Imaging the Igorot in Vernacular Films Produced in the Cordillera Ruth M.

Tindaan
With its distinctive terrain and exotic cultures, the Cordillera has been a resource of images for Philippine mainstream cinema from its early years of filmmaking to the present. Mainstream filmmakers have employed Igorot cultural practices or Cordillera settings in their productions and this strategy has proved to be an effective means of generating interest. In 1954, for instance, Gerardo de Leon made Ifugao which won him honors at the Asian Film Festival that year. A decade later in 1968, Luis Nepomuceno made Igorota which starred the celebrated actress, Charito Solis, whose display of her bare breasts at a time when it was taboo to do so, brought about interest as much as controversy to this film (Lumbera 1989). Although these films were lauded in the country and abroad, they have not been well-received by Igorots as indicated by accounts given by Cecille Afable in her column In and Out of Baguio in the Baguio Midland Courier. In the December 22, 1968 issue of this local newspaper, Afable says that “there was going to be a demonstration against the showing of the film Igorota [in Baguio]. The Igorots say that it is a poor showing of themselves”(4). In the March 1, 1970 issue of the same paper, Afable further accounts that “a group of Igorots carried placards to the UP in Baguio where the producer and director of the movie Igorota was delivering a talk on film production in this country” (3). Despite protests like those observed by Afable, mainstream producers have not been deterred from including images of the Igorot in their films. In the 1990s, a number of films on the Igorot were made and one among the most notable is Mumbaki which is about the Ifugao like de Leon’s film. Notwithstanding the objections of a group of Ifugao professionals enraged about what they claim to be an outright misinterpretation of their practices, this film was awarded Best Picture by FAMAS and Movie of the Year by Star Awards in 1996 . In the 2000s, the inclusion of Igorot images in mainstream films has continued and this has been done apparently to spice up mainstream productions which have become repetitive in plots, characterization and cinematic styles. The employment of unflattering Igorot images in mainstream films has reinforced already prejudiced images of this community which have been drawn by earlier discourses. During the Spanish period, “missionary narratives and bureaucratic reports highlighted the ‘barbarism’ of the Igorots” (Tolentino 2001, 4). When the Americans took over the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, they produced “ethnographic surveys [that] usually reinforced Western concepts of the irrational and therefore incomprehensible primitive for colonialist ends” (Tolentino 2001, 4). Scholars, local and foreign tourists, artists and other “adventurers” have also produced an assortment of literature on the Igorots. Most of these scientific articles, travel essays, personal communication, photographs and other texts, treat the Igorot in ways not unlike earlier colonialist records. The word “Igorot” has therefore become synonymous with uncivilized, crude and backward.

Against such backdrop of prejudiced representation, the production of vernacular films by Igorot filmmakers beginning in 1992 comes as opportunity for the presentation of Igorot images which may serve as alternative to what have been created by the mainstream. As a body of self-representative work from the periphery, these films promise to contribute new perspectives and unconventional visions which create greater diversity in what has come to be known as the film industry. The production of these films was initiated by Sammy Dangpa, a film enthusiast from Buguias, Benguet who founded the Vernacular Video Ministry (VVM) through which most of the films have been produced with the support of mostly local and foreign Christian organizations. Many of the productions are narrative films about Igorot families and individuals whose ethnic traditions and values are set against Christian beliefs, influence of outsiders, trappings and trends of modern living and desire for better living conditions. Most of the stories in these films are anchored on biblical passages presented in text and voice-over either at the beginning or end of each film. Some films include interviews with local folks. Some incorporate footages of cultural events in the Cordillera and videos of local and foreign locations. Although these films have not found their way to the movie houses, these films have become popular among Igorots in the Cordillera including those who live and work elsewhere. In Benguet and Mt. Province, the popularity of these films may be observed from the penchance of not a few farmers in marking their vegetable transport vehicles with the titles of these films. The songs included in these films have also been widely patronized. The initial productions of these films were screened in church gatherings and other community events until demand called for distribution of VCD copies and further productions. With the increasing popularity of these films, other Igorot individuals and groups became interested in making their own productions. Indigenous Film Productions1 and Tricord2 (Tribal Cooperation for Rural Development), for instance, released their first productions in 2007. These productions have similar themes with those produced by VVM. It is often assumed that films produced within a community are “more faithful” to the community's sense of self compared to films produced by outsiders. By supposing that members of a community are better informed about community life, this assumption recognizes the value of community involvement in cinematic production. However, by automatically ascribing these films with sympathetic value to the community that produced them, this view ignores the possibility that the productions might, in fact, work to reinscribe dominant beliefs rather than dismantle them. It is with this incredulity to the inherent sympathy of the vernacular films to the Igorot community that this study proceeds to interrogate the representational practice of this cinema. I seek to examine these films to ascertain their promise in the creation of representations that emancipate the Igorots from the prejudicial view of mainstream cinema. I look into cinematic strategies employed in these films and
1

an informal organization of film enthusiasts from Mankayan, Benguet; some of its members had prior involvements in VVM productions
2

a non-government organization based in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya. It is an umbrella organization of smaller groups composed of ethnic populations especially Ifugao, Kankana-ey and Bugkalot most of who reside in the upland barangays of Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao.

determine if these do work to create more complex images of the Igorot that go beyond the simplistic versions presented in mainstream films. In the same way, I analyze these strategies to find out if they reinforce the prevailing images of the Igorot perpetuated in the mainstream. Postcolonial Theory in the examination of cinema Analysis of the vernacular films produced by Igorot filmmakers to examine their potential in positing an alternative cultural identity for this community calls for the use of postcolonial theory because of this theory’s interest in representation and discourse with particular attention to issues concerning disenfranchised indigenous communities. According to Mongia (1997), postcolonial theory turns to language and problematizes the nature of representation itself and of an assumed linguistic transparency that gives access to a reality that lies outside. Postcolonial theory’s attention to the contingency of representation leads to analyses of both the ways in which knowledge is produced and the means of constructing authority in disciplines of intellectual production. Although it predates the conception of postcolonial theory, countertelling in cinema, in the spirit of a postcolonial critique, began with the post war collapse of the European empires and the emergence of independent Third World nation-states (Bordwell and Thompson 2003). Third World film ideology was crystallized in a wave of militant manifesto essays in the 1960s: “Esthetic of Hunger” by the Brazilian Glauber Rocha, “For an Imperfect Cinema” by the Cuban Julio Garcia Espinosa, and “Towards a Third Cinema” by Argentines Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino. A salient feature of the Third World cinema of the 1960s and 1970s is an attempt, at once theoretical and practical, to formulate an esthetic and a production method appropriate to the economic situation of Third world nations. In “Esthetics of Hunger,” Rocha (1965) highlights the role of a revolutionary cinema in alleviating the “wretchedness” of Latin America which is rooted in its neocolonial situation. Recognizing the lack of technical resources to match the affluence of commercial film production, Rocha promotes the transformation of this lack into an expressive force. He considers scarcity as a signifier that rejects the relative luxury and self-indulgence of antecedent Brazilian commercial cinema that produces “happy and fast films with no messages” because they have “purely industrial aims.” These “technicolor patches,” according to Rocha “do not hide but only worsen hunger’s tumors” (2). He also believes that “miserabilism” or the employment of images that call attention to underdevelopment undermines the bureaucratic hierarchies of conventional production because “only a culture of hunger, drenched in its own structures, can take a qualitative leap” (2). Like Rocha, Espinosa (1969) is also concerned with the role of cinema in consolidating social transformation and with building a new relationship between culture and society. Espinosa begins by opposing the technical perfection of Western cinema which, according to him, “is almost always reactionary cinema”. He then offers a new poetics of cinema, what he calls “imperfect cinema” which “finds its audience in those who struggle” and “its themes in their problems.” This cinema

