Thursday, December 11, 2008


Its really nice to be in Davao for the screenings of Concerto . Since the story is from here the energies surrounding the film are seemingly more potent here. I hope more people would be able to go to the theatrical screenings, details follow:

Concerto, the Davao set war drama from the acclaimed Cinemalaya 2008 opens in Davao Theaters this December. This independent film was recently graded an “A” by the Cinema Evaluation Board of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. After a commercial run in Metro Manila, Concerto, comes to Davao!

The film by Paul Alexander Morales premieres on Sunday, December 14, 2008 at the Gaisano Mall at 8 p.m. as part of the Mindanao Film Festival. Concerto then opens to the public at SM Mall Cinema from December 17. An additional public screening of the film will be shown at the Gaisano Mall on December 18 at 1p.m.

Concerto showings in Davao City is presented by Digital Spirit Films in cooperation with Lawig-Diwa, an art and cultural organization based in Davao city which has among its objectives “ to disseminate valuable artistic and cultural documents to people’s organizations and communities, and promote collaborative efforts nationally and abroad.” World War II and the Japanese period is the most obscured part of contemporary Philippine history. Most stories told about the war are written by American and Japanese soldiers, and they are mostly about the experiences in Bataan and Manila. This national forgetfulness holds true for Davao City, where one fifth of the population before the war, was Japanese. The story of a Dabawenyo Filipino family’s struggle, and the values they upheld to survive the war of giants, is an experienced worth seeing again towards our continuing effort to strengthen national identity through the mosaic of regional stories.

In co-sponsorship with schools like the Davao City High School, PWC of Davao Travel Society, the Ateneo de Davao Humanities and Literature Division, and organizations like the DCHS Batch 85, M Magazine, the United Architects of the Philippines-Kadayawan chapter, Davao City doctors, and the NCCC Mall Cinema, the film will have been previewed by a combined targeted audience of 1,200 students under the guidance of their teachers from the private and public schools by December 14. The private sector pitched in to support the project in order that students are assisted who otherwise could not afford the price of a movie ticket. The Davao Association of Colleges and Schools (DACS) and the Division of City Schools has encouraged Davao City schools to see the film.

The Mindanao Film Festival is a two--part event of Theatrical Screenings and a Film Convention to be held on Dec. 20-21. The convention will be capped by a festival award of short films. Info on the film “Concerto: Davao War Diary” can be found at check out the festival at

slide show of photos from the Concerto Gala at the Cinemalaya :)

Bravo, Concerto!

From: Philippine Star, Nov 20, 2008
by: Butch Francisco

Oro, Plata, Mata will always be my favorite local movie and it is generally regarded as one of the greatest Filipino films ever made. The indie film Concerto may never be hailed as one of the greatest of all time, but it will definitely be ranked as one of the best films produced this year. (I can’t say yet that it is the best because this year we have a good harvest of top-quality films and Concerto is one of the many graded A movies by the Cinema Evaluation Board.) As far as war dramas go, it is probably the next best thing after Oro, Plata, Mata.

Set during the Pacific War, Concerto is about a family that evacuates to the woods of Davao after their house in the city is confiscated by the Japanese forces. Packed like sardines in their temporary living quarters, they try to survive by planting crops and selling to the Japanese troops stationed nearby sweet potato fritters (the camote que of today, which in those days must have been called kinusilbang kamote).

In time, they befriend the enemy by serving them hot meals (the little food that they have), but without necessarily pledging their allegiance to them. They actually don’t have much of a choice and that’s the only way for them to live through that horrible war. The Japanese reciprocate by showing them kindness – sparing the life of a captured relative and transporting even the family’s piano from their house in the city to the woods that is now their home (the process isn’t as tedious as Holly Hunter’s piano delivery that travels across two oceans in the Jane Campion film The Piano).

The piano, which they call the heart of the family, is important to them since they are a musical people. Daughters Meryll Soriano and Yna Asistio are accomplished young pianists, while mother Shamaine Centenera loves to sing. With the piano back with them, life in evacuation becomes more bearable for everyone as they hold nightly musicals – with the Japanese officials enjoying every performance. Think Concert in the Park or Paco Park Presents, except that it is staged in the woods.

Concerto certainly isn’t as rich, encompassing, elaborate and extravagant as Oro, Plata, Mata which in 1982 – when the exchange rate was only P7-$1 – was produced by the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines to the tune of more than P1-M.

I have no idea how much Concerto cost its producers (the same company that came up last year with Aureaus Solito’s brilliant Pisay), but you have to remember that this is an indie film and so it can’t really be all that expensive.

