Monday, December 15, 2014

The path of the broken-hearted is a road of endless possibilities

I peered through the capacity crowd at the Gaisano Mall Cinema. Seconds later I would be mouthing my short speech. I am the festival director of a film festival which I joined 10 years ago because of a broken-heart.

Yes, I was in a relationship a decade ago, but it wasn't a regular relationship. it was what I call a guerrilla romance. I was the third wheel, the girl had a boyfriend but perhaps blinded by "love" I gave in to our secret arrangement.  Until the time came when I wanted a definite status, asked the girl to choose me or him... she chose him.

In the process of broken-heartedness I wandered the streets of this peaceful city, in my mind the only thought was to forget the girl in any way possible. A friend advised to take up a meaningful activity, a new hobby perhaps.

Then I saw the poster posted along the electric post which advertised the Guerrilla Filmmaking workshops... a crash course on Guerrilla filmmaking, I was intrigued. I was wanting to join video and film production courses, only Davao City had no activities such as this.

The day after I went to the Alchemy of Vision and Light office at Anda Street and signed up for the workshop, paying immediately the P5,000 registration fee. This would be the first step in forgetting her.

We had weekend workshops and by the end of it, we had to produce a 30-minute movie. The production of the movie entitled ironically "Happy Ending" was mostly a nightmare, killer schedules shoots which lasted till dawn, bickering teammates, lack of resources characterized our shoot.

Fortunately we were able to finish the film, screened it in cinemas and won awards (Best Film) and the best of it all, I was able to forget the girl. Perhaps the problems of the production hastened the moving on process or perhaps obliterated the emotions and feelings bottled up inside.

I came to be impressed by the vision of the organizers Dax and Drei and by the next year, I hopped on board the organizing team, the Guerrilla Film Festival was renamed into the Mindanao Film Festival.

By 2012 I came in as Festival Director, there was unprecedented growth more films, more audience, by 2014 we established international linkages with Malaysia and Brunei for the East Asean Film Festival, I also was appointed as curator of the NCCA's Cinemarehiyon.

Funny how things turned  out, How after every rejection comes a new opportunity. What if she chose me, perhaps I would be trapped in the bliss of love, which is not bad per se but I would have ignored the compelling need to take a new endeavor. Perhaps it was God's way of leading me to a calling to serve in the field of  culture and the arts (but I wish it would be less painful to the heart Lol)

The experience gave me an important lesson that failures are actually doors which opens to another opportunity. Yes there will be heartbreaks and failures but there will always be another door.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My opening speech at the 10th Mindanao Film Festival

Maayong Gabii sa kaninyong tanan

Good evening.

I would like to acknowledge our honored guests, Councilor Antoinette Principe of the 3rd District of Davao,- Councilor Petite is the cousin of our featured filmmaker for the evening Adjani Arumpac; Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre of the 2nd District of Davao City-during the 1st Mindanao Film Festival in 2005, Councilor Alejandre was part of the cast of one film and also we have Wolfgang Doerner Program Manager of Forumzfd. thank you sir for supporting our young filmmakers.

Through these 10 years, the Mindanao Film Festival has its share of admirers, fans, supporters and also… critics.

The critics like to point out that the film festival has not improved, has been the same. The output qualitywise didn’t amount to be a significant improvement.

The critics maybe right, while screening some of the films I personally feel that some of our films needed improvement, the script, acting, cinematography, audio etc.

During our meetings I asked the foundation what is the direction of the festival, will we put stricter criteria or put these films into a more rigid curatorial process, that only the best would be shown or featured.

But the answer is…

Why wait for passion to refine into an exclusive craft.

Why not inspire others to try making films. By providing a film festival where they can show their stories carried in the medium of digital films. Where they can invite their families, friends or loved ones to watch.

To break the walls of this once exclusive enclave of cinema more accessible, no longer the domain of big studio people form Hollywood or mainstream Filipino movie companies or critically-acclaimed indie filmmakers.

That an ordinary Juan from a barrio in Nabunturan or from the streets of Agdao can make a film about their unique experiences, stories from their family, tales of their community. And show it on the silver screen.

There are many Juans and Marias in our midst, each with a rich imaginarium of stories to tell. . . And this is the goal of the Mindanao Film Festival as a venue for these films and their filmmakers.

