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Analysis: Tuklas Sining Monographs on Film

Media302 Media Historiography


Dr. N. Tiongson

JOAN M. DIZON, MDC | Ph. D. in Media Studies |College of Mass Communication
University of the Philippines - Diliman
jodizon.129@gmail.com| +63-9178980644
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Tuklas Sining Monographs on Film: An Analysis

Publisher Cultural Center of the Philippines
Series titles, authors and copyright years
Essay on Philippine Film Bienvenido L. Lumbera, 1990
An Essay on Philippine Film: 1897-1960 Agustin L. Sotto, 1992
An Essay on Philippine Film: 1961-1992 Bienvenido L. Lumbera, 1992
An Essay on Philippine Film: Touchstones of Excellence Nestor U. Torre, 1994

Overview
The series of monographs on film is part of Cultural Center of the Philippines review of the seven art forms
of the country. This series, dubbed Tuklas Sining, give its readers key information in the particular art form under
study.
The particular monographs I have reviewed trace the history, bounty, beauty, problems, issues and even the
future of the film industry in the country. The essays also showcase the tasks of film and cinema in the creation of a
national identity and the building of a nation.
This review does not aim to refute the validity of data presented in the monographs since I am no expert in
the field. Instead, it will seek to show how film and its evolution was discussed and presented in the series. This paper
will also try to evaluate if the authors were able to meet its goal of illustrating the different roles of cinema in
Philippine society.

Essay on Philippine Film Bienvenido L. Lumbera, 1990
The first essay in the series traces the long history of filmmaking in the Philippines. It gives an overview on
the birth of the cinema, commencing during the Spanish time and continuing to the present. It shows the different
periods in its evolution, its rise, its decline and its rebirths. It tackles the problems that have plagued the industry at
the onset, and at the same time discusses the dynamics that have contributed to its staying power despite questions
of mediocrity between producers and audience.
Lumberas first essay also explains the characteristics of the different genres, the elements that made them
important or popular, as well as, the films that showcase these genres. Aside from these, the article also touches on
different influences that made the film industry what it is today. Lumbera cites the interplay of essentials in
filmmaking that contributes to the success or failure of a particular film, and the people involved in the production.
From business, to industry, to an art form, Lumbera shows how Philippine cinema and filmmaking has
evolved and has shaped and continue to shape the consciousness of the Filipino nation.

An Essay on Philippine Film: 1897-1960 Agustin L. Sotto, 1992
Sottos essay on film traces the history of Philippine cinema from the establishment of the first cinema
houses to the rise of the independent producers in the 1960s (Foreword, An Essay on the Philippine Film: 1897-
1960). It also includes discourses on innovations, both artistically and technically, that were made during the era.
Aside from these, the essay also discusses the different genres of film and the notable people who popularized these
genres.
The monograph outlines the beginnings of the early films and the peoples responses toward it. He also
includes the prominent personages who first brought filmmaking in the country, citing their contributions and the
problems they have encountered during the early years of cinema. Aside from these, Sotto discusses the running
Analysis: Tuklas Sining Monographs on Film
Media302 Media Historiography
Dr. N. Tiongson

JOAN M. DIZON, MDC | Ph. D. in Media Studies |College of Mass Communication
University of the Philippines - Diliman
jodizon.129@gmail.com| +63-9178980644
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sentiments of the time that were reflected in the way early films were made. He mentions how filmmaking was first
seen as a lucrative business opportunity, before it was appreciated as an art form and vehicle of national culture.
The essay goes on to discuss the first Filipino filmmakers who were taken by the magic of the cinema and
their famous works. Sotto also presents initial discussions on the different genres of films, their representative works
by different artists, and the themes common to these genres, as well as, the onset of the studio system.
Reviewing this essay, I can say that Sotto was effective in coming up with a short but substantial discussion
of the history of the early filmmaking industry. He was able to present the important issues of those times and how
these issues were taken by the people in the industry. He made use of specific examples to drive his points home. His
writing style was clear and he made use of threads in presenting his thesis. He effectively made use of chronology
and highlights, while at the same time, made use of influences in narrating the countrys first brushes with cinema.

