To the young filmmaker who never knew Lino Brocka

Lino Brocka passed away on the morning of May 22, 1991 – 25 years to this day. The filmmaker, with his legacy of films that painted a realistic view of society,  is but a hazy memory only spoken in passing to most of today’s millennials. 

University of the Philippines Film Institute Director Sari Lluch Dalena – who had a chance to exchange conversations with Brocka weeks before he passed – intends to change that among young Filipino filmmakers.

Here is Dalena’s “love letter” to the Filipino filmmaker who never knew about Lino Brocka, delivered at the commemoration program held yesterday, May 21, at Himlayang Pilipino in Quezon City.

Filmmaker Sari Lluch Dalena at the commemoration program of Brocka’s 25th death anniversary

Here is my love letter to the young filmmaker who never knew Lino Brocka.

Twenty-five years ago in 1991, when I was about your age and I was on my last year in college as a UP Film student, I interned under Lino Brocka when he was on post-production on his film, “Sa Kabila ng Lahat.”

For several nights I would commute to Magnatech Post-Production House, a hole-in-the-wall post-production facility across Tropical Hut near Quezon Avenue, where I listened to the dubbing sessions of voice talents, observed George Jarlego edit on the bulky Cinemonta machines, and interviewed some stuntmen who were drinking across the street.

He finally came one night. He walked into the room, wearing a cotton polo shirt, shorts and tsinelas. For such a short, stocky man, his presence filled the room. Right away, I was electrified by his aura. After a short introduction, I observed him quietly as he reviewed the edited footage, gave instructions to George Jarlego. When he was satisfied with the cut, he would turn to me and other film students for brief chats.

He was warm towards me as he knew my parents. He would say, “Sabihin mo naman sa mga magulang mo, gawan ako ng portrait.” I almost retorted, “Kaya naman pala hindi mo ako inutusan magtimpla ng kape!”

I took the opportunity to ask him some questions. For several nights, I looked forward to having more brief chats with him. Little did I know that the next time I would see him was in his wake at the UP CRL (Church of the Risen Lord).

Dear Lino, hindi man lang kita napasalamatan nang maayos. Mabuti na lang at hindi pa huli ang lahat, at dumating din ang pagkakataon na ito na mapasalamatan ka.

 Paano ba magpasalamat sa mga taong katulad mo, na walang takot at buong pusong nagbigay daan sa ating lahat ngayon na patuloy  tayong makapaglikha ng mga sining na malaya at mapagpalaya? Insiang, Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim, Jaguar, Orapronobis, Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag” at marami pang iba.

Salamat, Lino, for not only making the great Filipino film, but for also paving the way. Thank you for empowering young filmmakers to take courage in making films that depict problems of our society, stories of the oppressed and the marginalized, speak the truth through the powerful lens of cinema.

So to the young filmmaker who never knew Lino Brocka, who thinks that the “Martial Law Thingy” is just a thing in the past – nasa inyo ang freedom of expression na sa inyo’y inilaan, nakamit dahil sa mga makabayang artista, tulad ni Lino Brocka na nanindigang lumaban sa marahas na censorship sa sining.

Tignan ang ating  kasaysayan para mamulat ang iyong isipan sa kasalukuyang realidad. Ayon kay Lino Brocka:

“The artist is always a participant. He tries to be true not only to his craft but also to himself. For it is the supreme duty of the artist to investigate the truth, no matter what forces attempt to hide it. And then to report it to the people, to confront them with it, like a whiplash that will cause wounds but will free the mind from the various fantasies and escapist fare that the Establishment pollutes our minds with.”

 Mabuhay ka Lino Brocka, isang tunay na Pambansang alagad ng Sining.

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