Sakada premieres on TV after 30 years
- Jen M. Pangilinan () - June 24, 2005 - 12:00am
Thirty years ago when the Philippines was still under martial law, Behn Cervantes decided to make a socio-political film that focuses on the imbalance between the peasants and the hacienderos. This controversial movie, however, was pulled out of theaters and seized by the military on orders of the Marcos dictatorship. Since then the movie had vanished and not even Behn Cervantes has a copy of his own film.

And now after three decades the movie Sakada will finally premiere on Philippine television tomorrow at 10:30 p.m. on ABCinema. A pet project of ABC head Tonyboy Cojuangco, ABCinema aims to feature only the best local and foreign films that will make the Filipino audience more aware of their culture and that of other countries as well.

I got the chance to talk to the man behind this momentous film and he shared with me some of his thoughts about the movie:

How do you feel now that Sakada will finally premiere on Philippine Television?

Behn Cervantes: Happy but a little sad it didn’t have that kind of an exposure at the time when it was made for. I don’t think I made that film for 30 years later. I made it for that particular time for that particular era, for those particular needs. And now it’s going to be looked on as a film with some historical significance but it will not have the same visceral effect I wanted it to have.

What is it like doing a film like Sakada during martial law?

Everything was pressure. Palaging nagmamadali, kahit meron akong gustong ulitin kulang naman sa panahon, kulang sa pera. This was my first film so I had to deal with technical problems and of course there’s martial law and I was imprisoned twice (because he was an activist) so I had this reputation. The scriptwriters were very careful on how I would treat the story. I kept changing the script along the way. Ang isang ginawa ko dun was not to make the very rich very kontrabida. But more or less sila ang produkto ng kanilang class, it was really a class struggle kaya sa original script yung character ni Joseph Sitangco is the one who lives and ang anak nung pisante ni Bembol is the one who dies, pinalit ko yun because it cannot be ang magli-lead ng rebolusyon ay yung anak ng isang haciendero. Another pinalit ko dun was in the original script the character of Rosa Rosal ay parang nabuwang siya because of the many problems. She goes to the aklasan and she accidentally got shot pero I thought hindi yan meritorious death to be a buwang and got shot kaya I wrote a fiery speech that she delivers in one take before she goes to the aklasan and die fighting. To me that was a Gabriela Silang type of character rather than a crazy woman who gets shot accidentally.

Since this movie was supposed to be shown 30 years ago, how can people relate to this film today?

Thirty years have passed and the lives of Filipinos still haven’t changed. I think kung titingnan nila yung pelikula bilang isang microcosm ng have and have not, yet it’s still very relevant, the very rich vs. the very poor. Whatever is the message before may gusto pa rin sabihin sa lahat ng tao ngayon, umiba lang ng kaunti ang kalagayan pero kung tutuusin mas worse pa ata ang scenario ngayon.

What do you think would young moviegoers who belong in a totally different generation learn from this movie?

Right off I would say, problems remain the same and most of the time we change leaders but they’re same dogs with different collars.

is considered one of the marker films in the second golden age of Philippine cinema. This gripping drama about the impoverished lives of the Sakadas or sugarcane workers under an exploitative feudal agricultural system, it features a star-studded cast including Rosa Rosal, Robert Arevalo, Hilda Koronel, Alicia Alonzo, Pancho Magalona, Bembol Roco, Alicia Alonzo and Gloria Romero.

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