Cebuano soul

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - October 19, 2019 - 12:00am

Triggered by the sense of shared origin, purpose and direction, we ask for our real identity as a community of people. Specifically because of influences from various fronts, we always ask as to what aspirations and qualities mirror the Cebuano soul. This complex and continuing search for identity cannot just be answered by superficially pinpointing a specific genre or period of artistic or communal transformation.

The members of the Cebuano Cinema Development Council (CCDC), represented by various sectors that directly affect the development of Cebuano films, have just been sworn into office with Cebu City mayor Edgardo Labella as the appointing/inducting officer. I am extremely grateful for this development under the Labella administration, who himself is a staunch supporter of local arts and culture. His parents, during their heyday, also significantly contributed to the development of the Cebuano film industry. My father, Francisco, had worked with them under the Mutya Productions in the 1950s.

A proud community, despite foreign influences or dominion, remains grounded in the purest intention to propagate one’s soul --arts and culture. It is a community that does not consider one’s existence and expressions inferior or otherwise. Foreign influence is not perceived as threat or foe but a challenge on other aspects such as technical. And the essence of its soul and inspiration remains unchanged.

I believe in the Cebuano talent. It has reached various parts of the world. Its golden years is a testimony to its caliber, but over the years it has waned tremendously due to various reasons, mainly economic and patronage. To produce a full-length film requires logistics or financial backing. For film producers, the realization of the return of investment remains an uphill battle. Such intention of producing quality local films is always questioned especially when sustainability, mainly financial feasibility, is elusive. Patronage, on the other hand, is very much manifested by the deep sense of following among a certain market or community. But the situation does not dampen our spirit because there are spirited filmmakers who have already carved their names in the industry. The very industry that made us who we are, reflective of our aspirations and artistry. Though it is frustrating yet becoming an accepted phenomenon that filmmakers leave the local scene just to pursue and make a name in Imperial Manila where opportunities abound. It would probably take time to cascade the opportunities outside the capital, an ideal phenomenon of discovering, encouraging, and promoting local talents.

The council needs the support of all those whose heart’s desire is to keep the Cebuano soul alive and burning. Let’s sustain this initiative and be part of the revival and propagation of a generation that values the soul of a community.

I commend the present administration for bringing back the industry that speaks of the Cebuano identity. Felicitations go to my fellow members of the council who have gargantuan tasks of making sure that the Cebuano cinema industry will be on its full swing and going on as we inspire young filmmakers to develop new stories of our people’s significant human experiences. And this comes also with the encouragement of those patrons of the arts to have the courage to leave a worthwhile legacy.

Long live the Cebuano cinema! Cheers to a year of significant cinematic experiences! Long live the Cebuano soul! Mabuhi ug padayon ta!

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