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Young Ilokano director preserves local culture, tradition in a film exhibition

Burial tradition. Folk healers. Lamentations.

These are some of the themes highlighted in the first film exhibition launched by Melver Ritz Gomez, a rising young director from Ilocos Norte.

Brought by his passion for filmmaking and reverence to Ilocano traditions, Gomez has gathered moviemakers from Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Baguio, Nueva Vizcaya, and Isabela for a film exhibition.

Dubbed “Pelikula Ilokana”, it aims to promote each province’s unique and rich culture through the lenses of bright, promising, and independent film makers.

PELIKULA ILOKANA. The film exhibition showcases the unique culture and traditions from the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Baguio, Nueva Vizcaya, and Isabela. (Photo by Pelikula Ilokana)

“Ilocano film making has proven to be one of the thriving industries that has greatly contributed to the preservation of not only the Ilokano culture, but its traditions, customs, norms and stories. Ilocandia has inspiring, empowering and phenomenal stories to share, which is why through film, these stories are being translated to the big screen as not only transformative narratives but stories that capture and represent the Ilokano identity,” said Gomez.

Not only does it intends to showcase the ingenuity of homegrown movie directors, but also to spark interest and appreciation among the people, especially the young generation, on the art of film making and in their identity as Ilokanos.

Gomez’ “Iyallatiw (To Transfer)”, a documentary film that presents an old and dying oral tradition on prayers for the dead in Paoay, was the opening film during the Pelikula Ilokana film exhibition.

It depicts and captures the struggles of passing down this tradition to the future generation.

This docufilm has reached national and international praises and has been screened in several film festivals including International Film Festival Manhattan, Gawad Alternatibo by Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roshani International Film Festival, among others. 

Meanwhile, Provincial Tourism Officer Ianree Raquel stresses the importance of cultivating and developing the practice of film making in the province.

“This is what we need to grow and evolve - the practice of film making. Hopefully, this will be emulated by others in the field of arts,” said Raquel.

With the success of the first film exhibition, all of the 11 films will be showcased and premiered in the “JuanFlix”, an online channel of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) on December 2-9. (JCR/AMB/MJTAB/AMPG-Intern PIA Ilocos Norte)

About the Author

Ma. Joreina Therese Blanco


Region 1

Ma. Joreina Therese A. Blanco is an Information Officer II of the Philippine Information Agency Ilocos Norte Information Center based in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. She is currently the Information Center Manager of PIA Ilocos Norte.

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