BUT FOR THEM I WOULD TRAIN...
ABOUT LINO BROCKA
For nearly half a century the name Lino Brocka signified the totality of Philippine cinema to the international film-going public. His filmsMaynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1976), Jaguar (1979), Bona (1981) and certainly Insiang (1978)—the first Filipino film shown at Cannes—earned him the well deserved accolades of critics in the Philippines as well as abroad. But one of the great unsung documents of Lino Brocka and his career is Christian Blackwood's 1987 documentary Signed Lino Brocka.Blackwood's film participates in a tradition of documentaries about filmmakers on film, a genre that found its apex in the Cinéastes de notre temps series, and could also include Pierre-André Boutang's Itinéraire d'un ciné-fils (1992). While Signedprovides biographical details discussingBrocka's work at a leper colony (which served as the basis for his 1974Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang)and his unapologetic, even militant, homosexuality, it is more forcefully an illustration of Brocka's cinematic attempt to present the harsh reality of the Philippines under martial law and after. This portrayal functions as a condemnation, clearly, of those forces (namely Imelda Marcos) who would try to stifle the representations of this reality in favor of kid fodder, saccharine telenovelas and even faux-internationalism; those who would cry "poverty porn" at the first sight of a slum.
Since the appearance of Brillante Mendoza's films Serbis(2008) and Kinatay(2009) thespecter of "poverty porn" has risen againin the Philippines.The term may on occasion find appropriate applications,but its easy transposition onto the cultural production of such a complex and hybrid nation, in which over a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, should be approached with guarded and vigilant skepticism.However, even with its specious use,one of the benefits ofthe bandying about of this shibboleth is that it actualizes the repressed memory of the long historical road of censorship, attempts at class cleansing in Philippine cinema, and of course the magnificent tradition of a national and regional cinema that seeks methods, forms and forums with which to revolt.
Cinema in the Philippines emerged at the same time that the nation was born: it accompanied a revolution that sought to free itself from Spanish rule. And even if the revolution saw a marked decrease in movie-going, the medium was simultaneous with a revolutionary political context. The earliest manifestation of film culture in the Philippines was in distribution and exhibition, that is, it was primarily spectatorial;yet even within this seemingly passive practice contestation reigned, and the terrain upon which the resistance was waged was that of language. As the Philippines traded its Spanish colonial masters for American imperialists, the "native resistance" was initially articulated in a fidelity to the Spanish language, eschewing English film titles, title cards and even English language newspapers for advertising.From today’s historical vantage point the idea that the use of Spanish constituted a "native resistance" seems almost risible,and it would take some time before the emergence of a Tagalog cinema could coalesce and offer something closer to a linguistically indigenous film. But this dependence on the former colonizers language as a national response to the American presence also offers an early insight into the class composition of those participating in the early film culture: It was an art largely for the cultured elite that didn't leave much room for the population of indios.
A Tagalog-centric cinema did eventually emerge and it was with this materialization that a substantive cinematic and "native" resistance could assert itself.1919 saw the production of the first genuinely Filipino film, José Nepomuceno's Dalagang Bukid. Nepomuceno, considered the father of Philippine cinema, also directed a version of Jose Rizal's foundational Noli me tangerein 1930. But it was in 1929 that Julian Manansala, a former lawyer turned filmmaker, made Patria Amore the first nationalist and overtly anti-Hispanic film. The film provoked an attempt on the part of elite members of the Spanish community to stop the film from being screened, but these attempts were unsuccessful.
In tandem with this "revolting" spirit, there is the appearance of a critical response to a nationalist cinema that exposes the country's poor. Doña Sisang, one of the founders of LVN, known for both her strict temperament and her generosity, early on stressed her concerns about this trend. Instead of this seminal poverty porn, Sisangpromoted spectacular films with light-hearted narratives, saying "Bakit mo ipapakita sa tao na mahirap sila?" (Why show the people that they are poor?)."And in large part the First Golden Age of Philippine cinema, which flourished in the political context of the post-war period, supported her wishes. While there were regional challenges to Manila's Tagalog-centric hegemony in places like Iloilo and above all Cebu up to and through out the 1960s, the most vibrant and critical materialization of cinematic resistance is the so-called Second Golden Age thatdeveloped under martial law.
