by Krysten Mariann Boado
Opening its ceremonies with a grand showcase of the Filipino theater tradition of Bodabil, the University of the Philippines takes its students on a trip down memory lane as the campus celebrates “Panahon ng Luwalhati” in this year’s UP Diliman Month.
With jumpy, exhilarating tracks from the roaring ‘20s and the glamorous ‘30s along with black and white films and classic theater productions of the same era, the students, faculty and spectators began their voyage into a time past through this year’s month-long festivities.
The first week of the UP Diliman Month kicked off with a tribute to National Artist Manuel Conde, through a film showing entitled “Conde sa Dap-ay,” held on February 3 and 4, at the Dap-ay, an open air venue across the Media Center at the UP College of Mass Communication.
Conde, the actor, director and mastermind behind movie company Manuel Conde Productions, produced films with stories reflective of the Philippines’ distinct cultural history. He became known for his Juan Tamad series, which became a classic example of the political satire films that would earn him recognition.
“Marami kasi siyang [Conde] pelikula kung saan binusisi niya ang politics nung panahon niya, (He [Conde] has a lot of films that examined the politics of his time),” Dr. Sir Anril Tiatco, one of the organizers of Panahon ng Luwalhati, said.
“Kung iisipin natin, karamihan sa mga ginawang critique noong panahong ito ay extended pa rin naman ngayon (On closer inspection, the critiques he made then still resound today),” Tiatco added.
The first night of Conde’s film showings featured his “Señorito”, a story of a rich, young man whose father hires a woman with the condition that she would not fall in love with his son.
Meanwhile, the event’s second night showcased the critically acclaimed “Genghis Khan”, which portrays the formative years of Temujin, a cunning young warrior who would later be known across the Gobi Dessert as Genghis Khan or the universal ruler.
“Genghis Khan” was first seen on the big screen at the 1952 Venice Film Festival and was lauded by critics for the movie’s innovative techniques and its superb narrative.
The UP Diliman Information Office (UPD IO) and the Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (OICA) partnered to screen these two Conde creations in their restored versions for the first time, free of charge.
These two offices coordinated with the Film Development Council of the Philippines who provided rights to view the restored digital copies for the events’ screenings.
Despite earlier threats of rain, students and professors gathered at the Dap-ay, their eyes and ears feasting on the films, which, although shot in black and white and unlike their contemporary counterparts, would later become pillars of the Filipino film industry.
The small audience’s interests were piqued by the movies’ utter brilliance, considering the circumstances and the period in which Conde directed and starred in the selected films.
“Swerte natin, na nirerestore yung mga ganitong classic films kasi nababalik-tanawan natin yung Pilipinas noon at kung paano ito kaiba o walang pinagkaiba sa Pilipinas ngayon (We’re fortunate that such classic films are being restored as we can look back on what our country was like then and see how it’s different – or not – to the Philippines we know today),” Shernielyn Dela Cruz, a sophomore Journalism student, said.
“Iba siya. Iba kasi beyond the technicalities, yung kultura… mga ideals na mayroon dati ay napakita nung film at dapat mabasag yung stereotype at mamulat din tayo na maganda ang classic films (It’s different – beyond the technicalities, we see the culture…the ideals they had in the past, breaking stereotypes, showing us that classic films are beautiful),” she added.
Conde, together with national artists Lamberto Avellana, Severino Montano and NVM Gonzales, are honored this February to celebrate the first year into their second century through various lectures and showcases of their selected works that the UPD-IO and OICA encourage students to attend.
Next week, the College of Architecture will be showcasing Avellana’s “Anak Dalita” and “A Portrait of an Artist as a Filipino”, which will focus more on the filmmaker’s renowned social commentaries.
The UP Diliman Month will also feature different performances from groups such as the UP Pep Squad, the UP Dance Company, and Dulaang UP.
“Gusto nating ipagdiwang, ipagbunyi ang mga obra ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining kasi kapag sinabi nating National Artist, they are forever (We want to celebrate the creations of our National Artists, because they are forever),” Tiatco said.
He added, “Maaari tayong humugot ng inspirasyon upang ipagpatuloy ang ating sining because these artists, they did not only create artworks for the sake of doing artwork. They created art because they want to talk about something larger, something bigger kasi salamin ito ng ating lipunan (We can draw inspiration to pursue art because these artists did not create artworks only for the sake of doing artwork. They created art because they wanted to talk about something larger, something bigger, as it is a mirror of our society).