Thursday, September 15, 2016

“Ang Babaeng Humayo”

Privilege Speech Of Rep. Christopher P. De Venecia On A House Resolution Congratulating And Commending The Filipino Movie “Ang Babaeng Humayo”, Its Director Lav Diaz, Its Actors And  Its Producers,  For Winning The Golden Lion Award In The 73rdVenice International Film Festival

14 September 2016, House of Representatives
Image result for Ang Babaeng Humayo

Mr. Speaker, my distinguished colleagues:
I rise on a matter of personal privilege, on behalf of millions of cineastes in our country, as well as my family – the late Senator Jose Vera who founded the country’s largest dream factory, Sampaguita Pictures; my grandfather, the late Doc Perez, the biggest star-maker; and my aunt Marichu Vera Perez Maceda, former chair of the Film Development Council and producer of the iconic film Batch ‘81 – to congratulate and applaud the movie “Ang Babaeng Humayo” (The Woman Who Left), its director Lav Diaz, as well as its actors and producers, for winning the Golden Lion award for best film in the Venice International Film Festival. 

Four days ago (last September 10) in the Italian village of Lido in Venice, a Filipino movie made history, when the Venezia Jury of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival announced that the Philippine entry, “Ang Babaeng Humayo won the elusive Golden Lion award, for best film. In addition, the movie was chosen as Best Foreign Language Film at the Sorriso Diverso Venezia Awards, before the major honors were announced.

The film’s victory was remarkable because it was the first time, a movie from our country won in the 73-year old film festival.

“Ang Babaeng Humayo” is a sweeping opus about revenge and forgiveness, directed by Lav Diaz, who was also its screenwriter, cinematographer, editor and co-producer. As an artist myself, I applaud Lav Diaz for his unparalleled vision, genius, and unwavering commitment to his craft. Imagine: for this movie, he had to put on five different hats. A feat in itself and one that I am privy to, having written/directed/produced stage plays here in our local shores.

You know, ladies and gentlemen, art isn’t easy.

In the international circuit, Lav Diaz has been referred to as the “master of slow cinema.” This is not without basis, because his movies run longer than most. ”Ang Babaeng Humayo” is more than three hours long (a hiccup for Diaz,considering that the running time of his “Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino” is ten hours and a half.)

But this is precisely why artists such as Lav are necessary, because he pushes the boundaries of what art can be. He creates beyond the horizon. And what is a horizon but the limit of our sight. Where we see limitations, he sees possibilities. Lavhas been quoted as saying:“Cinema shouldn’t be imposed on. It’s just like poetry, just like music, just like painting, where it’s free, whether it’s a small canvas or it’s a big canvas, it’s the same.” He is, in essence, the consummate subversive and a true artistic provocateur. 

His unflinching commitment to his art--- done as always, in the spirit of freedom and dialogue--  led Diaz to achieve  breakthroughs in movie-making:  Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” that runs for more than eight hours, won the Alfred Bauer Award in the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival; “Batang West Side”, five hours, won the Silver Screen Award as the Best Asian Feature Film at the 2002 Singapore International Film Festival;Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan”, four hours and 30 minutes, won the 2013 Nuremberg International Human Rights Film award in Germany;  while “Mula Sa Kung Ano                                              Ang Noon”, five –and- a- half- hours,  scooped the coveted Golden Leopard prize at the 2014 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland.

Much time has been spent making these films. Much time is needed to appreciate these films. It’s been a long time for a Filipino film to bag the top prize at the Venice International Film Festival. My dearest colleagues, it’s high time that we give our film and creative industries the recognition and welfare they deserve.

I THEREFORE APPLAUD the collective achievement of Lav Diaz. His body of work is a testament to his genius, and is an inspiration to all Filipinos. The success of his films also increased the world’s awareness of Filipino artistry and that Filipinos are capable of making world-class, quality films.
THIS REPRESENTATION LIKEWISE commends all the actors in “Ang Babaeng Humayo,” particularly
 Charo Santos, whose sturdy portrayal as Horacia Santos in the eponymous movie was described 
as "remarkable” by Variety Magazine and “majestic” by The Hollywood Reporter “in which she
 brings to the fore all the unstable emotional contours of a mentally unraveling avenger.” 
Charo Santos’ resolve to return to movie acting, after decades of hiatus while serving 
as former Chief Executive Officer and President of ABS CBN, is indeed admirable and 
moving. Makes you wonder, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and return to your
 first love. 
I ALSO congratulate and commend the producers of “Ang Babaeng Humayo”, the 
Cinema One Originals and Sine Olivia Pilipinas for making a movie, based principally
 on its cinematic truth and artistic strength.
A call to support the Filipino artists
IN VIEW of the stirring success of our Filipino artists in Venice and the prestige that they
 have given to our country, I would like to rally the members of Congress, to take a second 
look at the importance and benefits we give to the Philippine movie industry.
It is lamentable that while developed countries like the United States, China, and the United Kingdom rank arts and culture, film,theater, and their creative industries as among their top exports and drivers of their economic growth, culture is still perceived in this country as excess, an exercise exclusive to a select few. To quote a long-standing sentiment from the bureaucracy and the powers that be, “Aanhin namin yung culture-culture na ‘yan kung maraming gutom.” 

