art & design, filmmaking, laundry therapy, movies, musings

i cam i saw i cam

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cesar hernando, production designer for most of mike de leon’s films (batch ’81, kisapmata), sent us invitations to revisit the college of fine arts at university of the philippines and celebrate our organization’s 16th year anniversary last saturday, 25th of october 2014. that org is CAM, Cinema as Art Movement. generally a group of film enthusiasts from fine arts who love to watch and dissect films, the org evolved to encouraging students to work on their own cinematic masterpieces and involving more to see cinema beyond entertainment. the broadness and loftiness of the concept that embodies the org’s name may lead to its own downfall but the org strived to meet each generation of members’ goals for the sake of cinema. and art. 16 years later and even 10 years since my batch has graduated, the argument on what the org really should be remain diverse; its implied goal elusive.

CAM’s pioneering members include esquire magazine’s editor-in-chief erwin romulo, photographers gary buenavista, richard de guzman, j lucas reyes, film cinematographer eli balce, and graphic artist tom estrera iii. some of the org’s advisers and supporters are cannes winner raymond red, cinematographers larry manda and dindo martinez, and independent filmmaker mes de guzman.

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long ago its membership was exclusively fine arts students until the group, under my leadership in 2002, opened to accept students from other colleges in UP. we enjoyed a strong physical presence in the fine arts halls that year, aided by a healthy number of members, and even went as far as leveling up the org’s indie video film festival, inyorai, to become an intercollegiate event and saw entries coming in from ateneo, la salle, and PLM. towards the 2nd half of the year, we planned to hold workshops on various aspects of production with the hope that members and students would have the necessary know-how to produce their own works. a school year is too short and we were only able to hold 2 workshops and it was like starting from scratch the year after. such is life for a school organization.

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photo of past and present chairheads of CAM

that saturday we did find ourselves again in the hallowed halls of hogwarths, communing with ghosts from the past and stray cats of the present. i was late coming into the program so i had no idea what was being discussed earlier. i had to introduce myself to the kids.

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so it is with a reassured heart that we leave an impression with the young ones to continue what he had hoped to accomplish back in the day. however, i do fear (i believe) the key to success for this so-called movement lies with the alumni. and maybe even outsiders who can pursue that grand idea and move the call forward. this movement can no longer be contained in a college organization whose lifespan is limited to periods the length of a school semester before restarting its programs or do an overhaul with every new enrollment of students. maybe it’s time we pick up the camera again, this time armed with real world know-how and connections beyond the world of the academe.

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class picture! i love you new cam members but i dont know all your names. on the front row are alumni from left: jopay cuntapay, peta stage writer and actress anj herjuela, tv commercial director mike talampas, esquire editor-in-chief erwin romulo, prof cesar hernando, myself, bates ad agency acd jhem manalang, prof ruben de jesus, comic book illustrator aj bernardo, graphic artist tom estrera iii, gma agency hotshot jimi diga, comic book writer and editor noel pascual, and chorva.

*special thanks to anj for sharing the last three photos in this article. for more information on Cinema as Art Movement, check out the group’s facebook page.

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filmmaking, laundry therapy, music, musings, travel

lake sebu revisited

this is y’egas, a t’boli singer from lake sebu in south cotabato. i came across her in 2004 when i went up the area to work on a documentary (which unfortunately i didn’t finish).  the first time i met her at her home and asked her to sing for the documentary, y’egas started lamenting in song about the conditions of her people and fighting for ancestral domain land titles in a largely government protected area (watershed). i gave her a token of thanks (p500) for her help and left.  i later learned from my guide that she didnt like me recording her; she was saying i might exploit her and her people and all that jazz. i was oblivious because she sang in her native tongue and didnt speak a word of bisaya! i also found out my recording got corrupted (used minidv tapes and for some reason they were pixelated and “choppy”) so i had to go back and redo the footage. i braved asking her to sing again and thankfully this time she was more than helpful, smiled a lot more and sang of the beauty of lake sebu and hoped i bring with me only good memories of her and her land.  she even recounted the death of a beloved datu chieftain and sang about a local epic.  here is the video to that song.

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sorry, i have no way of translating this video.  took me a while to find this file, one of the few scenes i was able to digitally convert and keep 5 years ago, and upload on youtube.  has it been that long?  i have one more of y’egas dancing and her brother, ma’afil, playing the hegolung he made for me.  ill upload this vid at another time.  here are my blog entries on the trip around zamboanga and lake sebu in 2004:

cruising down the freeway in the hot hot sun
more on motorcycle diaries

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art & design, costume design, interior design, musings, set design

bongga villa

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this was my first time to work with pokwang and she was very nice, even ordered lechon all the way from cebu (sabrosa) for the staff and crew. the costumes were care of ien beltran, a stylist friend who worked with us in brillante mendoza’s up coming movie, prey.  in saying this, im glad i only had to do props and set here because we only had about 2 days to prepare.  doing the costumes with everything else would have been crazy so im glad they got ien to handle all of costuming.  jeorge agcaoili was directing and so i had the privilege to work with him and the fun people at provil again.

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originally the director’s board featured a dark banquet hall and we decided to push the style a bit. i pulled inspiration from black swan’s production design.  i liked the woods backdrop in the dance hall and the modern design in the ballet director’s house (not pictured here– i dont normally put everything out in the pegs presentation because sometimes it doesnt work, and when it does it becomes a pleasant surprise)

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wanted black, white and glass in the design with elements of twigs and small flowers.

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however, we were later on informed that client wanted french or victorian so we had to drop black swan and went for something traditional.  although i loved my original design, i had to go with the higher echelons so i compromised and gave them this new set of pegs.

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