imelda. The latter, in turn (and thanks to Beams), abandoned all her cultivated pretensions to altruism and timidity and made sure that her rival’s reputation was thrashed beyond repair.

11011What I remember from media coverage was how both pro-Marcos and opposition publications prospered from exploiting a debased image of Beams, and how she could barely land roles in Hollywood thereafter despite the wide publicity her affair generated.[4] The “X-Rated Sex Tapes” chapter from Marcos’ Lovey Dovie is posted here for its intrinsic (though admittedly titillating) research value, in place of the understandably now-rare recording that she once made available to Philippine media. (It was eventually broadcast over the national university radio station during the singularly liberative ten days of the Diliman Commune, which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this month.) My way of commemorating a genuine survivor of one of the most unusual and dangerous conflations of film, carnality, and politics our time has ever had the privilege to observe.

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[1] See Deborah Hastings, “Ex-Actress Owns $7.7 Million in LA County Property: Controversy Follows Former Lover of Marcos” in the March 10, 1986, issue of the LA Times for the interview. An Associated Press report the next year, “Jury Convicts Alleged Former Marcos Mistress of Fraud” (datelined November 12, 1987), describes how Beams accumulated $18 million in loan applications from 13 banks in order to pursue a “lavish lifestyle,” with her personal financial bubble bursting after her husband Sergio de Villagran filed for bankruptcy, presumably after the 1986 interview.

11011Part of Beams’s defense included the now-implausible claim that she was suffering from HIV/AIDS and consequently had problems exercising proper judgment because of the medications she had to use. A curious sidelight of the report was her campaign to prevent a homeless shelter from being set up in the vicinity of her residence – a move oddly reminiscent of the sociopathic caprices of her nemesis Imelda Marcos, with whom she also shared a rags-to-riches-via-showbiz background.

[2] In “Dovie Beams and Philippine Politics: A President’s Scandalous Affair and First Lady Power on the Eve of Martial Law,” Caroline S. Hau describes how “Like Ferdinand Marcos, Dovie Beams has become a kind of ghost, haunting the narratives of our recent past and eluding all attempts at exorcism and closure” (626) – published in Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints, vol. 67, nos. 3-4 (2019): 595-634. For a fascinating first-person account of how Imelda Marcos acquired a copy of the Beams tapes after her personal agent (a priest, no less) failed to get one during Beams’s press conference, see “How Imelda Confirmed Ferdinand Marcos’ Affair with Dovie Beams” by George Sison (Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 5, 2017); Sison also lists some of Beams’s local fair-weather friends in a separate article.

11011I plan to acquaint myself with a prolific New York City-based “dreampop instrumental music project” (whose output started in 2008) that calls itself Dovie Beams Love Child. The name apparently was intended as a milder version of the cross-referential shock effect that punk bands used to appropriate, from the Dead Kennedys to the several acts that use a mass murderer’s surname.

[3] The eponymously titled 1931 Greta Garbo film version (dir. George Fitzmaurice, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) is what I had in mind. It’s necessarily fictionalized, but then most accounts of Margaretha Zelle MacLeod’s transgressions have been unreliable, inflected by World War I’s divisive geopolitical conflicts. The Garbo character remains memorable not only because of the actor’s beauty and performative skill, but also because of how her far-from-guiltless Mata Hari decides to endanger her own life for the sake of the soldier who remains unaware (literally blinded) to the end, of how faithfully she kept her vow to him. The closest to an actual Dovie Beams cinematic treatment is the masterly film à clef directed by Lino Brocka and scripted by Ricky Lee, titled Gumapang Ka sa Lusak [Dirty Affair] (Viva Films, 1990).

[4] The fact that the regime, presumably with the covert sanction of the US, could also deploy agents capable of “disappearing” renegades like Primitivo Mijares, who wrote extensively about Beams and other Marcos dalliances in the original edition of The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (San Francisco: Union Square Publications, 1976), might have factored in Beams’s predicaments. Although again, short of any definitive disclosure in any form from her, the most we can indulge in on the matter are speculative exercises. In fact as early as 1973, she announced that she was working on a manuscript titled Dovie Beams by Me; during her 1986 interviews, she mentioned that it was already 1,500 pages long (see Patrick J. Killen, “Memo to ‘Freddie’: Dovie Has Some Interesting Tapes,” United Press International, January 31, 1986). A book with that title still has to materialize, however.

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Book Texts – Non-Film Reviews

Home Sweet Home

In My Father’s House
Playwright Elsa Martinez Coscolluela
Directed by Tony Mabesa

As an extra-active in-house editor for the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines (ECP), I was once assigned to the screening committee of the third (and last) scriptwriting contest. Only two winners were chosen, both of which were endorsed to the board of judges by none other than yours truly. The inside news, however, was that the preferred top-prize winner was disqualified on a double technicality: not only did the script proposal require a more-than-modest budget (for which the consideration of a few other entries would have to be set aside), it would also have duplicated the themes and setting of the first ECP production, Oro, Plata, Mata. Flashforward to the present, when one of the contest’s judges, out of a refusal to allow the ECP’s demise to negate its noteworthy aims, convinces the writer of the said screenplay to revise her work for the medium out of which he has made a lifetime career: the theater.

11011Like Oro, Plata, Mata, In My Father’s House has seen rough commercial sailing. And if we take an optimistic course and regard its ultimate destination as the celluloid product it was originally intended to be, then its odyssey from judges’ favorite to future film product through the legitimate stage may well be one of the most unusual transitions in contemporary local culture. To be sure, In My Father’s House stands several cuts above the disturbing succession of stage plays that actually aim for ultimate preservation on film (or even just video, via television). Our local playwriting contests have much to answer for in this case; works are judged according to how they read, not how they may be performed, and in several depressing instances writers who employed misappropriated cinematic techniques tended to impress their respective jurors, who should have known better.