On the contrary, the culture & arts sector creates employment, attracts investments, generates tax revenues and encourages tourism. In Korea,hallyu culture has been ranked as the second biggest driver of their economic growth, with K-Pop and korea-novelas having the immense power of putting Korea in the map.

Hallyu refers to the growing popularity of Korean entertainment, culture, dramas and music in other countries, particularly in East and Southeast Asia. The Korean government took full advantage of such cultural phenomenon and utilized its media industries to expand exports of Korean dramas and pop music. Total exports in 2015 due to hallyu totaled $7.03 billion. Of the total, $2.82 billion exports were cultural and entertainment contents consisting of Korean music, Korean dramas, and TV programs, movies, animation and games.

It is said that in our own country, our creative industries contribute 5% to our nation’s GDP. Imagine that once upon a time, tourism contributed a mere 5%. Now it is close to 8%, being identified as one of this Administration’s top priorities and among the drivers of our economy.

Let us remember, my dear colleagues, that culture serves as an enhancement of tourism, and we should not neglect to galvanize the sector in the act of nation-building.

I recall that there were few efforts to help the cinematic arts. In 2002, during the speakership of my father, Jose de Venecia, he co-authored the creation of the Film Development Council of the Philippines to encourage the production of quality movies.  One feature of this law was the creation of the Film Ratings Board that grants financial incentives to movie makers, based on merit.

In the 17thCongress, our lawmakers have filed a number of significant bills to promote the film industry, some of which include:

1.      House Bill Nos. 1557, 1570&3134, supporting the production of Philippine independent films by providing incentives to filmmakers who are given honors in notable international film competitions, authored by the CongL-Ray Villafuerte, Cong Alfred Vargas and Cong Strike Revilla, respectively

2.      House Bill No. 2215, developing and promoting film tourism in the Philippines, authored by Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo;

3.      House Bill No. 2448, providing for artists’ welfare, authored by the Cong Arthur Yap;

4.      And House Bill No. 2624, providing a five-year tax holiday for the film industry, authored by the Honorable Jose Atienza, Jr.

I urge that these bills, among other measures that aim to strengthen the arts & culture sector, be taken up in Congress and be championed by my colleagues. Because despite the lack of support from both the private and the public sectors over the years, our creative industries have persisted through the magnanimity of a select few who recognize their value and contribution. Imagine what the sector can achieve if we galvanize the private and public sector’s full support.

Summits for Arts and Culture

In recent months, I was fortunate to meet two groups of artists. The first was the Artists Welfare Project, Inc. led by Nanding Josef, Liza Macuja, Ronnie Lazaro, Mae Paner and Karina Constantino –David.  I also attended the National Development Meeting for the Arts Summit, together with my colleague Rep. Cristal Bagatsing, former Senator Nene Pimentel, Film Development Council chair Liza Diño-Seguerra, Chris Millado of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and CecilleGuidote Alvarez, President of the Philippine Center of the International Theatre Institute, among others.

In the said summit, we laid out plans that will help in the further development of the arts & culture sector in our country, particularly the film industry. Two of which, are:

1.    To ensure the protection of artists’ welfare – At present, there are no standardized benefits to artists as those enjoyed by regular workers, like medical, disability and retirement benefits, housing assistance and even death insurance. This is because the nature of their work does not allow them to be identified as employees as defined by the Labor Code of the Philippines and jurisprudence.[1] In recognition of their invaluable contribution in promoting the country’s cultural development, there is a need to consider the arts sector as a legitimate industry, whose workers need to be protected.

2.    The Creation of a Film Archive – Movies are records of our nation’s history and our 
evolution as Filipinos. From Jack en Jill (1954, Sampaguita Pictures) toOne More Chance 
and A Second Chance (2007 and 2015, directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina), audiences would 
observe a clear trajectory of how our language, fashion, music, art, mores, circumstances, 
and traditions have evolved over the years, even the way we make our films.Sadly, the 
Philippines may be the only country left without a national film archive that stores and
 preserves its films. In view of the resurgence of Philippine movies,which film scholars and
 critics hail as the Third Golden Age of Philippine Cinema, the need to conserve and protect 
film negatives and/or prints has become more urgent because cinema is a part of the nation’s
 historical, cultural, and artistic heritage. We cannot allow these to waste away because of 
sheer neglect.
In this respect, I would like tocommend Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez, for authoring House Bill No. 2404, establishing a National Film Archive to be managed by the Film Development Council.

TO CONCLUDE, I PRAY THAT THE MEMBERS of Congress will support initiatives like these that will bring our film industry, as well as our other creative industries, to new heights.

The narrative and visual aspects of a movie make it a wholly unique art form. Films are a powerful medium, not just for leisure, but for education, integration, and culture.  It is also a powerful vehicle for social transformation and propaganda especially since cinema is a highly accessible social art form, the participation in which generally cuts across economic lines. And when galvanized properly and efficiently, the film industry can be a driving force of our economy.

Thank you!

[1] Jurisprudence is abound  with cases that recite the factors to be considered in determining the existence of employer-employee relationship, namely:

(a) the selection and engagement of the employee;
(b) the payment of wages;
(c) the power of dismissal; and
(d) the employer’s power to control the employee with respect to the means and method by which the work is to be accomplished.

The most important factor involves the control test. Under the control test, there is an employer-employee relationship when the person for whom the services are performed reserves the right to control not only the end achieved but also the manner and means used to achieve that end.

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