MY RECENT travel to Manila to attend an organizational meeting of the National Commission for Culture and Arts Committee on Cinema as volunteer member became a travel back in time as I walk passing by places around the Ermita area where I used to frequent as a fine arts student in the late 70s and early 80s.
From Pasay City, I boarded the LRT towards the UN Avenue terminal. I crossed Taft Avenue towards Kalaw then proceeded to Padre Faura to check on the dormitory where I used to stay for over a year, the old structure remains untouched together with Sionil Jose’s La Solidaridad Bookshop but everything around it has changed except the justice buildings nearby. Robinsons has put up a huge mall over a vacant lot in front of our old dormitory that was once occupied by Chinaman Kua-ya, his son Chiquito and mother Aling Pining Del Monte. Back then, the streets of Mabini and MH Del Pilar were the show windows of tourism especially to US servicemen and naval crews as the place is close to Manila Bay area where the yacht club and navy docks their vessels.
Since I had about three hours before my NCCA meeting at the Bay View Hotel right across the US Embassy, I took a jeep ride to Quiapo to check on the old camera stores at Hidalgo Street. I took file photos of the church interiors and exterior including the amulet vendors around it. I also caught the priest on camera giving his homily at the elevated side pulpit typical to old houses of prayers. I decided to cross the Quezon Bridge by foot on my way to Lawton where the iconic Metropolitan Museum stands opposite the Central Philippine Postal Office. As the morning heat starts to build up and I needed to change my travelling shirt, I passed by the Manila City Hall and stopped in front of the National Museum near a fountain to dress up behind a bush. I took a motorized tricycle from one gate of Intramuros to another in order to avoid the scorching heat and later inched my way towards Luneta passing by the statue of national hero and Filipino painter Juan Luna, Planetarium and Manila Hotel. The controversial structure at the skyline behind Dr. Jose Rizal’s monument in Luneta was indeed visually imposing and I couldn’t help but take a selfie with it.
The midday meeting of the NCCA at Bay View Hotel started with the introduction of the members of various committees representing the mainstream and independent cinema including the various allied services like archiving, film review, screenwriters, editors and others including festival organizers. I was chosen to represent the Indigenous Peoples as a volunteer point person in NCCA-Cinema and each of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao islands were also represented by a new set of volunteers.
The NCCA offers programs such as “Cinemas in the Region” which is open to NGOs, LGUs, NGAs, SUCs, academic institutions, or qualified group/collective organization with counterpart funding and with no ongoing projects or outstanding un-liquidated fund with the NCCA. The proponent must submit a complete project proposal with detailed line-item budget, schedule of activities, and work and financial plan duly signed by the Proponent on each proposal page. The proponent for this program must submit list of films and synopsis, list of speakers and topics, schedules of talks and workshops and justification for selection of films in terms of content, aesthetics, style and representation of Philippine culture and values among others. For this program, NCCA offers PhP 150,000 for as long as it benefits a community, schools, local government units, film students/professionals/ enthusiasts, local filmmakers, regional production staff, local actors, film critics, film exhibitors-distributors and the public.
On “Screenplay Development”, NCCA grants PhP 50,000 to film students, professionals, enthusiasts, film researchers, film writers, script writers and individuals with counterpart funding but with no ongoing projects with the NCCA. This is open to any proponent who has written at least one script which has been produced for theater or film. For this, the proponent must include in his or her resume past accomplishments related to screenwriting, sample of work, synopsis and recommendation letters from an organization, institution, producer, professor, or film director not involved in the proposed project.
For full-length films, NCCA only provides PhP 200,000 funding for post production which means that the grant only covers the finalization of a movie and not the shooting and directing stage. This program is open to any proponent who has produced and directed a film screened in a public venue or in a film festival.
A complete project proposal with detailed line-item budget, schedule of activities, and work and a duly signed financial plan by the proponent is required including synopsis and screenplay and sequence outline for documentary. The criteria for evaluation for this category includes; Relevance to the Goal and Objective Unique/Novel; Groundbreaking; Creative and interesting. Further, the proponent must submit a personal track record and good credit standing proving that he or she has the ability to accomplish production schedule and comply with NCCA’s thrusts of anti-corruption and pride of place. A budget amounting to PhP 100,000 can also be granted for short film productions to proponents who has produced and directed a film screened in a public venue and/or film festival.