11011I hope I don’t sound too condemnatory in pointing out that these cinematically obsessed playwrights were in a sense the predecessors of our so-called independent film practitioners, who dabble in media or formats apparently alien from the mainstream movie industry, but actually aim for stable long-term employment within (as evidenced in their output as well as the number who grab too eagerly at opportunities for commercial film assignments). Nothing wrong with having to survive, I submit, except that sometimes the struggle has resulted all too often in a hierarchism of media forms and assignments: this here’s a mere short film (or play or article), it could get me some attention so I could get away with a little slothful artisanship – after all, this isn’t the big time … yet.

11011Hence my sense of appreciation and gratitude for In My Father’s House. The play’s film-script origins are still detectable, particularly in the inordinate number of blackouts (equivalent to the film medium’s fadeouts), but the whole presentation has amounted to a cherishable and well-grounded discourse on the dehumanizing effects of war on the best intentions of those caught up in it. The story details the plight of a Negros-based family, chronicling the members’ confrontation with the realities of the Japanese occupation from the start of the war until the impending liberation (or, as per Renato Constantino, the re-occupation) of the country by American forces. The siblings find themselves in opposing camps, though hardly by the passive nature of their characters: one realizes firsthand the effectiveness of the enemy’s brutality and decides to collaborate to preclude whatever further harm may be committed against his loved ones, while another is outraged by the very same reports, though from a comfortable distance, and decides to join the guerrilla movement.

11011The worst that the invading forces visit upon the family is the occupation of their residence by an officer, who is never seen; instead he is represented by his clown of a deputy. In the end the tragedy that befalls the family is directly caused by the guerrilla offering to save his collaborator-brother but inadvertently betraying him to a rival unit. An acknowledgment of classical traditions pervades the entire production, with deaths occurring offstage and the action being continually summarized and assessed by the survivors. The only onstage tragedy, the suicide of the fiancée who could endure repeated rape by the Japanese officer but not the contempt of her guerrilla-lover, serves to maintain the essential context of the drama – i.e., that the enemy, no matter how harmless in appearance, is capable, on a near-bestial level, of the civilized but still-harmful actuations of his captive hosts, and that in a sense this doesn’t make him any different from them after all.

11011Such perceptions about the wartime behavior of the bourgeoisie could only have come from finely observed and fully felt experience, and whatever the arguments against the dangers of romanticism, there ought to be room for such theses in the first place, the better to form possible answers from. In My Father’s House can be taken on its own, with the reservations (and then some) I already mentioned, but it can also be appreciated as a creative inspiration’s long (and unfinished) journey to realization. I suggest viewing it as a companion piece to Oro, Plata, Mata, with the notion of the voyeuristic peek into the bourgeoisie’s not-so-discreet charms this time replaced by an Areopagitica of sorts, a plea for tolerance and soberness from a people who are still figuring out what to do with themselves.

[First published December 2, 1987, in National Midweek]

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Time and Again

Translating Time: Cinema, the Fantastic, and Temporal Critique
By Bliss Cua Lim
(Durham: Duke University Press, 2009)

No less than feminist film and trauma specialist E. Ann Kaplan has hailed Translating Time as one of the most influential books in the field of cinema studies, a distinction made more remarkable by the fact that Bliss Cua Lim’s volume has only recently been published. Kaplan cites Lim’s achievement in drawing on “genre theory, feminist film research, postcolonialism, and feminist cine-psychoanalysis to think through the meanings that emerge in films about fantasy” (2009: 190). Well on its way to solidifying its early stature as a classic in the field, Translating Time bears the prestigious imprint of a John Hope Franklin Book Award, an annual honor given by Duke University Press to four books selected from the hundred-plus titles that it publishes every year. (Personal disclosure: Lim and I were classmates and fellow Fulbright scholars in graduate school.)

11011Prior to Translating Time, Lim was known for her volumes of poetry in her native Philippines, and her expertise in this mode of expression enhances the present book’s correlation of seemingly disparate concerns, unified by the much-vilified yet inevitably overriding element of pleasure – the same factor that links Translating Time with an impressive array of feminist predecessors, from Laura Mulvey (who, in calling for the destruction of pleasure in Classical Hollywood, motivated an entire generation of scholars to revaluate its importance and function) down to the present and, from what we can discern from current media studies trends, far into the future.

11011Translating Time reworks Henri Bergson’s philosophical critique of so-called homogeneous time, regarded as the primary ideological mechanism for the historical ascendancy of European modernity, by infusing it with a postcolonial critique. Lim recounts how, starting with the late thirteenth-century invention of precise timepieces, homogeneous time became ensconced as the standard universal method of reckoning temporal experience, pervading all available areas of human endeavor within and outside Europe via the mechanisms of state control and colonial expansion. Crucially, she argues that homogeneous time overlays human societies with the twinned processes of measuring everyone, without exception, according to the timeline of Eurocentric development, as well as excluding from historical significance any form of anachronism – thus resulting, for example, in the refusal to accept people falling within certain categories – such as the “savage,” the “primitive,” the “superstitious,” and the “premodern” – as belonging to the present. Homogeneous time means that people who exist, as it were, in periods marked as “past” by Eurocentric development cannot be considered of this moment, unless they were “modernized” one way or another. This reminds me of one of the standard arguments that links the colonizer with the rapist: the purported victim was merely being claimed by patriarchy in order to protect it (the nation) or her (the woman) from other claimants, as well as to provide it or her with the benefits of modernist progress presumably unavailable to those cursed with “backwardness.” The narrative of the centuries-long quest of homogeneous time for global preeminence would sound fantastic in itself if it were told to, say, a Renaissance-era subject or a contemporary Third-World tribesperson. Lim’s retelling captures the appropriately fantastic quality of the now-seemingly-inexorable advance of this phenomenon.