However, even if Concerto looks like a scaled-down Oro, Plata, Mata, it doesn’t suffer a bit when it comes to storytelling (although it could have been tightened a little more) – all the way down to the technical aspects. Its biggest strength – technically – no doubt is its music by Jed Balsamo. How can it go wrong in this department when it has to live up to the film’s title? If you have a movie title like Concerto, you better have excellent music because that is going to be noticeable. Fortunately, Balsamo delivers and he should be in the running – if not a shoo-in – for Best Music in next year’s awards derbies.

The highlight of the film is an intercutting of various scenes while Meryll and Yna alternately play compositions of some of the world’s greatest names in music – German composers only since Germany and Japan both belong to the Axis powers. Franz Liszt may have been Hungarian, but that was not a problem with the Japanese soldiers since Hungary was under German control during World War II anyway.

The most powerful and dramatic moment in this entire panoply of sequences is the part where a young Japanese soldier kneels down and cries out “Mama!” to Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino (she had been the one feeding them). He then offers his samurai to her and breaks down before her like a little boy who misses his mother back home in Japan. Truly, everyone is a victim in any kind of war.

Concerto is based on the Unpublished Memoirs of Jose Campo and Diary of the War: WWII Memoirs of Lt. Col. Anastacio Campo by Maria Virginia Yap Morales. The film’s director is Maria Virginia’s son, Paul Alexander Morales, who does great justice to the adapted literary pieces. Concerto is a masterfully orchestrated film under his baton.

Morales’ actors benefit greatly under his guidance and so we see sterling performances from his cast members: Meryll Soriano, Nonoy Froilan (as the military man father whose spirits are broken by his incarceration in a Japanese garrison) and Gary Lim, who pretends to be a friend to the family, but at the same time spies on them and passes on the information to the Japanese.
Impressive is the performance of newcomer Yna Asistio (daughter of former Caloocan City Mayor Boy Asistio and actress Nadia Montenegro). However, she (and Meryll for that matter) should have been made to play parts (really just parts) of the piano pieces so that they didn’t have to use “spaghetti arms” (which are so obvious because the hands used for the close-up of the piano playing belong to somebody much, much older). At least, in Boses, Meryll gets to play the violin herself in one brief part and I appreciate the effort. Maybe she and Yna should have done the same here in Concerto.

I don’t know if Shamaine uses her real voice in the singing parts, but I take my hat off to her for turning in another remarkable performance in Concerto. She is one underrated actress who should be given more projects and I’m happy that we have indie movies where we get to see more of her and her talent.

Equally praise-worthy is the performance of Jay Aquitania (who also delivers a good acting job in the movie Roxanne) as the eldest son who has to look after his family and be friends with the Japanese in order to survive the war.

Concerto is almost perfect and if I have to do a little nitpicking it has to be in the part where the family prays and says Holy Spirit instead of Holy Ghost. Up to the ‘60s, it was still Holy Ghost – which was why the students of the College of the Holy Spirit back then jokingly called their school Holy Mamaw because its original name was College of the Holy Ghost.
Then there is the matter of the Our Father where the family recites it in the updated version – instead of saying “forgive us our trespasses” toward the end of the prayer.

Director Morales perhaps should be more careful next time he does a period movie, but – at the risk of sounding blasphemous – I forgive him for this “trespass” (the old-fashioned term for wrong-doing).

All in all, I want to congratulate him for coming up with a magnificent film like Concerto and as I conclude this review, allow me to give him a one-man standing ovation as I shout Bravo!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Music in war

At Large: Music in war

By Rina Jimenez-David
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:20:00 11/21/2008

Before World War II, there was a substantial population of Japanese migrants in Davao province, many of them forming friendships with Filipino families. One such friendship resulted not just in a young man’s relative ease with the Japanese language, but also in the survival of the entire family. At war’s end, having survived exile and forced evacuation, the family remains intact and whole. As does their upright piano, which the young man describes as “the heart of our family.”

Music, friendship, loyalty, family and our shared humanity—these are themes that run through the movie “Concerto,” an entry in the recent Cinemalaya competition that is now making its commercial run.

Directed and written by Paul Alexander Morales, “Concerto” tells the story of a family in wartime Davao, based on the diary of Lt. Col. Anastacio Campo as annotated by his granddaughter Virginia Yap Morales, the director’s mother.

It is the Japanese Occupation and the family, headed by Ricardo and Julia, and their six children have left their home in Davao City and are staying in the farm of a tenant, along with Julia’s brother. Ricardo (Nonoy Froilan) used to be with the military and was severely beaten by Japanese interrogators. As the movie opens, he is sick and hobbling, embittered by his experience and vowing revenge against the invaders. But the eldest son Joselito (Jay Aquitania) takes a more practical, pragmatic view. Using his knowledge of Japanese, he sells sweetened camote to the soldiers in the nearby Japanese camp, striking up friendships with the officers who begin to visit them regularly.

