Here is one nice piece of trivia for Philippine cinema. A hundred years ago to the day, a pioneering Filipino filmmaker named Jose Nepomunceno produced and directed what is historically recognized as the first locally-made movie, the silent film “Dalagang Bukid” starring Atang de la Rama, a future National Artist. Considering that this is the first full century since the traditional start of the Philippine movie industry, a number of voices from that industry today are petitioning Congress to give this day, or rather the whole month of September, an annual commemoration to celebrate, that of Philippine Movie Industry Month.
ABS-CBN News has it that legislators in Congress are receiving lobbies from the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) to make a declaration that starting this year, every month of September shall be commemorated annually as Philippine Movie Industry Month, to remember the premiere of the first Filipino movie “Dalagang Bukid” back in 1919. This petition was brought up Thursday, September 12 or the exact anniversary of Jose Nepomuceno’s film. Liza Dino, FDCP chairperson, is proposing that the month-long Philippine Movie Industry celebration could have at its heart the already-established film festival, Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP) as centerpiece.
Speaking to reporters in Malacañang, Dino expressed her hope that Representatives and Senators would understand and appreciate the message of their request for institutionalization of Philippine Movie Industry Month. Already the FDCP had its own tribute event for the now century-old milestone of Filipino filmmaking on Thursday evening. The New Frontier Theater in Araneta Center, Quezon City, played host to Sine Sandaan, which commemorated the history of “Dalagang Bukid,” its director-producer and its star. Dino added that she is looking forward to Filipinos supporting all celebrations that will be held in following days in commemoration of the Philippine cinematic century.
At the very least, President Rodrigo Duterte has already made an early tip of the hat to 100 years of Filipino movies way back last year, when he declared a Centennial Year of Philippine Cinema starting from this Thursday, September 12 of 2019, to September 11 of the following year 2020. The Centennial year would be a one-off thing, but the proposition of the Film Development Council of the Philippines could ensure that this historical moment will always be remembered. It is an altogether fitting gesture for Atang de la Rama and Jose Nepomuceno’s “Dalagang Bukid,” which unfortunately is already a “lost movie” with no surviving copies of the film.
Image courtesy of Esquire Philippines