11011Lim initiates her departure from Bergson’s critique by propounding a concept of immiscible times, which she defines as “multiple times that never quite dissolve into the code of modern time consciousness, discrete temporalities incapable of attaining homogeneity with or full incorporation into a uniform chronological present” (12). As she puts it:

an anti-colonial critique of homogeneous time points out that the modern notion of progress and its corollary, the accusation of noncontemporaneousness, translate multiple ways of inhabiting the world into a single, homogeneous time. This translation is arguably a deliberate mistranslation in that the allochronic gesture – the appraisal of the other as an anachronism – served as a potent temporal justification for the colonial project. (83)

Tellingly, inasmuch as Bergson had prematurely denounced film as the culmination of the popular perception of homogeneous time, Lim finds useful samples of immiscible times imbricated in the cinema of the fantastic. By her own admission, she incorporates Bergson further by resisting him at this juncture, specifically his dismissal of cinema for its collusion with homogenized, spatialized time, as well as its deceptive re-presentation of duration as an atomized succession of still moments.

11011Lest one acquire the misimpression that Lim’s espousal of immiscible heterogeneous times could play into the cynical religious revivalism of conservative political leaders (as exemplified in the U.S. Republican Party’s deplorable turn-of-the-millennium strategies), she takes the trouble to point to examples of what we could obversely term real fantasies, like the studies of Jean and John Comaroff on the “enchantments of capital” (2002: 782-87) in the Third World, wherein “amid glaring asymmetries . . . the enigmatic appearance of ‘wealth without work’ . . . is felt by the disenfranchised in particular to be opaque, occult, spectral” (135).

11011Translating Time is exceptional as an extended study not only for what its so-far mostly western appreciators prize it for, but also for what mainly subaltern scholars will be able to perceive: Lim’s thorough immersion in postcolonial culture, to a point beyond mere familiarity, well within the realm of (for want of more appropriately academic terminology) sheer and unadulterated passion. A disheartening number of cultural studies scholars in particular, once they realize the exploitative potential of the Philippines’s unique status as the U.S.’s only ex-/neo-/post-colony, tend to indulge in the country’s popular culture only to come up with undeniably well-meaning but erroneous, if not preposterous or potentially injurious, interpretations of local phenomena. Perhaps the most famous example was Fredric Jameson’s one-time incursion into Third-World, including Philippine, popular culture in The Geopolitical Aesthetic (1992), whose long list of Filipino objectors included Lim (1993).

11011While explicating her take on Bergson (partly by way of Gilles Deleuze – on which more later), Lim proceeds to survey the fantastic in cinema, beginning with a Philippine “Second Golden Age” prestige production, Mike de Leon’s Itim (1976), coursing through Etienne-Jules Marey’s proto-filmic motion studies and Fatimah Tobing Rony’s personal experimental film On Cannibalism (1994). Her bravura readings of the recent aswang (segmented viscera-sucking monster) horror-film cycle of the Peque Gallaga and Lorenzo Reyes directorial team (commencing with their eponymous 1992 blockbuster), and the female specters of Butch Perez’s Haplos (1982) and Hong Kong filmmaker Stanley Kwan’s Yin ji kau (English title Rouge, 1987), are models of close textual inspections that enrich the too-scant literature on these largely overlooked marvels of Asian film-genre productions, even as she painstakingly develops her notions on the values and limitations of immiscibilities in subaltern cinema.

11011After duly disclosing how early colonial chroniclers insisted on the feminine nature of the aswang as a way of demonizing the baylan (pre-Hispanic female shaman), Lim proceeds to discuss the politicized peasantry’s conflation of World War II’s Japanese occupation army with the contemporary Philippine Constabulary (hence Haplos’s always-already doomed revenant), and acknowledges CIA operative Edward G. Lansdale’s (1972, rpt. 1991) possibly fictional and definitely self-aggrandizing psy-war exploitation of the aswang myth in his counter-insurgency operations in the Philippine countryside. More to the point of feminist interest, Lim owns up to the necessarily patriarchal containment which Haplos’s and Rouge’s resolutions build toward, yet insists on pointing out how the real-life female characters find themselves attracted to their supernatural rivals, to the point of even fusing with the specter, as in the case of the ending of Haplos.

11011In advancing toward Rouge, in fact, Lim might initially appear to be falling into the same predicament of engaging with the unfamiliar that scholars like she and I excoriate overeager outsiders for. Yet Lim’s differences – as woman, as Chinay (Chinese-Filipina), as gender and queer theory specialist – secure for her an enviable position from which to read not just the spectrally inflected relations between Hong Kong as a former crown colony (not quite a nation yet not fully striving for integration) and the People’s Republic of China, but also the role that the larger regional area of East Asia has played vis-à-vis the cannibalization of the Asian horror cycle by Hollywood. By looking at the trajectory of particular examples like Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-on (2002) as well as its U.S. remake, The Grudge (Shimizu, 2004), she manages to point out how such a ground-breaking scholar of national cinema as Andrew Higson (1989) “remains regrettably one-sided” (230) in discussing the role of Hollywood:

His argument emphasizes Hollywood’s contributions to national cinema, especially national-popular cinema, but he fails to mention the converse: Hollywood’s debts to other national cinemas, its founding reliance on émigré talent, its appropriation of aesthetic hallmarks, its practices of borrowing and remaking, and its eye on foreign markets. (230)

Just as it had done with earlier film trends in Europe, Hollywood’s appropriation of story material and qualities associated with Asian genre cinemas results in a deracination via the process of transforming “mark[s] of innovation, of originality, of newness or novelty greeted by vigorous, profitable audience demand” into signs of iterability (222-23) that result in a “softening of contrast, the quickly accomplished reduction of the distance between generic innovation and generic repetition” (223).

11011As a detailed demonstration of a home-grown achievement whose qualities would prove immiscible when (as it actually turned out) a Hollywood producer attempted to remake it, Lim discusses a Korean horror film, Kim Ji-woon’s Janghwa, Hongryeon (English title A Tale of Two Sisters, 2003), an experience that “slowly unfurls its secrets, yielding narrative clues and formal motifs whose significances are only apprehended on repeated viewing” (243). The scandal of the DreamWorks remake (Charles and Thomas Guard’s appositely titled The Uninvited, 2009, repudiated by Kim), wherein the production pitch “was based only upon having watched the trailer – not the entire source film – beforehand” (304n), thus resulting in divergent second halves between the two versions, is aggravated by the fact that such a supercilious approach was never even exposed and regarded as a scandal in the first place.