On September 27, 1972, six days after the signature of Proclamation No. 1081, which was the declaration of martial law in the Philippines, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued his Letter of Instructions No. 13 to the Board of the Censors of Motion Pictures. The Letter stated that "in order to safeguard the morality of our society, particularly the youth, against the negative influence of certain motion pictures, you are hereby directed to ban forthwith the following films for public exhibition in any theatre in the Philippines." The Letter sought to ban:
1) Films which tend to incite subversion, insurrection or rebellion against the State;
2)Films which tend to undermine the faith and confidence of the people in their government and/or duly constituted authorities;
3) Films which glorify criminals or condone crimes;
4)Films which serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence or pornography;
5) Films which offend any race or religion;
6)Films which tend to abet the traffic in and use of prohibited drugs;
7)Films contrary to law, public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees or edicts; and any or all films which in the judgment of the Board are similarly objectionable and contrary to the letter and spirit of Proclamation No. 1081.
Any violation of this Order shall mean the outright cancellation, withdrawal, and revocation of the permits of the films, the closure of the theatre or theatres involved, as well as the arrest and prosecution of any persons concerned. In the implementation hereof, you shall coordinate with the Department of National Defense and other proper agencies of the government. This order shall remain effective for the duration of the present national emergency or until otherwise ordered by me or by my duly designated representative.
Following a downturn in production in the 1960s, what is to be made of the fact that under martial law there emerged a revitalized internationally recognized resurgence of film production known as the Second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema? This question really took root after the end of martial law, particularly during the tepid period of filmmaking that immediately followed the ouster of Marcos. Filipino film critic Emanuel Reyes, in a review of the 1987 Mannheim International Filmweek entitled Does Political Repression Make Good Cinema, reposed the question it its most cynical form, writing:
Must we bring political repression back into our local cinema to bring it to its senses? Martial law appears to have done wonders for our movies.
National Artist and ManunuriBienvenido Lumbera similarly asked in his essay Film Under the Marcos Dictatoship"Was martial law indeed a blessed event for the Philippine film industry?". The questions are of course not a call to return to "the fascist repression of free expression,"but rather a perplexed wonderment in the face of such specifically cinematic repression that such a filmic war machine had been produced. The filmmakers that constituted this SecondGolden Age (a trite name given the political situation under which these filmmakers flourished) were, among others, Ismael Bernal, Mike De Leon, Behn Cervantes and of course Lino Brocka.
This line of interrogation, vis-à-vis the effects of politics on cinema, implies that under political repression the tendency towards allegorical representations of the contemporaneous political situation provides a productive aesthetic constraint that in turn produces new forms and figures.In this way of looking at post-war developments in Philippine film language it becomes apparent that the generic categories inherited from the Spanish were not necessarily abandoned. Melodrama through the present maintains a strong foothold on the country's entertainment forms, from theater and television, to radio drama and cinema. But under martial law the use of this genre became a key formal strategy for articulating, in a quasi-transparent manner, the experience of living under the Marcos regime. One of the finest examples of this would be a work like Mike De Leon's Kisapmata(1981),which elegantly transposed the social repression of martial law onto a family living under a vicious patriarch.But there were also attempts to confront politics transparently as exemplified by Behn Cervantes'1976 Sakadain which he chose to directly address the issue of exploitation of the sakadas (sugar farmers) by the hacienderos. Manunuri Nicanor Tiongson writing a review of the film in February 1976, referred to it as "flawed but great," and went on to write:
No other film has so ruthlessly and completely stripped the pretty mask off Philippine society to reveal a face crawling with maggots and social injustice. No other film has invoked in us not the rhetorical tears that we were ashamed of afterwards, but painful tears welling from the depths of sympathy for the victims of exploitation. Finally, no other film has been so literally applauded by an audience for holding before it a true image of its faults and sufferings.
