I MUST admit that as a fanboy of Marvel and DC in my younger days, I am having the time of my life with the superhero movies that have been produced out of Hollywood starting with Superman starring Christopher Reeves. Marvel president Kevin Feige has done a marvelous job (no pun intended) in creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe contributing to Disney’s coffers over $26.8 billion.
With that as a background, let me confess that I’ve only viewed a few Filipino movies in about four decades. Before that, while I was studying, I would save some of my allowance to catch films helmed by Lino Brocka and those that starred Hilda Koronel when she graduated from romantic comedies to serious films. I discovered Brocka early, when he directed Lea Production’s “Wanted: Perfect Mother” that introduced a child actress named Snooky. Brocka was a master storyteller who tackled the ills of society in his features, with much realism and artistic flair. To mention some, “Maynila, sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag,” “Insiang,” “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” and “Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim.”
Thanks to the recent FB postings of Wellington-based Kate Aguirre Go about her brother Kerwin’s directing the well-reviewed film “Mina Anud,” I have become curious on what has caught the fancy of Filipino cinemagoers. A check on the top grossing films of the Philippines shows the two highest are 2018’s “The Hows of Us” earning P788 million and 2019’s “Hello, Love, Goodbye,” P710 million. Those earning from P200 million to P500 million are mostly romcoms, fantasy and horror. The historical biopic film “Heneral Luna” is a rare entry in the list having grossed P256 million.
You can’t blame moviemakers from producing commercial films. What good are international accolades, if you don’t make money? Therefore, it will take some time among the current crop of directors to join the company of National Artists in film: Gerardo de León, 1982; Ishmael Bernal, 1991; Lino Brocka, 1997; Eddie Romero, 2003; Fernando Poe Jr., 2006; Manuel Conde, 2009; and Kidlat Tahimik, 2018. The least known among them is Kidlat Tahimik, who is acknowledged for the development of Philippine independent cinema.
As it is showing in New Zealand, I viewed “Hello, Love, Goodbye,” a romantic drama that has struck gold with its take on the challenges of OFWs. It even makes reference to the 2000 Vilma Santos tearjerker “Anak” that also dealt on a character who worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong. Probably, this is the balance that producers can consider: a bit commercial, yet has social relevance. Finally, go out and see “Mina Anud,” which is inspired by true events. While it tackles the serious subject of drug trafficking, there are light moments that tickle. An entertainment writer in Manila said the film is “a promising start for Kerwin Go.” Let’s give this Cebuano director our support in his desire to make quality Filipino films.