I’ve always believed in our potential as people. And so I am delighted when I hear comments or read articles stating that Filipinos are a positive, hospitable and entertaining hard working lot abroad. The half-Filipino or Filipino celebrities born abroad merit a mention here – Apl.De.Ap, Rob Schneider, Bruno Mars, Jasmine Trias, Jessica Sanchez, Brandon Vera and the rest of the athletes playing in different teams across the world, just to name a few. The reason we celebrate them is not because they have Filipino blood coursing through their veins, but because we know what it took them and their parents to bring them to where they are. We know their stories of struggle.
These stories of struggle outside the homeland are being depicted in two new films, all of which have been submitted as entries for Best Foreign Film in the Academy Awards by three different countries, namely Ilo Ilo (Singapore entry, directed by Anthony Chen) and Transit (The Philippines’ entry, directed by Hannah Espia). Aside from stories tackling OFW life, other stories about Filipino life through films shown at the last Cinemalaya festival such as On the Job and Ekstra. Another story about local life is tackled in the film Metro Manila directed by Sean Ellis which is another entry for Best Foreign Film in the Academy Awards.
What makes all of this remarkable is the effort of the local entertainment industry in bringing these films to the mainstream, making available to the masses the kind of entertainment that they deserve to see – excellent in direction, scriptwriting and cinematography and easy-to-relate-to in terms of the plot. They have brought those films from the Philippines to the world, and now they are bringing them back for everyone to enjoy.
Though it might take some time for people to transition from the overly dramatic films that have been produced as of late to human-interest type of stories, I am positive that it will happen, and we will get to see beautiful movies again, on a regular basis. And, ironically for all the “Filipino Pride” that many of us have been displaying online and outside, there are those who are still averse to watching mainstream Filipino films because of the “cheesiness” inherent in them and lack of creativity (or because of the plain mentality that the West is better). But now as plots diverge from the ordinary and expand dynamically (add to that a more progressive educational system that will help people appreciate our culture more through the arts), Filipino stories would earn their place again in the hearts of all Filipinos.
Here are the trailers for the different films I mentioned:
Ilo Ilo (爸媽不在家/Parents Are Not at Home)
On the Job
Ekstra (The Bit Player)