A woman of faith and graciousness, Julia (Shamaine Centenera Buencamino) receives the foreign troops as best she can, as does Maria (Yna Asistio), who embarks on a budding romance with a young Japanese lieutenant. Nina (Meryll Soriano) the older sister is ambivalent, nursing feelings for an American soldier she met before the war’s outbreak. Complicating matters is the fact that their oldest sister is married to a doctor who has been conscripted by the guerrillas.

* * *
There is a sense of foreboding throughout the movie. Will the Japanese intelligence officer discover the Filipino family’s connection to the guerrillas? Will Ricardo give vent to his pent-up rage and frustration? Will Joselito’s forays to the camp and his familiarity with the Japanese get him into trouble? And what of the news that the American “liberators” are about to descend on Davao?

The film’s climax is an impromptu concert staged by the family to celebrate the return of their beloved piano, which the Japanese had transported from the city. The timing proves providential, if a little sad, for most of the soldiers are due to leave camp the next morning to take up kamikaze or suicide missions, a last, desperate ploy of the Japanese military. In an evening of Filipino airs, Japanese martial songs and classical piano pieces, the family and their Japanese guests seek solace and resolution, come to terms with their humanity, and reach across the void created by nationality, culture, religion and war to establish a human connection.

* * *
Many times in the movie, one expects it to fall into any one of the clichés of wartime cinema—the rape of the daughters, for instance, the revenge killing, the incarceration of the friendly Joselito, or even the massacre of the family.
But while the film doesn’t obscure or soft-sell the horrors of war—the children come across the body of a civilian in the forest, and Joselito calmly removes the shoes and puts them on—neither does it over-dramatize its impact.

Under Morales’ confident handling, the movie is more interested in exploring how war, in all its dehumanizing horror, manages at the same time to strengthen and burnish one’s humanity. In the family, and in their varied ways of coping with the situation, one sees how, in rising above their difficulties, they manage to maintain the values that have kept them strong and united, surviving even the harshest of times.

There is a lesson here for families everywhere—and in our own “worst of times.” The economic news may sound dire and desperate, but if this family survived the war with just prayers, music and friendship, then surely today’s families can find their own sources of strength, too.

* * *
Although an “indie” production, “Concerto” looks, sounds and feels luxurious. Perhaps it’s the cinematography (by Regiben Romana), which bathes every scene in a warm, golden light. Or maybe it’s the more-than-competent acting, with not a false note by any of the cast.
Outstanding are Shamaine Centenera Buencamino who rises above the challenge of giving nuance to a stereotype, managing to imbue her pious, kindly mother role with some steel and softness. A revelation is Jay Aquitania, who portrays Joselito so comfortably and confidently. Likewise a revelation is Yna Asistio, whose first film role this is. It’s difficult to believe, too, that “Concerto” is Nonoy Froilan’s first venture in film, for he lends the aging, bitter military officer a quiet dignity and resolution. Meryll Soriano has long been an “indie” favorite, and she shows us why in this film, for despite her experience she deliberately keeps her emotions muted.
A special mention here of the actors portraying the Japanese officers and soldiers, who skirt the temptation of overacting and living up to the stereotypes of war movies, to allow the audience a glimmer of the soldiers’ human frailties.

Maybe that’s “Concerto’s” greatest gift: the realization that even in war, we were all, Japanese, American or Filipino, just human beings caught in a hell not of our making, but discovering amid the wreckage, the core of our true selves

Friday, November 21, 2008

On Note

by Philbert Ortiz Dy
posted on Thursday November 20, 2008

The general moviemaking wisdom would tell us that you shouldn’t really try to do a period film with a small budget. Many have certainly tried, and many, indeed, have failed. But in comes Concerto, which not only takes us to the past, but has the courage to try and portray a life during wartime. And amazingly, Concerto is mostly a success, producing a completely lovely picture that fares far better than many films with larger budgets.

The film is set near the end of World War II. The bombings in Davao City has forced a family to move to a small home just outside the city. There, they find themselves neighbors to a tiny camp of Japanese pilots. The patriarch, Ricardo, was once tortured in Japanese prison camps, and still harbors a grudge, but he finds himself having to be accommodating to the soldiers in order to let his family survive. The family is made to examine the line between love and hate as they continue to deal with the Japanese, letting them into their home, getting to know them better, and seeing them as real people capable of kindness. And as the war comes closer to ending, a piano concert is performed by Ricardo’s two prodigious daughters, marking a strange and special bond between the family and the invaders.

