Paoay’s Sundance: SandDunes film fest

/ 09:05 PM March 20, 2012

“HIMALA,” top-billed by Nora Aunor (right), was shot in Ilocos Norte for three weeks in 1982.

Coming soon is Ilocandia’s answer to Sundance.

In what has been dubbed by the Inquirer as the “SandDunes” festival, film screenings will be held in the picturesque “desert” of Paoay, Ilocos Norte.


The provincial government, led by Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, is cooking up a multifaceted, multimedia festival that will feature sand-boarding and 4 x 4 dune-buggy competitions, along with sand castle-building contests and other sporting and art activities – all envisioned to entice the youth.

Marcos’ eldest son, Borgy Manotoc, will spearhead the SandDunes fest –scheduled sometime this year – and in line with the province’s Paoay Kumakaway tourism campaign.


Completing the lineup of activities is a screening of films, both local and foreign, that were shot on Paoay’s sand dunes.

Marcos proudly noted that an Oscar-nominated Hollywood film had been shot in the province – Oliver Stone’s “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989), top-billed by Tom Cruise and for which Barangay Suba stood for locations in Vietnam and Mexico.

“The futuristic Australian action film ‘Mad Max’ (1979), which starred Mel Gibson, was also filmed there, as was Roger Corman’s and Cirio H. Santiago’s ‘Stryker’ (1983),” Marcos recalled.

Local movies have likewise immortalized Ilocos on celluloid since the early 1980s – from the “Ang Panday” fantasy films (1980) of Fernando Poe Jr., to Joey Gosiengfiao’s “Temptation Island” (1980), Ishmael Bernal’s acclaimed drama “Himala” (1982) and Elwood Perez’s “Silip” (1985).

More recently, the “Panday” franchise of Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Chito Roño’s musical “Emir,” Chris Martinez’s remake of “Temptation Island,” and Paul Soriano’s sports drama “Thelma” featured the province and its unique tourist spots – such as the Paoay Church (a Unesco World Heritage Site) and the windmills of Bangui.

GOVERNOR IMEE Marcos tries sand-boarding in Paoay.

Marcos related that Brillante Mendoza, best director in the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, went location- hunting in the province recently. “All I can say right now is that he will make a road movie.”

The governor is gung ho about promoting Ilocos Norte as a location for TV tapings as well, and movie and advertising shoots.


Marcos said that Provincial Ordinance No. 2011-09-062, known as the “Trimedia Incentives Act in Ilocos Norte,” aims to “grant discounts on all permit fees and location charges issued by the provincial government as well as provide assistance in facilitating ground arrangements and technical information.”

In a nutshell, the law seeks to make life easier for filmmakers and producers intending to shoot in Ilocos Norte. Marcos acknowledged that these trimedia productions make valuable contributions to the local economy by providing employment opportunities in transportation, accommodation, catering, and rental revenues.

“The provincial government will match these expenses,” Marcos said.

After the live action animation indie “Pintakasi,” Marcos is contemplating on producing a film set in Ilocos with Soxie Topacio as director: “We found a script by Bienvenido ‘Boy’ Noriega Jr., ‘Kasalan sa Likod ng Simbahan.’ Soxie made ‘Ded na Si Lolo,’ which tackled funeral traditions. We have distinct customs in our courtship rituals and weddings.”

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