After a two-week run Marcos ordered the film to be confiscated by his military, and it was.
The lessons of the last approach, namely, directly addressing/attacking the political issues of the period without formal generic trappings must not have been lost on the others in this generation of socially conscious filmmakers. Yet, when confronting the work of De Leon, Bernal and Brocka the stakes do not seem to be merely escaping the censor. The use of melodrama, particularly in the work of Lino Brocka functions as a critical cinematic assault mechanism, a way of blasting through the slippery slope of pedagogic political argumentation in fiction, which in turn erects a genre that figures class representations, and their respective struggles, from the lumpento the elite and almost never leaves anyone standing.
Signed Lino Brocka specifically confronts the issue of melodrama, particularly Brocka's use of it. On the one hand it was used in his more personal films as a generic base from which to elaborate his uncompromising vision, but equally Brocka was a director for hire, and often those pictures were melodramatic as well. In discussing why he made these wholly a-political popular melodramas, Brocka recounts how in January 1985 he had been on the negotiating board in support of a jeepney strike. Brocka and Behn Cervantes were both arrested for their participation in this strike and Brocka wrote to the producer of a film, which he had been trying to convince Brocka to direct, and said that he was willing to direct it if the producer would pay their bail. While the description of Brocka suggests that he only participated on the committee, television footage in Signed insists that Cervantes and Brocka led a march in which they chanted slogans that sought to overthrow the government. The result was that bail was paid and Brocka made the a-political melodrama.
Employing this melodramatic framework Brocka's films then literally march through the stinking garbage heaps on which the poor subsist. Like Jorge Furtado's magnificentIlha de las Flores(1989) which showsthe local poor of Porto Alegre, Brazil and their five minutes of scavenging through rotten debris unfit for pigs, Brocka shows these piles as the foundation upon which poor barangay are constitutedand long term living arrangements are implemented.This is precisely what makesSigned so valuable: it is itself an object lesson in the revelation of poverty that Brocka so tirelessly sought to show. There are two entries in the film that constitute this object lesson.
First, Blackwood follows Brocka into the slums of Tondo, Manila. The Tondo district served as the location for at least four of Brocka's most important works: Insiang, Bona, Jaguar and Manila, but instead of showing clips of these films Blackwood shoots Brocka as he roams through Tondo.Brocka recounts how Imelda believed that it was the duty of the filmmaker to participate in nation building, and such a task was entirely undermined by Brocka's portrayal of Manila by shooting in Tondo. Further, he recounts how she insisted that Brocka's portrayal of the poor was wrong and biased: since the population of Tondo was smilingit was rich in spiritual wealth. But what is most striking here is not the housing of the poor but the garbage dump serving as a burial groundfor the disappeared. Every day the bulldozers came in a covered over the previous days dumping. Those who were disappeared under Marcos remained so forever in Tondo.
The other event, mythological and not figuring in the official history of the country, is the construction of and accident at the Manila Film Center. In 1981 the rush to finish the Manila Film Center construction was met with tragedy. One week prior to the opening of the first Manila International Film Festival the third floor collapsed as a result of still wet cement. Between 20 and 60 construction workers were trapped under the debris, and the wet cement was beginning to harden literally fusing the workers with the building. Faced with two choices, either stopping construction (and thus cancelling the festival) or pouring the cement and burying the bodies in the building so that the construction could be completed in time for the festival, Imelda chose the latter. According to Brocka the Film Center was one of the smokescreens used to cover up the government's human rights abuses and excessive repression. It was effectively a political instrument. The irony that towers above all of this is that while Imelda envisioned a center for the projection of international "quality" films, the Film Center was more often than not the screening venue for soft pornographic films.