11011Lim concludes her book by recounting similar predicaments experienced by Bergson and a subaltern scholar who explored a postcolonial critique of homogeneous time: Bergson described how, in the midst of writing Time and Free Will, “the hour strikes on a neighboring clock but my inattentive ear does not perceive it” (1889, trans. 2001: 127; qtd.: 247); Dipesh Chakrabarty (2000: 102-03), from another place and period, recounted how an ironically sympathetic historian had wound up distorting a rebel leader’s account of political agency in an anti-colonial uprising, only because the leader had expressed his tribe’s action in supernatural terms. Given such lapses in even the most well-intentioned people’s best efforts, Lim echoes Elizabeth Grosz’s call to restore ontology “to its rightful place at the center of knowledges and social practices, [inasmuch as] the ways in which ontology has been previously conceptualized – as static, fixed, composed of universal principles or ideals, indifferent to history, particularity, or change – require transformation and revitalization” (2005: 5; qtd.: 251).

11011Within the specific area (film studies) that it sets as its donnée, Translating Time fills a gap noticeable in the otherwise densely constructed work of Gilles Deleuze, who had set out in two volumes (1983 and 1985, trans. 1986 and 1989) to reclaim Bergson for film, but whose critique of homogeneous time’s insidious valorization of European modernity is severely blunted by his use of canonical samples from art cinema (mostly European, with the usual Hollywood favorites such as Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane [1941], the standard all-time critics’ favorite, thrown in). As a cineaste-come-lately, Deleuze may have been understandably swept up by what David Bordwell (1994) has termed the “standard version of stylistic history” and its aftermath, in which the aesthetic innovations that radicalized film style originated in Europe; such a formulation required the existence of Classical Hollywood film as a mode of practice that had dominated world cinema for the better half of the previous century – and which indeed was challenged and eventually overturned roughly by mid-century Euro art-film practice. What Deleuze could not overcome was the limited range of his subjective universe of western film culture, so when he in effect celebrates the deconstruction of Classical Hollywood film language enabled by filmmakers who could trace their inspiration, if not their training, to such movements as Italian neo-realism, the French New Wave, and avant-garde filmmaking, he is actually upholding a higher stage of modernism over an earlier one – in effect locking his argument within the same sphere of Eurocentrism that he had sought to contest.

11011Several other types of cinema whose recuperation is being spearheaded mostly by feminist critics – trash, porn, camp, in short anything subsumable under “pleasure” including even select Classical Hollywood titles – have already been reinscribed, with varying degrees of success, as emblems of transgression in popular culture. With Translating Time, Lim manages to liberate Bergsonian critique by convincingly demonstrating how resistance to an ultimate western temporal ideal finds its most useful samples in similarly pleasurable products that originate in places far removed from the center. In doing so, she contributes her share to a valiant multi-generational project, one initiated by Bergson himself over a century ago but only recently being tackled in earnest, in acknowledgment of struggles by European and non-European peoples that have somehow persisted all the way to the present. On the one hand, one may argue that this proves that homogeneous time is an exceedingly difficult system to dismantle (and in fact just now I remember telling Lim, when she first described her project to me, that she was confronting an ultimately impossible task). On the other hand, it may be precisely the excessive, extravagant nature of the challenge that has yielded material as wondrous and forward-looking as the works of the authors Lim has engaged, with her own volume taking its rightful place in a deservingly exalted but still-too-short list.

[First published Winter 2009 in Asian Journal of Women’s Studies]

Works Cited

Bergson, Henri. Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness. 1889. Trans. F.L. Pogson. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2001.

Bordwell, David. On the History of Film Style. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Comaroff, Jean, and John Comaroff. “Alien-Nation: Zombies, Immigrants, and Millennial Capitalism.” South Atlantic Quarterly 101.4 (2002): 779-805.

De Leon, Mike, dir. (1976), Itim [Black / Rites of May]. Scr. Clodualdo del Mundo Jr. and Gil Quito. Cinema Artists, 1976.

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image and Cinema 2: The Time-Image. 1983 and 1985. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson, Barbara Habberjam, and Robert Galeta. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986 and 1989.

Gallaga, Peque, and Lore Reyes, dirs. (1992), Aswang [Viscera Sucker]. Scr. Pen P. Medina and Jerry Lopez Sineneng. Regal Films, 1992.

Grosz, Elizabeth. Time Travels: Feminism, Nature, Power. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Guard, Charles, and Thomas Guard, dirs. The Uninvited. Scr. Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard. DreamWorks SKG, Cold Spring Pictures, MacDonald/Parkes Productions, Montecity Picture Co., Vertigo Entertainment, Medien 5 Filmproduktion, 2009.

Higson, Andrew. “The Concept of National Cinema.” Screen 30.4 (1989): 36-46.

Jameson, Fredric. The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

Kaplan, E. Ann. “Toward Interdisciplinary Film Studies.” Cinema Journal 49.1 (2009): 188-91.

Kim Ji-woon, dir. & scr. Janghwa, Hongryeon [A Tale of Two Sisters]. B.O.M. Film Productions & Masulpiri Films, 2003.

Kwan, Stanley, dir. Yin ji kau [Rouge]. Scr. Lillian Lee. Golden Harvest and Golden Way Films Ltd., 1987.

Lansdale, Edward G. In the Midst of Wars: An American’s Mission to Southeast Asia. 1972. New York: Fordham University Press, 1991.

Lim, Bliss Cua [as Felicidad C. Lim]. “Perfumed Nightmare and the Perils of Jameson’s ‘New Political Culture.’” Philippine Critical Forum 1.1 (1993): 24-37.

