By Seymour Barros Sanchez
A FILM about a T’boli dancer, who experiences a sudden turn of events in her pursuit of a good life for her family, bagged first prize in the Short Feature category and Best Regional Entry at the 30th Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video Awards night held Monday at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Tanghalang Manuel Conde.
Rufyla, Coleen Tanco‘s capstone project under the digital filmmaking program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) School of Design and Arts (SDA) bested more than a hundred entries in the said category. The young filmmaker hails from Koronadal City, South Cotabato.
“Rufyla started when our house helper left us in her pursuit to get married to a foreigner. She is a 23-year-old girl who desired for a good life even if it took her to a red-light district in Manila. She believes that only a wealthy man can save her from poverty. As luck would have it, she nailed it,” the Benilde alumna explained when asked what inspired her to make her thesis film.
“I hope the film will create and build a language that helps delineate what it means to be living in a remote area in the southern part of the Philippines. I also hope that the film will root for the indigenous people and make everyone aware not to treat the Filipino culture like a worthless material,” Tanco added after learning about her twin victories.
In addition, other Benilde entries E and Ang Kabit ni Papa won honorable mention in the Experimental category. Directed by Benilde film alumnus, and now humanities and literature professor Jose Mojica, E zeroes in on a man who wakes up in an unfamiliar room and sees a mirror for the first time. By looking at himself, he discovers sexuality and sin.
Meanwhile, Ang Kabit ni Papa by Benilde film student Robin Estargo is an experimental drama which focuses on a boy’s recollection of memories of his father who works abroad. The film explores confined rooms and empty spaces, with an unending fear of being discovered for telling the uneasiness in this what-could-have-been relationship.
“Since I was born, my father has always traveled abroad to work with no other choice. We rarely see each other in a year, and whenever we do, we rarely talk. It is this separation that makes us move away from each other inch by inch through time, that there is this fear that our relationship in the future would be non-existent,” Estargo revealed.
“Through time, I have met friends who have Overseas Filipino Worker parents as well, with some having more unfortunate conditions than mine. This separation results to doubt, sparking conflict in the family, as the child does not know the distant lifestyle of the parent, and vice versa,” the young filmmaker concluded.
Rufyla is the first in BenildeFilm’s 10-year history to win the grand prize in the Gawad Alternatibo. The department came close to accomplishing the feat in 2018 when Benilde films dominated the 29th Gawad by bagging four of five awards, with the first prize going to Sa Saiyang Isla of Christian Candelaria from the University of the Philippines Film Institute.
Last year, Benildean filmmakers also shone in the Gawad Alternatibo’s Short Feature category. Alfonso Silva bagged second place for his short film Proxy. Andrea Arias and Mia Rosero placed third for their entry Auntwo Susan. Tim Rone Villanueva and Vince Sevillano got honorable mention awards for Santa Nena! And Ma’am La, respectively.
Rufyla is also among the short films that will compete at FACINE 25: The 25th Annual Filipino International Cine Festival from October 18 to 21 in San Francisco, California.
Established in 1987, Gawad Alternatibo is considered the longest-running independent film festival and competition of its kind in the ASEAN region. A few years ago, it became one of the major components of the annual Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.