they are still contained within the dominant system. Although they do constitute attempts at cultural decolonization and lead their filmmakers to express themselves “in nonstandard language”. They challenge two existing forms of cinema.contrasts to Western cinema which concerns itself with celebration of results and outcomes. “first cinema” is Hollywood. Images of the Igorot in Philippine Mainstream Cinema Postcolonial criticism underlines the significance of colonial legacy in the construction of the conceptual foundations of western thought.” Solanas and Getino believe that Third cinema can only fulfill its role as “the most important revolutionary artistic event of our times” when filmmakers oppose the cinema of characters. . museum art. “imperfect cinema” draws lessons from popular art in which “the creators are at the same time the spectators and vice versa” (4) and art is “carried out as but another life activity combating the limitations of taste.” In Solanas and Getino’s view. even the advance that these represent is a limited one. In its concern with process. and passivity. the masses. but for revolutionary communication to occur. Only “third cinema”. and any linguistic experimentation placed within the context of a given idea. The only real alternatives to Hollywood cinema that they pick out are those forms of “author’s cinema” – from the French nouvelle vague to the Brazilian cinema novo – which they dub “second cinema”. Espinosa also points out that “imperfect cinema” disentangles itself from procedures characteristic of Western “perfect cinema. that is. “imperfect cinema” is also indifferent to mere quality or technique. For Solanas and Getino. which they advocate. both of which are “perfect” in Espinosa’s terms. and authors with a cinema of themes. breaks free from these constraints. Solanas and Getino’s own stance is based on their confidence in the mass audience because they claim that the best militant cinema has shown that “social layers considered backward” are able “to capture the exact meaning of an association of images. Their program – which forms part of a necessary decolonization of culture – proposes a cinema of subversion that involves two complementary procedures: the destruction of the old modes of conceiving cinema and the old image shaped by colonialism and neocolonialism and the creation of a new cinema. Instead. an effect of staging. For Espinosa. for instance. individuals. and the demarcation lines between the creator and the public” (4). in their manifesto “Towards a Third Cinema”. suggests that even as it attempts to dismantle Enlightenment certainties. the kind of art made by a minority for the masses who are defined as mere consumers or spectators. They assert that this model must be attacked on every level since even the adoption of the merely formal elements of the dominant Hollywood film language leads inevitably to the adoption of the ideological assumptions. escape. filmmakers are therefore free to be innovative in their use of the resources of cinema. the test of a film is its response to the dismantling of elite designs that have conditioned its form. echo Espinosa’s distrust of Western formal perfection. Gyan Prakash.” It does not draw on mass art. and collective work and when they dismantle misinformation. For them. filmmakers must disregard the traditional film industry’s notions of hierarchy and professionalism and work instead to “demystify the medium. however. Solanas and Getino (1969).

1994) in Figure 1 which stars Judy Anne Santos as Sister Sabel. With the colonizer possessing positional superiority.” that is. Images of Igorots in Philippine mainstream films can be generally described according to two master tropes of colonialism identified by Shohat and Stam (1994) in their discussion of Third World films. The Ibalois are on the passive end of this opposition because they are depicted as incapable of sustaining a fight for themselves.postcolonial theory acknowledges their continuing and residual power. a lesbian doctor who helps her recover from trauma and confusion over falling in love with an inmate who raped her. a former nun who takes refuge in an Ibaloi village in Benguet with Toni (Sunshine Dizon). Infantilization as a trope also posits the political immaturity of colonized peoples seen as Calibans suffering from “Prospero Complex. it is important to first locate these films in the representational practice of Philippine mainstream cinema which has preceded the producton of vernacular films. On the forefront of their resistance against a mining firm that proposes to displace them is an articulate lowland doctor who speaks on their behalf in addition to taking good care of their health. this colonial trope of infantilization is translated into the relationship between the dominant group that produces these films and the marginalized people like the Igorots who become subjects of mainstream productions. the Ibalois remain as passive multitude listening to exchanges between Toni and the lawyer. The infantilization of Igorots is apparent in several mainstream films like Sabel (Regal Films. In Philippine mainstream films. Because Toni leads the opposition . the colonized adults are projected to be intellectually identical to White children. Their lands are at stake but the Ibalois do not talk. Figure 1 & 2. they simply applaud Toni’s witty arguments for them. The first trope. an inbred dependency on the leadership of white Europeans. according to these scholars. is infantilization which treats the colonized as embodying an earlier stage of individual human or broad cultural development. Infantilization in this film first translates into a binary of activity and passivity. During confrontations with the firm’s representative as shown in Figure 2. In this project that analyzes the vernacular films therefore.

Figure 3 & 4 In addition to the binary of activity and passivity. with her lover and her mother. she gets rid of the Ibalois’ enemy. By killing the lawyer. Sabel avenges Toni’s rape. What happens to them. Toni’s aggressive image is placed in sharp focus against those of the Ibalois who remain in background blur. he denied having seen the incident and instead he talked about how Sabel and Tony helped his community .of the Ibalois against the mining firm. Lowland culture is presented as deep and profound while highland culture is shallow and superficial. In Don’t Give Up On Us (Star Cinema. The Ibalois finally speak through one witness3 but this only one time they do is meant to defend someone who has done them good and not to reveal their own predicaments. In Figures 3 and 4. at the end of the film. but these people remain largely nameless. The Ibalois are not only dependent on Toni but on Sabel as well. but at the same time. The film says little about the Ibaloi characters because it does not engage with them as individual subjects. The Ibalois and their problems serve as sidelights to a film that studies the individual psychology of the main character. Sabel is often isolated in tight close up shots to call attention to the turmoil of her emotions while the Ibalois are passed in extreme long shots of their village. The film relies on the Ibalois to provide a space where Sabel works out the conflicts besetting her personality. the Ibalois hold a feast to thank Sabel for her heroism. And yet. their land. 2006). in a series of shot-reverse-shots that show Toni and the lawyer engaged in argument. she is positioned in front of the community members. This opposition is apparent in the characterization of the main protagonists Abby (Judy Anne Santos) and Vince (Piolo Pascual) who initially dislike each other but 3 This witness who comes from the Ibaloi community saw Sabel stabbing the lawyer but in his court testimony. low angle shots of Sabel as she performs the Ibaloi native dance inside a circle formed by the Ibalois make her the central figure in this occasion which serves as finale to the film. the intellectual infancy of Igorots is established in terms of notions of depth and surface. Sabel therefore becomes a heroine among the Ibalois who confirm this position by maintaining Sabel’s innocence although they know she is guilty. their culture and traditions is airbrushed as soon as Sabel finally comes into terms with herself. infantilization in this film also takes on a spatial trope which posits that Ibaloi life is peripheral.

finally finds Sabrina in the house of Vince’s friend. you are too saucy for this place). He runs after Abby despite her outright rejection and when he finally decides to let go. With this statement Abby affirms that the highland. she acknowledges the allure of an exotic highland but one which does not fit her well-planned life. just like Vince himself. she is organized and is particular with all details both in the advertisements that her company produces and in her brother’s wedding preparations. but Vince tells her that life is simple in the highland. masyado kang maarte para sa lugar na ito. When they travel to Banaue. he takes things as they come and he is oblivious of time. on the other hand. lacks sophistication for lowlanders like herself and Sabrina. Sab. Employing the opposition between the main characters and their places of origin. This film banks on the notion that opposites attract but in this opposition. Abby tells Sabrina “Hindi ka pwedeng tumira dito. one can ask for reject vegetables from neighbors and these are enough to satisfy one’s hunger. the lowlander has the upper hand. Abby indicates that this amount is not enough for living. The opposition of highland and lowland life is further invoked when Abby. The contrast of these characteristics is further reinforced with conversations of Abby and Vince about the difference of lowland and highland life. Abby resorts to a dismissal of highland living. And indeed. Vince himself confirms his image as an opposite of sophistication and maturity. doesn’t have a profitable job except for part time singing in a bar. She convinces Sabrina to go back with her to the city and marry her brother but when Sabrina becomes adamant of her love for Vince’s friend. Figure 5 & 6 Figure 5 shows Abby’s disgust when Vince reveals that he earns three thousand pesos a month. she has definite plans and she lives by the clock to meet these plans. Later.” (You can’t stay here.finally fall in love in the process of looking for Abby’s brother’s runaway bride. Vince confiscates Abby’s watch because he is irritated with Abby’s constant checking of time. this film maintains that the lowlander and lowland culture is superior with its higher faculties of foresight and . Vince. it is on account of this lack that she rejects Vince’s love when he brings her back to the lowland. Sab. Abby has a well paying job. in Figure 6. Abby tells her boss that her involvement with Vince was a lapse caused by rush emotion. he returns Abby’s watch through her father saying Abby needs the watch by then because she is back to the world where she belongs. By this conclusion.

