Amid quarantine, work continues for Philippine Film Archive
STAR CIRCUIT - Ricky Calderon (The Freeman) - August 21, 2020 - 12:00am

The community quarantine due to COVID-19 took over the second quarter of 2020, but this did not deter the Philippine Film Archive (PFA) from fulfilling its role of protecting our national film heritage, which includes the University of the Philippines Film Institute (UPFI) Film Center film collection.

The PFA, a division of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), reported that from April to June 2020, it was able to complete the rewinding, transfer, and inventory of Class A and Class B elements from its acquisitions from the UPFI Film Center.

Among the historical and cultural gems that went through the process are two films done by National Artists. These are “Noli Me Tangere” (1961), in original print, by National Artist for Cinema Gerardo de Leon and “Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim” (1984) by National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Lino Brocka.

Class A elements are in good condition with just minimal damage while Class B elements have medium to heavy damage such as warping, light to medium deterioration, slight blockage, and low to high Vinegar Syndrome. Class C elements, which are subject for disposal because of having melted images, blockage, or heavy deterioration, are undergoing rewinding, transfer, and inventory at present.

In August 2019, the UPFI Film Center turned over 1,024 film reels to the PFA for archiving, scanning, digitization, and possible restoration. There are even Russian titles in the acquired collection. Through FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño-Seguerra, the PFA had a fruitful meeting with UPFI Director Patrick Campos which led to the completion of the acquisition of the UPFI film collection.

PFA Head Don Gervin Arawan explains the rollercoaster of emotions that he and his team feels whenever they do the film archiving process: “There is excitement during acquisition; feeling of loss before we leave, seeing some films that were destroyed in time; thrill during inspection; and tension during the handling of some delicate and damaged films.”

“Then, there is pleasure after initial cleaning and transfer to a new container, and fulfillment when we complete the inventory and put them on racks or inside the film vaults. Before the day ends, we feel very honored to be able to do this for our country and for the present and future generations.”

Arawan reveals that the plans for the UPFI gems include digitizing the collection, migrating it to a new medium, and generating access copies for the public. Titles with significant historical and cultural values, such as “Noli Me Tangere” and “Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim,” will be prioritized for the PFA Film Restoration Program, which has already restored nine titles and is currently restoring two films.

“Our beloved Chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra is always ecstatic about these kinds of projects and she already has plans on how to showcase and share to Filipinos this culturally and historically significant endeavor,” concluded Arawan.

***

The anti-viral drug that reportedly helped actor-director Mel Gibson recover from COVID-19 is now in the country. This Japan-approved drug is authorized for emergency use to treat COVID-19, in particular to reduce treatment time.

Remdesivir, an investigational drug against SARS-Cov-2 which causes COVID-19, is being brought in the country by Camber Pharmaceuticals, licensed by Gilead Sciences.

Country manager Manoj Sihag said, “The availability of Remdesivir in the Philippines is a significant milestone for all of us and we are very thankful to our parent company Hetero. With Remdesivir, we hope to reduce the treatment time of a patient in a hospital, thereby reducing burden on medical facilities in COVID-19 cases.”

The authorized use of this drug had been reported in the US.

Camber Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a subsidiary of India's generic pharmaceutical company Hetero which has partnered with Gilead for a licensing agreement to make the product accessible in 127 countries.

Hetero has developed the technology and initiated commercial production of Remdesivir API and Formulation which is being considered for COVID-19.

Under the licensing agreement, the company has a right to receive a technology transfer of the Gilead manufacturing process for Remdesivir to enable it to scale up production. The licensee also set its own prices for the generic product. The licensee is royalty-free until the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of COVID-19, or until a pharmaceutical product other than Remdesivir or a vaccine is approved to treat or prevent COVID-19. In the coming days, more Remdesivirs are expected to flood the market.

Country product manager Imee Lapig-Igpuara explained, “It is important to note that not all Remdesivirs are the same or are legal to be marketed in the Philippines under patent protection. Do not compromise the safety of patients at this critical moment. It is best to know the source of your Remdesivir. Check the packaging marked with ‘manufactured under the license of Gilead Sciences, Inc.’”

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