October is marked as the National Indigenous Peoples’ Month in the Philippines per Presidential Proclamation No. 1906. This year’s theme is Hamon ng Pandemya Ating Harapin, Gabay ang Katutubong Karunungan at Giting (Face the Challenges of the Pandemic with the Guidance of Indigenous Wisdom and Courage). But COVID-19 is only one of the myriad difficulties our IPs are facing.
Our country has a long history of struggle against foreign invaders. And although we’re recognized as an independent republic, has the Philippines really been freed? In this age of misinformation, it is a must to equip ourselves with factual accounts to avoid repeating some dark parts of our history. It is in this line of thinking that Daang Dokyu came about.
Auraeus Solito, a member of the Palawan tribe and award-winning filmmaker, who you will meet in one of the movies below, said film is a powerful tool. Who wouldn’t agree? The following documentaries under Daang Dokyu’s Ecology section, ranging from 4 minutes to 2 hours and 40 minutes, will make you think and examine what values you hold dear.
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Adversities have both destroyed and shaped the nation. Along the way, the Filipino people have taken it upon themselves to rebuild their homes and lives. With a mix of archival and contemporary images, "Ang Lahat ng Bagay ay Magkaugnay" puts together documentations of individuals and communities in the face of tragedies and calamities. From visions of colonial and capitalist exploitations to pictures of struggles by indigenous peoples against life-threatening development projects, we map the ecology of extractive practices to debunk dangerous notions of Filipino resiliency. Streaming starts Friday, October 2! 📱/💻 daangdokyu.com/watchnow
1. Native Life in the Philippines (1914) by Dean Worcester – The film has been kept in the Internet Archive of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. It captures some of the Philippine indigenous people groups’ way of life, such as their dancing, farming, and mourning. Dean Worcester was a colonial administrator in the country at the time of filming.
2. Glimpses of the Culion Leper Colony and of Culion Life (1929) by Merl La Voy – For the first time in almost a hundred years, the movie is shown in the Philippines. It is stored in the British Film Institute archives. Merl La Voy was a pioneer documentary filmmaker and Pathe News cameraman. The movie was used for the anti-leprosy campaign in the Philippines.
3. Sabangan (1983) by Jose Cuaresma, Bernadette Libres, Federico Espiritu, Robert Gruta, and Lito Fischer – The movie won second place in the 2nd Experimental Cinema of the Philippines Annual Short Film Festival (student documentary) in November 14-20, 1983. It has been under the custodianship of IBON Foundation since the late 1990s. The movie begs the question, “Development for who?”
4. The War We Were Not Taught About (1994) by Jin Takaiwa – Japanese invasion? Sure, we’ve learned that in class. How about what happened next? As the title suggests, the movie can fill us in what we missed in our history classes. Some names you might want to take note of are Takashi Tomokiyo, Jintaro Ishida, William Pomeroy, and Ramon Espiritu.
5. Pagbabalik sa Tribo (1999) by Howie Severino, The Probe Team, and PCIJ – What power structures in the country continue to suppress many Filipinos? Find out for yourself through this movie that is both heartbreaking and empowering. The documentary will also make you wish you were in Palawan’s beaches right now, if only travel is as hassle-free as before.
6. Pinatubo: Pagbangon Mula sa Abo (2011) by ABS-CBN News hosted by Noli de Castro – This special report takes a look back, twenty years after the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991. It’s a bit of a reminder of what happened in Taal and Tagaytay earlier this year, and that we should be prepared for any eventuality knowing our country is home to many active volcanoes.
7. I-Witness: Alkansya (2012) by Kara David – Child labor in the country is well-documented. This is one of those films that make you sad and angry at the sorry plight of our marginalized children. Join Kara David as she follows Anthony, then a 12-year-old sea cucumber diver in Sulangan, Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
8. Tungkung Langit (2013) by Kiri Dalena – Typhon Sendong badly hit Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City in 2011. It caused a lot of destruction and took away many lives. Apolonio and Analou, who are featured in the film, are siblings who are left orphans by the storm. See how they’re able to deal with the trauma of losing their loved ones.
9. Balud (2014) by Francis Solajes – In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, struck the country and left many buildings destroyed and people dead in Eastern Visayas. Francis Solajes, who is from Tacloban City and was in Brussels at the time, dealt with the stress of not being able to contact his family right away by making Balud or Water Snake.
10. Reel Time: Isinulat sa Tubig (2016) by Jayson Bernard Santos – COVID-19 raised many issues, and one of the most pressing is the schooling of students for this academic year. Online education causes a lot of stress, especially for students in areas where connectivity is poor, and for families who can’t afford to buy computers or smart phones. I wonder what you’ll think after watching this documentary.
11. Siyanan (2017) by Summer Bastian – The film is a production thesis submitted to the U.P. Film Institute, College of Mass Communication in the University of the Philippines. Bastian explores what it means to be an Igorot through the stories of her family and folktales she grew up with.
12. Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment Redux VI (2017) by Kidlat Tahimik – This is a whimsical, experimental, and playful film that has footage from 1979 to 2015. It is also a family affair as the movie involves Kidlat Tahimik’s wife, sons, and even grandchild. Kidlat Tahimik or Eric Oteyza de Guia is a National Artist of the Philippines for Film and Broadcast Arts.
13. Bird Hunt (2019) by Atom Araullo – Our country has a rich biodiversity. Unfortunately, according to the documentary, out of 17 million hectares of forest coverage in 1934, we only have 7 million hectares left as of 2015. In Bird Hunt, Atom features birds that are endemic in the Philippines and are in danger due to abusive activities of humans, such as poaching, illegal logging, and mining.
14. Babies4Sale.PH (2019) by Atom Araullo – This is another Atom Araullo Specials and it deals with a very sensitive topic. While adoption can be done legally, there are moms and their families who choose to give up their newborns for a fee. We could only wish every child would go to a loving home. But that is not always the case.
15. Dam Nation (2019) by Grace Simbulan – How can we define development? This film is packed with impact in its short 4 minutes. Progress may mean differently for a lot of people. For the Dumagat, they just want to be able to keep their land, which is the only legacy they can leave to their children and grandchildren. What is development for the rest of us?
16. Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos (2020) by Joana Arong – This film with black and white photos and videos mixed with colored drawings records what happened during and after Yolanda. A narrator provides the story that is interwoven with local lore, a big political corruption scandal at that time, and experiences of the typhoon survivors.
17. Bullet-laced Dreams (2020) by Kristoffer Brugada and Charena Escala – The DMZ International Documentary Film Festival in South Korea hosted the World Premiere of Bullet-laced Dreams in September under the Global Visions section. It premiered in the Philippines through Daang Dokyu.