Dumaguete City – An opening ceremony was held Monday, February 25 to formally open the week-long celebration of regional filmmaking through Cinema Rehiyon 11.

As the flagship program of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Cinema Rehiyon 11 serves as the largest hub for filmmakers and their films featuring the local culture and traditions from their respective communities.

This year’s installation is hosted by Foundation University along with partners, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and DAKILA – the Active Vista Film Festival.

A Taste of Local Culture at the Opening Ceremony

 

Before the formal opening ceremony held at the Luce Auditorium of Silliman University, filmmakers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao paraded over the main streets of Dumaguete from the Quezon Park. Leading the parade participated in by regional filmmakers was Foundation University’s Abuhuni Band.

After a short break and refreshments, the Buglasayaw Dance Troupe of Foundation University led the traditional “Palihi” tracing its origins from the pre-colonial era of Negros Oriental. Back then, the rite is held by locals to invoke the Divine and the spirits of creation during important events.

In order to divine auspicious gatherings, offerings were made including the “kamanyang,” the native “tuba” from the coconut, chicken with white feathers cooked without salt, “tsokolate,” “tinustos” made of tobacco leaves, and “puso” (rice cooked in heart-shaped coconut leaves).

At the end of the said “Palihi” rite, Commissioner Teddy Co of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts along with other Cinema Committee members namely: Tito Valiente, Jag Garcia, Elvert Bañares and FU President Victor Vicente G. Sinco broke the bamboo “sag-ob” with the great hope that the burst and flow of water will bless the “harmony of intentions and the proceedings that are about to follow.”

New Kind of Cinema

 

NCCA Commissioner Teddy Co, head of the film archives sector, narrated the beginnings of Cinema Rehiyon in 2009, represented only by 6 regions and with less than 30 participants held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

According to him, the festival keeps renewing itself every year and in this way, it continues to invigorate itself. During his speech, Co also talked about the relevance of the opening film to this year’s host region as “Balangiga: Howling Wilderness,” was set in Samar – an island in the Visayas.

Meanwhile, he also mentioned about the 100 years of Philippine Cinema this year, though still in September as it commemorates the screening of the first Philippine full-length film, “Dalagang Bukid” directed by Jose Nepomuceno.

At the end of his speech, Co then encouraged the filmmakers to continue creating a new kind of cinema for the present and future generations.

Success of Filmmakers

FU President Dean Sinco, head of the host University, welcomed the delegates of Cinema Rehiyon 11.

Expressing laud for the success of people who are passionate enough in their pursuit of filmmaking, he then acknowledged the people working behind this huge event for regional filmmakers.

Sinco, himself, is instrumental in making things work especially for local film culture with his support to the movers and artists with the belief that the filmmaking craft will create a larger impact in the continued promotion of arts and culture in the community.

In fact, Foundation University is home to Negros Oriental’s Film Festival – Lutas. Established in 2013 as a film thesis project of broadcast communication majors, the said festival is held annually with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and in partnership with the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

Empowering Filmmakers

In her welcome speech, FDCP Chair Liza Diño expressed appreciation to the passionate film festival directors who are behind the sustainability, success and development of regional film productions and the empowerment of filmmakers through capacity-building and skills enrichment programs tailor-fit for their locality and artist community.

Diño described Cinema Rehiyon as a platform for display of cultures and traditions from each region or locality and that it aims to elevates filmmaking as an art form to a new phase and stature.

She then stressed on the importance of respect for filmmakers for their craft and for filmmakers to respect as well their audiences by way creating the best versions of their films and stories.

Caught on Film

On behalf of Mayor Felipe Remollo of Dumaguete City, Councilor Manuel Arbon delivered his welcome remarks for the delegates of Cinema Rehiyon 11.

“All aspects of life are captured on film, said Councilor Arbon as he conveyed his welcome for this large event for filmmakers hosted in “The City of Gentle People.”

He then warned the delegates that after a week, the delegates might capture the city or there is a big possibility that like the many who came, the city might have captured their hearts.

 

“Balangiga: Howling Wilderness”

To give a glimpse of regional cinema production, “Balangiga: Howling Wilderness” was shown as the opening film. Directed by Khavn dela Cruz, the film tells of a young boy’s journey with his grandfather, the carabao they called Melchora and his younger brother.

Set in Samar circa 1901, the characters’ aim was to escape the Americans and their plot if annihilating the residents of Balangiga as retaliation for the fallen troops who were killed by Filipinos.

For the last two years, the film has won several distinctions for Gawad URIAN, FAMAS and QCinema.

Words from the Festival Director

Festival Director Juliet Cuizon closed the program with her statement, “Cinema Rehiyon is all about you filmmakers and your films.” She also shared that the event is meant to highlight the stories from their regions.

Cuizon then added that aside from the screening of “Balangiga: Howling Wilderness,” there is a lot to look forward to this week because it (“Balangiga”) is just 1 of the 98 films that will be shown this week across movie theaters and audio-visual rooms of partner universities in Dumaguete.

Welcome Dinner and Fellowship

After the opening ceremonies, filmmakers were treated to a sumptuous dinner held at the roof deck of Hotel Essencia. The dinner with live music entertainment from local artists ushered in the spirit of being a community in fellowship as regional filmmakers who are united in the pursuit of elevating regional films and in the goal of catapulting the brand of Philippine Cinema to its best and finest.