The narrative isn’t as tight as it could be, but it makes up for it by being emotionally taut. The film is based on true stories from director Paul Alexander Morales’ family, and as with most true, personal stories, they come with a little extra weight. There’s probably a good ten minutes of the script that could’ve been cut, and a few scenes that could have been rewritten to make things flow more smoothly, but it’s pretty easy to forgive. What this script delivers is a strong thematic depth and a good emotional punch that goes much further than your average film.

It takes a lot of guts to go shoot a period piece. It takes even more guts for that period to be a period of war. Director Paul Alexander Morales does a few really clever things to transport the audience to a different time. The production design really helps, but mostly, the movie works by setting the tone. Morales doesn’t really show us much of the war going on, but he makes us feel its effects. We mostly don’t see the bombs falling on the terrain, but we see the family hunkered down in a shelter, praying the rosary. Everything feels right, and the effect is astounding.

It also helps that the performances are so good. Jay Aquitania is a really clever actor, and he’s got a lot waiting up his sleeve as Joselito. Meryll Soriano has always been one of our smartest actresses, and as Niña, she puts on a nuanced performance that provides the most powerful moments of the film. Yna Asistio is quite lovely as Maria, and her talent is really evident. Shamaine Buencamino and Nonoy Froilan are tremendously good as the heads of the family as well. The cast is solid all the way through. Concerto came out of this year’s Cinemalaya without a lot of fanfare, mostly overshadowed by the juggernauts that were Jay and 100. But this movie just doesn’t deserve to fade into obscurity. This is a fantastic effort, one that outclasses many higher-budget affairs by a long, long shot. It could still be tightened up, but the story and the eventual message is worth sitting through the excesses. Recommended.

My Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Concerto NOW SHOWING!!!

Gorietta 4, Cinema 4

12:50 PM
3:15 PM
5:40 PM
8:05 PM
10:30 PM LMF
Price: 130

Indie Sine, Robinson's Galleria, Cinema 8

1:00 PM
3:30 PM
6:00 PM
8:30 PM LMF

Admission Price: P141

SM Megamall

Thursday, November 13, 2008

“A” rated Concerto in Cinemas starting November 19

Last November 11, The Cinema Evaluation Board graded the indie feature Concerto an “A”, granting it a 100% tax rebate based on its artistic and technical merits.

The first full length film of filmmaker Paul Alexander Morales, Concerto has previously been heralded as an “ambitious historical film” and in its theme and execution “confident” even as it departs from the usual indie film fare. Concerto is one of the first Filipino films to focus on the war experience in Mindanao.

The film, set in Davao City in 1944, stars Jay Aquitania, Meryll Soriano, Shamaine Buencamino, Nonoy Froilan and Ynna Asistio. It also features a rare Japanese cast that include Hiro Sakoda, Masaya Okazawa, Hiroshi Okamoto, Lisa Takayama and Kazumi Yoshida.

The limited release of Concerto in five cinemas; Glorietta 4, SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, SM South Mall and Indie Sine at Robinson’s Galleria, starts November 19, 2008.

Concerto’s release heralds the wider showing of the acclaimed Cinemalaya 2008 films, with limited runs of Boses, 100 and Jay scheduled in the last quarter of 2008.

Concerto is also scheduled to be shown in Davao City in December 2008, where it has been invited to be the opening film of the annual Mindanao Film Festival, a limited run in SM Davao follows.

The film's trailers can be viewed at and at

Friday, October 24, 2008

Concerto in Cinemas

Theatrical Screenings of Concerto begin November 19, 2008:

Indie Sine, Robinson’s Galleria

SM North Edsa

SM South Mall

SM Megamall

Glorietta 4, Ayala Center Makati

"In a forest outside Davao City, towards the end of World War II, a displaced Filipino family becomes acquainted with a group of Japanese officers camped nearby.

As the war ends, a special piano concert is held in the forest.


114 minutes HDV (2008)

Concerto was a finalist to the Cinemalaya 2008, held
at the Cultural Center of the Philippines

for inquiries, group sales and special screenings


mobile: 097178801014, 09178105999

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Concerto Reviews

I am really amazed at the amount of feedback online for the Cinemalaya Festival. I hope this interest for independent films will continue and really empower an independent film scene in Manila.

