A Book in Pandemic…

pilar mateo sniTHE “P” TALKS!
BY: Pilar Mateo


THIS pandemic has made a lot of people, celebrities for that matter to use their creative juices to the fullest.

While some are into online business, cooking and baking, even making and designing PPEs for Frontliners, some used their time in writing poems and even a book at that.

Nick Deocampo found time to finish his manuscript.

“Manuscript for my new book in time for my birthday!

“The forced three-month lockdown has allowed me to finish what I have been writing for years but hardly had time to finish. “Alter/native: History of Philippine Alternative Cinema” chronicles a cinema that has been marginalized in the history of motion pictures in the country.

“It’s a form of cinema that has become minoritized, overshadowed by its popular sibling, the mainstream cinema. This is the fourth volume in my five-book series on Philippine film history.

“The book is the first comprehensive account of the network of film forms—from documentaries to experimental, animation to short features, student films to home videos—that forms an alternate cinematic reality to Philippine cinema.

“Surprisingly, their “invisibility” belies the sheer volume of films produced, outnumbering the entire total production of the movie industry. Yet, while student films alone far outrank in number the mainstream movies, their history is one that has been left unwritten, the films unstudied.

“This alternate form of cinema claims an older lineage than the long feature film starting with the first short films shown in Escolta in 1897. The book addresses alternative cinema’s rhizomatic growth through a study of its interlaced history of colonization, elite capitalism, technology, political economy, and national identity.


“The book comes exactly after 35 years since my first book, “Short Film: Emergence of a New Philippine Cinema”, was published in 1985. I remember the book came out during the tense months before the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

“Going home from Sta. Mesa after the book launch at the Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA), I saw embers from burning tires still smoking in a street protest. In contrast, with this new book that is yet to be published, I saw no one in the streets as I looked out of the window after writing the final page. Striking images for the social drama gripping our society while I reflected on the role that cinema plays in our lives.

“Alter/native” recalls a cinema whose history has been substantially left unwritten by film scholars. Forgotten were the first film forms—like short films and newsreels—and their filmic practices and reception. The belief that “Dalagang Bukid” was the “first” Filipino film that was produced is debunked in this book by a newsreel made one year earlier and shot not in Manila but in Cebu (!) to herald the first homegrown cinematic production ever made.

“Forgotten, too, were the first pioneers of alternative cinema like Benedicto Pinga and Lamberto Avellana and their alternate lives as documentarists. They formed the first wave of analog alternative filmmakers.

“Second to rise was our generation of Super 8 filmmakers during the politically volatile times of the Seventies and Eighties. Our generation of Raymond Red, Roxlee , et. al. made films that were radical reactions to the realities we faced then, whether they be documentaries or the renegade form—experimental films. Our filmic radicalism formed a new cinema in keeping with the revolution that culminated in the people’s revolt in EDSA.


“The third wave is technology-induced. This is the present digital revolution. For its nascent age, so much has already been achieved. Already it is re-defining the notion of what is national cinema into the regional, challenging Manila’s traditional hold as film capital. This de-centers cinema to allow for a cartographic spread of motion pictures, giving Philippine cinema its archipelagic form.

“The book culminates with a challenge lodged to what Deleuze and Guattari once called as the “people yet to come”, rephrased in the book as” filmmakers yet to come”: To improve on the future of a cinema that has been forced to become marginalized by the political and economic realities of Filipino life. To them the book is dedicated. For them, the future awaits.”

Who is Nick Deocampo?

Nick Deocampo is a multi-awarded Filipino filmmaker, film historian, film literacy advocate, film producer, author and the director of the Center for New Cinema. (Wikipedia)



FROM A writer and an author as well, we read in her social media account an opinion which has to be answered in the time of this pandemic, too.

Lualhati Bautista had this to share:

“Eto pa bukod sa mga libro at literatura:

“When the community quarantine was imposed, too many theater productions were either cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Most went online. But can the theater community survive on online productions? What happens to the theater people whose main source of income is in theater? “By the same token, what happens to our film industry, when our senior actors and actresses, especially those with health issues, are no longer allowed on the set as per ruling of the Film Development Council of the Philippines? E pag senior ka na, hindi naman maiiwasang magkaroon ka ng health issue. And most of our films need the casting of senior actors and actresses. “Tell me: what happens to our arts and culture now?” Have we found the answers now? Who is Lualhati Bautista? Lualhati Torres Bautista is one of the foremost Filipino female novelists in the history of contemporary Philippine literature. Her novels include Dekada ’70, Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa?, and ‘GAPÔ. (Wikipedia) (30)

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