Given to naïve belief on the ability of their gods to cure them. a young Ifugao doctor whose ambition to work abroad and to marry his lowlander sweetheart (Rachel Alejandro) get tangled with his family and community obligations. the film suggests. they accept no other means of settling disputes except through bloodshed. The ferocity of the Ifugaos. The uncle shows human skulls to Joseph and tells him that those were taken by their fearless ancestors. The failure of the gods to cure their people is explained in the film by the folly of native religion. the Ifugaos refuse to take medicines and they continue to believe even if their gods fail to save many of them from death. The second colonialist trope identified by Shohat and Stam (1994) is animalization. They kill without mercy as indicated by Figure 7 showing the body of Joseph’s brother Jimmy (Edward Vergara) which is literally cut into pieces with a butcher knife and Figure 8 showing his cousin Carlos’ (Albert Martinez) head cut and taken to the village of the enemy where the leader blinds the eyes with lime. Jimmy tells his brother “pangturista lang yan kuya. Like treacherous predators. Jimmy. When Joseph asks him why he did not attend a village ritual. The film emphasizes the bestial character of the Ifugaos by calling attention to the violence of their combat. the highlander and the highland culture is inferior with its inclination to subsistence and idleness.determination while. Mumbaki animalizes the Ifugao by depicting them as barbaric fighters hungry for revenge.1996) which tells the story of Joseph (Raymart Santiago). is not incidental because it is rooted in the past. nag-aalay sila ng . Figure 7. warriors from both sides attack by surprise. Animalization is clearly the controlling trope in the film Mumbaki (Neo Films. In Figure 9. affirms the absurdity of native religion. Joseph’s elders remind him that their clan is descended from a line of fearless warriors. 8 & 9 The bestiality of the Ifugaos in the film is also emphasized by the image of backwardness. They say that this trope is rooted in a religious and philosophical tradition which drew sharp boundaries between the animal and the human and where all animal-like characteristics of the self were to be suppressed. Encounters are replete with blood oozing from wounds inflicted by sharpened bolos. When pressing Joseph to avenge his father’s death. Joseph’s uncle brings his nephew to a hut that keeps weapons used by their ancestors. who is himself an Ifugao.

When Joseph decides to finally avenge his father’s death. Doctor Lorenzo tells Joseph. Although the film allows a break on the general immaturity of mind among the Ifugaos by including one who becomes a doctor. and they endure their usual fare of rice and taro. Nestor and Doming pursue their studies by making all sorts of remedies and sacrifices. After the burial of Joseph’s father. sagipin mo ang kapwa mo Ifugao” (do you prove that you are an Ifugao by killing your rivals? If you are a true Ifugao. his relatives perform a ritual where the elders cut the head of a live rooster and let the headless chicken run toward the person appointed by their gods to carry out the revenge for Joseph’s slain father. Also. they stay in a small rented house with no electricity. Attracted by the promise of huge earnings.pagkain at inumin sa mga baki ngunit sila rin ang kumukunsumo” ([that ritual] is for tourists only. This strategy is apparent in Laton Pay Dedan (It will be all right) (VVM. Instead of lamenting and resenting their misfortune. Doctor Lorenzo is even more so because his death unites the two warring villages and inspires Joseph’s devotion to his people. Joseph is still significantly an infant trapped in self centeredness who needed Doctor Lorenzo’s tutelage. 2001) which is about the educational quest of cousins Doming. Native religion is also implicated in the bestiality of fighting. the elders offer thanks to their gods in rituals where pigs are sacrificed. Nestor and Osing. By relating the success story of Doming and Nestor. One strategy that these films deploy to undertake this project of opposition is the presentation of stories that foreground Igorot characters who are active agents in the making of their lives. this film emphasizes these characters’ self-reliance and determination. The sacrifices that Nestor and Doming have to bear are further emphasized in this film with the image of scarcity established through the conversations of the characters and lyrics of background song. the vernacular films create images of the Igorot which oppose the dominant tropes that describe the Igorot in Philippine mainstream cinema. Confronting Intellectual Immaturity As a body of self representative work by Igorot filmamkers. The “backwardness”of the Ifugaos is further established through the opposition of characteristics between the two main protagonists just like in Don’t Give Up On Us. They labor in their neighbor’s farms to augment the little money they receive from their parents. Doctor Lorenzo reminds him of his oath as doctor. they offer food and drink to the gods which they themselves consume). While preparing taro . save your fellow Ifugao). The elders invoke their gods for assistance when their village attacks their enemies and when Carlos succeeds in one instance. papatayin mo sila? Kung tunay kang Ifugao. “ganyan mo patutunayan ang pagka Ifugao mo. it is the wisdom of this lowland doctor that brings Joseph to his senses. The commitment of this doctor in treating the sick Ifugao and in helping to end the dispute between the two warring villages contrasts with Joseph’s selfishness. Joseph prefers to work in the US rather than in his hometown which is suffering from a pneumonia epidemic and which is served by only one doctor. The presence of Doctor Lorenzo rescuing Joseph from his self-interest and the helpless Ifugao villagers from their illness is reminiscent of Toni and Sabel who save the Ibalois from the claws of a mining firm. If Sabel is a hero for killing the lawyer representative of the firm.

Osing is not placed in a bad light altogether. But even though this comparison shows Osing’s failure. Osing matures into 4 This song alludes to a morning radio program aired on a local station which announces the buying prices of vegetables at the Trading Post in La Trinidad. they do not complain nor blame anyone for their misfortune instead they refuse to be bound by what these circumstances allow. Because of such complaints. unbuwas kan manibog ni in-esek mo. ipahat moy kabaedan mosay balbalang nu waray mu Idaho. you wake up early to water your crops. Nestor and Doming talk about the need to avoid vices. the capital town of Benguet. the film emphasizes that their attitude and conduct are everything but infantile behavior. They disapprove of such reckless spending because they worry about apportioning the money they have for their needs. Contrary to his earlier indulgence in self-gratification. By showing the difficulties that Doming and Nestor had to endure. nu timpun ni pangepit mo kuwan shay mayat presyo ay apoy dedsak mo. you do your best to take care of them hoping that you have something to sell. Doming and Nestor lead their way to this direction. They imagine the amount spent by their cousin on his drinking and they compute the span of time that amount would have sustained them. this song registers the complaints of many farmers who have relied on the figures being aired because the program is sponsored by a government agency. they tell you that the price of vegetables is favorable but when you bring your crops for sale. at the time of harvest.for their meals. Although they are weighed down by their family’s impoverished circumstances. they tell you that the price has gone down)4. . ngem nu timpun ni mu pandaho kuwan shay bagsak presyo (the life of farmers is difficult. Aside from noting that farmers do not control the prices of their produce. Recognizing early on that obtaining an education is their best chance for more and better opportunities. Lyrics of background song explain the meager earnings of their parents. ajuwanan mun pasiya. Figure 10 & 11 Figures 10 and 11 show that the three cousins are compared in this film by cross-cutting shots of Nestor and Doming busy in their studies and home chores with those of Osing having a good time in a videoke bar. biag ni gardinero. “Adigat nga agpayso. this program has since included a disclaimer that says the prices may change any time. This comparison works to highlight that it is Doming and Nestor’s determination that made them successful.