Both of these sequences in Signed Lino Brocka point to ways in which the visibility of the poor is managed not only at the level of cultural production, but in these cases by their literal corporeal covering over. Further, they reinforce a relationship between the poor and cinema in the Philippines that, as we have seen, is neither happenstance nor fleeting: in the early days the indio could hardly go to see cinema; its representation in cinema was covered over by another exploited class the African American (which itself compounds the racist irony of The Birth of a Nation and its white actors in black-faces); and in the Golden age and after the attempt to render the poor clean and happy. Brocka worked to explode this historical dissimulation,and this work return us to the to the contemporary dismissal of the so-called poverty porn. What is it that makes one shudder at the summoning of this concept? The answer is easy, if poverty porn is the exploitation for a given purpose of the image and representation of the poor, why does that suddenly figure in the realm of the pornocracy more than the incessant exploitation of the fantasmal world of the middle class and rich images that the we are continually assaulted with? This pornocracy is precisely what Lino Brocka refers to when describing his experience as a child and seeing the white and happy stars of Western cinemas, inciting him to interrogate his own standing in the world, his own worth, given that he was a small, poor, brown kid.
It is within this context thatin Signed Brocka addresses possible antidotes to the issue of poverty by expressing his sympathy for the New People's Army (NPA) the left-wing revolutionary group that was active under the Marcos regime as well as under Corey Aquino and which today still maintains outposts throughout the archipelago.It is in conjunction with new media collectives and radical political organizations like the NPA that a fully engaged political cinema has emerged in the last decade.These groups are the continuation and expansion of the political cinema as it was articulated by Lino Brocka. The most explicit iteration of this filiation is Tudla'sPandayang Lino Brocka Political Film and New Media Festival which is loosely affiliated with the mostprominent group in this tradition, which emerged in the early 2000s: Southern Tagalog Exposure.What marks Southern Tagalog Exposure as exceptional is the group's eschewing of staid propaganda in favor of work that struggles on the terrain of form as much as it does on the terrain of political pedagogy. Two Southern Tagalog Exposureworks that stand out areAlingawngaw ng Mga Punglo (Echo of Bullets) (2003) and Red Saga (2004).Both of these films approach subjects of brut al political repression and yet manage to escape mere reportage in favor of an approach that does not skirt aesthetic concerns. The work of Southern Tagalog Exposure is a critical response to those who would keep politics and aesthetics separate, to those who see in every meeting of the two a tiresome tract, and who suggest that should film move beyond the didactic then the politics must be absent.
This kind of militant filmmaking functions well to offset the effete lamenting about seeing the poor. Where Serbis and Kinatay recount their own fantasies of poverty why should we recoil from them any more than the unceasing articulations of middle-class fantasies, the constant use of false problems and false resolutions of an imagined life that makes up most dominant national cinemas? The work of these new collectives picks up the task of, and invents, an explicitly political Philippine cinema. Further they manage to fulfill the injunctions of a veritable guerrilla cinema that would answer Chris Marker's condemnation of the term. Witness the murder of the filmmakers of Alingawngaw ng Mga Punglobecause of their political associations.These works, expanding on the tradition of Lino Brocka, are a contemporary mobilization of new coordinates for figuring the poor.
“My answer to that question about Imelda and Marcos has always been "no tears for them," absolutely no tears. I think they should have been killed. As far as killing them is concerned I would volunteer to be on the firing squad, I would want to be on the firing squad, and as a matter of fact I don't know how to fire a gun, but for them I would train.” Lino Brocka
Paul Douglas Grant
 According to Nick Deocampo Lino Brocka never wanted this film to be screened in the Philippines.
 While this percentage may not bring about the rapturous shock of figures associated with the Congo or Liberia, it is worth looking at the geographic concentration of wealth in the archipelago: the provinces away from Luzon and specifically Manila are saddled with the highest concentration of those living under the equivalent of 400 USD per year. Further the annual average family income hovers around 3,000 USD, clearly calling into question what constitutes a poverty level. Statistics retrieved from the Philippine National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).
