Alben meng manyaman, boy!

May 17, 2009


For the past months, I have participated in a lot of contests both in the literary field and in the filmmaking field. Sadly, I have failed to become finalist in all of them, except one.

This is the great risk of writing and filmmaking -- you invest so much time, creativity, and even money (because you ship stuff to Manila, you buy DVD-Rs, print scripts and application forms, etc.) only to fail to become a finalist in the end.

Here are the contests I joined in:

Cinemalaya 2009 Short Film Category. My Asst. Director and I submitted two entries, Ing Bangkeru and Balangingi. We were torn between believing we can make it and conceding to the other filmmakers who have the money to produce technically good short films. But then in the end, we failed to penetrate the top 10.

Cinema One Originals 2009 Scriptwriting Contest. Unlike in the Cinemalaya Full-Length Category, where you have to submit only a synopsis of your film, in Cinema One, you have to submit a full-blown script -- which is what I did! I wrote a dramatic 80-page script about a male newbie in the Philippine literary scene and how the US financial crisis is indirectly affecting him. The title is Tagak at Tau (Egrets and People).

After my submission, I reviewed the finalists of the past year (finalists are given P1M to produce their scripts into films) and discovered that Cinema One is looking for out-of-the-box scripts, unlike Cinemalaya where their focus is realism and humanism. Cinema One welcomes experimental, science fiction, fantasy, and even horror. These are the genres I so love doing! Alas, I discovered that fact too late. And so, I lost again.

Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Alright, let me get this straight. I didn't join this year because I already conceded right even before I could start writing my entry to the short story category. I have joined for the past two years already -- first in the full-length Filipino stage play category, second in the English essay category -- and I lost, lost, lost! This year, I tried reading the entries of past winners, because the new Palanca website has made them available. The reading experience brings back memories of high school where you are required to read literary works which you barely understand, full of vocabulary words. I had no idea how my "dumbed down" works could fit in their roster. I decided not to join.

1st Philippine Digital Awards. This contest is very memorable to me because it's the first time I won an actual award/trophy. My entry was my Balangingi short film, which was classified under the ETC Short Film contest. The awarding was held at the World Trade Center in Manila, and it was the first time I delivered an acceptance speech on stage in front of the audience, composed of people I don't know and famous people like Gary V.

Ateneo Video Open 10. We joined in three categories: Short Narrative, Documentary, and Music Video. For short narrative, we submitted Ing Bangkeru and Balangingi. None of them made it to the top 5. For documentary, we submitted Sexmoan Adventures. It made it to the top 5! But when all the documentaries where screened at ADMU, Diego and I already conceded to Ang Pasko Ni Intoy. For music video, we submitted the music video of Oras by Mernuts and Alang Anggang Sugat by 5 Against The Wall. We can't figure out why none of those two became finalist, because honestly, the chosen finalists were blah. But hey, that's life. We got nothing in the end. At least our documentary was the funniest during the screening.

Most Outstanding Kapampangan Awards 2008. Lost in the Youth Category to a doctor who sortof like trained young people or something. Lost in the Culture and the Arts Category to a visual artist. Had I been entered in the Mass Media category, I would have also lost to internationally acclaimed filmmaker Brillante Mendoza. Oh well, another case for a 21-year old trying to compete in the contest of adults -- even in the Youth category.

Here are some more contests I joined, the results of which are still to be determined:

1st Flash Fiction Script Writing Contest by ACPI. ACPI stands for Animation Council of the Philippines, Inc. Yes! They (along with UNESCO) launched this contest that sought for scripts good for a 5-minute animation! Being a fan of anime and cartoons, I told myself I should join no matter what. I have been dreaming for the past few days of having a break in the young Pinoy animation (original content) industry by joining this contest and hoping to win! Not as an animator though; as a writer, because that's what the Pinoy animation industry needs.

I kinda like to think I have an advantage here. You see, scriptwriting for animation is a whole new discipline. It's not just any script. It's a very visual script. Try researching on it and you will understand. Are the literary giants to be feared here? Only if they are into animation and animation scriptwriting. Because no matter how good they are in writing, if they can't transform their works into an animations cript, it won't suffice. On the other side, we have the animators, or the animation students. They have long been exposed to this kind of skill, but the question now is--are they also good in creative writing?

Forgive me for sounding mayabang. I'd just like to think happy thoughts to save me from insanity in case I, again, lose in this contest. Anyway, I submitted Ang Mga Tagapangalaga Ng Bundok Arayat. I have often dreamed of making a comic book out of them, but since I can't draw much except for a couple of poses, I brushed off the idea. But I revived them for this contest.

The Farthest Shore: Fantasy From The Philippines. This is a literary contest seeking for Philippine secondary world-short stories (in English). What's a secondary world? Think Middle Earth of LOTR. Or the world in the Nick toon Avatar. Or the Mario World. Or, heck, even the Ibong Adarna world. In short, they were looking for stories written by Filipinos set in worlds that do not really exist, worlds only created by the writers. I wrote mine while I was having a vacation in the US. Title is The Destiny Twines of Makaru, set in a continent called Quemardican, in the country of Kasulipan. Fusion of local Kapampangan folklore and advanced psychic technology.

On the other hand, even though I often lose in contests, there is this thing I find weird. I may always be a contest loser, but how come I often get invited to screen my works? For instance, just last Friday, I was invited to deliver a talk on indie filmmaking at the Red Horze Muziklaban Rock Challenge, which now also embraces Indie Filmmaking, Tattooing, and Extreme Sports.

I had my own Indie Film booth at the kickoff party where I was able to screen all of my works to those interested to see. Shorts, docus, music videos, PSAs, and even the first episode of Kalam, I all screened! And then, when it was time for me to give a lecture, I also had two music videos shown (Alang Anggang Sugat and Kaplas) on the big screen on stage.

I'd like to think people were "amazed." After the event, I was even approached by this adult man named Bobby who so loved my work, he said he won't leave the party unless I give him a copy of my works.

Speaking of film, I also became the sole Pampanga participant in the Cinema Rehiyon Film Festival last February. Ing Bangkeru was screened at the CCP Dream Theater to represent Kapampangan indie cinema.

The music video of Oras by Mernuts which I directed has been accepted in the Tong Hits segment of MTV Pilipinas, making it the first ever Kapampangan music video to penetrate MTV. Two of my projects have been featured in Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho separately. First was RocKapampangan, in their feature on the regional-language rock scene in the provinces. Second was Kalam, in their feature on regional-language TV dramas and films.

Ing Bangkeru has also served as front-act film to Brillante Mendoza's internationall acclaimed films (Manoro, Kaleldo, and Foster Child) when they were screened at the Holy Angel Auditorium. Around two thousand pairs of eyes were watching, and it sent shivers down my spine when they applauded after watching Ing Bangkeru (after watching the arrogant student get mentally owned by the lowly boatman).

In the field of literature, I was also chosen by UP Pampanga to represent Kapampangan literary writing (Junior Category) in the 1st Taboan Philippine International Writers Festival held at Quezon City.

In the field of cultural work, I have been invited to speak in various lectures. Language-related. Film-related. Culture-related. In both Pampanga and Quezon City. I've often been interviewed for the theses of different people. Even postgrad theses.

This is what I find weird.

I often lose in contests.

But I often get invited in these non-competition stuff.

I should be proud, I know, but I don't know... Maybe I yearn to win in a competition because it will give me a sense of hard-earned victory, defeating all others who joined... which is more valuable than just being "chosen".

Oh well, Regine Velasquez will always be my constant reminder. How she lost in more than 50 contests, and now, look at her! She's lovers with Ogie! And, oh yeah, she's a Songbird.

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