The Importance of Archiving Political Films in the Philippines

by Rosemarie Omnes Roque (University of the Philippines)

Abstract: In the 1980s during the height of the Marcos authoritarian rule in the Philippines, audio-visual works of anti-dictatorship filmmakers (i.e. AsiaVisions, 1982, and Alternative Horizons, 1986), began to emerge, making way to the rise of Sineng Bayan (cf. People's Cinema, Iglesias, 1984). The films made by these groups are an exposition of issues and events censored by the Marcos-controlled mainstream press, counteraction against the organized and massive pro-establishment propaganda (N. Tiongson, 1984). Their collective efforts aimed to document significant events of the Filipino people's socio-political history countering the Marcos myth (i.e. Martial Law era as ‘Golden Age’ of Philippine history mouthed again nowadays, a historical revisionist manoeuvring in favour of the return of the Marcoses to political power). These audio-visual archival collections of political films are significant collections since archives are ‘building blocks’ of societal memory (Marshall and Whorley, 2006), especially in line with recent concerns in the archival field regarding social justice and the ‘power of archives’ (Duff et al., 2013; Jimerson, 2009).

Rosemarie Omnes Roque is an Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila). She is currently taking up a PhD in Media Studies in UP Diliman.