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Old Corregidor Revisited in “Tiga-Isla”

November 17, 2014

iSLANDERSThe abridged edition of “Tiga-Isla” [The Islanders of Corregidor] / 62mins was shown for the first time last Satirday, November 15 at NHCP-Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. It turned out to be sort of a reunion with “long time no see” friends: Shrine Curator Angelo Aguinaldo, NHCP Aguinaldo Shrine – Historic Sites Development Officer Gina Ayran, Cavite Historical Society members Belen Nocon and Willie Pangilinan.

Also present were: Chit A. Sambile – Kawit Tourism Officer/ FAMAS President; Annie R. Sarile – President, Cavite Association of Historic Sites and Museums/ Director, Marketing Communication Office – DLSU Dasmarinas; Aquino Garcia – President, Cavite Provincial Tourism Board/ Faculty, DLSU-Dasmarinas; Myra Oestrich – Asst Principal, IMUS Institute; Ige Ramos – Editor, Rustan’s SansRival; Columnist – BANDEHADO, Bandera; Cavite Culinary Historian, and Jigs Medina – Historian – Faculty, DLSU-Dasmarinas.

Tiga Isla Screening8

From R-L: Willie Pangilinan, Aquino Garcia, Angelo Aguinaldo, MM, Mrs. Chit Sambile, Annie Sarile, Belen Nocon, Jigs Medina, Myra Oestrich, Imus Institute history teacher and Jan Peña

Students of Imus Institute Adult School came with their history teacher while some students of St. Dominic School who previously viewed my docu on autism arrived with Jan Peña, former president of Autism Society. Her family members also came [photo below]. Incidentally, her son Emille she told us is named after Emilio Aguinaldo. They are currently residing in Dasmariñas.

Jan's fam

Jan Peña’s Family: Husband Al, daughter Thea and youngest son, Jan Emille. Behind them is the house of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo

Despite the delay due to technical problems, they all patiently waited. It was worth their time I guess as they enjoyed listening to the stories of my interviewees. Majority of them are gone now but their memories and stories shall remain for as long as the digital video disc survives the test of climate change, humidity and man’s negligence. Some segments elicited laughter from the audience when they heard some of the experiences of my brother Isagani Medina who also served as my film’s consultant; especially so, when he started singing a song that they used to sing at a time nationalism of the Filipinos started to brew against the Spaniards and the Americans:

“One, two, three. Amerikanong nahuli.
Saan ililibing? Sa puno ng saging.
Anong kandila? Titi ng Kastila.
Ano ang korona? Bulbol ng señora”.

Some were touched, and a few must have cried as they empathized with the feeling of loss by the Corregidorians, strongly exemplified in the words of Mr. Jose Estrella: “…I have lost a birthplace.”

Mrs. Chit Sambile said the documentary quite relived her childhood days during the Japanese period. She looked quite nostalgic. Angelo Aguinaldo was quite surprised to see Dr. Selma Calmes-Harrison and to hear her story about two generations of her family who lived in Corregidor. The viewers wowed upon seeing her parent’s wedding picture. Her mother was wearing a typical Filipino dress we call “saya.”

Dr Selma n parents

[Leff photo] Wedding picture in Corregidor of Dr. Selma Harrison-Calmes’ parents; [R]: Grabbed foto of Dr. Selma from the film “Tiga-Isla”

The history teacher from Imus Institute was quite appreciative of the film as they have learned something new from it. Most books written on Corregidor are about war and destruction; not about the lives of the Filipinos and Americans who lived and enjoyed their days there. Unfortunately, my brother’s wish to be buried there, later, that he be cremated instead and his ashes be spread in Corregidor were not realized due to opposition from all the members of our family.

Observing how the people reacted on a film made 11 years ago just only showed the film content’s timelessness, and of course, the power of the film medium as a tool in teaching history.

Looking back, the process of making this particular documentary would not have been possible —believe it or not — without the power of prayer and God’s intervention. Of the many unexplainable experiences that I encountered in the making of this film quite unforgettable was the magnet-like desire that I felt to go to Corregidor so suddenly. I rushed that morning to the CCP Complex, and arrived at the ferry boat terminal just a few minutes before the boat disembarked. I had no plans at all to go there. But the push within me to visit the island was so powerful, I had to leave my chores to catch the boat scheduled on that day. I felt like a real tourist on that day. I was first brought there when I was small and I couldn’t remember any of the places that I had been to. I only remember the white pebbles that we collected. The turning point was when I heard a Balikbayan tourist from Hawaii exclaiming while viewing the photo exhibit at the Museum: “May mga tao pala dito at villages?”

On the boat back to Manila that afternoon, I have decided to document the stories of my siblings –on how they lived there, their experiences, and how Corregidor looked like during their time. I also felt a strong sense of loss — of never having experienced going home to a province — “our own” that is, when I get tired of the city jungle; and felt angered somewhat by what the War has brought to what could have been my home too….Anyhow, the decision to make the docu helped me in finally finding something to keep my brother Gani’s spirit “alive” and busy for many months. I finished the film and premiered it in 2003; my brother Gani died the following year on September 26, 2004. Had I not documented their stories, current generation of Filipinos will never come to know how happy life in Corregidor Island was for residents who lived there.

Last note: On the usual question as to why TIGA, not TAGA-ISLA was used… According to my brother, TIGA is a Cavite-Tagalog word. Residents of Corregidor before the War were called “Tiga-Isla.”

Also take note that some revisions on the feature-length version of the docu will be done..Extra characters will be erased for good..One would easily know copies marketed without my knowledge.

Paksiw_Lunch at Agui

Ulam namin nung lunch time… first time ko makakita ng nakapilang paksiw na isda…waiting to be eaten….Sarap!!!

Thanks Angelo and Gina for the opportunity to show the film again!!! Pero umorder na kayo ng LCD projector ha?

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