Dog Slaughtering in “ORO”January 9, 2017
Public awareness on animal rights was highlighted by the brouhaha brought about by a dog killing scene in one of the eight 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival entries held last December. The film was based on a massacre of four small-scale miners in Camarines Sur. The mining activity as livehood of a small community gets disturbed as it was taken over by bandits who posed as environmental patrols. The community led by the Kapitana was played by Irma Adlawan. In fact, I watched it because of her. She is one of the few actresses whom I acknowledge as one of the best in our country. She acted in one of the films I edited, Bagong Bayani, a docu-drama about Flor Contemplacion, a domestic helper who was hanged in Singapore. Vigils and rallies were held then against the verdict because we believed in her innocence. Idlawan won the Best Actress Award in Oro.
The Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence earlier bestowed on Oro was withdrawn by the Manila Film Fest Committee because the controversy on the killing of a dog “…casts a doubt on the movie’s capability to exemplify the human and cultural values espoused by the late Fernando Poe Jr.” FPJ is a National Artist in Film. Meanwhile, both the director and producer were suspended for a year from participating in the filmfest as a “punishment” for their dishonesty in saying that no animals were harmed in the making of the film. [Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/859019/dog-killing-scene-takes-some-luster-off-oro-fpj-award-withdrawn#ixzz4VElEvuax ]
Film Director Alvin Yapan’s representatives had justified the use of a real animal by saying that the scene “was within the bounds of culture in that area where dogs are eaten as food.” I heard elsewhere though that the community where the scene was shot claimed that they do not perform any such ritual or practice. I would just think or assume that the filmmaker just wanted to show the cruelty and bestiality of the villainous characters. However, as film editor, I know that that effect can be achieved without resorting to showing all the repulsive images of an slaughtered dog. That segment is not also essential as without that scene, it would not have affected the story flow anyway. If it was an actual coverage or actual documentation of a cultural practice which was mentioned as alibi of the filmmakers, then, it would have passed I guess. But it was not.
My sensibility was greatly touched by the graphic image showing the dog hanging upside down with the intestines right in the foreground. It was too repulsive. I remember my own pet, Pitz and I felt disgusted even just to imagine him suffering that fate. It wasn’t surreal, it was in reality something quite hurtful to the senses.
Except for that, and lack of further development of some characters and actions [may bitin], I still consider it as a good film — much, much better than Kabisera — even with a great actress in it like Nora Aunor. There were in fact, only more than 20 people at the time I watched it at SM MOA. I find the subject Oro tackled as more interesting and quite enlightening as to the plight of our small-scale miners. It has introduced me to something I have never been exposed to, and appreciated the convincing and natural acting of the Best Ensemble cast! Same with Die Beautiful! No doubt amazing Paolo Ballesteros deserves the Best Actor Award! I would have wanted to watch Erik Matti’s Seklusyon too. He is one of the few good Filipino directors around. But I am an insomniac, and seeing a film I knew could disturb the short hours of sleep I enjoy stopped me from queueing to watch it having read its classification as a horror film.
Anyway, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society will file a criminal case against Oro producer and director in violation of Republic Act 8485, the Animal Welfare Act. To see the picture of the dog before it was killed, click: http://www.interaksyon.com/entertainment/fdcp-dgpi-vow-to-take-action-on-oro-dog-slaughter-controversy/