she gives justice to these people’s help by fulfilling her side of the bargain. like his cousins. the three cousins all participate in steering the course of their future. If Doming and Nestor struggled against their poverty. Unlike Vince in Don’t Give up on Us who is suddenly given an opportunity to be someone via a recording offer. Compared to the passive Ibaloi characters in Sabel who are saved by Sabel and Toni. she bears the burden of domestic work for others in order to send herself to school as shown in Figures 12 and 13. the main protagonist in this film is shown to be self-reliant. Osing gets rid of his vices and he endures difficult work in the farm to provide for his family. When his wife dies. The inability of her parents to support her studies does not stop her from pursuing her education. Similar to Doming and Nestor in Laton Pay Dedan. the characters in Laton Pay Dedan are shown to have no easy way out of their misfortune. Although she seeks the assistance of other people. He fails to finish his studies and marries early but he takes responsibility for the choices he made. their traits do not simply emanate from their inherent predisposition to admirable qualities. Their traits are therefore shown to have been carved out by their need to confront and overcome difficult circumstances. Laton Pay Dedan does not simply overturn the image of Igorot dependency in mainstream films by assigning random positive traits to the characters. Instead of depending on other people’s generosity as does Vince in Don’t Give Up On Us who asks for reject vegetables from his neighbors and who is satisfied with such situation. the characters in Laton Pay Dedan think and act for themselves. she takes care of domestic work in her aunt’s house without . The film indicates then that albeit they confront different problems and take different means to solve these. However. The change in Osing’s life from selfindulgence to responsibility indicates that Osing. Osing takes full responsibility for the care of his children. Figure 12 & 13 Like Laton Pay Dedan. After he marries and feels the difficulties of having no prospects other than farming. Despite her young age. the film Dinada (Help Carry each Other’s Burdens) (Tricord. Domingga depends on her own efforts to augment her parent’s financial inability. 2007) also confronts the projected intellectual immaturity of Igorots in mainstream cinema by telling another success story.a sensible man. When she stays with her aunt in exchange for school support. Osing himself struggled against his initial lack of good sense. also sought to direct his life toward a better direction.

Domingga declines saying they should complete their studies first before getting married. Through the chronicles of Domingga’s work with Tricord. 15 & 16 In Figure 14. he is satisfied with his meager pay for part time singing in a bar and he is stuck with depression over Abby’s rejection of his love. they extend their help to someone in need. This reflection of mutual help in the community is further established in the image of Tricord. Domingga is shown explaining the financial assistance programs offered by the organization. she also aims to elevate her mind through education. However. the film presents the programs of the organization that attempt to address the problems of people in communities like their lack of capital for farming and the inaccessibility of health services. Domingga devotes her time to the programs of Tricord in addition to her teaching. In Figure 15. Domingga’s attributes are significantly different from those of Vince in Don’t Give Up On Us. this film asserts that in addition to the protagonist’s desire to alleviate her family’s living conditions. Domingga could have chosen this convenient offer to solve her financial problems but she believes in gaining knowledge rather than enjoying other people’s affluence. t Figure 14. She stresses the need for responsible payments for these loans to ensure the continuation of the program. she expalins in a nearby village how herbal plants may be used as . This organization figures in the film as a catalyst for the community’s well-being. By characterizing Domingga in this way. The film further affirms Dominga’s maturity by showing that she initiates to give back to those who have helped her study. Aside from presenting the maturity of Igorots in Domingga as an individual. Domingga demonstrates ability in effecting change and progress for herself and her community while Vince remains impotent. the film also ascribes the same value to Domingga’s community. Domingga demonstrates her prudence when she declines her boyfriend’s marriage proposal immediately after their high school graduation. Although the people in this community themselves experience financial difficulties. This man promises her a good life because his parents own tracks of land in Ifugao. Furthermore. she goes to another community where she demonstrates bee keeping as additional livelihood while in Figure 16.complaint and when she is sent by the Tricord staff to college. she studies conscientiously and graduates ahead of time.

in effect. the film shows that the solution of community problems depends on the hands of members themselves. they serve no unifying purpose (Gabriel 1990). This film’s emphasis on collective space contrasts to mainstream film’s preoccupation with a fast-paced movement of time. which. But this “cinematic excess” is deployed in Dinada because in this film.e. Hollywood therefore developed editing devices to cheat natural time. communication is slow-paced because time is not rushed with a concentration of long takes and repetition of images and scenes. pauses. Thus. With the image of an organization that responds to the specific needs of communities through the cooperation of community members. The emphasis of the film on collectivism is carried out with the manipulation of space rather than time. The film therefore eschews the mainstream’s fixation with a hero-dominated narrative and instead celebrates collective achievement. the members of this community “help carry each other’s burdens. creates a kind of village or extended family esthetic to foster a collective space. Dinada also employs orality to emphasize collective survival. Domingga’s accomplishments are measured not only by her individual achievements but by the degree to which they accomplish and contribute to the social good.” This film. The recurrence of similar patterns in the stories (like the difficulties in putting oneself through school) indicates the affinity of each story to all so that the story of the female protagonist becomes the story of everyone else in her community and similarly. By the same token. In addition. linger on scenes where characters tell stories and these shots show similar images of people crying after momentary silence in between attempts to tell a coherent story of their life struggles. The similar hushed tones.alternatives to commercial medicines and she encourages the maintenance of a communal bank of herbal remedies. Editing devices used are based on the idea that “non-dramatic” elements in film are considered “cinematic excess” i. even if the narrative of this film is constructed around Domingga’s story. become the fabric of solidarity among the members. In addition to the image of a cooperative that calls attention to collective action. orality takes the form of story telling among characters who actually share similar experiences. Such time movement is characteristic of Hollywood cinema based on western preoccupation with the commercial value of time. In this film. the stories of people in her community becomes hers as well. . Instead of being delivered out of their miseries by benevolent outsiders. the film believes that progress is achieved through the initiative and mutual help of community members not through the competence and selflessness of outsiders like Toni and Sabel. It speaks of this community’s common struggles. In this film. it is the importance of collective engagement and action that matters not the consideration of spectators becoming bored and impatient. it tells the collective history of a community. the prevalence of wide-angle shots of longer duration also deals with the characters’ sense of community. As its title suggests. Although the film uses the success story of Domingga as the central narrative. in turn. Long takes. the film shows that progress does not lie on the exceptional attributes of the main protagonist. it emphasizes the participation of the community in this success. repetitions and bursts of emotion that mark the stories told by the characters further indicate the commonality of these experiences. for instance.

Because the purely industrial aims of these mainstream films are contested by the violence of “hungry films. the images of hunger in Laton pay Dedan and Dinada call for an understanding of the oppressive conditions and limited opportunities of smalltime farmers who are almost never represented in mainstream cinema. some human figures appear as silhouettes for lack of appropriate lighting to fill in shadowy spaces. Figure 17.In the process of confronting the stereotypical image of the Igorot as intellectually deficient in mainstream cinema. 18 & 19 In Laton pay Dedan and Dinada. these unpleasant sounds and images create violence that opposes “digestive cinema”. characterizes the elements of the mise-en-scene in both films. The films also offer only harsh sounds like the scraping of the uneven door in the house rented by the cousins in Laton Pay Dedan and the knocking of knife on a wooden board as Domingga’s mother slice sweet potatoes for supper. they use firewood for cooking and they wash their dishes and clothes in the river.” Rocha believes that this violence is the starting point for understanding the existence of those who lack economic power. In both films. According to Rocha (1965). Apparently. In the rare occasions . the films lack the standard three point lighting system that would have enabled the ample illumination of characters. hunger. According to Rocha. lack is a nagging presence that impinges on the conversations. likewise. Rocha’s idea of “miserabilism” characterizes not only the life of the main characters but the conditions of their communities as well.films that indulge in happy. 18 and 19. In indoor locations. funny and fast films about rich people in their luxury cars and magnificent houses. the lighting in these films is harsh as well. In these settings.” Rejecting the luxury of commercial cinema. In this sense. Rocha promotes the transformation of lack in technical resources into an “expressive force” that undermines the bureaucratic hierarchies and alienating images of conventional film production. Similar to the impoverished settings. decisions and actions of the characters. Laton pay Dedan and Dinada engage in what Glauber Rocha (1965) calls “Esthetic of Hunger. No places of recreation are seen in these films because most of the residents are too poor to indulge in pleasure. Rocha advocates the creation of “filmic allegories of underdevelopment” to call attention to dismal social conditions in the Third World. “this violence is not bound to the old colonizing humanism because the love that this violence contains…is not a complacent or contemplative love. As shown by Figures 17. but rather a love of action and transformation”(3). residents who subsist on small-time farming live in small houses that are built with cogon grass and scraps of wood and galvanized iron. The settings are rural areas that are bereft of picturesque sceneries and amenities of comfortable living.

