Two years ago, Kabataan Partylist Representative Terry Ridon filed a very good bill. He cites the importance of promoting Filipino culture in nation building, and for this reason wants a law passed that would institute the mandatory instruction of Philippine cinema appreciation courses in secondary schools in our country.
This proposed law had been filed before, in the 15th Congress by former Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino.
What has happened to Rep. Ridon’s bill?
In House Bill 4756 or the “Philippine Cinema Appreciation Act for High School Students,” the Department of Education, in consultation and in close coordination with the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) and the University of the Philippines Film Institute (UPFI), is tasked to “formulate courses, and special lectures on Philippine Cinema to be taught in secondary schools across the country as separate subjects or incorporated in existing subjects now being taught, whichever is more practicable.”
Rep. Ridon asks: “Do our students still know directors Mike de Leon, Lino Brocka, or Ishmael Bernal? Is there an avenue for them to appreciate masterpieces that portray Philippine social realities such as Bayan Ko:Kapit sa Patalim, Oro Plata Mata, Nunal sa Tubig, and Sister Stella L? “ He adds: “Philippine cinema has a long and storied past that, if taught early to our high school students, will surely play a pivotal role in creating a generation of critical-minded Filipinos.”
He is right in saying in his explanatory note to the bill that “the promotion of Filipino culture is an integral part of nation building. National development cannot merely be measured through the quantification of material and economic gains, but in the overall and holistic development of the people in their political, social and cultural life as a nation. And an important aspect of any national heritage and culture is a nation’s cinema. A genuine national policy on the promotion of Filipino cultural heritage cannot therefore exist without the inclusion of Philippine cinema development and appreciation as an integral part thereof.”
“During these times when economic conditions, like market forces and the cost of production, and the lack of government support have hampered and limited the full development of a truly vibrant Philippine cinema and the preservation of its history, and at a time when our youth are increasingly being bombarded by the influence of foreign films, it becomes more imperative and urgent to introduce our youth to Philippine cinema through a series of lectures, or through an entire subject taught in secondary schools with regard to Filipino films with a focus on its appreciation as a collective body of artistic creations that enhance and reflect the cultural and social identity of our nation,” Ridon’s explanatory note states.
We propose an important addition to the bill.
Teaching high school students to appreciate Philippine films should also occasion teaching them to understand why some films are great–and valuable– while others are lousy and just time-wasting.
The Ridon bill should also include a provision for the Philippine cinema appreciation courses to include an appreciation of the world’s 10 greatest films and why they are models for excellent filmmaking.
That way the Filipino students would also see how our own films are as good as the world’s best. At the same time they would learn and realize what– universally– makes great movies.