 See Deocampo, Nick. Cine : Spanish Influences on Early Cinema in the Philippines. Manila: Cinema Values Reorientation Program, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2003.
 See Del, Mundo, Clodualdo. Native Resistance : Philippine Cinema and Colonialism 1898-1941. Manila: De La Salle University Press, 1994.
 See Deocampo, particularly his fascinating geneaology of annuncios in Cine. Op cit.
 While seemingly difficult to justify it is worth returning to some of the first filmed images of the "Philippines" and the "Filipinos". See for instance the Edison film produced by James White entitled Filipinos retreat from trenches (1899) in which Filipinos are forced from a ditch as they combat Americans. The film was shot in West Orange, New Jersey and African Americans portray the Filipinos. In this context a fidelity to Spanish as native resistance takes on more substance than first assumed.
 See Cine Deocampo, page 251
 LVN was was one of the biggest film studios during the First Golden Age and was responsible for producing big-budget super-productions.
 Paulyn P. Sicam and Bobby Paredes, "The Director's Director," Doña Sisang and Filipino Movies. Edited by Monina A. Mercado (Manila: Vera-Reyes, Inc. 1977. P. 78. Cited in Deocampo, Nick. Cine. P. 258.
 De Vega, Guillermo C.. Film and Freedom: Movie Censorship in the Philippines. (1975) P. 154. One of the great ironies of this book is that while it is a history of film censorship in the Philippines it is written by Ferdinand Marco's cabinet secretary and includes a laudatory preface by Imelada Marcos.
 Ibid 154-155.
 Reyes, Emmanuel. Notes on Philippine Cinema. De La Salle University Press, Inc., Manila. 1989. P. 82.
 The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilippino was group of critics who broke with the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences in 1976.
 See Lumbera, Bienvenido. Re-Viewing Filipino Cinema. Manila: Published and exclusively distributed by Anvil Pub., 2011. P. 44.
 It is worth clarifying that both of these critics were vocal opponents of the Marcos regime, Lumbera was even arrested in 1974 and detained for nearly a year.
 Lumbera, 2011. Op cit.
 Joel David, sees the film otherwise, suggesting that the social issues that could have been addressed such as incest, fascism and domestic abuse were forsaken in favor of near formal perfection and undiluted narrative. See the National Pastime. In another more recent response at the 4th Padayan Festival Lino Brocka, a screening of Kisapmata was followed by a Q&A with a psychologist discussing spousal abuse. However the theme of Martial Law is difficult to wrest away from De Leon's work, particularly in Kisapmata, Batch 81 and to lesser extent Bilanggo sa Dilim (a video-film produced by Sony Philippines in 1986). On Bilanggo sa Dilim see also Joel David David, Joel. The National Pastime : Contemporary Philippine Cinema. Pasig, Metro Manila: Anvil Pub., 1990.
 Tiongson, Nicanor G. The Urian Anthology, 1970-1979: Selected Essays on Tradition and Innovation in the Filipino Cinema of the 1970s By the Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino. A Filmography of Philippine Movies, 1970-1979. M.L. Morato, 1983. P. 216.
 The jeepney is a form of public transportation that utilizes old US surplus jeeps.
 Not treated here, but of equal importance, particularly for the media collectives, was the emergence of the short film movement in the 1980s. Largely experimental works from filmmakers like Raymond Red and Briccio Santos, explicitly political works were created within this movement. One of the most unjustly unseen great works of Filipino cinema comes from this period and that is Revolutions Happen Like Refrains in a Song (1987).
 The description of Red Saga provided by the group gives some insight into how they are approaching the process of filming politically " A young boy dots golden fields with white flags to stop birds from preying on the season's harvest of palay grains. Another child creates noise by agitating tin cans filled with small stones. An unexpected transformation takes place. A vivid landscape of metaphors on contemporary Philippine politics. A poetic take on the peasant struggle and the protracted people's war in Philippine countryside."
 Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy, human rights workers associated with the collective, were killed during the shooting of Echo of Bullets, while one filmmaker was also kidnapped.