that it talks about farmers. The film uses shots taken in the staged performance of the ritual by the diegetic family and footages of actual ritual performances. By taking up themes in what Espinosa calls “problems of those who struggle. her/his coffin.g. more often than not. they oppose the preoccupation of mainstream productions which concern celebration of results and outcomes. The film employs the “Kuleshov Effect. which are.” an editing device which creates spatial whole by eliminating establishing shots and cutting together a series of disparate shots (Bordwell and Thompson 1990). Such illness is believed to be an indication that a deceased family member wants or needs something (e.g. This is apparent in the film Kedaw5 (The Request) (VVM. mainstream films employ Igorot rituals as sidelights and curiosities to otherwise formulaic stories. Darna and Captain Barbel. It is further believed that the deceased make their requests or complaints known through the ill person’s dreams. The film contemplates on a healing practice by combining fiction and documentary. The images of scarcity in both films also contrast with the view of breathtaking mountains and rice terraces peopled with friendly folks in colorful ethnic clothes which are the prevalent pictures of the Cordillera featured by commercial films and the tourism industry. delivered by exceptional characters the likes of Panday. The fictional story provides the occasion for the exchange of thoughts among non-diegetic characters who comment as the events in the fictional story unfold. blanket. 5 This ritual is done when a family member suffers from an extended illness which is not cured by medicines or which cannot be explained by medical practitioners. her/his grave was disturbed or neglected or living family members have not followed certain instructions). They have nothing to do with “narcissistic posture” and they are not interested in the problems of neurosis – concerns which are commonly indulged by mainstream productions. With the emphasis of these films on the process of overcoming struggles especially through collective work. 2007) which dwells on the practice of a healing ritual of the same name. Usually. In addition to following the line of Rocha’s esthetic of hunger. the opposite of a cinema which beautifully illustrates ideas or concepts.” Espinosa points out that these characters who struggle are “lucid people” who are convinced that they can transform the problems that they experience. The vernacular films contest this peripheralization of Igorots in mainstream films by taking Igorot cultural practice as theme. Native priests are consulted for the interpretation of these dreams because they are believed to be gifted with this ability or that they have acquired wisdom that enables them to do so. . mainstream cinema usually sentimentalizes them as passive victims. as embodiment of pastoral purity or as accessories to organized crime manifest in mainstream action films that locate marijuana plantations in the Cordillera.” these films become the “opposite of a contemplative cinema. Laton pay Dedan and Dinada also appears to embody the makings of what Julio Espinosa conceived as “imperfect cinema” which defies the elitist designs of mainstream filmmaking. but spatial disorientation is avoided with spatial manipulation through cutting. Foregrounding Igorot Cultural Practice The peripheralization of Igorots is another way in which mainstream films show the intellectual insignificance of these people. clothes be replaced) or a deceased family member has complaints (e.

for instance. . Although the exchange of sentiments in this film is dominated by a certain perspective. They also object to the performance of this ritual because of what they see as impractical means taken by those who perform it. the languages composing heteroglossia represent “bounded verbal-ideological belief systems. The film also recognizes a “bottom up” history conveyed through the memory of elderly native priests. the church leaders call upon Christian doctrines to argue that the performance of this ritual is diabolical. 43). forms for conceptualizing social experience. Bakhtin suggests the term heteroglossia to refer to the competition of discourses. however. a cut brings the scene to the non-diegetic priest who begins to explain the practice of Kedaw. each marked by its own tonalities. On the other hand. By allowing the native priests to speak about the healing practice as shown in Figure 20 and 21. Following Bakhtin’s definition of heteroglossia. suggests that history can also take the form of oral accounts passed on from generation to generation. According to Foucault “subjugated knowledges enable us to comprehend something which is altogether different. Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of language as the space of confrontation of differently oriented social accents is useful in looking at the sentiments expressed by the non-diegetic characters in the film. the film carries out its aim to inquire and ponder on the practice of Kedaw according to ideas expressed by individuals who come from different perspectives without creating spatial confusion. This contemplation insists on an understanding of native practice as opposed to the mainstream’s tendency to use cultural practices as mere curiosities. In the context of Michel Foucault’s idea of subjugated knowledge. this film takes an archeological role by unearthing knowledge from native priests who lead traditional practices but who are not usually acknowledged.When the diegetic man dreams of his father telling him to replace his coffin and blanket. a whole set of knowledges dismissed as inadequate. Customary knowledge is traditionally disqualified as legitimate knowledge because it lacks the system needed to be categorized as science. the presence of competing voices in it permits several voices to be heard. 50). As the native priest continues. In mainstream films. it can be noted that languages spoken by the non-diegetic characters represent conflicting ideological beliefs. native priests are shown performing some kind of ritual but they are never given a chance to explain. points of view on the world. The film also contextualizes the practice of this healing ritual by having a native priest explain how and why the ritual is done. the film acknowledges their authority and thereby eschews the trend in mainstream films in which lowlander’s knowledge of civilizations “rescues” the past from oblivion. meanings and values”(Bakhtin in Stam 1989. Further cuts change the scene to pigs being slaughtered and then to the diegetic couple being prayed over by a native priest with the wooden implement used to kill the pigs. footages of a grave being dug and a coffin being unearthed comes next. According to Bakhtin. With this strategy. The film is structured as a collective narration where voices either affirm or criticize this cultural practice. This film. The native priests’ faith in the healing power of the ritual is based on their own system of belief in deities and spirits and on their witness of their ancestors’ experiences. naïve knowledges located at the bottom rung of the hierarchy of cognition and scientificity” (Foucault 1972.

One significant contrast presented by this film is the characterization of Ifugao villagers. . it shows that these people recognize the ill effects of vengeful fighting between their villages. 2000) confronts the image of animalization which presents the Igorots as savages. the film Ti Nangisalakan (The Savior) (VVM. Figure 22 and 23 show that in this film. This film registers its opposition to the dominant image of animalized Igorots by foregrounding the inclination of Igorot characters to peaceful living. the Ifugaos are shown to have regard for peace. This film challenges the animalization of Igorots by presenting images which pose significant contrasts to those of Mumbaki. The film Ti Nangisalakan. unhurried time allows the members of each village to express their opinions and to consult each other on the propositions offered. the community members discuss ways to stop the fighting and these dialogues indicate the members’ desire to address this problem. The members of each group sit down in opposite directions facing each other. After medium long shots that establish common space. They act on this desire by initiating negotiations with their rivals for peaceful coexistence.Figure 20 & 21 Confronting Animalization If the earlier films attempt to challenge the intellectual immaturity of Igorots. The long takes in these negotiations indicate the seriousness of the matter. like Mumbaki similarly shows that Ifugao characters are bent on revenge. If in Mumbaki. The conduct of the negotiations indicates the Ifugao characters’ sincerity in their purpose. Although this film. community consultations in both villages predominate. tells the story of brothers Ayudok and Duligan whose father is killed by members of their rival village and their subsequent quest to stop village rivalries. the Ifugaos are shown as fierce and merciless people. medium shots in long takes dwell on the calm exchange of propositions spoken by representatives of both groups which are mostly prefaced with inquiries about the other party’s sentiment. in this film.