Perez, Antonio Jose, dir. Haplos [Caress]. Scr. Ricardo Lee. Mirick Films International, 1982.

Rony, Fatimah Tobing, dir. & scr. On Cannibalism. Women Make Movies, 1994.

Shimizu, Takashi, dir. & scr. Ju-on [Ju-on: The Grudge]. Pioneer LDC, Nikkatsu, Oz Co., & Xanadeux Co., 2002.

———, dir. (2004), The Grudge. Scr. Stephen Susco. Senator International, Ghost House Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment, Renaissance Pictures, & Fellah Pictures, 2004.

Welles, Orson, dir. Citizen Kane. Scr. Herman J. Mankiewicz & Orson Welles. Mercury Productions & RKO Radio Pictures, 1941.

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Disorder & Constant Sorrow

Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years
By Susan F. Quimpo & Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, with David Ryan F. Quimpo, Norman F. Quimpo, Emilie Mae Q. Wickett, Lillian F. Quimpo, Elizabeth Q. Bulatao, Caren Q. Castañeda, Jun F. Quimpo, & Maria Cristina Pargas-Bawagan
(Manila: Anvil Publishing, 2012)

In the process of finalizing the current issue of Kritika Kultura, Ateneo’s online journal, on Ishmael Bernal’s Manila by Night, I went over some of the notes I took during the too-few interviews I had with the director. One of the statements he made, that our stories as a people are better told as a collective, became the basis of several articles and an entire dissertation I wrote on the film and its author. The format, which we can call by its description “multiple-character,” is a tricky one to pull off. Seemingly “social” fictions like Gone with the Wind or, closer to home, Noli Me Tangere typically begin with a large group of characters, then reduce the narrative threads until they focus on a hero, sometimes with a romantic interest or against an antihero, or (in the case of GWTW) a love triangle—which, by presenting a character torn between two options, invites singular identification and thus maintains the heroic arrangement.

11011The multicharacter film format actually originated in literature, so it would not be surprising to find it deployed more readily in fiction and theater, where the “star” demands of cinema can be more easily ignored. The more ambitious samples, like Manila by Night (and Bernal’s avowed model, Nashville), succeed in portraying, via the interaction of its characters, an abstract, singular, social character that embodies the conflicts, frustrations, and aspirations that the milieu text’s figures represent. The unexpected delight of my current Pinoy reading experience, in this wise, was in recognizing several of these qualities (and then some) in a recent book, titled Subversive Lives. Listing Susan F. Quimpo and Nathan Gilbert Quimpo as authors, the Anvil publication actually comprises contributions from the Quimpo siblings and the widow of their brother.

11011The Quimpos achieved fame (or notoriety, depending on one’s perspective) for several of the siblings having participated in the anti-dictatorship movement during the martial-law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Since the only genuine opposition during most of this period was provided by the outlawed Communist underground, the Quimpo family, by its association, underwent dramatic upheavals, acute heartbreak, and occasional but still-too-rare moments of grace that would appear almost fantastic had the book been announced as a fiction. The fact that these events actually happened, related by the individuals who directly experienced them, provides the reader with a sense of how irreparably damaging authoritarianism has always been for our particular national experience.

11011I remember how, as a student at the state university, I could always rely on the fact that my smartest classmates would be sympathetic, if not involved outright, with student-activist causes—in sharp contrast with the situation I later observed as a teacher. Subversive Lives provides a panoramic chronicle of how the militarized dictatorship, profitable only to foreign and mercenary local business and religious interests, upheld the worst legacies of colonial education and magic-patriarchal morality: backward thugs armed, fed, and protected by the machinery of an irredeemably corrupted state were allowed to wield life-or-death mastery over the very people in whom, by virtue of their capacity to exercise discernment, creativity, and determination, the future of the nation would have resided.

11011The Quimpo children, in this respect, may be regarded as representative of the country’s best and brightest, had they emerged in another place, another time. Starting out as stereotypical overachievers, the only source of pride of their financially distressed parents, they grew up just when the storm clouds of tyranny were gathering; having moved to a cramped apartment near the presidential palace, they were initially witnesses, then active participants, in the increasingly violent protest actions then taking place in their neighborhood.

11011One of the most powerful dramatic undercurrents in the book is how the Quimpos’ parents coped with the spectacle of several of their children giving up their scholarships, then their bright futures, by moving from school dropouts to wanted figures, hunted down and tortured by the military. One of the sons recollects his reconciliation with his father at the latter’s deathbed, and his story suddenly breaks free of the storytelling mode, addressing his father in the present as if he were still alive, and as if no reader would wonder: “Talk to me. I’m your son…. Why don’t you express all your heartaches, disappointments, and frustrations?” The siblings never shake free the realization that the paths they chose were not what their parents had hoped for them. If their parents lived long enough, they would have seen that the Quimpo children had been able to attain impressive career trajectories, covering several continents and participating in impactful projects (of which the book serves as group memoir) that would have been the envy of the more privileged families with their utterly predictable and vision-impoverished choices.

11011Even the sister who had opted for life as an Opus Dei numerary found inevitable parallels between her Order and the fascist system that her siblings were struggling against. The story of the retrieval of their brother’s body is hers to tell, and one would probably wind up smiling, in the face of the long-anticipated heartbreak, at how she had managed to muster enough reserves of strength to confront and intimidate the military officers who felt like aggravating her and her grieving female companions, just for the heck of it. When, famished after the confrontation, one of them mistakenly brings one too many orders of Coke and the driver of their vehicle innocently asks whom the spare bottle is for, then they turn toward their brother’s body and cry all over again, I could not help turning as well toward the best moments in Pinoy cinema, where our film-authors are so casually able to incite these tender combinations of humor and warmth amid overwhelming sadness.

