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The Coming of Film to the Philippines


Film, though being the most recent of the Philippines' fine arts, has come to be one of the most popular forms of entertainment for Filipinos (almost as popular as karaoke!).

Early Philippine filming began in the 30s and was explored as a new medium of art as well as expressions of nationalism. What made the formation of Philippine film different than most other southeast Asian countries was the numerous cultures and generations it reflected. Spanish occupation imported film to the Philippines and thus early movies were heavily influenced by the Spanish. But then Japanese occupation and American occupation during the war shifted generational views and also affected the film culture of the Philippines. The Philippines saw a variety of films in the 20th century because of the occupancy of the Spanish, Japanese, and Americans.

The Importing of Film into the Philippines


In 1895, electricity and generators had just been introduced to the Philippines; and 2 years later, Senor Perttiera, proprietor of the Salon de Pertierra in Manila, used a Lumieré Cinematograph imported from France by a Spanish soldier named Antonio Ramos[1] . The first four films being shown were Un Homme Au Chapeau (Man with a Hat), Uné scene de danse Japonaise (Scene from a Japanese Dance), Lés Boxers (The Boxers), and La Place de L' Opera (The Place L' Opera) [2]

This importing was made possible also by two Swiss entrepreneurs, Liebman and Peritz [3] . These two, along with Ramos, also founded their own cinema and began showing films from Europe. Many of the films were early documentary style movies that showed recent events.
Eventually, in 1898 they ran out of different films to show and viewership declined - as they had only 30 different films to create unique programs with. And this is when Antonio Ramos began using the lumiere as a camera and started filming around Manila - this was the first time the Philippines was the setting for a film.[4] He filmed sights around the city such as the Quiapo Festival and the Landscape of Manila. This inspired other filmmakers to visit the Philippines.



Spanish Influence on Early Philippine Film


Spaniards were the first modern colonizers of the Philippines and have thus affected Philippine culture immensely. For example, Tagalog, the main Philippine dialect, contains Spanish words and a very Spanish grammatical style, tone, and accent. Most early films in the Philippines were predominantly Spanish speaking [5] as well as the advertisements, called anuncios. Early cinema in the Philippines also reflects a Spanish style of theatre - the moro-moro and Zarzuela[6] . The moro-moro were comedies originally plays created by Spanish priests that depicted the Muslim Philippine locals as villains that were conquered by the Spanish Christians[7] . The Zarzuela was a far more historically prominent musical style of theatre that spread to Spanish colonies. It was a more dramatic genre that incorporated dance and song. In the Philippines the Zarzuela became adopted by the local culture and became a strong tradition renamed the Zarzuelta [8]





American Period


The Edison company was one of the first American companies to film in the Philippines. Edison filmed mainly "actuality films"(scenes showing city scenes and locales around the Philippines) prior to 1901 but began filming 'heroic' reenactments of American colonizers squashing Filipino insurgency. This shift to narrative occurred at the same time where the cinema of attractions began to fade away in the United States so this is probably why Edison also began shifting away from mere attractions to a more narrativized Philippine cinema. Such is the case in the film The Philippines Yesterday and Today, produced in 1915. It was shown to American audiences portraying the native Filipinos as savages and the colonizers being educators [9] In the following years, more and more cinemas were built and in 1903, the first Filipino owned theatre was started by José Jiminez[10] . And films continued to be made in the Philippines; again, mainly consisting of local sights and landmarks.


In 1910, the first sound film made its way to the Philippines using the Chronophone developed by Léon Gaumont [11] . And in 1912, American companies began operations to distribute and create their own films in the Philippines.[12] This led to many of the best American and European films being screened in the Philippines by 1915[13] . But this constant flow didn't last very long. The eruption of World War I quickly halted European films imports to the Philippines. But this caused only a tiny hiccup, as the large American industry, like everywhere else in the world, swallowed up the missing market share and quickly began to dominate Philippine screens.
In 1919, Jose Nepomuceno bought film equipment from the American firms distributing films in the Philippines and produced the first ever fully Filipino financed, produced, and directed movie>[14] . Titled
Jose Nepomunceno with his American bought film equipment.
Jose Nepomunceno with his American bought film equipment.
"Dalagang Bukid (Farm Girl)" was based off a popular musical. Nepomuceno became known as the father of Filipino film and the Dalagang Bukid, Atang de la Rama, became the Philippines first movie star.[15]
Throughout the 20s, film grew to become the most popular form of entertainment for Filipinos, and a system that even resembled that of a young Hollywood: where directors and stars were known by the masses. But perhaps it resembled Hollywood too much - as the films being made were often remakes of popular American films. This was mostly because Philippine filmmakers struggled to survive and thought that emulating a successful system would allow them to thrive[16] .
In 1929, the first "talkie" was screened in the Philippines, Fred Waring's Pennsylvanian's in Syncopation and was received poorly by audiences due to the bad sound. But sound kept growing as a technology in the Philippines despite the rocky unveiling of sound. And in 1932, the first Philippine "talkie" was made: "Ang Aswang (The Witch)" which featured Spanish and English dialogue[17] . Filipino studios were quickly set up, the first being Philippine Films set up by Eddie Tate and George Harris.[18]



World War II


During the war, Japanese occupation halted any film production.The Japanese brought their own films for propagandizing purposes, but this failed to appeal to Filipino audiences. So the Japanese hired Filipino filmmakers to create propaganda films depicting friendship between the two races - one of the more popular filmmakers was Gerardo de Leon. Along with another Japanese director, they created several quite popular movies, like The Dawn of Freedom(1944) and Tatlong Maria(1944).


