LILAS: An Illustrated History of the Golden Ages of Cebuano Cinema
By Paul Douglas Grant and Misha Boris Anissimov
“How do we write a history of a cinema that is, for the most part, materially lost and impossible to see today? This remarkable book on Cebuano cinema shows us how to do it: with vivid documentation, combined with lively storytelling, rigorous research, personal reminiscences, and pertinent theorizing. This boo weaves together a history that is all at once entertaining, cultural, political, and poignant. It brings Cebuano cinema alive on the page, and makes a persuasive case for its importance.”
-Professor Adrian Martin, Monash University
On a distant island 800 kilometers from Manila, determined and defiant Cebuanos dared to challenge the dominant Tagalog film industry with a cinema all their own. This is the first published book on how they almost succeeded. This work primarily addresses the two productive periods of Cebuano film production, roughly corresponding to the 1950’s and 1970’s. While numerous published writings exist on the history of the dominant Tagalog cinema out of Manila, the authors hope to shed light on a little known, forgotten piece of Philippine film history which existed, sporadically thrived, and intermittently negotiated and confronted the dominant Tagalog film industry from the north. At the root of this cultural rivalry between Cebuanos and Tagalogs was the imposed primacy of Tagalog as national (and cinematic) language upon a very large population of Cebuano speakers. Cebuano actors and filmmakers have a history of being co-opted by the Manila entertainment industry, however this has always remained an uneasy alliance supported by economic realities at the expense of cultural identity. The book introduces the reader to Cebuano stars such as Mat Ranillo, Gloria Sevilla, Bert Nombrado, Rosita Fernandez, Virgie Solis, Caridad Sanchez, Esterlina, Chanda Romero, Justo C. Justo, and pioneering directors such as Piux Kabahar, Fernando Alfon, Saturnino Villarino, Eugene Labella, Joe Macachor as well as numerous others who toiled to make Cebuano films, in spite of insurmountable odds.
With almost no films left from this history, the book also provides a Relics section for a rare glimpse of what two Cebuano films could have been like: a text serialization of the film Batul of Mactan (1974) and a comic serialization of Ang Medalyon nga Bulawan (1974). Accepted film historical discourse has tended to place the blame of the failure in establishing a Cebuano film industry on “imperial Manila”. The authors hope to expand the debate and introduce the reader to the numerous cultural negotiations and interdependencies that paint a picture far more complex, nuanced, and at times, scandalous.
PAUL DOUGLAS GRANT is Professor of Cinema Studies and Co-Chair of Research at the School of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design, University of San Carlos, Philippines, and the author of Cinema Militant – Political Filmmaking & May 1968. He is also the translator of Serge Daney’s Postcards from the Cinema.
MISHA BORIS ANISSIMOV is a lecturer and co-founder of the Cinema program at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Philippines. He served as the first program Cinema Coordinator and was the founding editor of the Sinekultura Film Journal. He holds an M.A. in Cinema Studies from the institution.
Published by the University of San Carlos Press
University of San Carlos – Talamban Campus
6000 Cebu City, Philippines
Tel. no. 6332 230-0100 loc. 290
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$65.00 USD plus shipping and handling
Distributed by PHIAZARRA Publishing
National Highway, Corner Jayme Street, Guizo
Mandaue City, 6014 Cebu
Tel. no. 6332 420-2382
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