The carabao will reach the other side of the river
Tuguegarao City is a place far away from the apparent nexus of Philippine mass media that is Metro Manila.
It is only natural and observable that well established film studios in the country’s capital, tend to capture and feature the realities and culture of the surrounding geography to a larger extent. This may perhaps be influenced by accessibility and financial efficiency.
It cannot be denied, nonetheless, that many Filipino films, mainstream or independent, have already touched on provincial life. But can we say the same for Tuguegarao specifically?
Tuguegarao City as a setting for a local film industry, is not far from being realized. In fact, its seeds may have already been planted through the creation of the locally based NGO, North Luzon Cinema Guild, Inc.
The city, becoming slowly “conducive” to rising film makers, thus, has since seen films created by local directors, that have reached relative prominence, such as Glenn Barit’s Cleaners.
On the other hand, this year, there are more upcoming local films, one of which is Austin Tan’s Ngatta Naddaki Y Nuwang (officially translated as Why did the Carabao cross the Carayan?). Tan’s creation stands as a commentary, in film form, on socio-economic issues that affect his hometown of Tuguegarao.
“Ginawa ko yung pelikula para bigyang liwanag yung mga isyu na nangyayari sa paligid ko, mas lalo na sa kinalakihan kong bayan na Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. Ito yung mga problema ng taon-taong pagbaha, na kami mismo ay nararanasan namin, at issue din ng kahirapan kung saan marami ang umaalis naghahanap ng bagong buhay sa ibang bansa para makatakas at makahanap ng maayos na kalagayan,” Tan explains.
The film is unique, such that it features Tuguegarao City’s indigenous languages, Ibanag and Itawit— seemingly the first of its kind to be featured to the public via the QCinema Film Festival this month.
“Pinili ko yung salitang Ibanag at Itawit dahil importante na - ko na ang kwentong ito ay kwento nung lugar, which is kwentong Cagayan. Ginamit yung dalawang language dahil yung dalawang main actors ay magkaiba talaga yung language na ginagamit nila, and para sa akin gusto ko maging natural lang sila sa pagganap. Para sa akin, importante din na ipakita to, dahil marami naman sa amin ang nakakaintindi at nakakapagsalita ng multiple local languages,” the filmmaker said.
Tan hopes that his masterpiece may become an instrument so that discussion on socio-economic issues and the problem of worsening storm-caused floods plaguing Tuguegarao could be taken seriously by the public.
Filmmaking may be perceived by many as a rigid endeavor and is associated to the financially capable. That is why perhaps, it is only within the recent years that homegrown talent have only started to become known and recognized by locals. These are the budding filmmakers who have managed to break and ignore stereotypes and uncertainties.
The potential local film industry in Tuguegarao and elsewhere in Cagayan Valley, could also perhaps be likened to a carabao crossing a river. Unlike Tan’s film’s symbolism though, the rising filmmakers are crossing obstacles for the sake of art, expression, advocacy, growth, and establishment in their locality. #(JKC/PIA Region 2)