The leader of the other party stands too and replies “wala kaming inutang na buhay.Figure 22 & 23 Figure 24. In this “dialogue”. Apparently. the members of the feuding villages also sit in opposite directions facing each other. The uncle indicates that his group agreed to attend the negotiation . The confrontational stance of this negotiation indicates the insincerity of the parties involved. we just took back…) Carlos stands and shouts “sinungaling” (liar) to the old man. naningil lang kami…” (we didn’t take a life. Joseph’s uncle confirms this insincerity when he says to Joseph “wag mong sabihing di ka namin pinagbigyan” (don’t tell us we didn’t grant your wishes). but between them stands an old man who serves as mediator. The old man’s son stands and shouts back to Carlos “wag mong matawag-tawag na sinungaling ang ama ko” (don’t call my father a liar). “nag-uusap tayo upang pag-usapan ang lunas kung sakaling meron pang nalalabing lunas sa alitan ng magkabilang panig ngunit kung kapwa kayo magmamatigas at hindi magbibigayan” (we are having this conversation to find a solution if there is a remaining solution to the feud of both sides but if you both remain stubborn). Joseph’s uncle suddenly stands and says “kami ang inutangan ng buhay” (we were robbed of a life). contrasts significantly with one which is presented in Mumbaki as shown in Figures 24-26. Joseph’s uncle concludes “walang saysay ang usapang ito” (this conversation will lead to nowhere) and both parties depart in opposite directions. 25 & 26 The cordial conduct of negotiation for peace in Ti Nangisalakan. the negotiation does not go well because the mediator shouts. The two begin to hit each other but they are held back by their own companions.

the film gives more emphasis on the Ifugao characters’ efforts for peaceful living. Furthermore. Duligan himself went there and volunteered to be killed. this is followed by a close up shot of Duligan’s wriggling leg. he was going to be executed but instead of bringing his brother to the other village. the fighters agree to have hand to hand combat. But having suggested the image of violence with the objects. it shows that either village has no ultimate control over its members’ behavior but in no way does it say that either village is predisposed to savagery. frames and sequence of the shots. The execution of Duligan is also shown as an act of keeping the agreement between the two villages6. This is carried out in the film with the reduction of fight scenes into two encounters between the rival groups as opposed to the seemingly endless fighting in Mumbaki. the film avoids the need to show anything violent.only to grant Joseph’s request. By showing that negotiations are held out of genuine desire for reconciliation contrary to the charade in Mumbaki. this film avoids freezing the Ifugao characters in an animalized state. As a result of this refusal to make a spectacle out of violence. By showing such change. Ti Nangisalakan. . violence is deemphasized in the film with the use of metonymical images. Because Ayudok killed a man from the other village. In this context. When the group led by Ayudok attacks some men from their rival village. a medium close up shot shows a bolo raised by a hand above Duligan’s head. 6 In one of their meetings. In doing so. These shots show only parts of the scene but their frame and sequence suggest the scene’s potential violence. the film casts a different light on a group of people who are represented as barbaric in mainstream cinema. Duligan’s execution is an act of justice not of revenge. the film indicates that these people have the capacity to think and act for their welfare. In the scene where members of the rival village carries out the punishment of death accepted by Duligan. In this fight therefore. The film also minimizes the use of weapons in the fight scenes. the two villages agreed that if a person harms anyone from the other village. Since this change comes from the Ifugaos themselves. Ti Nangisalakan shows a change in the Ifugao characters from being vengeful fighters to committed keepers of peace. In addition to showing the Ifugaos’ inclination for peaceful coexistence and justice. Lorenzo for their well-being. When the film shows that the disturbance of peace between the two villages after the peace pact is due to Ayudok’s drunken misbehavior. Therefore. The Ifugaos are further freed from their animalized state when the film refuses the conception in Mumbaki that the Ifugaos are predisposed to barbarity because this trait goes back to their ancestors. Members of the concenrned village discussed and agreed to his proposition. also confronts the Ifugaos’ dependence on outsiders like Dr. The shot ends when Duligan’s leg stops wriggling. aside from challenging the animalized figure of Ifugaos in Mumbaki. this perpetrator shall be surrendered by her/his village to the injured party which will mete out to her/him the same offense s/he committed. the prominent image and sound are flexed muscles and grunts not bleeding wounds and gunshots. Ti Nangisalakan also challenges the animalized representation of Ifugaos in the mainstream by deemphasizing violence.

This consultation scene is located inside an office which has a desk and two chairs where Salina and Osing are seated. In the film Laton Pay Dedan. He tells them they might just be wasting a big amount of money. Calmly. they nevertheless fail to resist prevailing ideas about the Igorot in mainstream cinema. Figure 27 & 28 The dismissal of native religion is most apparent in the films Kedaw and Laton pay Dedan which engage traditional practices of healing. he holds the padlock up to his chest and he invokes the supreme god Kabunian and other gods Kabigat. most of the films privilege Christian ways of seeing in the formulation of images in these films. When the native priest is consulted in his house about Salina’s illness. Key to this failure is the primary purpose why most of these films were made which is the strengthening of Christian conviction. On the upper part of the wall behind the doctor’s desk are wooden shelves with glass panes. a sacrifice feast must be offered. With his two hands. These shelves are filled with sets of thick books arranged according to color and some framed diploma. there is a white panel where several x-ray plates of human skull are posted. he divines the cause and cure by using a black padlock tied to a string as shown in Figure 27. As a consequence. On the lower part of the wall hang posters showing human anatomy while on the adjacent wall. he explains that there is a tumor found in Salina’s brain. the doctor. most of the films dwell on the rejection of native religion because this does not adhere to Christianity. Suyan and Bangan to reveal to him the cause of the woman’s illness by making the padlock move. Pe-ey. examines the x-ray plates then he sits down on his chair facing the couple.Reinscribing the backwardness of native religion While the vernacular films promise new ways of seeing the Igorot community. The native priest mentions several probable causes and the padlock moves when he says that one of the Gods may have been offended and to appease his anger. He tells the couple that he can recommend Salina for operation in a bigger hospital in the city but he is uncertain about the success of this operation because the cancer has spread in Salina’s body. While Salina and Osing sit waiting. Balitok. the means by which a native priest finds cure for an illness is shown to be based on speculation. He prescribes medicines that will relieve Salina from her pains but he makes no guarantee about her survival. The native priest’s means of diagnosing the sick is juxtaposed with that of a doctor’s who is consulted by Salina and Osing. With this purpose. as seen in Figure 28. He admits that as medical .

But at the end. doctors have limited abilities to cure terminal illnesses. the film indicates that the native priest’s diagnosis is hardly credible because it is based on supposition while the doctor’s diagnosis is well founded because it is based on scientific evidence. The visible veins and wrinkled skin in the hands of the old man suggest tiredness and inability to hold an item in place for an extended period of time. the other scolds his companions for not believing in his story. Aside from questioning the native priest’s means of healing. Because noise dominates in this gathering. filth and violence. however. the same film further discredits native religion by presenting the healing ritual as a confluence of noise. the native priest is confident that his prescription will cure Salina’s illness while the doctor is hesitant about making promises because he recognizes the odds against the patient’s survival. With juxtaposition of the consultation scenes made with the native priest and the doctor.practitioners. In this film. this film replicates colonial thought perpetuated in mainstream films that native religion is superstitious. Figure 29 & 30 . the native priest is shown to have added damage to injury because he prescribed an expensive cure for a disease that is proven to be incurable in the first place. Figure 29 and 30 are close up shots that show two of the loudest old men. The old men seem to be more concerned with affirming their own opinions rather than ensuring the welfare of the family on whose behalf they are performing the ritual. Close up shots of the native priest’s hands holding up the padlock also indicate the possibility that the padlock moved because of the old man’s incapacity to hold it steady. the purpose of its performance appears to be defeated. while one gulps down a bowl of rice wine. This framing adds doubt on the credibility of the native priest’s findings. its means of healing relies on implements remote from the complex instruments of science and from the rigorous methods of logical thought. Included in the healing ritual is the practice called day-eng where old men and women gather to chant for the well-being of the family and the healing of the sick member. the day-eng degenerates into rowdy arguments among those gathered because most of them are intoxicated. By questioning the credibility of the native priest. Furthermore.

