Tag Archives: Education

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 trashed 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 and politics our time has ever had the privilege to witness.

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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. Part of her 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 reminiscent of her nemesis Imelda Marcos, with whom she also shares 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).

[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 because of how the far-from-guiltless Mata Hari decides to endanger her 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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Entries in the 2 Editions of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art

The second edition 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, ISBN 978-971-8546-70-3), is a noteworthy improvement over the first – except, again, for the exorbitant selling price. Now comprising 12 volumes, including two for literature, it however overlooked several books on film, an area which has been booming way before the millennium and shows no sign of letting up. (Just in time then for my uploading in Ámauteurish! of a fairly comprehensive bibliography on Philippine cinema.) I had the same contributions in Film (Volume 6, ISBN 978-971-8546-63-5) for this edition, plus an additional one in Theater (Volume 9, ISBN 978-971-8546-63-6). Special thanks to Maricor E. Jesalva, Cultural Attaché, for making available for scanning the set owned by the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Seoul, Korea.

11011These entries are listed below, starting with a file of the preliminaries of the Film volume, including (for good measure) the page where I’m featured, and ending with General Sources, listing the materials I had written. The same warning I sounded regarding my entries in the first edition still applies: these articles had been co-written, relied on dated auteurist perspectives, and were occasionally outright erroneous. Scanned PDF copies, in order of pagination:

Preliminaries (Vol. 6, Film: cover, frontispiece, title, copyright, staff, contents), to page xv;
• “Aksiyon” (with Lynn Pareja, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Mesandel Arguelles), 112-13;
• “Animation” (with Lynn Pareja, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Michael Kho Lim), 114-17;
• “Horror” (with Lynn Pareja, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Erika Carreon), 134-35;
• “Komedi” (with Lynn Pareja, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Mesandel Arguelles), 136-38;
• “Musical” (with Lynn Pareja & Nicanor G. Tiongson, with notes from Pio de Castro III & Bienvenido Lumbera; updated by Johann Vladimir J. Espiritu), 139-40;
• “Acting in Film” (with Justino Dormiendo, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Johann Vladimir J. Espiritu), 146-47;
• “Cinematography” (with Nick Cruz, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Elvin Valerio and Clodualdo del Mundo Jr.), 161-64;
• “Distribution in Film” (with Rosalie Matilac, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Albert Almendralejo), 179-82;
• “Producing for Film” (with Nick Cruz & Rosalie Matilac, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Jose Javier Reyes, with notes from Johann Vladimir J. Espiritu), 196-99;
• “Sound Recording in Film” (with Nick Cruz, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Rica Arevalo), 210-11;
• “Training and Education for Film” (with Lynn Pareja, with notes from Pio de Castro III, Bienvenido Lumbera, & Nicanor G. Tiongson; updated by Johann Vladimir J. Espiritu), 213-14;
• “Studies” with entries on Isagani R. Cruz’s Movie Times (1984), 386, and Emmanuel A. Reyes’s Notes on Philippine Cinema (1989) and Rafael Ma. Guerrero’s edited volume Readings in Philippine Cinema (1982), 388, plus an entry covering my first three books – The National Pastime: Contemporary Philippine Cinema (1990), Fields of Vision: Critical Applications in Recent Philippine Cinema (1995), and Wages of Cinema: Film in Philippine Perspective (1998) – by Eileen Ang, 386-87;
• “David, Joel” (by Rosalinda Galang, updated by Elmer L. Gatchalian), 427;
• “General Sources,” 566-67; and
• “Velasco, Johven” (Vol. 9, Theater, including cover; updated from Bonifacio P. Ilagan’s text), 796.

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11011For those interested in looking further (or going further back), the following are my entries in the first edition of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, ed. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994, ISBN 971-8546-23-5). Scanned PDF copies, in order of pagination, from Philippine Film, Volume 8 (of 10 volumes, ISBN 971-8546-31-6):

• “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;
• “Studies and Training” (with Lynn Pareja), 136-37.

11011Finally, a batch of material I forgot about and recently rediscovered from the same encyclopedia edition’s Volume 9, titled Philippine Literature (ISBN 971-8546-32-4). Most were written by me, but I included the entries on my first book as well as on me as author, plus a film-book entry (Bien Lumbera’s) that I did not write:

• Isagani R. Cruz’s Movie Times, 473;
• Joel David’s The National Pastime, 474;
• Emmanuel A. Reyes’s Notes on Philippine Cinema, 475;
• Rafael Ma. Guerrero’s (as ed.) Readings in Philippine Cinema, 484-85;
• Bienvenido Lumbera’s Revaluation: Essays on Philippine Literature, Cinema and Popular Culture (entry written by M.T. Wright), 485-86;
• Nicanor G. Tiongson’s (as ed.) The Urian Anthology 1970-1979, 495; and
David, Joel (entry written by Rosalinda Galang), 575.