Our theme is “Celebrating Regional Imaginations.” We honor the these creative minds has been fuelling our filmmaking movement into one of the active among all other regions in the country.

So this is our direction- For the Mindanao Film Festival to be a platform for up-and-coming Mindanaoan filmmakers to show their films. In the hopes that they will be inspired to follow their dreams. Later on as their passion dictates they will improve into fine craftsmen of their chosen art.

Maraming salamat po. Long live Mindanao regional cinema.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Torch at Carte Blanche

Carte Blanche 2014 which will be held this Saturday (November 15) at the Davao Crocodile Park concert grounds is touted as the biggest dancefloor in the southern Philippines.

The party is a gathering of  26 DJs from all over the country and Torch Gacuma aka DJ Torch will be one of those top DJs representing Davao City.

DJ Torch, became a professional DJ in 2006 taking up residencies in the city’s top clubs like Liquid, Pops, Metro Lounge and Starr. He is currently under Manic Nightnings Productions and a resident DJ at Acropolis Superclub.

Rudolph: What’s in store, in terms of music for the crowd at Carte Blanche 2014?

DJ Torch: Well, dolph it’s a carousel ride of music. Trap, Dubstep, Deep House, Tech, Techno, progressive house, electro house. It’s all there.

R: How is Carte Blanche different from you usual gigs?

DJ: This is different because I won’t be by myself, I’ll be sharing the decks with Brylle Aguilar and Wacky Masbad.

R: To you DJs, how important is Carte Blanche? 

Torch: Carte Blanche is the time to become the DJ that we originally started. It is expressing ourselves thru the music which we will be playing.

R: How are you preparing for CB?

Torch:  Lots of research involved. I am watching out for those commonly played tracks  from the popular music festivals around the world and trying to come up with a  different way of presenting that music.

R: How is Carte Blanche 2014 different from that of last year?

Torch: For one, the DJ lineup is bigger, we’re bringing in the biggest names in the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) industry  in the country.

R: How is it playing with the top DJs in the country? Being with them for Carte Blanche?

Torch:  It is always a privilege to share the stage with them. They are friends but you cannot help but become starstruck. Mga idols ko sila.

R: Do you think our local DJs has got what it takes to be at par with the top DJs in the country? What are areas for improvement?

Torch: Yes Dabawenyo DJs can be at par, there so much room to improve on and grow from. I think one area would be on the selection of music. As DJs we need to push the envelope further and keep the listeners guessing what music will be played next. When the listeners grow the DJs grow as well.

R: Tell me, why will I come to Carte Blanche 2014?

Torch: You have to be at Carte Blanche because this is our party. This is proudly Davao, proudly Mindanao. There is no other Dance Music Festival in Mindanao like this one and this only happens once a year. With a kind of line-up we have for Carte Blanche 2014, it can only get bigger in the coming years. Who would not want to be part of history? And who knows we might break last year’s attendance record of 10,000 attendees.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mayor Duterte and the club sandwich

A few years ago then president Gloria Arroyo was visiting Davao and was billeted at Marco Polo Hotel.   Mayor Rody Duterte, after meeting the President  decided to chill for a while at  the Marco Polo’s lobby lounge. I together with 3 other media colleagues decided to join him for an interview.

While the interview was being conducted, club sandwiches were being served. One plate, then another plate and another plate of club sandwich arrived at our table. By the time the interview was finished and after having our very generous fill of club sandwiches we decided to leave and asked the mayor if we can be excused.

“Di pa naubos ang  sandwich, ubusin nyo, walang uuwi sa atin.” ( There are still club sandwiches left, finished them, no one leaves) The mayor said.

“Ipa-takeout nalang nato.” Suggested one mediaman.

“Hindi. ubusin niyo, walang masasayang na pagkain.” (No. finished it, no food shall be wasted.) He replied.

Seeing perhaps the fat guy in the group he then turned to me and said. “Dong. Kaya mo yan ubusin. (Boy, you can finish it)” which was seconded by my colleagues.

But I had my fill of club sandwiches, 3 plates were served for such a small group. There was a plate and a half left.

Umorder ka ng drinks.” The mayor said, and called the pretty waitress.

I asked for coke. And tried to finish the other plate. Now only one plate remained.