“It is precisely to minimize. drinking. noise in this occasion also comes from the animals that are offered as sacrifice. The men’s boisterousness due to intoxication confirms the rationale of the liquor prohibition law on non-Christian tribes passed by the Philippine Commission in 1907. Although the intoxication of old men in this film does not amount to a bloody encounter. Each of the men who made the slits pierces each pig with wooden implements sharpened on one edge. Furthermore. such killings caused by tribal warfare and intoxication that Act 1639 was passed” (Finin 2005. It appears absurd that something used for killing becomes the native priest’s instrument in calling protection for the family. 123). if not stop. allowing the non-Christians to drink “would be tantamount to giving them liberty to commit the bloodiest orgy. or possessing intoxicating liquor other than local beverages made in Cordillera villages. Each pig is held by one man while another slit with bolo the upper side of the pigs’ left front leg. the law stipulated that any member of a non-Christian tribe convicted of possessing liquor other than locally produced highland native wines faces a penalty of up to P200 in fines and six months imprisonment (Finin 2005). These old men make the ritual performance as an occasion to indulge in the vice which the American colonizers sought to stop through the liquor ban. Figures 31-33 show that several pigs are lined up on the ground and these are killed after the prayers of the native priest. This law banned all non-Christians from purchasing. But the native priest appears indifferent to this cruelty because he gets one of the implements and smears the blood on the cheeks of the family members after he prays over them. While the men simultaneously push the implements down into the flesh. The simultaneous squealing of the pigs creates a deafening cry of helplessness and this calls attention to the cruel manner in which they are killed. it reestablishes the inclination of non-Christian Igorot men as degenerate individuals. In the words of the judge who sentenced a Baguio resident known as Cayat in 1937 for breaking the liquor ban. By showing that the ritual includes the cruel sacrifice of animals.The image of drunkenness in this film also heightens the animalistic tendencies of the old men and by extension Igorot men in general. 32 & 33 . this film reinforces the prevailing conception that native religion is “insufficiently sublimated” and therefore it is culturally backward.” The jurist concluded. the pigs bleed. writhe and squeal until they die. Figure 31. In addition to the noise from the drunken old men.

on the value of the ritual and on the practice of native religion. The native priest’s dependence on interpretation of a dream as means of knowing a cure for an illness therefore appears to be foolish. On the other hand. Several men slice and dunk the meat into large vats for cooking. In addition to having doubts on the credibility of the native priest’s way of knowing a cure. As a minister of God. Nestor comes to his aid. A healing ritual is also meant as a cleansing agent as in the tradition of Israelites during the Passover but in this film. By saying this. When the neighbor goes to their house to take the payment of their loan on the appointed day. A similar pattern of negative attributes to native religion appears in the film Kedaw. negative images of noise. The absence of the native priest in the hospital shot also indicates his abandonment of the widower. violence and filth which are attributed to native religion cast doubt on the authority of the native priest. This sequence of shots indicates the failure of the healing ritual because Salina dies right after its performance. the presence of Nestor shows that despite Osing’s unfaithfulness to his religion. they are laid on cogon grass spread on the ground. Because the dead father in the dream is naked and he tells his son to change his blanket and coffin. This doubt is confirmed with the fading of the healing ritual to a high angle shot of Nestor patting the back of Osing who is seated on a stool. Close up shots also show flies hopping around meat slices while the native priest prays over food laid on cogon grass spread on the ground. According to this pastor. the film further establishes the absurdity of Kedaw by portraying this ritual as the cause of scarcity among those who performed it. in fact. saliva or perspiration do not mix with the food. His interpretation of the dream also appears to be quite literal. They spend the money for the performance of the ritual but the sick man does not recover. By showing that the performance of the ritual is replete with such unsanitary practices (which may cause diseases). These men handle food but they wear no protective garments to ensure that unwanted elements like their hair. close up shots show bare hands placing blackened tin cans inside jars to take out rice wine. In this film. the wife had to offer their farm as payment because . the native priest bases his prescription on his interpretation of the main protagonist’s dream. Like in Laton pay Dedan. the film implies that the performance of the ritual as an effective means of curing an illness is hard to believe. The native priest’s interpretation of the dream is attacked by the first non-diegetic character that appears in the film. Nestor brings comfort and acceptance to his friend who once faltered in his Christian faith. the native priest’s means of knowing the cure for the main protagonist’s illness is presented as guesswork. the main protagonist’s dream is. Furthermore.In addition to its emphasis on the noise and violence of the ritual. the native priest indicates that these requests should be granted in order for the man to be cured. the pastor indicates that the native priest is too naïve to recognize forms of deceit. the main protagonist and his wife borrow money from their rich neighbor. the film further discredits this manner of healing by calling attention to unhygienic practices on its performance. To have money for the performance of the ritual. Satan’s way to trick people into sin. In front of them is a hospital bed where lies an immobile body covered with white cloth. After the pigs are roasted and washed.

Reinscribing intellectual immaturity Intellectual immaturity is observed in the film Gasat (IFP. In addition to losing their farm. he spent much more than the couple did. The film does not allow any doubt on its rejection of native religion by not showing instances when those who performed this ritual were healed and were able to rise above poverty and by ending the film with the family going to church. Wina’s story presents a person’s struggle against difficult situations. The film’s VCD jacket. the couple also had to ask their children to stop from school because they can no longer afford to send them. He exclaims “palalo adi. Nestor and Domingga. She accounts that her family incurred debts out of performing the ritual every time someone in her family gets sick. He says that when he was still in the old belief. newly bathed middle-aged man who leads his family to church. The man is cured after his acceptance of Christianity and his healing is indicated by his transformation from an old looking. bedridden man to a smiling. By choosing converted Christians to speak of their experiences which attest that the ritual is an expensive yet futile exercise. This final scene unmistakably resolves the problem with Christian conversion and dismissal of the old belief. The testimonies of these characters are employed as a way of validating the film’s critique of the old practice. These difficulties that the diegetic family experiences out of what the pastor considers as unreasonable expense on the performance of Kedaw are also mentioned by the old woman who appears as a non-diegetic character. the film indicates the excess and irrationality of native religion. they resent their parents for spending much money on the performance of the ritual. wat utot di adak pinalti” (it was too much. The neighbor who preaches to the couple has similar sentiments. 2007) which tells the story of Wina and her mother who help each other survive without Wina’s father who abandoned them when she was young. it was only rat that I was not asked to offer) to emphasizes the extent of his expenses.her husband has not been well enough to work and earn money. Like those of Doming. describes Wina as “esay parsua ay maki-ib-ibaw sin rigat di biag ta way iyat na kuma ay makadateng sin kagam-is ay gasat” (one person who fights against the difficulties of life to arrive at a good fortune). When the children see their playmates heading for school. .

Wina supports herself by accepting laundry. she manages to study well and she graduates from high school with good grades. working in her neighbor’s farm and vending vegetables in the sidewalks. By relying on the narrative of rescue and by its maneuver to a convenient solution.Figure 34 & 35 Indeed. Wina faces situations which are worse compared to those experienced by the aforementioned characters. Abandoned by her father and later orphaned. In mainstream cinema. The figure of Wina's father appears to embody the narrative role of the western liberator as integral to the colonial rescue fantasy which carries undertones of the inferiority of the Third World. he descends from his mountainous hometown to the lowland after his friend who traveled to the lowland entices him. the lowland is shown to be the place where Dulnuan meets his fall. . this representation is apparently reversed because the lowland is characterized with a host of decadent traits. In Figure 36. Although the savior in this film is Wina’s father himself and not some stranger. But despite having to do all these. First. Contrary to the producer’s description of the main protagonist. among others as shown in Figure 34 and 35. Refiguring the Noble Savage The film Nuntala’an Imbabale (Return of the child) (VVM. her repentant father who had no prior attention to his daughter suddenly arrives just in time to save her. Instead. Even if Wina is shown to be self-reliant like the other characters that did well despite their impoverished situations. her story is a reworking of the classic narrative where a prince saves a damsel in distress. the latter has the upper hand in this opposition because it is presented to have admirable qualities which the former does not possess. however. the film spells dependency instead of self actualization. When Wina’s body gives in to exhaustion. In this film. Wina’s father has also been absent from Wina’s life. In addition to being literally an outsider because he comes from abroad. it appears that she does not belong to the same line because hers seems not to be a story of self-reliance. The fall of Dulnuan happens both in the literal and metaphorical sense. 1994) is a Kalanguya version of the Prodigal Son story in the Bible. the film shows that Wina attains good fortune not because she fights to the end against difficulties of life but because she is saved by her father who found good fortune in another land. This image evokes the Christian conception of heaven and hell which indicates that heaven located above is the place of salvation while hell located below is the place of damnation. his figure is tantamount to an outsider who arrives with the resources for Wina’s rescue. This Kalanguya version of the classic biblical story (which gives the name Dulnuan to the prodigal son) engages the opposition between highland and lowland.