11011The book ends with a controversy that has shaken up, and continues to do so, the Philippine revolutionary movement. The Quimpos who were then still involved were major participants, and express the opinion that the leadership they challenged had taken on qualities of the dictatorship that they had fought against and (in a sense) succeeded in ousting. Like the best Filipino multicharacter texts, Manila by Night foremost among them, Subversive Lives is sprawling, occasionally meandering, sometimes indulgent, and necessarily open-ended. It is also gripping, heartfelt, insightful, and forward-looking, so much so that the aforementioned “flaws” would be a small price to pay for its still-rare literary largesse, just as the Quimpo children’s rebellion has made the country’s journey to a more meaningful present a trip for which we as their witnesses ought to be grateful.

[First published September 18, 2012, as “The Marcos Dictatorship and the Irreparable Damage to a Family and the Filipino Experience” in The FilAm]

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The Novel Pinoy Novel

Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata
By Ricky Lee
Quezon City: Philippine Writers Studio Foundation, 2011

The results of the recently concluded American presidential elections seemed guaranteed to make everyone happy—except for the Republican Party and its now less-than-majority supporters. American conservatives could have spared themselves their historic loss if they had taken the trouble to inspect the goings-on in a country their nation had once claimed for itself, the Republic of the Philippines. The admittedly oversimplified lesson that Philippine cultural experience demonstrates is: when conservative values seek to overwhelm a population too dispossessed to have anything to lose, the pushback has the potential to reach radical proportions.

11011This is my way of assuring myself that a serendipitous sample, Ricky Lee’s recent novel Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata (Amapola in 65 Chapters), could only have emerged in a culture that had undergone Old-World colonization followed by successful American experimentations with colonial and neocolonial arrangements, enhanced by the installation of a banana republic-style dictatorship followed by a middle-force uprising, leaving the country utterly vulnerable to the dictates of globalization and unable to recover except by means of exporting its own labor force—which, as it turns out, proved to be an unexpectedly successful way of restoring some developmental sanguinity, some stable growth achieved via the continual trauma of yielding its best and brightest to foreign masters.

11011Si Amapola is one of those rare works that will fulfill anyone who takes the effort to learn the language in which it is written. A serviceable translation might emerge sooner or later, but the novel’s impressive achievement in commingling a wide variety of so-called Filipino—from formal (Spanish-inflected) Tagalog to urban street slang to class-conscious (and occasionally hilariously broken) Taglish to fast-mutating gay lingo—will more than just provide a sampling of available linguistic options; it will convince the patriotically inclined that the national language in itself is at last capable of staking its claim as a major global literary medium. In practical terms, the message here is: if you know enough of the language to read casually, or enjoy reading aloud with friends or family—run out and get a copy of the book for the holidays. The novels of Lee, only two of them so far, have revived intensive, even obsessive reading in the Philippines, selling in the tens of thousands (in a country where sales of a few hundreds would mark a title as a bestseller), with people claiming to have read them several times over and classrooms and offices spontaneously breaking into unplanned discussions of his fictions; lives get transformed as people assimilate his characters’ personalities, and Lee himself stated that a few couples have claimed to him that their acquaintance started with a mutual admiration of his work.

11011This is the type of response that, in the recent past, only movies could generate—and the connection may well have been preordained, since Lee had previously made his mark on the popular imagination as the country’s premier screenwriter. The difference between the written word and the filmed script, per Lee, is in the nature of the reader’s participation: film buffs (usually as fans of specific performers) would strive to approximate the costume, performance, and delivery of their preferred characters, while readers would assimilate a novel’s characters, interpreting them in new (literally novel) ways, sometimes providing background and future developments, and even shifting from one personage to another.

11011Si Amapola affords entire worlds for its readers to inhabit, functioning as the culmination of its author’s attempts to break every perceived boundary in art (and consequently in society) in its pursuit of truth and terror, pain and pleasure. For Lee, the process began with his last few major film scripts (notably for Lino Brocka’s multi-generic Gumapang Ka sa Lusak [Dirty Affair]; 1990) and first emerged in print with his comeback novellette “Kabilang sa mga Nawawala” (Among the Missing; 1988). More than his previous novel Para Kay B (O Kung Paano Dinevastate ng Pag-ibig ang 4 Out of 5 sa Atin) (For B [Or How Love Devastated 4 Out of 5 of Us]; 2008), Si Amapola is a direct descendant of “Kabilang,” at that point the language’s definitive magic-realist narrative.

11011Despite this stylistic connection, Si Amapola is sui generis, impossible to track because of its fantastically extreme dimensions that abhor any notion of middle ground. The contradictions begin with the title character, a queer cross-dressing performer who possesses two “alters”: Isaac, a macho man (complete with an understandably infatuated girlfriend), and Zaldy, a closeted yuppie. His mother, Nanay Angie, took him home after she found him separated from his baby sister and, notwithstanding the absence of blood relations and any familial connections, raised him (and his other personalities) with more love and acceptance than most children are able to receive from their own “normal” relatives. A policeman named Emil, a fan of real-life Philippine superstar Nora Aunor, then introduces Amapola to his Lola Sepa, a woman who had fallen in love with Andres Bonifacio, the true (also real-life) but tragically betrayed hero of the 19th-century revolution against Spanish colonization. Lola Sepa moved through time, using a then-recent technology—the flush toilet—as her portal, surviving temporal and septic transitions simply because she, like her great-grandchild Amapola, happens to be a manananggal, a self-segmenting viscera-sucking mythological creature.

11011Already these details suggest issues of personal identity and revolutionary history, high drama and low humor, cinematic immediacy and philosophical discourse, and a melange of popular genres that do not even bother to acknowledge their supposed mutual incompatibilities; if you can imagine, for example, that a pair of manananggal lovers could be so abject and lustful as to engage in monstrous intercourse in mid-air, you can expect that Lee will take you there. The novel’s interlacing with contemporary Philippine politics provides a ludic challenge for those familiar with recent events; those who would rather settle for a rollicking grand time, willing to be fascinated, repulsed, amused, and emotionally walloped by an unmitigated passion for language, country, and the least and therefore the greatest among us, will be rewarded by flesh-and-blood (riven or otherwise) characters enacting a social drama too fantastic to be true, yet ultimately too true to be disavowed.

