Butch Ibañez promises to ‘expand’ cinema committee’s reach

New head Butch Ibañez promises to ‘expand’ NCC’s reach

/ 12:10 AM February 01, 2024

New head Butch Ibañez promises to ‘expand’ cinema committee’s reach

National Committee on Cinema head Butch Ibañez

“I definitely have big shoes to fill,” said new National Committee on Cinema (NCC) head Mahar Sulayman “Butch” Ibañez of the position he took over when film curator and archivist Teddy Co passed away in November 2023.

Under his leadership, stakeholders can expect both the “traditional” programs and policies, as well as those that “evolve” and “adapt,” and are “dependent on the call of the times,” Ibañez told Inquirer Entertainment during the recent launch of the National Arts Month (NAM) celebration, which was also attended by the six other heads of committees under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).


“I was Teddy’s vice head. When he was hospitalized, I would get directions and feedback from him. I think it happened, in a way, to prepare me for a bigger challenge. I’m thankful for that. However, I don’t think I’m alone in this position. There are a lot of great people running the Committee on Cinema. It just so happened that I’m the one you always see in front. This is really a team effort,” Ibañez said during the launch held at the Metropolitan Theater in Manila.


“We had a special election and I received the vote of confidence from committee members,” he said, adding that film critic and educator Tito Valiente became his vice head. “Starting this year, we will be orchestrating the activities of the NCC.”

Ibañez said the committee will be “expanding its reach,” meaning, there will be activities involving other film-related communities in other areas other than its flagship program, Cinema Rehiyon, an annual noncompetition festival that presents some of the finest works by filmmakers from the regions.

READ: Dolly de Leon, Billy Crawford among NCCA’s Ani ng Dangal awardees

This year, Cinema Rehiyon will be held in March and hosted by the Visayan filmmaking community in Iloilo. It will carry the theme, “Tikman ang Sinehan!,” forefronting the recent declaration of Iloilo City as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Creative City of Gastronomy. “It will be unlike other Cinema Rehiyon festivals before. Aside from the festival, we have pocket activities for that, but the budget for the festival has been the same after all these years. We’re very confident with the Iloilo team. They are very resourceful,” said Ibañez. “The event will showcase film screenings, talks, workshops, exhibitions and a town hall gathering of representatives of various regional film festivals.”

One community

Also part of the NAM celebration is a film appreciation workshop for students and teachers titled “Paano Magbasa ng Pelikula,” with vice head Valiente as facilitator. “We all know that the pandemic lockdowns resulted in the low turnout of people in cinemas. But with the recent success of the Metro Manila Film Festival, we’ve proven that audiences are gradually resuming their moviegoing habits. We want them to develop this so that they will be able to better appreciate all these stories written for film,” said Ibañez.

Also supported by the NCC is the Margaha Film Festival, which will be held from Feb. 25 to 28 in Sagay City, Negros Occidental. Another project initiated by the NCC is the NCCA Online Film Library. In collaboration with Bago City, Negros Occidental, it is an online audiovisual archive available from March to April. It showcases independent Filipino-made films representing various sectors.

From February to March, SolarFlix TV (free-to-air) will be screening films from the Iloilo Film Festival, including the 2023 Gawad Urian best short film, “Sa Paglupad ka Banog” by Elvert Bañares.“I am definitely not as charismatic as Sir Teddy. I’m the exact opposite. I’m actually shy and very private, but whenever I talk to the regional communities, filmmakers, directors and festival heads, I’d like to think that I’m as approachable as he was. I’d like to continue that general sense of community that began under his term. You see, in the Philippines, we all know each other. Yes, we quarrel sometimes, but this doesn’t keep us apart. Petty quarrels are found in all families, but at the end of the day, we are one community and we need each other to elevate the industry,” said Ibañez on how he thought running the NCC would be like.

NCCA arts ambassador and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray

NCCA arts ambassador and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray. —PHOTOS BY MARINEL CRUZ


Of all the innovations that are happening under his leadership, Ibañez is most excited about the grants that were handed out by the NCC. “This was because 100 percent of the grants that we’ve offered or approved so far were availed and put to good use. This means we chose the right projects to spend on. We made sure they would deliver. For me, it’s not about giving grants, but it’s really our responsiveness to the community. We know what it needs,” he declared.

The theme for the 2024 edition of the NAM is “Ani ng Sining, Bayang Malikhain.” It features activities organized by the seven committees: cinema, music, architecture and allied arts, dance, dramatic arts, literary arts and visual arts.

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The recent launch was also attended by NCCA arts ambassador and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, NCCA chair Victorino Manalo, executive director Oscar Casaysay and deputy executive directors Marichu Tellano and Bernan Joseph Corpuz. The celebration of the NAM 2024 this February is by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 683 in 1991.

TAGS: cinema, NCCA

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