The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has come up with a revised classification system for films, which now includes an R-16 rating.
The new rating system took effect last September 1 pursuant to Memorandum Circular No. 08-2012, according to Grace Poe-Llamanzares, former chair of the MTRCB.
(Llamanzares recently resigned from the board to run for the Senate. Vice-chair Emmanuel Borlaza has been designated as MTRCB officer-in-charge).
There used to be five ratings for movies: General Audience (G), which means all ages are admitted; PG-13, children below 13 years old should be accompanied by an adult; R-13, strictly for 13 years and older; R-18, strictly for 18 years and older, and X, not for public viewing.
Llamanzares told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the board saw a need to address a “gap” in the rating system. She explained: “While some R-18 films may be too mature for teenagers ages 13 to 15, 16-year-olds may be ready to watch them.”
She cited the Oscar-winning film “Black Swan” as an example: “Although it’s artistic and critically acclaimed, we received complaints that it might be too daring for teeners.”
She also noted that some Filipino indie films often got R-18 ratings though high-school students were now more than equipped to view them.
R-16 could make a world of difference for stakeholders.
The board conducted public consultations with industry leaders, TV and movie executives, child welfare advocates and psychologists, as well as a media representative from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“Two major consultations, along with a series of pocket meetings, were held prior to the revision of the classification system,” Llamanzares related.
Among those consulted were filmmakers Brillante Mendoza and Joel Lamangan, scriptwriter Bibeth Orteza, industry stalwarts Lily Monteverde of Regal, June Rufino of Viva, Jose Ibarra of GMA 7, Ramon del Rosario of TV5, Tess Fuentes of Star Cinema/ABS-CBN, child welfare advocate Mag Cruz-Hatol, theater owners’ group representative Dominic Du, and Sis. Consolata Manding of CBCP.
Participants were encouraged to share their thoughts on the issue and their suggestions were incorporated in the guidelines, Llamanzares recounted.
Llamanzares also consulted child development and psychology experts Honey Carandang and Cathy Babao-Guballa.
“Dr. Carandang presented scientific data… the gap between the ages of 13 and 18 shows a significant change in the maturity level of a person,” Llamanzares pointed out.
The new classification system was drafted, Llamanzares said, primarily to safeguard the audience, particularly children.
Lamangan said he was sure that the new classification system would help the industry. “More mature topics and themes could now be presented to a bigger audience.”
Another filmmaker, Jose Javier Reyes, agreed. He said the new rating showed that the board “trusts the maturity and intelligence of the Filipino movie-going public to savor films beyond the anesthesia of rom-coms and slapstick.”