Joolia Demigillo of Tudla Productions maintains that society hasn’t changed fundamentally and so the struggle that Brocka began must be continued.
By IMA ARIATE
To his family, he was loving and generous to a fault. To his colleagues in the entertainment industry, he was an intent student of human nature whose quick and unbridled wit tickled their fancies to no end. To his former film intern, he wasn’t the stereotypical demanding director. Instead, he was precise and intense at work but friendly and collaborative to everyone else around him. To the Filipino people and the rest of the world, he is the master of his craft. To this day, he remains one of the most prominent filmmakers in Philippine cinema history.
These revelations on Brocka’s multifaceted and colorful personality were disclosed at an intimate gathering at Himlayang Pilipino Memorial Chapel on May 21, 2016. Organized by Tudla Productions, the same media outfit that runs the annual Pandayang Lino Brocka, family and friends came together to celebrate his life, his works, and his continuing legacy 25 years after his sudden and unexpected passing.
Brocka’s unparalleled eminence as a director is due to the international acclaim garnered by his movies. Insiang, released in 1976, was the first Philippine film screened at the Cannes Film Festival. The following year, Jaguar was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the same international film festival. He returned the following year with Bona. For Bernadette Patino of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Brocka’s films have an impact on you well after you’ve seen them.
Additionally, he made his indelible mark as he fearlessly used this particular media to foment a progressive social discourse at a point in history when repression from martial rule characterized the prevailing order. Footages of a demonstration in Bayan Ko caught the attention of the Marcos government. Consequently, the movie was barred from being screened within the country. Pending court proceedings on its censorship, the Cannes and its guests were the first to watch it in 1984 before the movie was finally allowed to be released locally in the subsequent year. Joolia Demigillo of Tudla Productions and the festival director of the 8th Pandayang Lino Brocka Political Film and New Media Festival admires how Brocka used the wider scope of a global audience to get his movies and the message across.
Professo Sari Dalena, director of the University of the Philippines Film Institute (UPFI), acknowledges Brocka’s pioneering endeavors in creating art that is liberated and liberating. For her, it is imperative to treasure and protect the freedom of expression that we all enjoy as Brocka and his generation spent their lives fighting for this. She encourages the younger artists and directors to be active participants in shaping film narratives for public consumption. “Stories of the oppressed and marginalized speak the truth. As artists, it is always the supreme duty to tell the truth,” she asserts.
Comparing the lens of the current crop of mainstream filmmakers to the lens used by Brocka in weaving plot lines, Renan Ortiz, spokesperson of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), sees a world of difference. Because of this, the value of propagating media that are relevant to the society should be highlighted.
Brocka is CAP’s biggest inspiration. “Kung wala si Lino Brocka, wala rin kami,” he states after explaining how artists banded together during the Marcos dictatorship. At first, there was a specific struggle against censorship under the broad banner of Free the Artist Movement. This paved the way for the establishment of CAP, a nationalist and people-oriented group of artists from various disciplines, in 1983. He observes that commemorating Brocka’s memory is a big deal at this day and age wherein people seem to have forgotten the dangers of an authoritarian rule as evidenced by the gradual rise of Bongbong Marcos.
Actress Bibeth Orteza, one of his close friends, notes that Brocka fought for freedom of expression even before he walked out of the 1987 Constitutional Convention during the Aquino regime. For her, it was commendable for him to accomplish so much not only for himself but also for his brothers and sisters in the industry. Brocka made her realize that battles fought for oneself as a filmmaker are meaningless when compared to those that are waged with and for others.
Demigillo closed the program by quoting Brocka in her tribute: “the artist is a committed person…he will always take the side of any human being who is violated, abused, oppressed, dehumanized, whatever his instrument — the pen, the brush, or the camera.” She maintains that society hasn’t changed fundamentally and so the struggle that Brocka began must be continued. This is a challenge for all artists and citizens alike.
A Eucharistic celebration was offered. This was followed by the laying of flowers and lighting of candles on his grave. While the calmness of the get-together may not have had the same ambiance as the glitzy red carpet gatherings that he had graced, it was still a befitting one filled with much love and commitment to carry on the fight against what is wrong.