Posts Tagged ‘Nick Joaquin’


Ang Larawan — A Must Film to Watch!

December 26, 2017

I do not usually watch Metro Manila Film Fest entries, especially when the usual, consumerist, commercial movies primarily meant to entertain and to profit comprise the list. Producers are not to blame anyway, if ROI [return of investment] becomes their priority. For them, it is business first and foremost.

And so, when the MMFF last year presented largely indie films instead of the formulaic anticipated entries, I was one of those who hailed the decision. Unfortunately, money rules, and so, now that the same stuff are back, having something different sort of compensates, or should I say, serves as a compromise despite the setting aside of quality indie films.

Yesterday, I watched “Ang Larawan”, a depiction in film of National Artist in Literature’s Nick Joaquin’s three-act play, “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.” It was for me quite refreshing to watch having been presented not in the usual narrative and dramatic form but as a musical film adaptation. I enjoyed wholly the experience having appreciated the integration of theater and cinema; of literature made into films. With superb performances of all the cast members, especially the engaging roles of Paula and Candida played by Rachel Alejandro and Joanna Ampil; the moving music of Ryan Cayabyab, the film’s meticulous production design, the cinematography of Boy Yniguez, a colleague at the UP Film Center, and the able direction of Loy Arcenas, the work of Mang Nick becomes all the more unforgettable. He would have enjoyed its preview with beer in hand… the way he did when Tatarin was previewed for him.

Ang Larawan form somehow reminded me of the multi-awarded film “La-La Land” by Damien Chazelle; also, Paolo’s personality as Tony Javier, the piano player is also reminiscent of Ryan Gosling in the same film.

I also love the use of documentary footage of Nick Joaquin’s beloved Old Manila, and the War footage during World War II giving more texture, and ambience of the times as the setting required of the film.

It is a must-see film if only to appreciate Nick Joaquin’s literature better, and the wonderful performances of our artists.

Below is a home video recording when Nick Joaquin joined several other literary writers in the house of Ms. Virginia Moreno, poet and playwright. The documentation must be one of the last footage showing Mang Nick with his friends. He died four months later after the event. I happened to be there with a mini-dv cam, and though lights were low, I just shot their activity notwithstanding the video noise. I knew that whatever my cam caught would be rare… isang kabanata na hindi na mauulit.


An Evening with Virginia R. Moreno, Poet-Playwright

April 27, 2014

My Humanities Professor, poet and playwright Ms. Virgie Moreno, co-founder of the UP Film Center celebrated her birthday yesterday. It was held in the house of Pitoy Moreno, Aling Barang’s brother. She was born on the 24th though. A few close friends and members of her family attended. Only Placid and I, from the original staff of the UP Film Center were present. Met cinematographer Kuya Romy Vitug, writer Corito Llamas, President and descendant of Teresita Reyes of the famed “Mama Sita’s,” Ms. Clarita Kalayaan R. Lapus, Celestial, Jimmy Cruz, and Dr. Suzette, also a former student of Ms. Moreno.

Quite an enjoyable and cozy evening with our esteemed and dear “Aling Barang” who was responsible for sending me to the Film and Television Institute of India to study film making. She recruited me then as researcher of the UP Film Center.

VRM Bday

Group Photo with Aling Barang [seated]. [R to L]: Jimmy, Celestial, MM, Dr. Suzette, Corito, Elaine, Placid, Mr. Reyes…

VRM Bday_selfie

Selfie on the mirror of Pitoy Moreno. Photos of Pitoy with his guests are displayed on the table.

Watch Miss Moreno and her writer friends including Nick Joaquin in the video below that I shot 10 years ago.


Nick Joaquin_Language of the Street

July 5, 2012

While burning the Alyana DVD files as part of my preparations for its showing next week in Marikina City, I got hold of Quijano de Manila’s [Nick Joaquin] Language of the Street [1980 / first edition]. At the first random flip of the page was an article he wrote about the Rizals titled “Calamba and the Rizals” written in June 1961 – the centennial birth year of Rizal. What a coincidence that during these days when my mind [and heart definitely] are still on Rizal because of A mi Patria, an article on him pops unexpectedly before my eyes!

I just felt sad when Mang Nick wrote that when Trinidad, the last of the Rizal’s died in 1951, “she was given a “semi-charity” burial — with only a handul of relatives and friends present. There were no representations from the government, from civic societies, or from educational institutions.” He also wrote that “when she was dying, Don Alfonso Ongpin went to vist her. He found the aged woman weeping “Me han saqueado!” she cried — “They have stripped me of everything!” Her house had been ransacked for historical relics; practically all the furniture had been carried off — even the dying woman’s bed. “They might have waited until I had closed my eyes!” wept N[y]ora Trining.

Nick Joaquin ended the article with this: “Destiny had needed the Mercados for a great purpose — and having used them, discarded them without remorse.”

Isn’t that quite tragic and sad?


To the Flowers of Heidelberg_English-Filipino Sign Language Version Edited

November 27, 2011

A las Flores de Heidelberg, a poem written by our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal, and translated from Spanish into English by National Artist in Literature Nick Joaquin was read for A mi Patria [omnibus film on Rizal’s poems] by my good friend, Belen Calingacion. I started editing it with the Filipino Sign Language version interpreted by Romalito Mallari last night. This morning before 7 a.m., I have finally finished the edit.

