Cine Totoo feats Baguio filmmaker

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Thursday, August 14, 2014


LOCAL filmmaker Ferdinand Balanag shines in the nationwide launch of Cine Totoo.

Balanag's docu film, "Agbalbalitok" tells the harrowing tale of ordinary Filipinos working in a perilous, rundown small-scale gold mine in Benguet.

GMA News TV will launch the inaugural edition of Cine Totoo: Philippine International Documentary Film Festival in theaters this September 24 to 30. Audiences will be treated to an impressive line-up of documentaries, produced by 11 independent filmmakers from all over the country.

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"The true price of gold is what we sacrifice to mine it. Since the dawn of civilization, man has been captivated by gold. This lust for gold has driven its price to unprecedented levels, and man, to great lengths to mine this precious metal. But what is the true price of gold and who really pays for it," Balanag said.

Balanag said the film was completed with the thoughts on how precious gold is and how man tries to find it adding “Based on this premise, Agbalbalitok (The Gold Prospector) reveals the realities lived by the small scale miner.”

Balanag said the team of Agbalbalitok went through many months of immersion and research on a small scale mining community located in Antamok,Itogon Benguet.

“The privilege of being allowed to observe, interact and document the life of a small scale miner- Johnrey Guinapon, his family and the society that surrounds his existence, was indeed a very humbling and enriching experience for me and the entire film crew who selflessly collaborated in the making of the documentary. Little is known about the struggles that the small scale miner faces and the perils of being a miner existing on a hand to mouth basis while raising a family in a forsaken environment,” Balanag continued.

“Before we started filming, I met with the production crew to define our objectives and motives for pursuing the film project,” Balanag added. “It was a common agreement that the movie be made for the subject community in mind.”

The local filmmaker continued “We collectively agreed that the film should be an eye-opener for the miners, their families and the community which revolves around them. The documentary emphasizes the parallel existence of the small scale miner and his environment. It is very much like holding a mirror to his face and letting him personally figure out and contemplate on what urgently needs to be done about the pressing situations surrounding him, his life, family, environment and the core of his existence.”

Balanag wishes to thank wish his film crew- Jay, Spyke, Ems, Jigs, Grace,Jonathan, Hendrix, Kulot and Kristian for being very, hardworking and extremely resilient to the conditions of living in an unfamiliar community.

“Their patience was far beyond my expectations. It wasn't easy to film a documentary on a shoestring budget. I admire their drive and zeal while they carried out their daily film crew tasks, constantly bearing in their hearts our objective and motive for making the documentary. I am very thankful to Johnrey Guinapon and his family for opening up his life and home to us and for allowing us to share and document his daily life at the expense of his privacy. This film is dedictated to his son KJ and his siblings. It is my hope that this film may in a way, guide them towards a better path of living,” Balanag expounded.

Another film in Cine Totoo, focuses on another highland town; Carla Ocampo’s documentary “Walang Rape sa Bontok”, tackles the story of two Filipinas who were both victims of sexual abuse as they search for a utopia where women can live without being sexually violated.

Other films include; Rafael Froilan’s “Mananayaw” “Gitaristang Hindi Marunong Mag-skala” by Sigfried Barros-Sanchez Richard Legaspi’s “Ang Walang Kapagurang Paglalakbay ng Pulang Maleta” “Gusto Nang Umuwi ni Joy” by Jan Tristan Pandy “A Trip to Haifa” by Nawruz Paguidopon, Charliebebs Gohetia’s “Kung Giunsa Pagbuhat ang Bisayang Chopsuey”, Nef Luczon’s “Migkahi E Si Amey Te, ‘Uli Ki Pad…’, “Marciano”, by Ivy Universe Baldoza and Keith Sicat’s “Komikero Chronicles.”

The 11 documentaries will be screened in competition from September 24 – September 30 in Trinoma Cinemas.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 15, 2014.

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