Except for the banging of the gong to signify the official opening of Cinemanila International Film Festival and the use of Bulol and balanghai for Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival ‘s festival trophies and officiall OBBs, respectively—rarely do we witness any film festival in the country that display unique indigenous culture until the recent lambanog (coconut wine) toast at the 1st Quezon Film Festival in Lucena City in the Province of Quezon.
Billed as “PiliQuela,” a wordplay on pelikula (film)—its first syllable changed to pili to mean “choose”—and surname of the president of the Commonwealth Manuel Luis Quezon, the mood of the event was set by local color and tradition.
Four of the living Quezon filmmakers namely Mel Chionglo, Felino Tañada, Ronald Rafer (all from Lucena) and Gil Portes (Pagbilao) were invited to partake in the opening of Quezon Film Festival and exhibit their films.
Clad in kimona and patadyong (traditional Filipino blouse and skirt), Christina Decal, past president of Tourism Organization of Quezon, recited poems and sang songs of welcome then offered the guests shot glasses of lambanog.
“This toast of lambanog is a tradition of warmth and hospitality of Quezonians to our guests whether they from the province or not,” informed Decal who proposed a toast of the wine to the attending film directors.
“My God! I have stopped drinking,” softly whispered Portes who gulped it down anyway in the spirit of camaraderie.
Chionglo an occasional drinker, gobbled up the native wine as well.
“It’s quite an experience. I haven’t come home to Quezon for a long time and the lambanog taste brings back memories of my childhood, when old folks in our neighborhood would gather around in their backyards to feast on lambanog,” Chionglo remarked.
“I don’t drink,” said Rafer but, ever proud of his cultural roots, drank the fermented coconut sap in one go, as if he was a lambanog drinker.
Meanwhile, the Lucena-based Tañada, who’s accustomed to the culture drank his shot to his heart’s content.
The films that were exhibited were Chionglo’s Lauriana which tackles the obsession of a PC officer in the 1950s on his paramour in the idyllic Sariaya town; Portes’ Gina Alajar-starrer Mulanay which follows rural doctors who are sent to the barrios; Tañada’s Buenavista, a foray on the history of Lucena City and topbilled by Eddie Garcia; and Rafer’s Gabriel Ito ang Kuwento Ko which is about a young man’s search on his troubled past and filial misgivings.
Other Quezonian filmmakers who were invited couldn’t make it to the celebration were Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez, Lemuel Lorca, Francis O. Villacorta, Eugene Asis, Real Florido, Robert Yap-Diangco, William Mayo and Carmelo Saliendra.
Kin of dead Quezon filmmakers Vicente Salumbides, the so-called Second Father of Philippine Movies, Orlando Nadres, Don Escudero, Abbo de la Cruz and Uro de la Cruz represented them posthumously.