A very noble and impressive project is under way at the ABS-CBN media empire, which seeks to immortalize some of the greatest works of Philippine Cinema. Effectively dubbed “Sagip Pelikula: The ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project,” a team headed by ABS-CBN Film Archives and Restoration Head Leo Katigbak has been quietly been doing their work since 2011, and has since digitally restored and re-mastered such classic Filipino films as Peque Gallaga’s Oro, Plata, Mata (1982), Marilou Diaz Abaya’s Karnal (1983), and Mike de Leon’s Hindi Nahahati ang Langit (1985).
On Wednesday, Katigbak finally held a press conference to rightfully bring attention to the achievements of the first and only film restoration effort in the country today, but not before succinctly explaining why there is a need to do so in the first place.
“The Philippines has an illustrious cinematic history with around 8,000 films produced since 1919,” he began. “A study by the Society of Filipino Archivists revealed that [from this number]only 3,000 still exist, with the rest lost due to war, calamity or sheer neglect.
“As such, very few Philippine classic films survived in truly viewable form, disallowing Filipino audiences the opportunity to watch the works of cinematic masters who were responsible in paving the way for Filipinos to earn international recognition.
“Moreover, through time, a love for the classics is lost from generation to generation simply because the youth cannot stand to watch low-quality films, or because there is very little left of the classics available to them.”
Having visited many universities since the project began, Katigbak also discovered that such names as Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Eddie Romero and Danny Zialcita are no longer recognizable even to young movie buffs, which illustrates the danger of losing the Philippines’ cinematic heritage.
“Hindi po madali gawin ang proseso ng pag-restore ng mga pelikulang ito—it’s a painstaking process to say the least as our partners at Central Digital Lab will attest,” Katigbak continued. “But we do this scene by scene, reel by reel so that the young, and the generations of youths to come after, can experience these great works, as well as for our current crop of actors and directors to learn from, so they can further improve their craft.”
To date, ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project has restored over 100 films, some of which were already screened internationally at film festivals like Venice, screened locally via red carpet premieres and limited commercial runs, aired on free-to-air and cable television, viewed via pay-per-view and video-on-demand, distributed on DVD, and downloadable even on iTunes.
Supported by the country’s most respected directors, including Ricky Lee, Romy Vitug, Joey Roemro, Mel Chonglo, Jose Javier Reyes, and Laurice Guillen to name a few, Sagip Pelikula is also set to exhibit their digitally restored and re-mastered films thus far from August 26 to September 1 at Rockwell Cinema 5.
Aptly titled “REELive the Classics,” the movies to be shown for the weeklong run include more recent titles as Sarah Ang Munting Prinsesa, Got To Believe, Sana Maulit Muli, and One More Chance, and certified classics as Oro Plata Mata, T-Bird at Ako, Karnal, Hindi Nahahati Ang Langit, and Tanging Yaman.
“We are very happy to partner with Rockwell who has shown faith in our efforts. Our special screenings at Rockwell will allow audiences to enjoy the movies as the creators envisioned them. Hopefully this is just the start of more exhibitions,” Katigbak concluded.
For the complete movie schedule of REELive the Classics and more information on how you can support ABS-CBN’s Film Restoration Project, visit www.facebook.com/filmrestorationabscbn.