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Filipino film masterpieces retrieved, restored–and remembered

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Film buffs are happy that Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala” has been restored and will be reissued again this December. In their excitement, however, they yearn to see other film classics rescued from oblivion and shown to a new generation of film lovers.

At recent fora and other interactions, we polled movie lovers for the titles of iconic movies that should also be restored and re-released, and these are some of their perceptive inputs:

It would be really great if LVN Pictures could re-release the local movie industry’s first partly color film, “Ibong Adarna.” The period and costume fantasy-adventure-drama was actually a black-and-white production, but it had a 10-minute sequence showing the magical bird singing its healing song, during which it “bursts” into color.

Actually, the long sequence was painstakingly hand-painted, frame by frame, which made it all the more artistically precious!

Now, we don’t know if that particular color sequence is still extant, or can be reconfigured again in some way, but it sure would be a special viewing treat for veteran and new film buffs alike!

We also got some requests for a restored copy of an early movie directed by Fernando Poe Jr. under his nom de direction, D’ Lanor: The action film, “Tatlong Hari,” was a memorable drama about three boys who grew up into adults and remained loyal to each other through the many upheavals of their shared and separate lives.

Our personal request is for a new copy of “Geron Busabos, Ang Batang Quiapo” to be made. The exceptionally sensitive and powerful action-drama was directed by Cesar “Chat” Gallardo, and top-billed Joseph Estrada at his “lean and intense” best. It also featured a strong supporting portrayal by Oscar Roncal.

We recall this film in detail, because we featured it extensively in a documentary on the best Filipino films that we were commissioned to script and direct by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. We were able to view the ’60s production in full then, and hope that it’s still in a good enough state to reissue.

It would also be great if the best satirical film ever made, Manuel Conde’s “Juan Tamad Goes to Congress,” could be restored and shown again. Alas, when we were doing our research and viewing for our documentary, we could find only a short snippet of it. But, perhaps its production company (paging Jun Urbano) still has its negative from which new copies can be made?

Other titles our resource persons want to see restored and reissued include Eddie Romero’s “Kamakalawa,” Celso Ad. Castillo’s “Burlesk Queen” and “Pag-puti ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” Laurice Guillen’s “Kasal,” Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s “Moral,” Lamberto V. Avellana’s “Anak Dalita,” Gerry de Leon’s “Noli” and “Fili,” Lino Brocka’s “Gumapang Ka sa Lusak.”

More speculatively, Gerry de Leon started shooting a film for FPJ about Philippine history (“Juan de la Cruz”) that he failed to finish, so it would be really great for local film buffs if FPJ’s movie studio would share footage of that unfinished masterpiece.

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  • hustlergalore

    that ibong adarna by lvn pictures is the best ibong adarna film and perhaps the best filipino fantasy film i have ever seen.

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