An Essay on Philippine Film: 1961-1992 Bienvenido L. Lumbera, 1992
The third essay in the series touches on filmmaking as a potent medium of communication and a powerful
vehicle for social transformation (Foreword, An Essay on the Philippine Film: 1961-1992). It also presents the
decline of the studio system, the advent of the superstars and of movie genres that proliferated from 1960s to 1992
and the rise of mainstream and independent filmmaking.
Lumberas essay shows the issues that confronted the studios that were strong in earlier years, but which
eventually gave way to more independent filmmakers. He traces the rise and fall of the bigger studios and the fate
that befell its stars. He used his narratives on the studio system to introduce the advent of mainstream filmmaking
and how the stars who were with the studios used their bankability to land bigger contracts.
Lumbera also points out in his essay the reasons why particular genres made impact in the industry, citing
the common narratives of the films and the usual characteristics of the protagonists. He also mentions representative
films of the genres and what these films signify and communicate. The essay also expounds on the reasons why this
era gave rise to films that are now considered classics as this was the time when filmmakers were spinning
nationalistic themes.
It was also during this time that the industry appealed to the government for relief from heavy taxation and
tried to establish a more positive rapport with it, although with limited success, as it seems only token responses
were given by the government. Moreover, the declaration of Martial Law prompted some filmmakers to produce
subtly defiant films that were shown in the images the films used.
The monograph also presents discussions on film as art, along with the proliferation of award-giving bodies
for film that encouraged filmmakers to create noteworthy films. Some of the films cited also made it to international
acclaim. Additionally, Lumbera cites the beginning of film studies and related education, but remarks that the
prospects for a bright future for the film industry are somehow not immediately forthcoming. However, he also
notes that the times have produced alternative filmmakers who were dishing out critically-acclaimed films such as
Kidlat Tahimiks Mababangong Bangungot.
Lumberas monograph, through chronological and continuous narrative, was able to show the picture of the
film industry from 1961 to 1992. He touched on key and sensitive topics that characterized cinema in those times,
offering explanations and examples to back his assertions. Students of film and those interested in the industry will
also find the monograph an invaluable read as it presents vital information about the evolution of the industry,
especially during an important era such as the Martial years, and how it was utilized to touch the consciousness of the
masses. Lumbera was able to do these things while employing a simple yet elegant writing style.


Analysis: Tuklas Sining Monographs on Film
Media302 Media Historiography
Dr. N. Tiongson

JOAN M. DIZON, MDC | Ph. D. in Media Studies |College of Mass Communication
University of the Philippines - Diliman
jodizon.129@gmail.com| +63-9178980644
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An Essay on Philippine Film: Touchstones of Excellence Nestor U. Torre, 1994
The last essay in the series was penned by Nestor U. Torre and touches on the problems and obstacles
encountered in the development and progress of cinema.
This last instalment in the Tuklas Sining series on film discusses the factors that hinders excellence in
filmmaking, citing that they (filmmakers) sometimes will be faced with the dilemma between coming up with a
quality film that might lose at the tills or a box-office hit that sacrifices quality. Torre, however, stressed that, if a
Filipino filmmaker so wills it, s/he can produce a quality film that also makes a killing profit.
The monograph by Torre, aptly titled Touchstones of Excellence, showcases the different golden ages of
Philippine cinema. He discusses films that are considered representative of each golden time, as well as, the
filmmakers behind those exceptional film gems. He goes on to cite the merits of each film to let the reader know why
a particular film deserves notice.
Finally, he says that when it (Filipino film industry) aspires to do good work, it is truly capable of achieving
excellence.
Torres essay on film used a simple chronological narrative without sacrificing the meat of his thesis. He
presented his premise by chronologically discussing the golden ages of the Philippine film industry, intertwining
them with perks and problems of the periods, plus clear representations of each era. His work is valuable to film
scholars who would want to come up with the list of acclaimed films that are worth seeing. His challenge to those
interested to work in the industry is also notable, as this might encourage future artist to produce films that will see
the marriage of quality and bankability.

Final Analysis
Tuklas Sinings monographs on film were able to show how the industry evolved and how it faced problems
and issues. The series was also effective in establishing how films are utilized in the creation of national
consciousness and identity, as well as, in meeting its task in nation-building. These ideas can be gleaned from the
examples and evidences that were provided by the authors in their essays. Take, for example, the following points:
(Film) conventions and genres were reshaped to express the deep-seated aspirations
and dreams of a developing nation (Sotto, 1992).
The bomba was a symbolic revolt against the institutions of a corrupt society that were
being attacked by young activists demanding immediate social change (Lumbera, 1992).

The authors were also able to discuss the premises of the industry vis--vis the norms and values of the
society at a given point in time. This particular move of the authors is important as this helps establish the
relationship of filmmaking and the present milieu. The monographs were also able to present the discussions, as they
have intentioned, in a clear and simple language that contributes to the easy understanding of the material at hand.
The use of pictures also contributes to the packaging of the monographs as materials for film studies worth
keeping as they feed the visual requirement of readers and scholars.

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