Alben meng manyaman, boy!

May 27, 2008

Kamaru, Infomax sign contract for co-prod of 'Kalam'

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO--Last May 27, Kalalangan Kamaru guested in Infomax-8's weekly morning talk show 'Personalan,' hosted by Rey Yumang and Mau Aquino. Set in the Henson-Hizon Mansion, the episode was about Kalalangan Kamaru, its advocacy, and 'Kalam,' its latest offering not only to the Kapampangan community but also to Philippine broadcasting history. It is the title of the upcoming Kapampanganovela (Kapampangan TV series) that Kamaru and Infomax will be co-producing.

'Kalam' will be the first ever TV series in the Kapampangan language, making it a milestone in Philippine mass media and a huge step in Kapampangan cultural preservation and development.

Making the Kapampangan youth as its target audience, 'Kalam' tackles the life and adventures of a new generation of witches and healers (gifted people, or in Kapampangan, ding ating kalam) born in urban Pampanga and how they struggle to fit in a skeptical, discriminating, and fearful society. It will be an exciting mix of urban fantasy, action, romantic comedy, drama, and social relevance, while using Kapampangan culture--both past and present, folk and modern, rural and urban--as canvass.

After the interview, Kalalangan Kamaru, represented by Jason Paul Laxamana and Diego Marx Dobles, signed a one-season (13 episodes) co-production contract with Infomax-8, represented by Mau Aquino, General Manager of the station, and Jomel Cruz (Marketing). The 'Personalan' episode will air on the 22nd of June.

Laxamana, Dobles, Jon Tanganco, Alex Tiotuico, Grace Dayrit, and Nhoel Austria are the core members of Kalalangan Kamaru, the most recent project of which was the successful RocKapampangan album.

Production design of 'Personalan' by Jon Tanganco and Nhoel Austria.

Kamaru is still looking for Kapampangan-speaking actors (no age limit) to star in 'Kalam.' Interested people must submit their biodata and pictures (1 close up, 1 full body) to on or before the 4th of June.

May 25, 2008

Infomax and Kamaru announce call for actors

Here is a special news clipping from Infomax-8's I-Max News announcing the arrival of Kalam, the first ever Kapampanganovela in the country. We are still looking for interested actors. Please see previous entry for details.

May 21, 2008

Imported Entertainment: A Sign of Imperialization

By Jason Paul Laxamana

When a commodity is branded an IMPORT, it means it was created—with raw materials not necessarily acquired within the territory—by foreign producers and was brought into the perimeters of a certain community for its members to purchase and/or consume. Whether something is imported depends on perspective, however, as one community's import is another community's export.

For example, a desktop computer made in Japan was brought to the Philippines for citizens, in general, to buy. In the perspective of a Filipino residing within the archipelago, the computer is a product imported from Japan, hence, making it an IMPORT. In the perspective of a Japanese residing within the territory of the Land of the Rising Sun, on the other hand, it is an EXPORT. Such scenario makes Japan the EXPORTER and the Philippines the IMPORTER.

Usually, if not absolutely, the exporter possesses the necessary forces and means of production, sufficient capital, and appropriate intelligence and skills that allow it to manufacture commodities to sell not only to the members of its immediate community, but also to people belonging to other communities, or, as we have labeled, the importers. Because a community doesn't have the essential ingredients to make its own desired product to sell to its own people, it has to import the camera from a manufacturer abroad.

Who earns? If we are to talk national (e.g. Philippines), it is the region (e.g. Manila) who did the importing upon selling the imports to the weaker regions (e.g. the provinces). But if we are to talk global, it is the exporting nation (e.g. Japan).

In a macro-economic view, a nation that is able to sustain the exportation of several of its locally manufactured commodities, including cultural products, becomes what we call an IMPERIALIST. A nation that keeps on importing, on the other hand, becomes the IMPERIALIZED. Because it is the exporting nation that is able to send its products outwards, it is no surprise then it soon is able to affect the culture of the receiving communities, to the extent of causing several members of the importing nations to suffer from neocolonialism and extreme patronage of foreign products.

