A strong conflict and solid cast are not the only factors that make a great film — it also takes the perfect setting. Some of the most recent and best films from local filmmakers showcase the Philippines’ most stunning sights as an effective backdrop, and even as a beautiful centerpiece to their stories that captivate viewers and invite them to experience the places for themselves.
Filipino filmmakers, like Nerissa Picadizo, use local tourist spots as a mirror to the protagonist’s story. In Requited, released in 2016, the location was a reflection of Matt himself, a “perfect metaphor” for the character’s story. “Matt’s personality is like that of Mt. Pinatubo. He was once a beast of nature, yet he matured into a beautiful soul at the end of the story where he learns to redeem himself.”
Films give way to an understanding of the character not just based on their actions in the story, but through where they are placed throughout it. Kiko Boksingero director Thop Nazareno says, “Baguio is very cold; walang masyadong tao. Tahimik. Nakakadagdag sa longing ni Kiko ‘yung lamig, and isolation.”
More than understanding characters, films also bring us into a deeper appreciation and understanding of the place. Apocalypse Child director Mario Cornejo has said of Baler, “It’s a beautiful, magical surf town where Francis Ford Coppola shot the surfing scenes of the classic film APOCALYPSE NOW. Local legend has it that when that film wrapped, they left a surfboard prop behind floating in the ocean. Five local boys used that board and taught themselves to surf, becoming the first Philippine surfing champions.”
The Philippines’ abundant destinations may sometimes make it difficult to showcase the beauty of areas that are lesser-known to the public. For Ice Idanan, whose protagonist for Sakaling Hindi Makarating goes on a journey around the Philippines, there was an intention to display these places. “I’ve been to those places and I chose locations that are hard to go to at bihirang-bihirang puntahan ng mga tao dahil hindi sila sikat like Cebu, Boracay, or Palawan.”
Filipino films are powerful tools that introduce people to the country’s culture and practices and arouse interest in places that they may not have previously known of. Not only that; films shot in tourist spots also assist in the livelihood of the locals, and help bring awareness to advocacies towards sustainable practices in tourism.
“Namangha po kami sa talento ng Cebuano,” Director Bona Fajardo says of I Found My Heart in Santa Fe’s supporting cast, who were all Santa Fe locals. “Lahat po sila sa Manila nagtataka bakit dalawa lang ang artista. Pero hindi nila nararamdaman na dalawa lang ang artista. Ibig sabihin, nagbe-blend ng tama.”
On her advocacy film Lakbay2Love, Ellen-Ongkeko-Marfil says, “It is awesome when we hear people recommending the film to those who want to see how beautiful the Philippines can be. Along the way, we hope, the story communicates to viewers the need to take care of such beauty.”
Through their newest campaign Cine Turismo, the Tourism Promotions Board, spearheaded by TPB Chief Operating Officer Cesar Montano, seeks to honor the efforts of Filipino filmmakers and producers to display the country’s vast beauty.
Films that were honored at the event were Sakaling Hindi Makarating, directed by Ice Idanan and shot in Ilocos, Siquijor, Batanes, and Zamboanga; Director Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil’s Lakbay2Love, which showcases Timberland Heights and Benguet ; Paglipay from Director Zig Dulay, set in the mountains of Zambales; Camp Sawi by Director Irene Villamor, set in Bantayan Island; Patay na si Hesus, directed by Victor Villanueva; Director Mario Cornejo’s Apocalypse Child, set in Baler; Siargao by Director Paul Soriano, which showcases the island of the same name; Director Bona Fajardo’s I Found My Heart in Santa Fe, set in Santa Fe in Cebu; Requited by Director Nerissa Picadizo, which features Mt. Pinatubo; and Director Thop Nazareno’s Kiko Boksingero, filmed in Baguio.
Special citations were given to South Korean films Mango Tree, directed by Lee Soo-Sung and shot in Cebu, and Romantic Island, directed by Cheol-Woo Kang and shot in Boracay.
For updates, Like Cine Turismo’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TPBCineTurismo/.