11011At the end of the wondrously self-contained narrative, you might be able to look up some related literature on the novel and read about Lee announcing a sequel. Pressed about this too-insistent meta-contradiction of how something that had already ended could manage to persist in an unendurable (because unpredictable) future time, he replied: “Amapola the character exists in two parts. Why then can’t he have two lives?” Nevertheless my advice remains, this time as a warning: get the present book and do not wait for a two-in-one consumption. The pleasure, and the pain, might prove too much to bear by then.

[First published November 9, 2012, as “High Drama and Low Humor in Ricky Lee’s New Fiction about a Cross-Dressing Mananggal” in The FilAm]

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Seeds in the Garden of Letters

The End of National Cinema: Filipino Film at the Turn of the Century
By Patrick F. Campos
(Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2016)

It would be easy to subject a text like Patrick F. Campos’s The End of National Cinema to critical reservation, given the scope of the material and the magnitude of the challenges it sets out to confront.[1] Subtitled Filipino Film at the Turn of the Century, the book is definitely the most voluminous debut publication by any Filipino film practitioner, weighing in at 665 pages (including bibliography and index) plus thirteen preliminary pages. Unlike a few initial film books, however, The End of National Cinema (hereafter ENC) is neither a dramatic work nor a celebrity appreciation; it resembles the more typical product, a compilation of film reviews and criticism—except in this case, what we get is a surprisingly small total of nine articles, ten if we include the similarly lengthy introduction. For 550 compact pages of body text, this works out to an average of fifty-five pages per article, a fact that makes possible one more distinction for the book: it actually is a personal anthology—but of monographs, rather than articles.

11011An awareness of the complete life cycle of the academic paper might help us better appreciate Campos’s project. An author would typically draft one for a class or seminar, present it at conferences (preferably published in proceedings), submit it to a journal, and offer it afterward to an anthology of similar material; once the author has made a name, she may decide to compile her articles in one volume in order to provide researchers with the equivalent convenience of a one-stop shop for her material. With ENC, Campos in effect skipped the stage of handing out his journal-published papers to appear in various volumes, thus making himself vulnerable to the question of what authority he had in assuming that he could start out in such a grand manner.

11011At this point I will have to disclose that I recognized two of the ENC articles, the first (post-intro) and the last one, as Campos’s contributions to special journal collections that I had edited. The first, “Ishmael Bernal’s Manila by Night as Thirdspace,” was so innovative and forward-looking that I knew it would make a near-perfect closing piece for the issue. The rest of the chapters deal with auteurs, specifically Mike de Leon in Chapter 2 and Kidlat Tahimik in Chapter 3; the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival and its attendant Film Congress in Chapter 4; filmic topographies divided between urban realism in Chapter 5 and rural landscapes in Chapter 6; cinematic imaginaries focused on folklore in Chapter 7; historical memory in Chapter 8; and ghost narratives in Chapter 9. Despite Campos’s disavowal of any linearly constructed design, one can already perceive here some gestures toward expanding the book’s coverage, from traditional local concerns (auteurs and film events) to transnational films and issues. In ENC’s introductory essay, after which the book is titled, Campos articulates his argument that national cinema is at an “end”—not so much in terms of the virtually complete phaseout of celluloid production, but rather in the sense that Philippine cinema can be better understood in relation to political and cultural developments in the larger Southeast Asian region and its interaction with Western-determined and -dominated global cinema. His final deployment of the term “end”—as a call to alertness to the purpose of discourses on national cinema—affirms his claim that ENC was not in itself meant to provide any definitive kind of closure.

11011In fact, the book best functions as a quite effective starting point for any film devotee who seeks to discover the contemporary concerns of Filipino film scholarship. I would not suggest that the casual reader run through everything in it in one go (although I had to do exactly that in order to provide a review), and Campos, not surprisingly, makes the same recommendation. Yet the act of finishing the chapters in brisk succession allowed me the advantage of drawing up a list of urgent research tasks in my mind, with the pleasure (and, to be honest, the frustration) of finding ENC carefully and methodically tackling each item on the list.

11011Not every attempt in ENC is as resounding a success as the first chapter, but the ones that work demonstrate Campos’s ability to evaluate a research challenge and formulate a compelling strategy as his response. The Mike de Leon chapter evinces his training in film and literature in his patiently close comparative readings of the director’s output, but his Kidlat Tahimik article breaks down the academically prescribed distance between author and artist, and provides exceptional readings that are enhanced by the access that the director, his family, and his hometown granted him. In conducting survey-like introductions to the other, later chapters, Campos similarly manages to highlight crucial similarities and differences in groups of films—an exercise that can sometimes be let down by any film collection that cannot make sufficiently significant contributions beyond belonging to a notable, novel, and rarely covered area (which is what happens in his discussion of rural-set digital-era titles—[Campos 366-407]).

11011At a certain point in perusing the volume, I realized I could also name-check the several active critics and scholars—including, again for proper disclosure, myself—who emerged (or, in my case, re-emerged) since the book’s coverage, the turn of the century. At the same time, I initially appreciated Campos’s desistance from critiquing his colleagues (who, after all, would also be his rivals), but I started getting the impression that his citations would eventually amount to merely a comprehensive review of related literature. At about this point, almost midway through the book, he brings up a startlingly irresponsible remark made by a major culture official, at that time the dean of his college at the national university, during a Cinemalaya Film Congress (Campos 241), to the effect that independent films should reject “Hollywood” strategies (e.g., suturing) as well as their “middle-class” audiences, and proceed to elevate the mass audience’s film preferences by resorting to alternative aesthetics, as exemplified by the alienating devices and durationally extreme output of Lav Diaz (Tolentino, “Indie Cinema Bilang Kultural na Kapital”). In dismantling the aforementioned position’s premises in the next few paragraphs, the critique Campos performs is subtle, constructive, elegant, and firmly rooted in lived experience, so much so that I found myself looking forward to (and dreading) the time when he would begin clearing more space for his own ideas by being more firmly selective about existent abstractions in and on Philippine cinema.