Imports and exports often come in the form of a corporeal object—tangible commodities such as food, devices, spare parts, fuel, clothes, vehicles, etc. However, there are those commodities that stimulate us not physically, such as information and entertainment. Because these products are psychologically and/or intellectually consumed, not physically, they give members of the importing community the illusion that they are not consumers of foreign products. If a closer look will be given to the scenario, however, importation and continued patronage of these non-physical commodities contribute to the imperialization of the importing community.

Imported Entertainment

Filipino entertainment thrives in the Philippines side by side with foreign entertainment. Songs played on radio are either OPM (Original Pilipino Music) songs or songs exported by capable foreigners like Americans (e.g. Michael Jackson, Madonna, Guns N Roses), Japanese (e.g. anime soundtracks, Utada Hikaru), and Englishmen (e.g. The Beatles, Westlife). A great number of locally made TV shows have a fair number of local consumers as well amidst the penetration of canned shows from abroad (e.g. Korean dramas, American cartoons, Spanish and Mexican soaps). Movie houses also screen both local and foreign flicks.

Even though Filipino entertainment is able to occasionally compete with imported entertainment, it is made possible only within the Filipino turf. And even though some Filipino dramas (e.g. ABS-CBN’s “Pangako Sa ‘Yo,” GMA-7’s “Boys Nxt Door”), movies (e.g. “The Masseur,” “Kubrador”) and musical records (e.g. Christian Bautista, Billy Crawford) have been distributed to other countries for the consumption of non-Filipinos, it still fails to export its entertainment to foreign lands in a frequency high enough to make the Philippines an IMPERIALIST when it comes to entertainment, unlike what the Koreans have achieved in the past decade.

Such poor general condition of Filipino entertainment has failed to make Filipino culture globally appreciated, i.e., appreciated by a throng of non-Pinoys—a far cry from the achievement, again, of the Koreans.

All of these hold theoretically true, if we are to imagine ourselves as members of this community called the Philippines. Within the Philippines, however, if we are to discontinue imagining the Philippines as one nation and instead imagine Filipino ethnic groups separately from one another as distinct nations (Tagalog nation, Kapampangan nation, Cebuano nation, Ilocano nation, Bikol nation, etc.), we will see one region—the Tagalog-dominated Manila—as a powerful exporter of entertainment to non-Tagalog regions, making these non-Tagalog areas reliant on what they may now call “imported entertainment.”

Let’s consider two setups based on the concept of nation as “imagined community.”

First setup: a person who imagines the whole Philippines as his immediate community, despite being, for example, a Kapampangan residing in Central Luzon will not perceive a musical record manufactured and brought to his place by Manila as imported entertainment because he sees not Tagalogs nor Kapampangans, but racially similar Pinoys. What would count then as imported entertainment for him would be products from outside the Philippines like “American Idol,” “The Powerpuff Girls,” “Maria La Del Barrio,” “Jewel In The Palace,” “Britney Spears,” “Ironman,” “Eminem,” “Pokemon,” and “Meteor Garden.”

Second setup: on the other hand, if a Kapampangan sees himself unique from other ethnic groups, say, for example, the Tagalogs, he will consider entertainment made in and distributed by Manila (e.g. “Wowowee,” “Rivermaya,” “Eat Bulaga,” “Mano Po,” and “Sexbomb Dancers”) as entertainment imported by the Kapampangan nation and entertainment exported by Imperial Manila.

The first setup is often experienced by Filipino nationalists who believe share common experiences with fellow Pinoys from whatever region of the archipelago. Such mentality is hazardous for the provinces, as province dwellers are made to believe that the experiences—including the production of entertainment—of the National Capital Region are also their experiences. Hence, people from the provinces are subtly discouraged to establish their own entertainment industries. They are disheartened to compete with Manila-made entertainment because they feel they also own the entertainment industry of the capital of the country. The provinces don’t see the imperialism of Tagalog entertainment, because, as mentioned, they feel that Tagalog entertainment, which is promoted as “Pinoy entertainment” for further confusion, is also their entertainment. Thus, the provinces also don’t sense local brain drain; they don’t mind if the talent of their people—local human resources—are wielded and exploited by the capital.