Today, I need to focus on the materials that I’ll use for the powerpoint presentation that I’ll do on November 30 during the 2nd Asia-Pacific CBR Congress. I’ll be speaking about “Documentary Films as Effective Tools in Promoting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” It will be a gathering of many different agencies in the region. It will be my first time to present using powerpoint so I need to familiarize myself with it. It is suppose to be easier than filmmaking but I got so used to making films and avp’s that I find it rather uncomfortable to adjust to something simpler…which is bad of course! I’ll probably be adopting filmmaking techniques to it so I won’t feel much the change. Well! Let’s see what I’ll come up with. I have yet to look for some images for the 15-minute presentation.


Language of the Street

February 27, 2011

Last night, I found more books by Quijano de Manila (Nick Joaquin) — “Language of the Street and Other Essays” (1980) and “Gloria Diaz & Other Delineations” (1977). I didn’t like the latter as much as the earlier books “Nora…and Ronnie…” I have yet to read “Language…” The title sounds very interesting and the cover design is for me just as interesting and quite nice. (To watch Nick Joaquin with fellow writers a few months before his death, click watch?v=v938IEaRRCU)


Reading Quijano de Manila

February 24, 2011

The books of Quijano de Manila [pseudonym of National Artist in Literature Nick Joaquin] have been in our house from the time they were bought in 1977, that I am sure as my brother Gani never let any good book passed his preying eyes. I have his large collection of Filipiniana books half of which were already sent to Metro Manila College [a school founded more than 60 years ago by my brother-in-law and ran with my eldest sister] where I decided to deposit them. He was a book hoarder in a way, as hundred of books, thousands even, piled up as he attended book launchings—one after the other. I remember my mother who always lamented when he came home with new books: “Babagsak na ang bahay natin sa libro!”

“Nora Aunor & Other Profiles” has Nick Joaquin’s autograph, the other “Ronnie Poe & Other Silhouettes” unfortunately wasn’t signed. We have other Nick Joaquin books, notably “A Question of Heroes” (1977), “The Aquinos of Tarlac,” and “The Woman Who had Two Navels” which I used as reference for our film “Tatarin” by Tikoy Aguiluz. [To read his short bio from Wikipedia, click: Nick_Joaquin. To watch him with the members of The Ravens a few months before he died, click: watch?v=v938IEaRRCU)

Though in our library for more than 30 years, it is only now that I actually picked up and read the books “Nora.. and Ronnie…” I loved the way he wrote. They are so unlike the way our present crop of writers write. In reading Quijano de Manila’s feature articles I felt like I was reading short stories. They were replete with words that give so much color and texture to the characters in his stories, and life–so much life– to the personalities he wrote about. I could ride back in time and I could easily tune in with the times because of the ambience his descriptive details created. You could even smell the places he described so much so that I felt I was actually one of the participants in his story—whether the setting is Tondo in Manila, in Bicol where Nora grew up, in the den of junkies and dope addicts with Rod Reyes, the newsman. I came to know Flash Elorde, Kerima Polotan, ordinary taxi driver Gil Guerrero who made news on front page when he returned large sum of money to the owner that he was visited by then newly elected President Diosdado Macapagal… I particularly liked Lady Psychologist Among the Spooks, a feature on Dr. Matilde MartinValdez, an exceptional woman with ESP. Mang Nick conditioned the readers when he wrote: “Our senses permit us only ‘glimpses of the truth.’ We see as ‘through a glass, darkly'”. Then he described about sounds beyond the range of our hearing [ave. of 20 decibels],  air that is not empty because of sound waves, and finally the existence of the other life on earth in the realm of/ or under the name of—ghost, spirit, fairy, miracle, occult.

Anyway, his dedication to my brother reads: “Happy Reading!” Indeed, I was very happy to have read Quijano de Manila’s books about people during one of their “mortal moment: the moment when they were news or in some way excited other people’s interest.”

Below is a home video — one of the last, if not the last video shot a few months before Nick Joaquin died. I happened to be invited by Ms. Virginia “Aling Barang” Moreno to attend the affair she held as a tribute to Mang Larry Francia. I was quite excited to see him and despite my cam’s low resolution, I recorded the event. Other Raven writers like Adrian Cristobal and my Humanities professors — Deanna Ongpin-Recto and Ms. Jesusa Lava also attended.


THE YELLOW SHAWL III (1944)_My Shortest Film Ever

February 2, 2010

Finally, I made the shortest film in my life —2min 15sec in length! And in narrative form! [This is rare because I prefer making feature-length docus]. It formed Part III [The Yellow Shawl (1944) of Francisco Arcellana’s story with the same title, performed and presented last Thursday to Saturday [January 28-30], by the UP Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts under the direction of my good friend Dr. Belen Calingacion, the Department’s Chairperson. We did a coverage of the Chamber Theater’s last performance at Teatro Hermogenes Ilagan in UP.