Re-posting some selected reviews on Concerto:

Cast: Jay Aquitania, Meryll Soriano, Shamaine Buencamino, Nonoy Froilan, Elijah Castillo, Alyssa Lascano, Yna Asistio; Director: Paul Alexander Morales; Producer: Digital Spirit Production; Screenplay: Paul Alexander Morales; Cinematography: Regiban Romana; Editor: Laz'andre; Music: Jed Balsamo;

Running Time: 90 minutes; Location: Davao; Genre: Drama
Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 4
Rating: For viewers 13 and above

Sa pagtatapos ng Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig, may isang pamilyang lumikas at napilitang mamundok sa Davao. Malapit ito sa kampo ng mga Hapon. Si Ricardo (Nonoy Froilan), ang padre de pamilya, ay dating puno ng militar na pinahirapan ng mga Hapon. Upang makapamuhay nang mapayapa, kinaibigan ng kanyang asawang si Julia (Shamaine Buencamino) ang ilang mga Hapon na nasa malapit na kampo. Ang kanilang anak na lalaki na si Joselito (Jay Aquitania) ay marunong magsalita ng Hapon kung kaya't naging madali sa kanya ang pakikipag-kaibigan sa mga ito. Sapagkat may likas na angking talino sa musika, naging labis ang kasiyahan ng pamilya nang muli nilang makuha ang naiwan nilang piano. Ang mga anak na babae na sina Nina (Yna Asistio) at Maria (Meryll Soriano) ang siyang nagsilbing taga-aliw sa mga Hapon bilang mga pianista. Isang concerto ang ginanap sa kanilang tahanan para sa mga kaibigang Hapon bago tuluyang pumutok at matapos ang digmaan.

Maayos at malinis ang pagkakagawa ng Concerto. Tunay sa pamagat nito, talagang para kang nanonood ng konsiyerto sa pelikula. Nakakaaliw ang musika na talaga namang nagpatingkad sa isang kuwentong-digmaan. Mahusay ang pagkakalahad ng kuwento. Payak ngunit malaman at punong-puno ng damdamin. Pawang walang itulak kabigin sa galing at husay ang mga nagsiganap. Natural ang kilos ng lahat at pawang mukhang mga hindi umaarte. Totoong-totoo pati ang mga karakter na Hapon. Maliit man o malaking eksena ay nagawang kapani-paniwala ng direktor. Sana'y mas marami pa ang makapanood nito sa mga sinehan at maging isang instrumento upang buhayin ang naghihingalong pelikulang Pilipino.

Ipinakita sa Concerto ang kahalagahan ng pagkakaroon ng isang buo at nagkakaisang pamilya sa gitna ng unos at giyera. Maraming pagsubok ang maaring pagdaanan sa iba't-ibang panahon pero ang wagas na damdamin at matibay na paniniwala sa Diyos ang mga subok na sandata upang maalpasan anumang hirap at pasakit. Kapuri-puri ang isang pamilyang sabay-sabay na nagdarasal sa gitna ng kaguluhan ng paligid. Kitang-kita sa pelikula kung paanong ang pakikipag-kapwa at pananampalataya ay nakatulong ng labis sa pagpapanatili ng kapayapaan sa gitna ng digmaan. Tunay na walang mabuting naidudulot ang giyera. Ngunit gaya ng ipinakita sa pelikula, ang digmaan ay isang pagkakataong nagpapalabas ng pinakamabuti o pinakamasama sa tao. Maaaring maging instrumento ang giyera upang mas mapabuti at mapatibay ang isang pamilya, ang pagkakaibigan. At isa rin ang sining at musika sa maaaring magtawid sa tao sa anumang paghihirap. Ang sining at musika ay biyaya ng Diyos na marapat lamang gamitin sa kabutihan at maging simbolo ng Kanyang kadalikaan sa panahon man ng digmaan o kapayapaan.

Genre: Drama
Title: CONCERTOGenre: Historical/ Biographical DramaRating: Five out of Five
Among the six competing films that I have seen, this is the best.

“Concerto” is based on the story of director’s (Paul Alexander Morales) family.The setting is World War II at Davao city, which was also greatly affected. This was where the rich family goes to living in simplicity and fighting to survive the Japanese occupation, their father (Nonoy Froilan) being a rebel against the Japanese, and their older sister married to an escaped guerilla. One of the children (Jay Aquitana) befriends the occupants and somehow puts the family, and the community’s status at extremes–either for the good or for the bad. The older sister (Meryl Soriano) tries to teach her younger sister (Yna Asistio) about ‘befriending’ young male foreign soldiers. And the mother (Shamaine Buencamino), trying to be as compassionate as ever to the unrestful neighbors even to the Japanese occupants despite the fact that they had caused her leg injuries.How does the war end for them when all the things they do don’t give them of being safe after the war ends?

This film actually comes to me as a local counterpart of “The Sound Music”, but not in a negative way, knowing that such story really happened in 1940s.I was extremely touched and awakened by the movie. Just the fact that the world still does not know what happened to Davao the day that the Pearl Harbor got attacked was already surprising.The film simply showed that life must go on, even on the toughest of adversities or the risk of losing the people and things you loved the most. One must be strong for the other, so he or she could be the anchor of strength for the family.Through the course of the film, there were times I was actually worried for their life, forgetting that it was all in the past. In the moments when they were praying, I also was praying inside my head and it was really a fascinating experience, to get carried away.

