Swap: From Cebu to the world
ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - September 24, 2015 - 10:00am

Celebrating birthday miles away from one's beloved is far-off in my mind. It is different when you are far from your loved ones back home while celebrating a milestone in your life. Despite the aid of technology that you can connect in real time, still there is no substitute to a face to face encounter, in flesh and spirit.

On the momentous day of my life, I am attending another significant event. Today until the 27th, I am in Fuzhou China for the 2nd Silk Road International Film Festival where a Cebuano film Swap is an official entry.

Back home, just few months ago, the film was part of the Sinag Maynila Film Festival. It was part of five stories showcased and handpicked by internationally acclaimed film director Brilliante Mendoza and Solar Entertainment CEO Wilson Tieng.  

Directed by an award-winning Cebuano director Remton Zuasola, Swap is starred by majority Cebuano actors. Leading the casts were former Pinoy Big Brother Season 2 housemate Dionne Monsanto and, fresh from the showing of Heneral Luna as El Presidente, Mon Confiado.

Swap, shot in one take, the feature is a stylized fictional retelling of an incident in the filmmaker's early life and is set in the last days of the Marcos regime. It is reminiscent of the struggles he and his family went through on top of the unstable socio-political climate at that time.

Prior to its China screening, it was also the only Filipino film featured in the 63rd San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain. The successive international showings were made possible by the film's producer, Bianca Balbuena of Epicmedia. I would like to thank her for this wonderful opportunity. She has been so generous of her time and resources providing us the opportunity to attend the international festivals.

In Spain, the film was part of the festival's Zabaltegi section, which highlights films that are "difficult to classify and [are] suggestive of today's movie scene." Director Zuasola competed alongside filmmakers from the US, Argentina, France, Chile and Spain.  I reserve some details about the film festival in my next column.

Film, as a potent carrier, plays a vital part in making sure culture, values and language of a certain sector or community are appreciated. Thus, it is without difficulty, handed down from generation to generation. In a field where foreign influences and dominion has become a way of life, we should take time to reflect on who we really are. And what made us unique in the eyes of foreign penetrators. The uniqueness of our race is captured in our stories as a people. And it is in film that we realize how rich and beautiful our race is. 

Last August 21, I received an early birthday present when I learned that I grabbed the Best Actress Award for the film Sanctissima from the Nabunturan Indie Film Exhibition in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the film festival organizers for the honor and recognition. Though I was not present during the awards night, I was elated by the thought that here's an organization or place that appreciate my acting performance. And to those who greeted me on Facebook for this achievement, thank you. 

I hope that more than international screenings, back home, much-needed realization is that such international admiration would translate to local appreciation. In far away foreign lands, our race's stories are viewed, talked about and appreciated. It's now time to take this as our source of pride by embracing who we truly are.

Swap and other Cebuano films, from past to present, create a connection to the world. People's consciousness and appreciation of our unique Cebuano culture will be heightened and elevated.  It is rightly then that we can say-we have made a great legacy for the future generation.

ligayarabago@yahoo.com

BEST ACTRESS AWARD BIANCA BALBUENA OF EPICMEDIA BRILLIANTE MENDOZA AND SOLAR ENTERTAINMENT CEBUANO CHILE AND SPAIN COMPOSTELA VALLEY PROVINCE DIONNE MONSANTO DIRECTOR ZUASOLA EL PRESIDENTE FILM FUZHOU CHINA
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