The film as flashback helps in understanding the whole story  superbly played by Nico Paolo Arguelles and Danica Paola Romero. The video images in black and white show her past, explaining in the process why the girl acts the way she does. The traumatic experience of continually being haunted by the anguish and sufferings of her mother from the Japanese soldiers, and, as insinuated in the story, as a Comfort Woman is shown in the film. But the similarity ends there. There is variation in the scenes and the settings. The film is a screen adaptation, or rather, Belen’s interpretation of the story. [To read the story click theyellowshawl.htm] I came up with a very simple film, yet there were those who admittedly told me that it touched them so much they shed tears while watching it. The merge of the present and the past (through the film) resulted in a beautiful and powerful ending—an affirmation of how powerful a film can be. But that was only made possible because of the natural and good acting ensemble of course, and the proper use of the segment in the play.

The film was largely shot using handheld camera. A rather hush work shot done in the UP campus with only one assistant, starring friends and neighbors of Belen. It was fun! Meeting old acquaintances as Dr. Ruby Alcantara and new wonderful people, as her grand daughter Czarise Jyvoane Alcantara who acted as the Child, Rex Flores [the Japanese soldier], his wife Dr. Crisanta Flores, [Girl’s mother], and “tambay sa UP Film Center” as Gina [Dr. Amanda Umali III] described herself. She owns the cozy house where we shot the scenes. She too was a student in Humanities of UP Film Center Founder Ms. Virginia “Aling Barang” Moreno.

The two-minute film took me two days to edit [tried many variations], and even after my first declaration to myself that version 3 was final [I settled on not revealing the mother’s face immediately], my brain did not stop until I acceded to its prodding to try reshuffling  shots further more. I finally came up with version 4 which was shown, and still to be shown*  …BUT, before I completely erase my video files, I would be trying a 5th version. I shall manipulate some more shots [dagdag-bawas pa] so as to end with both the child and the father. Again I blame this on my brain’s workings. More often than not, in film editing, I follow the dictates of my brain as I always come up with something better. But if it doesn’t work after the try [my judgment still], I feel more “peaceful’ for giving in to my mind’s proddings just the same. By not just settling in what I thought to be good and already quite acceptable is really quite good for my mental health. The feeling of satisfaction for exhausting everything possible would be there. And there would also be closure as well.

*The Chamber Theater group got invitations to perform the back-to-back play at DLS Taft and CCP this week. Re the screening at De La Salle, I received this text message from Belen last night:

PRISMS a Chamber Theater Production of Nick Joaquin’s “May Day Eve” and Franz Arcellana’s ” The Yellow Shawl” at N. Fajardo Gonzales Auditorium De La Salle University Taft at 2 pm and 5 pm. Feb.3. Tickets are sold at the North gate of DLSU, 100 pesos.

(To read a short bio on Francisco Arcellana, click index.php?title=Francisco_Arcellana)


Nick Joaquin’s Last Entry to & Exit from Cafe Orfeo

January 26, 2009

Last January 15, I have spent many hours  looking for the footages that I shot exactly five years ago in 2004 at the house of Aling Barang (poet, playwright Virginia R. Moreno) on the occasion of Raven writer Hilario Francia’s death anniversary. The strange compulsion within me was strong and sudden. I didn’t stop until I found the master tape. I have hundreds of mini-dv tapes at home because my docus are mostly feature-length. Looking for that one tape really racked my brain.

The ground floor of Miss Moreno’s house used to be an artist’s den, a cafe-restaurant for literary writers, visual artists, poets, playwrights, theater and performing artists, etc. She called it Cafe Orfeo. The place was not well-lighted but I shot the happenings just the same. I used my small ordinary mini-dv handycam which I happened to carry with me on that day.

VRM welcomes Nick Joaquin and Ms. Elena

VRM welcomes Nick Joaquin and Ms. Elena

Miss Moreno’s visitors consisted of National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin and his companion, Ms. Elena; my former Humanities professors Mrs. Josefa Lava and Deanna Ongpin-Recto; Ms. Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Adrian Cristobal and his daughter Stella, Corito Llamas and her family and a few other writers and friends who were close to Ms. Moreno. “Mang Larry” as we fondly called Mr. Larry Francia at the UP Film Center was Corito’s uncle.

Corito Llamas greets Nick Joaquin

Corito Llamas greets Nick Joaquin

Out of the footages that I shot, I came up with a vignette of some sort titled “Nick Joaquin’s Last Entry to and Exit from Cafe Orfeo.” The edited copy (roughly 5 min. long) was shown only once in June of 2004 in an event Miss Moreno called “Reunion in a Sky Cafe”—Lyrical Elegy by Poets for Honorary Raven Nick Joaquin and Raven poet Hilario Francia.” (Mang Nick whose real name was Nicomedes Marquez Joaquin died on April 29, 2004 or three months after their January meet). Before the copy gets lost, I’ll be sharing it with you. That’s a promise! Right now I just have a problem in uploading it.


Today is January 30. As I have promised I am going to share with you the vignette of the Raven writers gathering at Cafe Orfeo. Please click below:

Nick Joaquin’s Last Entry to and Exit from Cafe Orfeo