Di man na siya magdugay, muhawa lang na siya. Hawa ta paghawa niya. (He will not stay here that long, he will leave, we will also leave if he leaves.) A colleague whispered. We were counting on that the mayor will not have the patience to wait for us to finish the plate of club sandwich.

We were wrong. We waited for two more hours.

Dong ubusin mo na yan. Gusto ko na umuwi. he said yawning It was nearly 2 am.

By then I mustered all my appetite to finish the remaining sandwiches. 

Looking back it was a surreal scene, the mayor of a highly-urbanized city waited for me to finish a plateful of club sandwich. 

And that night as I swore never to eat the hotel's club sandwiches again, I also saw a glimpse of how a man's uncompromising leadership had transformed a city. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Flicks and Reruns: Sonata Maria

Ramon and Maria are erstwhile bandmates, one day their former bandmate Eric is set to return home from Manila, the three agree to meet up at the local carnival (karnabal). During the meet-up Eric's homecoming is delayed, leaving Ramon and Maria to spend the evening roaming around the carnival.

This is the main setting of the Davao indie film Sonata Maria, the carnival provides a rich visual language which filmmaker Bagane Fiola wishes to convey. The carnival glosses over the characters' anguish particularly Ramon Bonifacio (played by Krigi Hager) of living a boring routinary life buried under the excesses of a corporate rat race. His dreams provides his only escape and so is his memory- his suppressed feelings for Maria, the movie's setting marks the whirlpool meeting of Ramon's reality, dreams and memories.

Maria sort of plays a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a cinematic character whose term was coined by film critic Nathan Robin.

According to Mr. Robin the MPDG “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

Among famous MPDG characters include Summer Finn of 500 Days of Summer (played by Zoey Deschanel), Penny Lane of Almost Famous (played by Kate Hudson), The Girl in My Sassy Girl (played by Jun Ji-hyun), Enid of the 2012 Cinemalaya indie film Ang Nawawala (played by Annicka Dolonius).

Maria played by PK Whittmer  existence in the story catapults the brooding Ramon out of his shell. The discussions between J.S Bach's music and poetry suggests a soulmate link between the two but there is a lingering distance between the characters and the wait for the dismantling of that gap between the two characters provides an engaging act for the audience, the filmmakers throws in a rich palette of visual, spoken and musical elements which makes this movie a class of its own among local indie films.

Sonata Maria will be shown on October 10, 11 am at Abreeza Mall Cinema 1. Rated R-16 by the MTRCB.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A visit to the newly renovated Osmeña Park

Osmeña Park is a small park located adjacent to the Sangguniang Panglungsod Building bounded by Magallanes, CM Recto and San Pedro Streets.

The area was once the site of the original Christian settlement founded after Don Jose Uyanguren's conquest of Davao in 1848. The park is wedged between the oldest streets of the city, Claveria (now C.M. Recto) and San Pedro

Recently the City Government was concerned about the deteriorating conditions of the park. At night the unlighted area became the haven of indecent activities and some mendicants had taken residence inside the park. In some portions of the park, vendors have taken over by putting up food stalls which have become an eyesore.

Last summer the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) poured in half- a million pesos to renovate the park that meant putting up lighting facilities, landscaping, fencing and rehabilitating the park's comfort rooms.

Last September 15, the newly renovated park was blessed with attendance of city government officials. A week after, I tried to visit the park and see the changes brought about by the renovation.

The park underwent relandscaping 

It is a shady oasis in the middle of a busy city.

Children's playground

Senior citizen's garden

among the plants at the park.

The park is now gated which prevents mendicants from taking residence in the park. The park is closed at night.

The chess club area was moved to a new nook inside the park

The comfort rooms inside the park were also rehabilitated.

Another attraction just across the park's Magallanes gate is Museo Dabawenyo (Davao City Museum)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Davao's rave party "controversy", seeing the other picture

I attended the session council last Tuesday, curious on the outcome of Kat Dalisay and the Manic Nightnings group particularly as she will be appearing on the proverbial lions den facing the body whom she criticized on Facebook.

Aside from curiosity, I was with my friend, Chocko- an event organizer, we were cooking up a music event for the Durian Jam radio show, perhaps issues tackled in the session could provide insights on how we would be mounting the event.

During a privilege hour granted to tackle the rave party controversy, Councilor Tomas Monteverde IV raised allegations of non-payment of correct taxes, which Kat was not able to satisfactorily refute. The privilege hour dragged on for hours.

