Heritage museum opens at Casa San Miguel in Zambales
By Amadís Ma. GuerreroPhilippine Daily Inquirer
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The recent inauguration of the Museum of Community Heritage at Casa San Miguel—that haven for the arts in San Antonio, Zambales—turned out to be a celebration of Philippine music, dance, visual art, and even cuisine and eco-tourism.
The lord of the manor is eminent violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata (email@example.com).
There was folk-dancing under the stars and the buffet table groaned with succulent Filipino dishes like sugpo, lechon, kangkong, adobong pusit, crispy pata, ensaladang talong, pako (salad), inihaw na isda, mango bibingka with chocolate dip, and so forth.
Also opening that day was a solo show, by young artist Jazel Kristin, of mixed-media works on wood, mini-sculptures playful and whimsical, of flora and fauna, still life, temples and innovative figures in gaudy, colorful costumes.
Bolipata and his young scholars held a concert of classical Filipino music: Molina’s “Hating Gabi,” Velez’s “Sa Kabukiran” and that favorite of choirs, “Sana’y Wala ng Wakas” by Willie Cruz.
During the concert, a large screen showed achingly beautiful World Heritage sites in the country: Tubbataha Reef in Palawan, baroque churches in Ilocos and Iloilo, Banaue Rice Terraces and Puerto Princesa Underground River. The soundtrack was music by Bolipata, with a triumphant choral ode in Tagalog.
One’s favorite art form (along with music, of course)—literature—was “represented” by a mini-library owned by Coke and the Bolipata family; and neatly arranged on one table were works by literary icons like Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky and Jane Austen.
There was mango wine—a product of Zambales—but this was only for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and for the toasts of the VIP guests. But Inquirer photographer Jim Guiao Punzalan invoked the power of media and was given one, which was sweet and heady.
Another glass, please.
The Museo begins with a history of Zambales. We read the text and saw the displays: coral reefs (immersed aquarium-style); ceramics; fishing implements; a fisherman’s exhibit, “Lambat Buhay” (a tribute to the deep-sea fishing net); modules on the indigenous Aytas and on folk tales; and photos of coastal images.
Swirling above were mobile sculptures on painted plywood, a child’s delight, of a butanding (whale shark), a young fisherman on a boat with his catch and the young Maria Makiling.
The Museum of Community Heritage, still evolving, is a paean to Zambales and its history, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk and marine life. One’s immediate impression is that it is a museum mounted by young minds which will appeal to the young.
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Boses is For The World
By Joel David
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:37pm (Mla time) 10/16/2008
MANILA, Philippines- It’s not the first noteworthy film shut out of awards recognition in Cinemalaya history. “Boses (Voice)” joins a long list of works overlooked upon initial release, but whose rewards would come in belated acclaim, discursive attention, extended shelf life, or maybe all three.
“Boses” also serves to indicate a peak in the Cinemalaya ideal: the hope that talent from the margins could overrun the mainstream while playing by the latter’s rules.
The movie takes a grim situation (child abuse) and matches it with high-art therapy (classical music). The narrative unfolds with a strong dose of pleasure, unexpected and startling in its effectiveness, given the nature of the material.
Already the top grosser among the latest Cinemalaya crop, “Boses” appears capable of attaining blockbuster status. Repeat viewership is boosted by word-of-mouth commendation, occasionally hysterical responses even in staid venues that it has graced so far, and star-is-born adulation lavished on its gifted and charismatic child performer, Julian Duque.
To be sure, “Boses” is not a perfect film. A more radical handling of its material would probably have made us better understand, even empathize with, the abuser’s dramatic condition and the child’s willingness to remain a victim for so long. Those conversant with real-life accounts may suspect that the filmmakers sanitized the situation, not to mention the language familiar to actual child-abuse perpetrators, victims and therapists.
Given all the ways it might have fallen short, why is “Boses” the favorite of many Cinemalaya observers? One reason may be that it is dedicated to Johven Velasco, a film artist, teacher, and scholar who spent a lifetime in the academe until his sudden, tragic demise a year ago this month, unknown to the rest of the world except for a handful of students and friends who swear by his selfless dedication and willingness to share everything he had.
The fact that filmmaker Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil makes this connection between the lives of her characters and that of an actual acquaintance indicates that she upholds the power of love, a value that, even more than film pleasure, tends to upset film experts used to the facile ways it constantly gets exploited in the medium.
