• Passion, sincerity reign at FDCP

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    TESSA MAURICIO-ARRIOLA

    Film development agency launches nationwide ‘Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino’

    She is easily a poster child for women empowerment in this age of millennials. Beautiful and proud to be gay. A strong single mother until she married her partner for life. Politically opinionated, aggressive and career driven.

    But for Liza Diño, chairman of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, who she is and what she does today already comes second to showing the world what a woman can achieve. Her personality and position—though testaments to her strength and confidence as a woman —are the tools she utilizes to pursue a passion many others in show business have long shared. The passion to empower the Philippine movie industry in its entirety. By protecting and nurturing its stakeholders, whether big or small, and ultimately giving it the ability to reclaim the Filipino audience as its own.

    It will be remembered that Diño’s appointment to the FDCP was met with skepticism and outright criticism exactly a year ago. She was generally believed to have snagged the office based on a single qualification: Her
    outspoken support for President Duterte since the 2016 campaign.

    The cast of the different films featured in Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino with Diño (leftmost), head of Globe Studios Quark Henares (rightmost) and National Youth Commission Chairperson Aiza Seguerra

    In the swift 12 months since then, however, the agency’s performance has proven those who doubted her wrong—whether they admit it or not—for tangible developments are indeed happening at the Film Development Council of the Philippines. So much more than they did under previous “qualified” chairmen.

    The week that was

    The week that was in Philippine Entertainment was pretty much an FDCP week, and in a very good way. Diño and her staff—her “FDCP family” as she calls them—were up to their elbows preparing for significant events that directly address longstanding obstacles in the way of a truly empowered Philippine Cinema.

    FDCP Chair Liza Diño

    On August 2, Diño invited key officials from the Pag-Ibig Fund, the Social Security System and PhilHealth to sign a memorandum of agreement to ensure that thousands of marginalized film industry workers—camera men, lights men, utility personnel, makeup artists, and the like—are given easy access to these social services.

    And before the ink could dry on the MOA, Diño had already announced that in connection to what had just transpired, the FDCP will mount a two-day National Film Workers Summit on August 30 and 31 at the UP Film Institute to further discuss labor issues that plague the industry. The creation of a National Registry of Film Workers will then cap the summit, which, according to the chairman, will serve as a database for monitoring and ensuring that that the delivery of said social services are implemented.

    The very next day, August 3, Diño and her staff were up bright and early again as they trooped to Seda Vertis North for the launch of FDCP’s very first Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP). A veritable coup, the said festival will run exclusively from August 16 to 22 on a nationwide scale, signifying the largest number of screenings for Filipino films across the country with 790 theaters participating. In other words, 12 proudly Filipino-produced movies selected by FCDP for the festival will run without competition from big-budgeted Hollywood flicks or any other foreign title for that matter.

    Walk the talk

    Excitement naturally filled the air as producers, directors, actors and other creatives gathered at the Seda’s function room waiting for the PPP’s official launch. Given the line-up titles, a mix of independent and commercially produced movies, there was surprisingly no talk about this being an indie and that being mainstream.

    The T-Zone bumped into Diño’s spouse, National Youth Commission chair Aiza Seguerra before the program proper began, and couldn’t help but ask, “How did Liza pull off this feat?” Remember, besides the annual Metro Manila Film Festival, which runs in other key cities across the country, at no other time has there been a nationwide screening of purely Filipino movies until the PPP.

    “She just went out and talked to the cinema owners,” Seguerra simply replied, but with justifiable pride. “I promise you I’m being objective when I say this, but Liza, when she knows what needs to be done, she just goes out there and does it, even if she’s unsure of the outcome.”

    True enough, when Diño went up the stage to officially launch the winning endeavor, she was emotional in recalling how the PPP came to be. How she swallowed her pride, went out there and asked for help.

    “This project started as a dream we thought would never happen,” she began, struggling to fight tears of joy. “Those of us here know how divisive the film industry has been for some time now, so I went out there with no prejudice and just talked to stakeholders in the hopes of uniting everyone in this bigger task. To give Philippine Cinema the chance to show the audience its heart and core. And I’m so happy that everyone set aside their own prejudice and hugot to make the PPP possible.”

    Very transparent in her speeches, Diño continued, “I next went to Globe and I was very candid, kasi limited lang talaga ang funds ng FDCP. Si Ms. Yoly Crisanto (the company’s senior vice president for corporate communications), she was the first person I spoke to over there and I told her right away, ‘Kailangan po namin ng pera!’,” she confessed drawing laughter from the crowd.

    “Ang haba-haba ng sinabi ko sa kanya but as it turned out, they had already read through our vision and read the commonality we have with them in terms of valuing original productions. So here they are, giving their full support for the PPP, alongside their much-needed anti-piracy advocacy, #PlayItRight.”

    Expressing her gratitude for the support of the telco, the major malls and their cinemas, and a host of other government and private sponsors of PPP, Diño said, “The key is to work together, and dreams can come true.

    Taking a little time for herself in her speech, Diño also expressed her thanks to the Entertainment press who have kept a close eye on her since she assumed the chairmanship of FDCP.

    Overwhelmed by the support the agency has received since mounting significant projects, she said, “Thank you for giving me the chance to show my sincerity. I may not be a prominent figure in the industry but I am a worker,” she declared. “I came into the FCDP as an actress—as a member of this industry—and to be in this position where I can really do something… sana po, patuloy kayong maniwala sa sinseridad namin,” Diño trailed off, her voice breaking.

    “I would also like to say that the PPP is a developmental project, so kung may mga bagay na hindi tayo sang-ayon, pinag-uusapan po natin yan at patuloy po natin pag-uusapan yan. Because at the end of the day, the PPP is ours—this is the industry’s the audience’s. Para po ito sa ating lahat na naniniwalang may puwang ang magagandang pelikula sa ating bansa.”

    And with passion and sincerity clearly reigning at the FCDP, Diño and her “family” asks for the public’s support to come to celebrate the work of the Filipino artist

    * * *

    Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino features a diverse set of quality genre films, which the FDCP guarantees will give audiences of varying tastes something to enjoy at the festival.

    The Manila Times will in turn seek to a run as many articles on these movies as possible in the lead up to PPP’s opening on August 16, with the aim of guiding its readers in navigating through the available choices.

    For now, here is the list of 12 movies featured at Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino: “100 Tula Para Kay Stella” by Jason Paul Laxamana; “Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B” by Prime Cruz; “AWOL” by Enzo Williams; “Bar Boys” by Kip Oebanda; “Birdshot” by Mikhail Red; “Hamog” by Ralston Jover; “Paglipay (Crossing)” by Zig Dulay; “Patay na si Jesus” by Victor Villanueva; “Pauwi Na (Pedicab)” by Paolo Villaluna; “Salvage” by Sherad Sanchez; “Star na si Van Damme Stallone” by Randolph Longjas; and “Triptiko” by Miguel Michelana.

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