If there was an award in the Cinemalaya 2008 for the best ensemble cast, I would nominate this film. The entire cast actually felt like a real and convincing family to me.Jay Aquitana was really good at speaking Niponggo, as if he spoke the language for a very long time. It shows that he actually understood every Japanese word that he said.I really appreciate the fact that Meryl Soriano actually plays the piano and that she plays it well. This talent of hers were put to good use in the film.It was also a moving moment when Shamaine Buencamino and Yna Asistio sang together a Kundiman song for the Japanese. Both actually have good singing voice quality. On a personal note, this song that they used was actually my competing piece when I participated in Kundiman competition in High School.I found it cute and touching that young Alyssa Mae Lescano sang beautifully “Pilipinas Kong Hirang” in English version. Garry Lim managed to be the annoying and suck-up-to-the-Japanese neighbor.The execution of the film was very well done. The choice of music, cinematography, effects and casting were all topnotch. If there was one thing in the film that felt like an ingrown nail on a well-pedicured feet, I would say it was the inconsistency in the use of the language in the film. At the beginning of the film, Shamaine Buencamino and the neighbors were speaking partly in Bisaya and tagalog, with matching accents. But towards the end of the film, language became purely tagalog and the accent was lost.

Altogether, it really is a great film. If these were distributed in DVDs and VCDs, I would definitely get a copy. It’s shelf life would be nearly immortal, and I’m sure it’s something we would truly pass on to the subsequent generations. This film rightfully complies with the theme of Cinemalaya 2008, “Anong kwento mo?” It is truthful to the history and to its audience.I give it a two-thumbs-up.(Watched Fri., 18th July 2008, CCP TNA 9:00PM Gala)

Concerto, magandang talunan!


Matagumpay na namang nagwakas ang Cinemalaya Film Festival 2008 sa pamamagitan ng simple, ngunit credible namang awards night. Deserving naman ang mga nagwagi, lalo na ang mga ni-review rin naming Jay ni Francis Pasion na siyang nag-Best Picture na nagbigay rin Best Actor trophy kay Baron Geisler; si Chris Martinez bilang Best Director at Best Screenplay para sa kanyang 100, kung saan tumama rin ang choice namin at nagwagi si Mylene Dizon ng Best Actress at si Eugene Domingo naman ang Best Supporting Actress.

May isa pang magandang pelikulang gustung-gusto namin, ngunit wala ni isa mang napanalunan. Well, iginagalang naman namin ang desisyon ng mga hurado... ito ang pelikulang Concerto ni Paul Alexander Morales, na kanyang first film directorial job.

Ang Concerto ay tungkol sa isang pamilya sa Davao na naipit sa gitna ng digmaan ng Hapon at Amerikano nung 1941. Pinagbuklod sila ng kanilang pagmamahal at pananalig sa Diyos, habang nalagpasan ang pagmamalupit at pagtatraydor ng mga Hapon sa pamamagitan ng tunay na pagpapatawad, na naging daan ang kanilang husay sa pagtugtog ng piano at pag-awit.

Sa biglang tingin, may mga nagsabing parang Oro, Plata, Mata ni Peque Gallaga nung early 80's ang pelikula, ngunit tahasan naming masasabing di hamak na mas maganda at mas pelikulang-peikulang ang Concerto ni Morales. Maraming mga makatotohanang elemento ang Concerto na wala sa Oro, Plata, Mata, tulad ‘yung ipinakita rito na may isang eskwelahang tinuturuan ng mga Hapones ang mga batang Pinoy ng Japanese Language, kaya dalang-dala ni Jay Aquitania ang papel ng nag-iisang lalaking anak sa piling ng mga babaeng kapatid. Nagawa niyang makipagkaibigan sa mga Hapon dahil marunong siya ng wika, kahit sabihing pinahirapan pa ng mga Hapon ang kanyang ama at buong pamilya.