11011ENC is, therefore, a conceptual coup, ambitious in providing an overview of scholarly urgencies in contemporary Philippine film studies, modest and painstaking in pursuit of its objectives, ingenious in re-imagining problems that do not seem to promise much in the way of providing conclusive answers, so that these become worthy of careful consideration. At one point, Campos juxtaposes two historians and uncovers an exceptional instance where Renato Constantino, the more avowedly Marxist author, falls short compared to Zeus Salazar, in terms of their discourses on popular Philippine culture (Campos 420-21). In two other separate instances, he astutely points out how two filmmakers usually touted as Lino Brocka’s heirs—Kidlat Tahimik (for his international recognition) and Jeffrey Jeturian (for his movies on the urban underclass)—are actually closer in spirit, by virtue of their use of humor and intellectual distance, to Ishmael Bernal (Campos 155, 290). In fact, given ENC’s consistently clear-eyed and occasionally brilliant insights, lay readers may find it difficult, if not impossible, to perceive whatever errors or inconsistencies the book may have.[2] After finishing the volume, one could reconsider the author’s introduction—disparaged by an early reviewer (Mai 306) as leading to material that Campos addresses only toward the end—and realize that it in effect constitutes a study plan that extends beyond the coverage of the text. ENC thereby functions as Campos’s scholarly mission statement as well as his proof of qualifications. Each of the chapters could serve as a blueprint for a sustained thesis-length effort, and if all other scholars of Philippine cinema suddenly and simultaneously turn inactive right now for whatever reason, film studies in the country will still be able to proceed on the strength of Campos’s forthcoming contributions.

11011I would prefer, however, to suggest one further direction, one that we can glean from Campos’s timely correction of his senior’s conflicted bias (mentioned earlier) regarding art and populism. In ENC, the closest that Campos comes to any recent mainstream output is in the chapter wherein he inspected the folkloric roots of the Enteng Kabisote series. I regard this to be as noteworthy by academic standards as the rest of the book. But while thereby insightful, the argument that the films hinged on the ethnoepic tradition (specifically the Sulod Labaw Donggon saga) would have minimal bearing on the movies’ stature as Christmas-festival audience-pleasers, from the perspective of its makers and consumers. It were as if Campos still needed to step away from film-specific approaches like generic pleasure, narrative design, and multimedia star construction even when these quotidian concerns already inhered in the texts’ blockbuster status and demanded to be taken almost exclusively in those terms. An even more extensive area of practice—what could arguably be the “real” Philippine cinema in terms of audience attendance and box-office results—would be the romantic comedies that have become the closest to a surefire guarantee of return on investment in local film production since the turn of the century. Campos’s determination to pursue national cinema to its ends, beyond the limits of medium, technology, geography, and period, would provide him with the kind of handle that he wielded when he started the book by discussing Manila by Night, a movie packaged as a mainstream commercial release during its time. To extrapolate from ENC, the movement he seems to be making—from periphery to exterior—would yield greater benefits if the center became his ultimate long-term target.

[First published July-December 2017, in Humanities Diliman: A Philippine Journal of Humanities]


[1] From my Facebook announcement of October 26, 2017: “Essential personal disclosures, aside from the ones in the review: Campos and I were technically non-colleagues at the University of the Philippines Film Institute, since he joined the faculty after I left. Also, as editor of Humanities Diliman, his only participation in this article was in acceding to my suggestion that I review his book; all the editing, proofreading, and peer-reviewing coordination tasks were conducted entirely by HD staff members. In fact I was the one who caught a minor inaccuracy in my first draft – when as book author, he could have been the one to point it out to me. (Which means, whether he read the submission or not, he maintained a hands-off approach.)”

[2] Since the chapters were intended to be capable of existing independent of one another, a question such as the zero-point of digital cinema yields varying responses. Campos first mentions Jon Red’s Still Lives (1999), then Mike de Leon’s Bilanggo sa Dilim (1986), then Cris Pablo’s Duda (2003) in different chapters (1, 98, and 236 respectively); all three are of course valid entries depending on how “first” is defined. Only one name, Ditto Sarmiento (actually Abraham Jr., hence the term “ditto”), is written as “Lito” (99), and only one picture, from Raymond Red’s 1984 short “Hikab,” is mistakenly presented as a still from Red’s 1983 debut “Ang Magpakailanman” (230). The text also uses “self-reflexive” apparently to mean “reflexive,” from a popular semantic slippage (reflexive meaning self-reflective). On the other hand, on the basis of a single run-through, there is a total of zero errors in the use of cultural and film-technological terms, including that of “reification,” a word occasionally misapplied by a prominent authority in the field.

Works Cited

Campos, Patrick F. The End of National Cinema: Filipino Film at the Turn of the Century. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2016.

Constantino, Renato. Synthetic Culture and Development. Quezon City: Foundation for Nationalist Studies, 1985.

Mai, Nadin. “The End of National Cinema in the Philippines?” Kritika Kultura 28 (February 2017): 305-09.

Salazar, Zeus. “Ang Kulturang Pilipino sa Harap ng mga Institusyong Panlipunan sa Pelikulang Bakbakan [Philippine Culture in the Context of Social Institutions in the Action Movie].” Unang Pagtingin sa Pelikulang Bakbakan: Tatlong Sanaysay nina Zeus Salazar, Prospero Covar, Agustin Sotto [First Glimpse of the Action Movie: Three Essays by Zeus Salazar, Prospero Covar, Agustin Sotto]. Manila: Museo ng Kalinangang Pilipino, 1989.

Tolentino, Rolando B. “Indie Cinema Bilang Kultural na Kapital [Indie Cinema as Cultural Capital].” Rolando Tolentino WordPress site (August 11, 2008).

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