The second setup is experienced by what are demonized today as regionalists or fools suffering from crab mentality, but considered by an intellectual cult as the enlightened protesters of Manila/Tagalog centrism. These people are theoretically the hope of provincial development just because of the fact that they don’t automatically consider the success of the capital as likewise the success of their province. They may consider themselves and other ethnic groups as both Filipinos, but only because they belong to the same state called the Republic of the Philippines, but not belonging to the same nation or race. They don’t perceive the entertainment industry of the Tagalogs as theirs, motivating them to establish their own entertainment industry—their own showbiz, celebrities, superstars, hits, and blockbusters—and hopefully, to stop or just even lessen the importation of Tagalog entertainment in the long run.

In the province of Pampanga, entertainment is still highly imported. Pampanga-based FM radio stations such as GVFM 99.1 and RW 95.1, despite being run in general by Kapampangans, are still dominated by songs imported from Manila and other countries. The radio announcers may be locals, but they are discouraged to speak their native language due to the imperial influence of Tagalog. Kapampangan entertainment through television is also highly imported. While TV stations and cable networks that produce their own shows (some in Kapampangan and some in Tagalog) are beginning to sprout, many Kapampangans still patronize imported productions such as shows from GMA-7, Studio 23, QTV 11, ABS-CBN, and MYX for several reasons, one of which probably is the large quality difference between locally made and imported shows.

The challenge then to every competitive province is, first, to aggressively and passionately propagate among local media practitioners, especially the station owners and managers, the ambition of establishing their own competent entertainment industries that can give Manila-made productions a run for their money on their respective territories, and also the ambition of exporting their productions someday; second, of course, to work on those ambitions.

As for Kapampangans, the power players in their local mass media play a great role in preventing Manila or other non-Kapampangan regions from exploiting Kapampangan human resources, like actors and writers. How? By showing to Kapampangans that they don’t need to go outside the province to pursue a media- or entertainment-related career; they can do it in their Indung Tibuan.

Please view this news item featuring our project that aims to make the first step for Kapampangans to reach the abovementioned ambitions:

May 20, 2008

Looking for Kapampangan-speaking actors

Kapabaluan! Infomax 8 and Kalalangan Kamaru are looking for Kapampangan-speaking actors to star in the first ever Kapampanganovela (Kapampangan TV series) to grace Philippine television.

Makiabe na ka! If you are interested in becoming part of this milestone in Philippine broadcasting history, email your 1) biodata/resume and 2) photos (close up and full body) to . Deadline of submission is on the 4th of June.

For inquiries, contact Jason @ 0918 699 2459 or Grace @ 0916 390 2074. For news and updates regarding the series, keep visiting this blog.

May 15, 2008

Watch out for first ever Kapampanganovela

Watch these teaser videos! Kapampanganovela is a term we coined for TV dramas in the Kapampangan language. It is the counterpart of concepts such as Cebuanovela, K-drama/Koreanovela, J-dorama, and the like.

Catch these teasers @ Infomax 8!

Kabalen competes in Cannes Film Festival 08


Morality has two sides—absolute and relative.

The Pineda family operates a run-down movie house in a city in the province which shows dated sexy double-feature films. The family has taken up actual residence in the old building as well. The matriarch Nanay Flor, her daughter Nayda, son-in-law Lando and adopted daughter Jewel take turns manning the ticket booth and the canteen. Her nephews Alan and Ronald are the billboard painter and projectionist respectively.

Nanay Flor had filed a bigamy case against her estranged husband and is attending the court hearing today when, after a number of years, the decision will be finally handed down. It is within this context that the story unfolds. As the rest of the members go about their daily activities, we get a glimpse of how they suffer and deal with each other’s sins and vices--relational, economic or sexual.