Well-researched at well-written ang pelikula na puno ng puso na kulang din sa Oro, Plata, Mata, kaya kahit hindi nagpapaiyak, maiiyak ka lalo sa mga eksenang nabubuo na ang friendship nila sa mga Japanese soldiers dahil itinuro ng ina na "pakainin at mahalin ang kaaway". Mahusay na naitawid ng writer-director ang mga makatotohanang eksena dahil base ito sa mga tunay na pangyayaring dinanas ng kanyang angkan nung digmaan. Mahusay ang production design ni Gerry Santos at Musical Score ni Joel Balsamo. Hindi matatawaran ang husay ng pagganap nina Sharmaime Centenera bilang nanay; Merryl Soriano at Inah Asistio na introducing dito, bilang magkapatid; at siyempre, si Jay Aquitania. Nakatulong din ng malaki na mga tunay na Japanese ang mga gumanap na sundalo. Kahit hindi mo naiintindihan ang kanilang sinasabi, naitawid ng writer-director ang tamang emosyon sa bawat eksena sa isang hindi masalitang pelikula.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

After the Cinemalaya

Thank you again to all the producers, cast and crew who joined us at the CCP screenings of CONCERTO, for the Cinemalaya. Also for those who joined us at the UP screening last July 28.

I am amazed at all the writing about the films in the festival. That people have strong opinions is great. At least they care. :)

We hope these discussions can help us further define the films that we will be creating, and how we can show these films to a wider audience.

On our part we will be taking some cues from the reviews for a Final Cut of Concerto in time for its limited release in Cinemas this year.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Concerto Trailer

Watch the Concerto Trailer here.

Choose to watch in a higher defenition :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Jay Aquitania as Joselito
Concerto is about how, in the last part of World War II, a special piano concert is held in the forests of Davao. In these boondocks, a displaced Filipino family becomes acquainted with a group of Japanese officers, similarly camped nearby. Based on true stories from the director's family, Concerto celebrates a family whose reverence for life, expressed through their love of music and friendship, can survive even war, and shows how beauty and compassion can grow in even the harshest of situations.

12 July/Sat, 9:00PM, Bulwangang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
15 July/Tue, 3:30PM, Tanghalang Nicanor Aberlardo (CCP Main Theatre)
16 July/Wed, 9:00PM, Tanghalang Huseng Batute
17 July/Thu, 9:00PM, Bulwangang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
18 July/Fri, 9:00PM (GALA), Tanghalang Nicanor Aberlardo (CCP Main Theatre)
19 July/Sat, 3:30PM, Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


The DE LA TORRE FAMILY The cast with Paul and DOP Regiben O. Romana.
PICTURE!PICTURE! The whole gang is here :)

Concerto wrapped up principal photography at sunrise on April 23, 2008, at CASA SAN MIGUEL in Zambales. The 23rd is the birthday of my Lolo Dr. Jose Yap, and only later did I realize that we actually shot his scene (Dr. Tan and Dolores) on that day. The spirit of our ancestors are truly with us...

My sincere thanks for all the hard work and total commitment from all the staff and crew. In truth doing this movie is quite akin to the war experience depicted in the movie. The uncertain and long hours, the external and internal threats hanging above our collective heads.
In the end I hope that the movie does capture this indominable will to survive and the deep love and freindship that emanated from the set. My apologies to any ruffled feathers and hurt feeling along the way.
May GOD continue to bless us all.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Yap Family at the Cinemalaya Auditions

With my Lola, Felicitas Campo Yap, after the 2nd day of the Cinemalaya Auditions at the CCP.
It was nice to be able to share the experience with them, as it is their story too...

Ms Blanche, Lola Fely and I, Auntie Tess, Mitch, Mario Yap and JJ Coronel :)

Casa San Miguel Panorama

spent the chinese new year's eve at Casa San Miguel in Zambales with Myra Beltran and Coke Bolipata location hunting for the film and plans of world domination :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Concerto Casting Call, Cinemalaya Auditions


Auditions for the 10 finalists of Cinemalaya 2008 this coming January 19-20, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00P.M.-7:00P. M. at the MKP Hall, 4th Floor, CCP.

a film by Paul Alexander Y. Morales


RICARDO – 45- 55 yrs. old, slim, Moreno, former military officer

JULIA – 35-40 yrs. old, Mestiza, loving mother, CAN SING

NARDO – 25-30 brother of JULIA, moody, fit/active

JOSELITO – about 19- 21 yrs old. Moreno, witty, outgoing

NINA - 21-23 yrs old, conservative, strong willed, CAN PLAY THE PIANO (read notes)

MARIA - about 16-19, vivacious, optimistic, pretty CAN PLAY THE PIANO (read notes or widow)

JULIO – about 12-14, sutil, expressive

SELMA – about 7-10 yrs old, innocent, CAN SING


FUJITA - 40 - 50 yrs old. Stern, Japanese Commander.

ODA – 30- 40 yrs old, with a sinister air.

YAMADA – 20 – 30 Idealistic Officer, can play the piano

EUSEGI – 18-21 handsome, expressive

Other characters including Caucasians, Japanese and Filipinos


July 11-20 Cultural Center of the Philippines

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Ten full-length Entries to Cinemalaya 2008

Ten full-length entries to compete in 2008 CinemalayaTen full-length entries to compete in 2008 Cinemalaya. The ten finalists for the 2008 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent FilmFestival (full-length feature category) have been chosen recently bythe Cultural Center of the Philippines.