What drew my attention in the proceedings were two important matters tackled which perhaps went unnoticed. The first matter was when Councilor Alejandre questioned the fitness of Kat’s capacity as a party organizer owing to her lack of training. Councilor Alejandre then declared that an event organizer must have the sufficient professional expertise so that he or she knows the intricacies of events organizing and the related policies of the city.

Another point was during the speech of Kat on the part where she said that these are not mere parties but are events that greatly contributes to tourism and business.

True, events like rave parties inject needed stimulus to the local tourism and business sector  and following Councilor Alejandre’s point.  Capable event organizers holding big events can be a beneficial impact to the tourism and economy of the city.

How about proposing an Events Ordinance in the city.  The ordinance can be goaled to develop the events industry in Davao City and provisions could include the following objectives and actions;

1.     Promote Davao City as a venue for events, or to make an environment conducive for event organizers. Perhaps create an investment-promotion arm for events investments.
2.     Provide a one-stop permit shop for events organizers
3.     Provide trainings, workshops and guidance for event organizers
4.     Make an inventory of city government properties which can be used as  grounds for events, develop these properties which can earn revenues for the city govt. (fields, covered courts, parks, gyms)
5.     Establish a coordination body for city government agencies like city mayors, city engineers, TMC, Police, barangay etc.
6.     The body can serve to accredit event organizers, which protect talents and suppliers hired by events organizers (some unscrupulous event organizers don’t pay their event personnel or reneged on suppliers, there are so many fly-by-night organizers in our midsts)
7.     The events in the ordinance will not just be limited to rave parties but can also include sports activities, film festivals, concerts and MICE.   

Since tourism is a major driving force of our economy, promoting events-based tourism such as party tourism as what Ms. Kat Dalisay is advocating will be a big help to our local economy.

I can cite Mati City. During the Holy Week, Mati City Mayor Carlo Rabat hosted several bloggers and photographers, I was part of the lucky group.

During my talk with the Mayor he said that visitors in Dahican during the holy week were in record numbers. He said it must be the result of Summer Frolic, a rave party held a month before in Dahican organized by a private group named Frolic Fox.

“Siguro yung sa two-thousand na pumunta sa party lahat sa kanila may Facebook kaya kumalat at naging sikat ang Dahican.” He said to me.

Party (Events) + Social Media = Tourists. Mayor Rabat’s simple idea has saved the Mati City the resources intended for traditional tourism promotions.

Another example is Tagum City, during the time of former Mayor Rey T. Uy his wife Alma would always make the round of press conferences in Davao City promoting the countless events they had organized.

She said that since Tagum lacks beautiful tourism attractions it makes for it by creating events which people can visit. Among these include the Musikahan, the Santacruzan, the Gay Festival, etc.

Cebu’s Sinulog is complemented by Life Dance an outdoor electronic dance music (EDM) event which also attracts a large number of tourists in fact it is officially endorsed by the Department of Tourism.

Another famous example would be Medellin in Colombia, once the site of notorious drug cartels being the base of drug lord Pablo Escobar. After Escobar was neutralized the city transformed into a Party Town to entice the people and tourists back.

In Davao City, the perfect example of events tourism is Kadayawan. Apart from the street dancing and floral float parade there is an array of private sector led events like concerts and street parties. If you managed to stroll around Davao City during  nighttime on a Kadayawan weekend you will see a crowded city as people explore the varied festival nightlife.

Events like parties cater to a young and more mobile tourism market. According to an article I read in the Philippine Daily Inquirer Asian millenials or those Asians age 18-36  is a high growth tourism market, in fact by 2020 which is six years from now there will be an estimated 1 billion Asian millennial tourists spending half of the global tourism spending.

And Asian tourism leaders are finding of ways on how to attract these tourism millenials. One strategy would be the holding of events such as EDM parties  which is patronized by millenials. For example Singapore is heavily promoting its Zoukout, a rave party touted as the biggest beach party in Asia.

For domestic tourism, in a 2012 NSO survey, about 54% of the 35 million domestic Filipino tourists are ages 15-34, a big potential market for events or party tourism.

Davao City has enough creativity and skill to churn out one great event which can rival Life Dance or even Zoukout all it needs is a constructive engagement from a stern but supportive local government.