During this time, the Japanese also limited the number of films able to be made and shown. This created a vacuum of work for actors and filmmakers - so they had to rely on stage shows and live performances for income.
The end of the occupation led to what many call the golden age of Philippine filmmaking in the 50s. [19]

Popular Stars of the Pre-War Era[20]


Much like Hollywood stars, these actors had huge fan-bases by the end of the 1930s.


Brian Soria
Fernando Royo
Ben Rubio
Rolando Liwanag
Exequiel Segovia
Ben Perez
Teddy Benavides
Manuel Barbeyto
Ernesto la Guardia
Jose Carvajal
Jose Troni
Nardo Vercudia
Andres Centenera
Fermin Barva
Fernando Poe
Patring (Monang) Carvajal
Etang Discher
Nati Rubi

The most famous might the Jose, Monang, and (not listed) Alfonso Carvajal who were all siblings. Jose and Alfonso were mainly comedic actors where their sister, Monang often played more dramatic roles.

Fernando Poe is the father of the late Fernando Poe Jr. and the grandfather of Lovi Poe, both successful modern Filipino actors.



Extras





An example of American newsreel type film showing scenes of life in Manila. Catillian Memoirs 1930.


External Links



Wikipedia - Cinema of the Philippine


Essay on History of Philippine Cinema
Pilipinas Wiki - Cinema of the Philippines
The History of Philippine Cinema Part 1: The Birth of Philippine Cinema



References


Online


History of Philippine Cinema. Oliver Stone's “Far Eastern Secret”. Philippine Film Studios, Inc., 2005. Retrieved November 30 2010.
History of Philippine Film. Personal Journeys of Bob Gardner: Philippine Journeys. Bob Gardner, 2008. Retrieved in November 30 2010.
Wikipedia - Cinema of the Philippines
Pilipinas Wiki - Cinema of the Philippines
Encyclopedia Britannica"Chronophone." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 30 Nov. 2010
"moro-moro". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 11 Dec. 2010 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/392592/moro-moro

Books/Journals/Scholarly Source
Stuart C. Aitken and Leo Zonn(1994). Place, Power, Situation and Spectacle: A Geography of Film. Rowman & Littlefield, 1994. ISBN: 0847678261
Rolando B. Tolentino(2000). Geopolitics of the Visible Essays on Philippine film cultures. Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2000. Retrieved November 30 2010. ISBN: 9715503586
Film Quarterly. Spring 2006, Vol. 59, No. 3, Pages 66–67 , DOI 10.1525/fq.2006.59.3.66/ Posted online on April 14, 2006.



Notes


  1. ^




    Wikipedia Cinema of the Philippines. Retrieved 10/24/10
  2. ^


    Wikipedia Cinema of the Philippines. Retrieved 10/24/10
  3. ^


    History of Philippine Cinema. Oliver Stone's “Far Eastern Secret”. Retrieved November 30 2010.
  4. ^

    Philippine WikiPhilippine Cinema. Retrieved 10/24/10
  5. ^ Tom Galagara(2006). Spanish Influences on Early Philippine Cinema - Film Quarterly. Retrieved December 11 2010.
  6. ^ Tom Galagara(2006). Spanish Influences on Early Philippine Cinema - Film Quarterly. Retrieved December 11 2010.
  7. ^ "moro-moro"Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 11 Dec. 2010.
  8. ^ Wikipedia. Zarzuela. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
  9. ^ Roland B. Tolentino(2000). Geopolitics of the Visible Essays on Philippine film cultures. Retrieved November 30 2010.
  10. ^ History of Philippine Cinema.Oliver Stone's “Far Eastern Secret”. Retrieved November 30 2010.
  11. ^


    Encyclopedia Britannica"Chronophone." Retrieved November 30 2010.
  12. ^ Stuart C. Aitken and Leo Zonn(1994). Place, Power, Situation and Spectacle: A Geography of Film. Pg. 39
  13. ^ Wikipedia Cinema of the Philippines. Retrieved 10/24/10
  14. ^


    Wikipedia Cinema of the Philippines. Retrieved 10/24/10
  15. ^ Philippine WikiPhilippine Cinema. Retrieved 10/24/10
  16. ^


    Stuart C. Aitken and Leo Zonn(1994). Place, Power, Situation and Spectacle: A Geography of Film. Pg. 39
  17. ^


    History of Philippine Film. Retrieved in November 30 2010.
  18. ^ History of Philippine Film. Retrieved in November 30 2010.
  19. ^


    History of Philippine Film. Retrieved in November 30 2010.
  20. ^

    [@http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Philippine_Cinema|Philippine Wiki]]Philippine Cinema. Retrieved 10/24/10