They are: 100 by ChrisMartinez, 1434456 by Emmanuel Dela Cruz, Concerto by Paul Alexander Morales, Antiparang Basag by Edith Asuncion, Baby Angelo byJoel Ruiz and Abi Aquino, Brutus by Tara illenberger, My Fake AmericanAccent by Onnah Valera, Huling Pasada by Paul Sta. Ana, Jay by FrancisXavier E. Pasion and Ranchero by Michael Christian Cardoz.

100 is about a stern, uptight and exacting woman with a terminalillness who tries to accomplish a list of 100 things to do before shedies. Her tasks vary from the simple to the complicated, from thepractical to the mundane, from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Inthe process, she accepts the truth that even if death is somethingpersonal, dying never is.

1434456 is the story of Ranjeet Singh, also fondly called "JimmyPaybsiks," a 49-year old Punjabi widower. He faces the challenge offinding a more permanent sense of home and country for his childrenwho find themselves growing up more and more assimilated in theFilipino way of life. Set in contemporary Manila, 1434456 examines thecolorful stories and inevitable struggles of a migrant sector rarelygiven a second look or even a thoughtful pause in our societythat ofour Indian neighbors.

Concerto is about how, in the last part of World War II, a special piano concert is held in the forests of Davao. In these boondocks, a displaced Filipino family becomes acquainted with a group of Japanese officers, similarly camped nearby. Based on true stories from the director's family, Concerto celebrates a family whose reverence for life, expressed through their love of music and friendship, can survive even war, and shows how beauty and compassion can grow in even the harshest of conditions.

Antiparang Basag tells of one woman's encounter with four octogenarians, escaped from a nursing home, and the few hours she spends helping them pursue their quest to fulfill their simple wishesin life. The funny and heartwarming situations carry her to see thedifferent hues of life and death and the value of every moment.

Baby Angelo centers on an investigation that ensues when an abortedfetus is found in the dumpster of a run-down apartment complex. Thelives of the tenantsa reclusive old man with curious ramblings, alandlord with overzealous thirst for justice and a young couple whosepast threatens to unravel their marriageare suddenly exposed in thehunt for the perpetrator of the baby's death.

Brutus tells the tale of two Mangyan children, hired by illegalloggers to smuggle wood from the mountains of Mindoro, as they embarkon a dangerous journey to deliver the goods to the lowlands. In theprocess, they discover a world run by the greed of men, a worldgoverned by ideologies that bring about the armed conflict thatplagues the Mindoro highlands, the home of their own people.

My Fake American Accent is a slice-of-life workplace comedy followingthe lives of technical support call center agents in the span of sixmonths. Speaking with a fake American accent is a prerequisite for thejob. This ensemble comedy is an inside look into the maddening,sleep-deprived, caffeine-fuelled lives of those who ply their trade inthe call center industry.

Huling Pasada follows the creative process of Ruby, a prolific writer,abandoned wife and protective mother. She writes about Mario, a taxidriver and father figure to a street child. As she tries to resolveMario's story, she seeks refuge in her own creative output and theline between reality and fiction is blurred. Mario's past becomesentangled with her own inevitable future.

Jay is the name of the two protagonists in the film, one is living,the other dead. The living Jay is producing a documentary of the deadJay, a gay teacher who was brutally killed. As Jay recreates andexamines the life of his subject, his own life is affected when heunravels his subject's hidden life and secret love.Ranchero is the story of convicts who serve a special role inside thejail-they prepare the meals everyday. But in a jail where some inmatessee no reason to continue living, what is the role of food? Is thefood's role to extend life or to prolong the pain of those who don'twant to live?

The full-length feature film category finalists were selected from atotal of 194 entries submitted for the 2008 Cinemalaya. As finalists,they will receive an initial seed investment of P500,000 fromEconolink Investments Inc. The final winning entry will be given anadditional grant of P200,000 plus the Cinemalaya Balanghai trophyduring the awarding ceremony on July 20, 2008 at the Cultural Centerof the Philippines. All the films will be screened during the 2008Cinemalaya Film Festival on July 11 to 20, 2008 at the CCP.Now on its fourth year, Cinemalaya is presented by the CinemalayaFoundation, Cultural Center of the Philippines, University of thePhilippines Film Institute and Econolink Investments Inc. Cinemalayais an all-digital film competition aimed at discovering new Filipinofilmmakers.For more information, please call the CCP Film Division at tel. no.8321125 loc. 1705.