this reversal poses the problem of calling upon the colonial conception of difference between highlanders and lowlanders. He says: I am convinced that such a policy as this is in great error. By . Aside from being a place of decadence. the Americans established a special system of direct colonial administration in the Cordillera. 40). They befriend Dulnuan and lure him to indulge in vices then they depend on him to pay for the expense. In this sense. William Henry Scott notes that “Spanish colonization resulted in the creation of a distinction between lowland submission. As a result of this American attitude towards the Igorots. The Igorrotes…gain nothing by being brought into contact with the Christianized Filipino of the valley. In his “Preliminary Report on the Tribes of the Cordillera Central” Barrows writes strong objections to consideration of Igorot resettlement to the lowlands. the highland is a protected home where Dulnuan later returns for salvation. the film apparently reverses the highland-lowland binary to favor the former. The few who have been forced into this proximity have in every case which I have observed lost the courage and independence of the mountaineer and have sunk into a more or less dependent position where their labor is exploited by the Christian Filipino… To bring the Igorrotes down to the plains is simply to depopulate those wonderful hills and to press them toward inevitable extinction (Barrows in Jenista 1987.Figure 36. the lowland is also shown to be inhabited by equally decadent individuals. 31). With the negative attributes of the lowland and lowlanders. 37 & 38 Figure 37 and 38 shows that when he arrives in the lowland. The lowland is now the barbaric other that causes the corruption of the highlander. Although this film resists the savagery of the highlanders by showing that Dulnuan himself. conversion and civilization on the one hand with paganism and savagery on the other”(Scott 1974. his family and his people are upright. it nevertheless invokes the American colonial conception that saw the Igorot as a “pure tribe” that needed protection from the largely hispanized lowlanders. On top of this. he succumbs to the pleasures he finds here. they conspire to steal his money. The perspective of this film about the corruptive tendencies of the lowland echoes the sentiments of David Barrows who served as chief of the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes in the Philippines. However.

Furthermore. this can be seen in the way they dress and talk. they are naturally infected with the lowland lifestyle. Figure 39 & 40 . Describing the children of migrant Igorots to Region II. some get into trouble. this film resists the representation of mainstream films that always characterizes highlanders with lack or excess. natural ay maalinan da sin style di panagbiag das di. this film also affirms the idea of a corruptive lowland culture by showing that the destruction of one family is caused by the father’s relationship with a lowlander woman as shown in Figure 39.) The narrator associates the lowland with a disease that infects the purity of highlander children. this opposition between the highland and the lowland is treated as a matter of fact. the narrator says “gapu ta naipulapol da sin Kailokuan. maila sin panagbadbado ya panagkalkali da. Gapu abe ta ad-adu di makaawis ay mail-ila das na. Also. the film fails to create a more complex representation of the Igorot. pilit ay wada en daida di mailaw-an. the narrator in this film indicates as truth that when highlander children made contact with lowland lifestyle. 2003) which relates the life of Igorot families that moved to different places in Region II. the narrator sees the corruptive quality of the lowland as something that is natural. their values were corrupted. this film ascribes purity to the highland and corruption to the lowland. The degenerate qualities of the mistress heightens the idea that the lowland is corrupt especially because the man’s wife (who is a highlander) is characterized with opposite qualities. But because the film relies on a simple reversal of a prevailing colonial conception. With the documentary style of this film. In addition to the corruption of migrant children after their contact with lowland lifestyle. With a tone of detached objectivism. because of many attractive things that they see here. The opposition of the lowland and the highland is also engaged in the film Din Sungbat (The Answer) (VVM.” (because they interact with lowlanders. Similar to the film Nuntala’an Imbabale.reversing the highland-lowland opposition.

it has become unproductive after constant farming. for instance. The film indicates that lowland lifestyle corrupts the values of highland children and erodes their native culture. their land in Sagubo7 didn’t yield enough for his family. that when the children of the unfaithful father can no longer bear their father’s irresponsibility. 42 & 43 Aside from showing that lowlanders are sympathetic to the plight of highlanders. In her conversation with her neighbor when she returns to take her children. they seek help from the other sibling’s godfather who is a lowlander. Lamenting the change in their father’s conduct. Figure 40 shows. Compared to the conditions in their hometowns. But when they moved to Isabela. Figure 41. The old man in Figure 41 says that his family moved to Quirino to find more productive lands. In addition to finding land for farming. the conditions in the lowlands are more favorable to convenient living. the mother says that she is treated well by her employers and they have agreed to shelter her children as well. they indicate that they reside not with their 7 a barangay in Kapangan. but at the same time. He entrusts to them the care of his ranch and he tells them that they will share in the profits when the animals are sold. the other woman in Figure 43 says that they moved to Cordon. By identifying with their new neighbors. Isabela because the market for produce is more accessible.8 selling their produce took much time and effort. The accounts of these migrants affirm that the highlanders who moved to the lowlands saw better livelihood opportunities in these places. Benguet which borders with the province of La Union another barangay in Kapangan.Although this film invokes the lowland-highland opposition. According to him. she says that they can easily bring their produce to the market and go back home immediately. The film also shows that the mother of this family is employed by lowlanders. the film also indicates that the lowland is a place of better opportunities for highlanders. it somehow implies a certain sense of ambivalence on this opposition. Benguet 8 . Roads have yet to reach the area so they had to carry their produce through narrow trails in mountains. the godfather allows the siblings to stay in his house. The woman in Figure 42 says her family moved to Nueva Vizcaya because their land in their hometown is not wide enough to sustain her children and their own families. it shows that lowlanders rescue the highlanders from distress. She accounts that in their place in Kiw-angan.

in addition to exploring cultural forms as resources in the creation of film images. But despite these constructive images. This may be possible when the production of these films will become secular. the film apperas to resist the rigid binary of bad lowland /good highland seen in Nuntala’an Imbabale. Because the complexities of Igorot life are simplified in the mainstream and in the vernacular films in order to satisfy the specific purposes of these productions. The vernacular films also engage in collective history rather than in hero-dominated narrative characteristic of the mainstream productions. The production of vernacualr films then has to move away from sectarian organizations to progressive groups or individuals who look at filmmaking as an integral part of the continuing process of the Igorots’ struggle for self determination. The image of the noble savage is summoned in the service of religious agenda. By including this view. production not for the sole purpose of disseminating or strengthening Christian doctrines. Furthermore. the vernacular films reinforce predominant conceptions of the Igorot in the mainstream by employing similar images of the Igorot established in this industry especially the master tropes of infantilization and animalization. By failing to resist these prevalent stereotypes. that is. By showing that the characters have ambivalent experiences in the lowland-highland interaction. This image runs counter to the dependency of Igorot characters in mainstream films. but they do not indicate any objection or fear about these neighbors. this paper illustrates the contradictory results of this film practice. these productions might also refrain from making final claims on the community. Like the American colonialists. the film still depends on this binary. they also contemplate Igorot cultural practices which are usually used as mere sidelights in mainstream films. In this way. The vernacular films promise alternative representations of the Igorot by showing constructive images such as Igorot characters succeeding through their self-reliance and hard work. the vernacular films fall short of creating more complex representations of the Igorot. Although Christianity has become an indelible part of the Igorots’ way of life. the pastor looks at the highlanders as pure souls who have to be guarded against lowland corruption. By embarking on novel . By examining the images of the Igorot in vernacular films produced in the Cordillera. the opposition is reinforced and it remains unquestioned. The production of vernacular films from progressive sectors may also enable vernacular filmmaking to be both inward looking and self reflexive. The production of a truly self representative body of Igorot films that will rectify this prejudice is therefore an urgent undertaking. the production of vernacular films will be better inclined to offer more profound examination of issues that beset Igorot communities by contributing insights that are not just about the simple clash of religious or ethnic difference. its adverse outlook on much of indigenous culture hinders film production from its vantage point to employ an egalitarian understanding of this community. the Igorots are at the losing end in either way. In addition to the migrants who speak at the beginning of the film is a pastor whose primary reason for moving to the lowlands is to follow the highlanders with the word of God. however.people. the film resists the characterization of Igorots in mainstream films as fierce people but because it simply overturns the opposition in favor of the highlander. Despite its wider view of the lowland-highland relationship.

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