MMSU filmmakers shine in local fests

By Daniel P. Tapaoan, Jr.


Students, faculty members and an alumnus of Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) continue to make a mark in the local film industry. 


MMSU filmmakers won major awards in the third Gawad Sine Abreño 2021 conducted by the Sine Abreño Film Production, in partnership with the Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Department of Tourism in the Cordillera. Also known as the Abrenian Heritage Film Festival, it aims to promote the arts, culture and heritage of Northern Luzon. 


During the awarding ceremony on April 19, the film ‘Sam-it ken Pait’ (Bittersweet) of Edmar Delos Santos and Isagani Manatad, communication students of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), bagged the Best Documentary Film and Best Festival Picture awards. This film portrays how Ilocanos try to survive the health crisis while preserving their heritage of wine and vinegar production. 


The film ‘Dalluyon’ (Waves) by Jeister Timothy Galano, senior civil engineering student of the College of Engineering, garnered the Best Sound Design and Best Visual Design awards, and got the Jury’s Choice award. Said movie is a story of a young man who struggles to cope with his grief and loss. 


Gabriel Gantala, an alumnus of the College of Teacher Education (CTE), prevailed as Best Director and received the Special Citation for Emerging Ilokano Filmmaker. His film ‘Naimbag a Panagkasangaymo, Nang’ (Happy Birthday, Mom) hauled the Best Editing and Best Narrative awards. This film tells the story of a young girl who celebrates her mother’s birthday despite restrictions by the health crisis. 


Melver Ritz Gomez, instructor of CAS - Department of Languages and Literature, gained the Special Citation for Cultural Promotion for his movie, ‘Panaglaga’ (Basket Weaving). The film is about the Tingguian women of Uguis in Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte, and their traditional baskets. 


These four films are among the 11 entries that mostly came from Regions I and II. The Sine Abreño film festival revolved around the theme, “Culture in Crisis, Arts Fighting to Survive COVID-19 Impact.” The films were broadcast live on Sine Abreño Facebook page. 


MMSU filmmakers also dominated in the second Tan-Ok ni Ilokano Film Festival of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte - Tourism Office held on April 8-10. 


Dr. James Zandro G. Ventura III of the MMSU Laboratory High School and Mr. Meynard Castro of Northwestern University prevailed champion in the film fest with their entry, ‘Pangnamaan a Tribu Imalawa’ (Hope of Imalawa Tribe) under JMJ Productions. This film narrates the traditions of the Imalawa Tribe and its struggles in preserving its culture. 


Ventura also received the People’s Choice Award for his film, ‘Karitelang Kupas’ (Faded Cart), under Likha Productions, which tells the current situation of the kalesa, a traditional two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage in Laoag City, which is slowly being forgotten by the present generation. 


Dr. Romel Pascua of CTE and Mr. Gomez finished runners-up in the contest with their entries, ‘Timpuyog’ (Unity) under Lamina Productions, and ‘Naisangsangayan a Daga’ (Extraordinary Soil) under Pelikula Ilokana, respectively. The former portrays the story of cooperation among the members of Zanjera de Ganagan, a community irrigation group in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte; while the latter depicts the story of remaining pottery makers in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. 


Their movies are among the top 10 entries for the Ilocano film fest that were shown at the Robinsons Place Ilocos Movieworld for free. These films featured Ilocano heritage, traditions, history, and natural environment. 


University President Shirley C. Agrupis congratulated the winners of the film festivals, saying their victory proves that MMSU is an emerging home of exceptional filmmakers, and reflects the university’s brand of academic excellence, particularly in communication, culture and arts education. – with reports from Niña Christelle Sumintac and Bryan Realgo (HLY/JVBT, StratCom)