Alan, who is financially unprepared for marital responsibility, feels oppressed by his pregnant girlfriend’s demand of marriage. Nayda, who entered marriage out of tradition, is torn between marital fidelity and her ambiguous attraction towards her cousin Ronald. Nanay Flor, who loses the case, feels betrayed not only by the court judge but also by her son who testified in favor of his father.

Preoccupied with their personal demons, the family is unmindful that inside the movie theater, another kind of business is going on between the “serbis” boys (male prostitutes) and the gay patrons.

Screenwriter: Armando Lao
Director: Brillante Ma. Mendoza

OF HOST AND COUNTRY: Brillante Mendoza’s Cinematic Deconstruction of the Philippines

Q: The film seems to have dual themes – one is of course related to the title of the film, SERBIS [SERVICE]. The other relates to the name of the cinema – FAMILY. Could you please explain how these dual themes came about?

A: "SERBIS” may be viewed from several levels. That the film, as you say, has a dual theme, it is intentional. Specifically, “SERBIS” refers to the rent boys, including minors, who ply their trades inside movie houses. As such, the question of morality comes into play, not to mention the legality of the whole proceedings.

In these parts, rules and laws are more often observed in the breaches. But what is morality, or legality for the matter, in a society wallowing in abject poverty, and the struggle for survival stares at you in the face? Indeed, the whole thing boils down to a question of economics.

In the true story from which the film was based upon, the family that owns the movie house resides in the same establishment. It is not coincidental that the movie house or cinema is named “FAMILY.” And the camera catches the story of a family, dysfunctional and extended, as it unfolds to mirror a country in continuous decay.

In a broad sense, “SERBIS” can mean “SERVICE” of any kind: one’s service to one’s family; the family’s service to its members; the cinema owner’s service to their customers. Or the cinema’s service to moviegoers and others; a citizen’s service to society or country; society’s or country’s service to its citizens; men and women’s service to humanity; humanity’s service to man/woman; and so on and so forth…

Q: How much do you think the strong matriarchal household in some ways represents the Philippines?

A: Most of my films are inhabited by strong women. In “SERBIS,” the dominant and domineering matriarch, played by Gina Pareño, reflects the typical Filipino family where women actually reign and hold things together. The family from which I came from is similar in many respects. The Philippines is basically a matriarchal society with men at the forefront, especially in most of our political and economic affairs. But behind almost every family lurks a powerful woman.

The power wielded by our two female presidents (Cory Cojuangco Aquino, 1986-1992, and Gloria Macapagal Aroyo, 2001-2010) demonstrates their strength against all odds. They have weathered many storms, so to speak, including military coup d’etats and other uprisings. And yet they have prevailed.

Q: In the story, the character of Alan (played by Coco Martin) is constantly bothered by a large boil on his buttocks. What does the condition represent?

A: The boil on Alan’s (Coco Martin) buttocks is literally “a pain in the ass.” It causes discomfort as many troubles in life do.

Symbolically, Alan’s boil points to the unexpected – that nagging thing that sometimes one has to deal with no matter how one tries to avoid it. It happens for whatever reason, but it is a part of us that we have to take on or live with or get rid of in time.

The painful swelling causes Alan to limp, and a glimpse into his real character is made obvious. He has impregnated his girlfriend but the weakling in him is not ready to face the responsibility that the situation entails. Still, Alan goes through the motions of the whole charade and mimics what passes for romance by bedding his woman in the confines of his congested and chaotic space one more time.

In the end, after getting rid of his troublesome boil, with a folk bottle-on–buttock ritual, Alan finally decides to abandon everything – his family (relatives), the movie house, his job, his girlfriend and their scheduled engagement. He packs all his belongings in one bag and quietly leaves, walking against the flow of a sea of religious believers in a seemingly funereal procession. Perhaps he is the usual heel who leaves his country in despair or disgust to look for greener pastures, and is hailed as a new “Global Hero” when he returns after a life of virtual servitude in a foreign land?

Q: The camera in this film constantly follows each character as he or she wanders around the 4-story cinema – so much so that we begin to also understand the layout of the place instinctively. Was this intentional?

A: It has become a trademark, in a manner of speaking, in all my films that the camera almost always follows the characters. We saw that in “Masahista” (THE MASSEUR), “Kaleldo” (SUMMER HEAT) and “Manoro” (THE AETA TEACHER).

We also walked the same walk in “Foster Child” (JOHN JOHN) with the characters as they go to their final destination, which is all a day’s journey. And “Tirador” (SLINGSHOT), with its various vignettes intertwining, has opened all roads, taken or not taken, by people from all walks of life on and off-screen.

In SERBIS, the small journeys that the camera travels, trailing the varied characters to their nooks and crannies of the four-storey cinema, are deliberate and integral to the film’s storytelling. The different levels of the cinema transcend its physical layout as they manifest the many facets of the structure as characters. People and layers are viewed and interpreted in accordance to one’s nature, culture, education, experience, vibration or other variables.


Brillante Ma. Mendoza was born in San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines. He was a fine arts major who studied advertising at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. He started his career as a production designer in feature films, television, theatre and eventually in television advertising. His production design work was featured in acclaimed local films such as TAKAW TUKSO (FLIRTING WITH TEMPTATION, 1986), PRIVATE SHOW (1986), OLONGAPO, THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM (1987), and many others.

From feature films, Brillante then moved on to television commercial productions, and became one of the most sought-after and in-demand production designers.

From 1990 to 2004, he designed the production for commercials of most major companies such as Asia Brewery, Globe, Jollibee, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble Philippines, PLDT, San Miguel Brewery, Smart and Unilever Philippines. This brought him in close working relationships with politicians and some of the biggest names in the Filipino entertainment industry.

His first feature film MASAHISTA (THE MASSEUR), made in 2005, won a
Golden Leopard award (co-winner) in the video section at the 2005 Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland, as well as the Interfaith Award in 2006 Brisbane Film Festival and the Audience Award in Turin.

His subsequent films won further major international awards. MANORO (THE AETA TEACHER, 2006) won the CinemAvvenir at the Torino Film Festival 2006 and Best Picture and Director awards at the Cinemanila 2006. KALELDO (SUMMER HEAT) won the Netpac Award in Jeonju 2007 and the Best Actress Award in Durban 2007. FOSTER CHILD won the Best Actress award in New Delhi 2007, Special Jury award in Kazakhstan 2007 and the Signis Award in Las Palmas 2008. TIRADOR won the Special Jury award in Marrakech in 2007 and the Caligari Award in Berlin Film Festival 2008. It was also given the Best Film, Director and Netpac awards in the 2008 Singapore International Film Festival.

SERBIS is a co-production of the Philippines and France’s Swift Productions. Itwon script funding from the Asian Cinema Fund of the 2007 Pusan International Film Festiva,l and participated in the 2008 Hong Kong Asian Film Financing
Forum (HAF).



May 11, 2008

Kapampangan Language Day now official

The Center for Kapampangan Studies' proposed resolution to Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Pampanga) was approved, and will be officially announced on Saturday, where Kapampangan poets from all over the world will gather at Holy Angel University to celebrate the Kapampangan Language, crown three US-based Poet Laureates, and launch the librung kawatasan/poetry book of Renato Alzadon (of Capas, Tarlac, but based in USA), Kasapunggul A Sampaga.

These are the highlights of the resolution:

1. Every final Friday of August (Language Month), "Aldo Ning Amanung Sisuan" (Mother Language Day; amanung sisuan literally translates to 'language/word from which one suckled,' and it's how Kapampangans poetically call their mother tongue) will be observed, starting this August 2008.

2. A Provincial Language Council was created to head the celebration. It will be the task of the council to "spearhead initiatives at saving and promoting the Kapampangan language."

3. The selection of Poeta Laureados (Poet Laureates) annually will be institutionalized, and every Poet Laureate will be honored Provincial Artist (something like National Artist), and will be "provided the rights and privileges as determined by future legislation."