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Statement on the Availability of Filipino Films during the Internet Era

Like other developing countries, the Philippines finds itself at a disadvantage in coping with and adjusting to the manifold challenges posed by rapid technological changes during the current digital period. All predigital media have been profoundly transformed, with positive and negative consequences for each one.

11011The case of film is instructive and exceptional, since this has been the medium where most Filipino talents tended to converge, given its ability to bestow widespread recognition and financial compensation. Given the call to make as much of humanity’s cultural legacy as readily available as possible, the output of commercial media raises special complications, premised on issues of copyright and fair use.

11011As critic and scholar, my primary advocacy in this situation would be in favor of the public domain – the theoretical, legal, much-contested entity that lays claim to any true artist’s or author’s handiwork. In the view of public-domain advocates, the right of an investor and/or a creator to profit from her or his product should always be granted, but it should also be proscribed as immediately and urgently as possible when the public interest comes in conflict with it. We see this occur on a regular basis with the expiration of copyright, when any previously protected work forthwith becomes shared public property. Only when this happens does the creative process become complete: the poet, painter, composer, filmmaker, etc. finally yields her legacy, to be claimed and owned by humanity, with the acknowledgment of authorship as the artist’s or author’s only permanent reward.

11011This is the reason why in any generation in cinema, we find a virtual cadre of workers who continue the tasks of tracking, claiming, preserving, and reproducing titles that have become rare or that might have been lost. The human weaknesses of hoarding and reprofiting off found material has also been part of this tendency from the beginning, but with the formulation and propagation of values anchored on public interest, we are now witnessing collectors of rare material making their items available to all interested parties at little to no cost. This activity is enhanced by the global reach of internet media – a historical juncture that endows present and future generations with artefacts of culture and literature, many of which were previously reserved for only the most privileged members of society.

11011For the past few years, the Philippines’s most successful film studio, Regal Films, still involved in production though not as actively as it used to, has been deadlocked in its negotiations with the country’s sole remastering outfit, ABS-CBN Film Restoration, effectively freezing hundreds of movies from the 1970s to the present. Some of the most outstanding titles ever made, number among its releases. My personal disclosure regarding my interest in this state of affairs is that a Regal movie, Ishmael Bernal’s Manila by Night (1980), was one of the 20-or-so titles included in the acclaimed Queer Films Series of Vancouver-based Arsenal Pulp Press. I wrote the monograph for the film – but, as the series editors (Thomas Waugh and Matthew Hays) reminded me, Manila by Night was the only entry that was unavailable to foreign scholars.

11011A far-from-satisfactory DVD edition went out of print several years ago, while copies presumably unsanctioned by the producer may be found online; I have found myself referring researchers to the published version of the full script (translated to English by Alfred A. Yuson) in the August 2012 issue of Ateneo de Manila University’s open-access journal, Kritika Kultura. Obviously none of these measures could subtitute for an adequately remastered and subtitled official version of the film. Ironically Manila by Night may even count itself lucky in relation to all the other Regal Films productions, since it can still allow the public to reimagine how its filmmaker must have envisioned it, based on the substantial traces it has inadvertently left on the web.

11011In an instance such as this, I would uphold the effort of individuals (many of whom must necessarily remain nameless for now) who sought to make as readily available as possible any reasonably acceptable version of the film, in the meantime that the producer and prospective distributor work out their differences. Since his outlet has taken the risk of providing this service to the public, I mention in particular Jojo Devera, where a translated integral version of Manila by Night resides in a carefully curated and remastered condition – entirely at his own expense, with the help of other public-domain activists – on his Magsine Tayo! website, free for anyone to watch and study. Since I had been making the call to my circle of friends to make this particular title available, Devera’s posting was in response to my request; for this reason, I hold myself entirely responsible for the movie’s free and ready availability on his web page.

11011I enjoin all other Filipino and Philippine-sympathetic collectors to heed the historical requisite to provide otherwise unavailable materials for present and future generations to pore over, in order to enable everyone to participate in ongoing discourses on the country, its culture, and its achievements and shortcomings. It is our moral duty to assist one another, in effect to strengthen the public domain, in instances when the institutions responsible for releasing rare holdings find themselves incapable of responding to this need.

April 15, 2018
Incheon, Korea

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