Lamangan tackles illiteracy in Patikul
Actor Allen Dizon would have willingly flown to war-torn Patikul, Sulu, in Mindanao to shoot his latest drama film, but director Joel Lamangan considered the security risk too great to ignore.
Lamangan decided to re-create the town instead, according to line producer Dennis Evangelista. “We built the communities in Tanay, Rizal and Cavite City, based on how they looked in pictures we had seen of Patikul,” Evangelista told Inquirer. “We had consultants, too, and our production designer, award-winner Edgar Martin Littaua, did a great job.”
The film, “Patikul,” based on a screenplay by Palanca Award winner Kristoffer Brugada, focuses on the problem of illiteracy in the Sulu town. It is an entry in the Directors’ Showcase category of the 7th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.
Allen—dad to Nela, 9, Ixia, 6, and Lucas, 3—said he could very well relate to his character, Amman, an illiterate Muslim coffee farmer fighting to bring back teachers and students to a school terrorized by local bandits. “Like him, I’d do anything for my children to get proper education,” he said.
Amman is from Kan-Ague, a community whose residents have become accustomed to armed clashes. He believes educating children will change the situation, but the killings force school teachers to walk out.
“We got a lot of help from coaches on the set,” said Allen, who learned Tausug for the film and had to adjust to Lamangan’s new directing method. “He (Lamangan) didn’t want me to cry in any dramatic scene. It was difficult because there were scenes that really brought me to tears.”
Lamangan explained: “I told my actors that hysteria was a no-no. I wanted natural facial expressions and body movements, and performances that don’t call attention to themselves.” With those as parameters, the director said, his actors impressed him.
“Allen is subdued, but very real—especially when he walks through the abandoned school and urges fellow farmer-parents to take up the challenge of reopening the school for their children’s sake. Marvin Agustin is credible as the dedicated principal and is in control even in his abduction scene,” Lamangan noted.
Lamangan said Marvin’s character, Michael Balmes, is based on Gabriel Canizares, principal of Kan-ague Elementary School, who was abducted and later beheaded when his family failed to raise the ransom money.
Evangelista said “Patikul” is different from other Lamangan films, in that violence here is not shown but just implied. “You will not see people fighting or killing each other, but you will hear and feel it,” he said. “Direk said he was concerned about young viewers.”
“‘Patikul’ highlights children’s perseverance in the face of daily kilometric treks to school and making do with tattered and outdated textbooks and other school facilities,” Lamangan said. “I want moviegoers to see something positive, but with full knowledge that this entails sacrifice and willingness to fight to achieve our dreams.”
“Patikul” also features Martin de los Santos, Glaiza de Castro, Ciara Sotto, Dimples Romana, Sue Prado, Jeon Macatangay, Benjie Felipe and Angeli Nichole Sanoy.
Cinemalaya runs from July 15 to 25 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City and at the Greenbelt Cinemas in Makati City.
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