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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Pakot - Weaving the story for the lumad children

A SHORT film of a young woman embracing the life and danger of teaching in a lumad community was picked as this year’s 11th Mindanao Film Festival’s Best Film.

Pakot (Wild Boar), shot in Compostela Valley by newcomer director Hugh Montero for RedWerks Production, was a surprise winner during the awards night on December 14 at Cinematheque Davao. MFF juror and award-winning director Benjie Garcia said this year’s entries best film nominees have been the toughest to call with their outstanding stories of life in Mindanao.

The other nominees for best picture include Tamiaw, a docu-narrative entry from Comval about a beneficiary of the government’s cash-aid program; Pagsalig, about the last faith healer in Samal; Puloy, a short made by Davao City National High School; and Kaon Durian, a tale of lesbian relationships.

Festival Director Rudolph Ian Alama said the jurors picked Pakot for timely story on the current issue of the lumads. “There was no denying it was a powerful film about the plight of the lumads in Mindanao. Truly a significant and timely film,” Alama said.

Pakot revolves on the story of Lina who chose a path less taken by education graduates by serving in a community school for lumads in the fictional town of Tuwali. Her commitment is challenged when she falls ill and later on when soldiers drove out the lumads and harassed her. The movie ends with a confrontation of the teacher and the lumad against the soldiers.

The movie reflects news of lumad children and teachers fleeing from threats of soldiers and lumad para-military groups occupying their schools such as in Talaingod, Kapalong, Bukidnon and Surigao. The worse of this incidence is the forced closure of a school in White Culaman, Kitaotao and the killing of school director Emerito Samarca and two lumad leaders in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. These incidents have sparked national and international sympathy for the lumad school children.

Director Hugh Montero, a long time cultural worker in the 1980s with the mass-oriented theater group Kulturang Atin Foundation, said he wanted to translate his advocacy into the popular medium of film.

His first film the docu-narrative Pahiyum ni Boye (Boye’s Smile) in 2014 was about the beginnings of the Salugpongan Community Learning Center, won Best Production Design for Buggy Amplayo and Best Musical Score in last year’s Mindanao Film Fest.

“As an advocate for the education of lumads we asked what is next after Pahiyum? One story floated around was about the teachers in this community. The truth is, they have to be praised for their sacrifice amidst the threats just so they can teach the lumad children,” Montero said.

He said Pakot “does not seek to answer questions which many are asking about the bakwet and their conflicts in the community. But rather, it seeks to open more questions, by taking off from the characters that represent the many actors in our society that affect our present lumad people and communities.”

Pakot also won Best Production Design in this year’s MFF and was nominated for Best Director and Best Actress for Gelynne Alapag. It also received the Breakthrough Film Award in the 7th Pandayang Lino Brocka Film Festival for political films and documentaries in Manila last September 7.

Pakot premiered to a full-house Cinematheque Davao last August 29, and has been screened at the Lantawan Socsargen Film Festival and Nabunturan Independent Film Exchange (Nabifilmex). The film is being shown in Belgium through the support of lumad advocates.

Montero is thankful to the jurors for the award and shares this to the lumads. “Thank you for the lumads for allowing their story to be woven into this movie,” he said.

Montero has words of encouragement to all Davao film artists. “I hope this venue can help us in creating a new flavor of Mindanao movies.”
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