Tuesday, January 07, 2014

On the Aftermath of the Metro Manila Film Festival 2013

One of the reasons I like January is the fact that we get to watch the foreign films that were put on hold during the holiday season (like 47 Ronin). That isn't to say that the Metro Manila Film Festival has nothing to offer for its patrons - it's just that the amount of butthurt over this year's entries is nothing short of hilarious. I won't get in the way of deconstructing what went wrong during the past couple of weeks, especially since Zig Marasigan of Rappler has already written something about that. I also don't have to enumerate what could have been done better since Lourd de Veyra has written an entry in his Spot.ph blog about it - and has gone under a lot of fire for his opinions.

I don't understand the reactions that both people have received over their opinions - even if both pieces seem to have been written in a manner that could not have been any more educated. I enjoyed reading the comments that the articles have received - which mostly prove what this Facebook page had to say:

"Yes, there is no right or wrong opinion, but there are stupid opinions."

It's harsh, but it couldn't be any more true. This phrase has been proven correct countless times during the past year.

But I digress.

What I find hard to accept is the fact that a lot of the comments of people who are against the article revolve around apathy towards the cause of Philippine cinema and in extension, art itself. One comment in particular stood out to me:

Hindi mo pwedeng ipag-kumpara ang 3 idiots sa Filipino Movies dahil unang una galing sila sa magkaibang bansa KAYA TUMAHIMIK KA NA LANG! 

This comment pretty much shows three troubling aspects of how many Filipinos act as consumers.

First, it shows a lack of trust in the abilities of our fellowmen. It's sad that a lot of our countrymen add the word 'lang' when it comes to comparing our products against that of other countries. This mindset reinforces the notion that Filipinos cannot do any better than their foreign counterparts - something that is dangerously misleading and is inherently destructive for our country's future. It's sad that a lot of us tend to look as far back as the days of Lino Brocka to say that those are the last good days of Philippine cinema when there are a lot of excellent films that have been released in the past few years (such as On the Job, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and Manila Kingpin).

Second, it shows that many Filipinos tend to have a misplaced sense of national pride. More often than not, many of us mistake national pride for attention (good or otherwise). A lot of us were raised to recognize approval as a sense of accomplishment - and it has always been during low points in various aspects of our history such as these where this idea has been proven wrong time and time again. Many Filipinos tend to be terrible at receiving criticism (as that comment shows), whether it is personal or directed to someone they deem respectable.

Lastly, I think that deeming such "films" as acceptable shows a lack of mental acuity on our part. This pwede na yan mentality has proven to be our undoing many times in the past. People who say walang basagan ng trip or huwag mo panoorin kung hindi mo gusto or ayaw namin ng masyadong malalim kasi gusto lang namin tumawa seem to forget that we, as citizens of this country (or as human beings for that matter), should have the mentality to seek self-improvement in whatever areas we can. We are ultimately responsible for being able to distinguish between what is a blatant cash grab and what is something that would uplift the human condition (as is the purpose of all art). The excuse that one is too lazy to think is unacceptable and opens people to further exploitation.

After all, if we do not reject what is terrible then how would they know when to serve us the good stuff?


  1. I always watch MMFF with my family and since I have nothing else to do but enjoy it, I enjoy it. I agree though - that the plot for most mainstream pinoy films are mediocre. And if you point that out to people who loved the film, they either (1) get mad/ aggressive, or (2) play the victim/ passive aggressive i.e. commenting something like "sorry, hindi kasi ako matalino na kagaya mo kaya naeenjoy ko mga ganitong films na according to you ay ano yun, slapstick?, ha ha ha"

    Some people just cannot take it when their tastes are being criticized as bad. Oh well, I'd rather not argue with the types of them.

    1. I won't criticize other people's taste either. Heck, mine are equally dubious most days. But if people settle for junk all the time (and poorly made films earning the big bucks remain to be the norm), then the talented folks would be tempted to throw their visions away and always aim low for sure cash.

      Which is sad and troubling.