FOR author, playwright, screenwriter, and film scholar Clodualdo “Doy” Del Mundo, Jr., evoking sadness in the reader of his books is never the goal. But writing which requires recollection sometimes inevitably involves sadness, especially if what is remembered is something that is lost.
Such is the case with his latest book, Ang Daigdig ng mga Api: Remembering a Lost Film. Directed by National Artist for Film Gerardo De Leon, Ang Daigdig ng mga Api (The World of the Oppressed) is now lost because effective and efficient archiving facilities were not available at the time it was made.
Ang Daigdig ng Mga Api premiered at the first Manila Film Festival in 1966 where it garnered eight awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Starring Robert Arevalo and Barbara Perez, the film tells the story of Filipinos living in penury and follows the stories of the suffering of agricultural workers under the hands of their overseer and landlord.
“Wala na ang pelikulang Ang Daigidig ng mga Api, nasa alalala na lamang ng mga nakapanood nito (Ang Daigdig ng mga Api no longer exists, it only remains in the memory of those who had seen it),” Mr. Del Mundo said in a speech at the book launch on April 6 at the Cinematheque Centre Manila.
People’s memories are fallible, said Mr. Del Mundo making archiving challenging when one relies on oral history.
“Films are different. Hindi pwedeng memory lang or i-kwento lang (You can’t rely on memory or oral stories). It’s audiovisual,” Mr. Del Mundo told BusinessWorld shortly after the launch.
It is important to know that there was a film that captured audiences’ emotions and opened their eyes to the situation of farmers in those times,” Mr. Del Mundo said in Filipino.
To “re-create” elements of the film for the book, Mr. Del Mundo collected existing materials such as photographs, archived articles on the director, and a copy of the sequence treatment by the film’s screenwriter Pierre Salas. He also conducted interviews via phone and e-mails with the film’s lead actors.
The resulting book was co-published by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and the De La Salle University (DLSU) Press.
MORE BOOKS ON FILMFDCP Chairperson and CEO Mary Liza Diño-Seguerra said that the organization is looking forward to engaging in more partnerships regarding preservation of Filipino films. With the goal of increasing the amount of literature on Philippine cinema, Ms. Diño-Seguerra told BusinessWorld that the FDCP is currently partnering with authors to write books about Philippine films.
Among the recently released titles are PH Movie Confidential by professor and entertainment journalist Nestor Cuartero, and a series of books on the history of Philippine cinema by film director and historian Nick Deocampo.
“We want to enrich our literature in film. I hope that through this program of the FDCP, we can reach out to more authors who want to write about significant topics on cinema,” Ms. Diño-Seguerra said.
Ang Daigdig ng mga Api: Remembering a Lost Film is the latest addition to the Philippine Film Archive (PFA) library.
In Nov. 2020, the PFA, a division of the FDCP, became an associate member of the Federation of International Film Archives, an institution founded in France which focuses on the preservation of and access to the world’s film heritage.
Ang Daigdig ng mga Api: Remembering a Lost Film is priced at P800 (softbound) and P1,000 (hardbound). For inquiries about the book and orders, contact De La Salle University Publishing House at 524-4611 loc. 271 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman