Daang Dokyu: A Festival of Filipino Documentaries, also called the DokBook, accompanied the festival in 2020. It gathers the stories and histories of documentary making in the Philippines, from television, film, and new media. At its core are the experiences and viewpoints that have been essential to the production of documentaries in the country for over a hundred years, as well as the voices and motivations of key people behind the Daang Dokyu festival.
The Filipino word “daan” in “Daang Dokyu” can poetically be read as both “one hundred” or “one way.” In this context, this chapter uses this double entendre as a means to chart the origins of the film festival: from the formation of a group of filmmakers on social media to its incorporation as a nonprofit; the reason behind both the festival and the organization; and finally, what it took to curate over a century’s worth of cinema into (what was initially) a week-long festival. At the heart of this section is the directors’ and curator’s staunch belief in the importance of memory, community, and confrontation.
Essays in this section are by festival directors, Monster Jimenez and Jewel Maranan, and festival curator, Teddy Co.
[A] documentary is bound to be more than just the work itself. An effective documentary can change minds, lead to reassessments of policies, reflecting the times, affecting all those who are in the film and those who have seen them. Documentaries pick up pieces and traces of ourselves. And some of these forgotten bits of ourselves have been captured by these works (4).
When the way forward is obstructed, we take a moment to look back. It is often claimed, however, that Filipinos never learn from the past. It is often asserted that Filipinos are forgetful. What is not said enough is that looking back is not simple (7).
There has been no precedent in putting up such a sampling of documentaries made by both Filipinos and foreigners over the past one hundred years, and the attempt to even survey its history is made more daunting by the lack of key resources–the lack of an accessible database of articles and filmography, the absence of a properly functioning national film archive, and the time constraints in building a comprehensively curated program (13).
A portrait of the Philippine documentary very much similar to a portrait of the nation - filled with travails and triumphs that have come to define its people and their experiences, weathering the most difficult wars and battles, and enjoying the most rewarding freedoms and opportunities.
With essays from Nick Deocampo, Adjani Arumpac, Patrick F. Campos, and Gutierrez Mangansakan II.
Filipinos are of a farming culture, but with movies, their desire was now swayed by a product of the industry. They dreamt of snow on parched earth. They sought Tinseltown in their makeshift barns passing off as movie factories…Now owning the foreign, the foreign became native, slipping under native skin surreptitiously. As the foreign took on native form, there had to be an infrastructure to sustain its mass replication. It had a name. It was called the “movie industry.” (83)
The dual vision provided by the digital in our contemporary times–both its pervasiveness and absence–point to a divide that goes beyond cinema. This digital divide, among others, has made visible the continuity of power, social, and economic relations that traversed all notions of revolutions in the country. Cinema can be used as a positive force that harnesses the negative laid bare by the digital (109).
The best documentaries emerge in the crucible of crisis–personal or social–as forms of struggle to record one’s voice over the din and resist unjust power against the odds.
These films produced in the first decade of the twenty-first century no doubt set the trajectory for Philippine documentary in the succeeding years. At the same time, we can appreciate how these productions that creatively and critically questioned the terms of old debates and assumptions about what makes a good documentary were part of the global flourishing of the documentary in the 2000s, the decade when it began to pervade all media platforms (cinema, television, streaming, social media). In the Philippines, the ambiguous comingling of crisis and market opportunity as impetus for documentarists intimate a future for the documentary that is ebullient as it is implacable. All it is waiting for is its public (115,118).
Back in 2009, I started filming a “documentary.” The final form was so different from what I intended. I was plagued with the question: How does one capture reality that is replete with magic realist elements? It was deeply rooted in the core of our Southeast Asian-ness, the blurring of myth and reality in our narratives. It was something I grappled with on a daily basis (129).
In this section, we look into what it is that motivates documentary filmmakers to persevere in order to produce work. Through personal accounts, Sari Dalena, Kidlat Tahimik, and Baby Ruth Villarama write about the internal and social forces that helped shape their work. “These are clear and discerning voices, lucidly spoken, that deserve to be heard.”
Many of our local documentary filmmakers utilize the observational mode to capture powerful stories of the voiceless, the marginalized, and the oppressed. Sadly, we lack good documentary films about history, art, and culture that our academic programs and cultural agencies should be producing for education and public service. The important work and contribution of artists, literary giants, even national heroes, are hardly documented. The poor state of archiving and cultural preservation in this country has an effect on our short memory and shallow understanding of our own identity and cultural heritage (143).
Ito and Lakas. Ang inner drive sa SDK (Sariling Duwende Ko) storytelling guided by our Kapwa orientations as Pinoys. ‘Yung indigenous core values ang lumilikha ng Pinoy Dokyus: Stories how our Kapwa-SELF includes the Kapwa-OTHER. Kasali ko ang mga Kapwa ko sa daloy ng buhay ko. Ang audiences ko at ako ay iisa (151).
If one is sensitive enough, the truth of an oppressive system can be seen in both the real and the reel. And the truth is we cannot end oppression if we do not end it ourselves within our own bondage.
It is every documentary filmmaker’s dream to create the opportunity to change the future narrative of our present realities and start using the medium of stories in reviewing our legacy as human beings with very limited time in the world (166).
What risks do filmmakers take when pursuing documentary work? Beyond documenting a subject, can a film also be a document of trials and travails, of failures as well as victories?
In this section, Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, Ed Lingao, and Chiara Zambrano recall battles won and lost and the difficulties they signed up for that they continue to commit to each day. Asako Fujioka of the Yamagata International Film Festival shares her encounters with Filipino filmmakers.
We could learn a lot from the past, if only we had something with which to remember (184).
There are a million good ways to tell one story, but you only get one shot to tell it well. In the age of social media and YouTube sensations, there are a million other stories out there competing for eyeballs and attention, and you would rather be loved or hated intensely, rather than be ignored ignominiously (190).
[I]n order for the documentary to be true, one cannot separate the film from the one who made it, because it is the creator’s heart that gives the film its life, and it is her life that dictates where the heart is. Her desire to understand a facet of existence turns the film into a journey of discovery. Her inner voice is present throughout, whispering the film’s intent (200-201).