Indeed, the core relationship in “Boses” between the young survivor of parental abuse and the violinist who awakens his talent (in the process recovering from his own tragedy) is the film’s heartbeat. Not only does the interaction start cute and end intensely with a near-breakdown and bittersweet separation; it also occasions bravura performances by the actors as thespians and as musicians.
Stage to film
Surprising, though perfectly logical, was Ongkeko-Marfil’s acknowledgment, during one of the film’s screenings that, in real life, Bolipata is Duque’s violin mentor.
Ongkeko-Marfil’s background in stage arts has obviously helped the impressive evolution of her cinematic skills. With “Boses,” she hews close to what the late greats Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal, mis-recognized by indie filmmakers as foreign-festival and anti-mass audience innovators, struggled to achieve: an unapologetic catering to the viewers’ pleasure alongside intelligent direction.
Melodrama, the mode Ongkeko-Marfil has chosen, poses a grave challenge to serious film evaluators. The genre belongs to the larger group of “body” films, so-called for their ability to provoke corporeal, as opposed to cerebral, responses – goose bump-raising with horror, sexual arousal with pornography, laughter incitement with comedy and, in this instance, tear jerking.
For the greater part of the last two decades, feminist critics have been spearheading a campaign to rehabilitate these much-derided genres, but their uphill movement shows no signs of reaching level ground in high-art culture, the indie-film scene included.
“Boses” evinces a systematic working-through of the elements peculiar to local melodrama: kilig, (shivers), tampuhan (untranslatable in one word -Ed), tawanan(laughter), kantahan (singing, with violins instead of voices), habulan (chase), andpagwawala (going wild). The penultimate sequence between the teacher and student protagonists encapsulates the earlier depiction of the shifting nature of their interaction: from farewell bonding, to panic, to relief, to hysteria, to music-making, to a brief comic exchange, to a final display of exuberance.
One might wish that the performers had been seasoned enough to allow Ongkeko-Marfil to use a single take, but the scene unfolded in one continuous action, such was the brilliance of said sequence’s nearly wordless conception, grand in romantic dimension yet sad in its recognition that the just-bonded individuals may never be this close, and this innocent, again.
The musical number that ends the narrative succeeds because it refuses to provide definitive closure for any of the characters. The teacher will have to contend with his newfound dependence on the validation provided by his prodigy. The child will have to work out his loyalties for two needy father figures. The biological father will have to face the reality of his son challenging his vulnerable manhood. The social worker will start worrying whether her decision to reconcile the family was right.
A few films have helped incite revolutionary change, and the inward turn that “Boses” inspires ought to be fulfilment enough for the talents behind it. Most local digital practitioners will continue to aspire for and attain festival honors abroad, but this is the first movie made by a colleague of theirs that, more than anything else, truly belongs to the world because it remains rooted at home.
Two Standouts in Cinemalaya’s Indie Festival
By: Nestor U. Torre
Philippines Daily Inquirer
Saturday Special, July 19, 2008
A distinct pleasure to watch is ELLEN ONGEKEKO-MARFIL’s “BOSES”, which delves into the unusual bond that unexpectedly develops between a morose violinist (Coke Bolipata) and a battered boy.
The boy, Onyok, is brought to a shelter run bu the violinist’s sister (Cherry Pie Picache), after his father (Ricky Davao)beat him up and used his back as an ashtray. Completely traumatized, the boy loses his voice, hence the film’s ironic title.
It turns out, however, that the boy eventually finds another, more eloquent voice in the music he creates with the violin, which he learns to play under the master violinist’s tutelage.
The film inspires because it shows that the boy isn’t the only one who benefits from the relationship: The violinist is so heartened by his musical prodigy’s progress and becomes so protective of him that he eventually forgets his own traumatic experience, and learns to live for others.
True, the movie is too “arty” at times, and the death of the violinist’s beloved (Meryll Soriano) is too melodramatically staged-but, “BOSES” compensates for these and other low points with its stirring depiction of two losers who end up winning big.
The film is made even more compelling by the stirring performances turned in by the boy who plays Onyok, Davao, Picache-and, most of all, by Bolipata, who moves us not only with his unexpectedly felt and insightful portrayal, but also with his musical performance, which is an overwhelming experience.
A famous musician once told us that Bolipata is one of the world’s finest string artist. Now, we know why: The amazing evidence is there for all to belatedly marvel at in “BOSES”.