This is good news for Kapampangans! However, the devil will be in the details and in the execution of the annual event. The good thing is, we have penetrated the walls of the Tagalist Buwan Ng Wika. Bit by bit, we will hope to conquer its fortress. As an independent cultural worker, I can only take advantage of the occasion, by increasing the "value" of my Kapampangan-related projects during Aldo Ning Amanung Sisuan and make the Provincial Language Council support our Kapampangan-related projects (such as the upcoming Kapampangan TV series, which is now 100% sure to be produced).

Because it is in August, schools in Pampanga will be involved in this celebration. But I have a question: since Angeles City is a chartered City (not governed by Pampanga), does the resolution apply to it as well?

May 3, 2008

Frequency K: Kool Maging Kapampangan!

We used to only have Arnel Panganiban's Kapampangan Ku, Pagmaragul Ku on GVAM 792 as the sole radio program based in Pampanga that features Kapampangan songs, mostly pulosas and basultos. When it comes to FM radio, Kapampangan is nowhere to be found. All we hear are English and Tagalog songs, making the Kapampangan youth more and more absorbed to these languages (hey, the songs are hip and cool; it makes the language of their lyrics cool as well then), away from their mother tongue, Kapampangan.

Well, not anymore.

I am also now DJ Jason Paul of the GVFM 99.1 Kapampangan weekly show, Frequency K (the letter K stands for, as you might have guessed, Kapampangan), along with DJ Diegs (Diego Dobles of Asthma band). In this show, we host in Kapampangan, play modern Kapampangan songs, admit Kapampangan greetings, and tell Kapampangan trivia!

Apart from that, we also guest live bands with Kapampangan remakes/compositions every episode. For our pilot airing, we guested Guagua-based band Pedro's Playground. They performed an original composition titled Dayang Kapampangan (Kapampangan Blood). The lyrics below.

We also have this segment called Lakwatseru, where we go to various schools and universities to record Kapampangan greetings and messages from random students and personalities we encounter.

Frequency K may be heard on GVFM 99.1 every Saturday, 7 PM. If you're in a band or you know a Kapampangan band interested to play live (acoustic setup only; song must be in Kapampangan) in our show, have them contact me @ 09186992459.

The objective of the show is to have the Kapampangan language penetrate the pop culture industry, in hopes of returning or increasing the ethnic pride of the culturally confused Kapampangan youth. We also want to propagate the idea to budding Kapampangan musicians that using our Amanung Sisuan in modern music is not grotesque. It's in fact hip!

As our tagline goes, uling king Frequency K, kool maging Kapampangan! (For in Frequency K, it's cool to be Kapampangan!)

Dayang Kapampangan
By Pedro'’s Playground

Atin kesabyan kekatamung Kapampangan
King pamagmalan atna katamung pangaselan
King pamaglutu, dadayuan da katamu deng tau
Sisig, tidtad, palabuk, deng pagmayabang tamu

(Things they say about us, Kapampangans
We're choosy when it comes to dressing up
We're renowned by people for our culinary skills
We take pride in sisig, tidtad, palabuk)

Aliwa tamung Kapampangan
Masyas tamu tetagan
Andyang nanung kasakitan
Misasanmetung tamu ngan

(We, Kapampangans, are distinct
We have a strong lineage
Whatever challenge we face
We're always united)

Andyang nanung problema, laging mipapanantabe
Uling king pamakiabe, balu ta' ing makatibe
Bansag da kekatamu, deng taung dayang asu
Ing e da mu balu, relihiyosu ta'ng tutu

(In every crisis, we look after one another
Because altogether we strive to be better
They brand us "with canine blood"
Little do they know, we're also spiritual)

Aliwa tamung Kapampangan
Masyas tamu tetagan
Andyang nanung kasakitan
Misasanmetung tamu ngan

(We, Kapampangans, are distinct
We have a sturdy lineage
Whatever challenge we face
We're always united)

DJ Diegs

DJ Jason Paul