In September 2012, the brought back version of the highly-acclaimed film Himala (1982) premiered at the 69 th Venice International Movie Celebration in Italy. In December of that year, the Ishmael Bernal classic had its Philippine best, participated in by some of the most respected people in the market of movie theater, including the movie’s film writer, Ricky Lee.
The audience sang applauds in unison. Those who have actually viewed the movie before were astonished at the film’s new-found clearness, which allowed them to see– in much detail– the film’s cinematic style, the cast, the production design, and even the eyes of the lead actress Nora Aunor.
The younger members of the crowd, who were viewing it for the very first time, were presented to this work of art– and they wanted more of its kind.
Behind this accomplishment are individuals who deal with the ABS-CBN Movie Restoration department, headed by Leo Katigbak. And this venture was only their primary step towards a larger advocacy.
The history of movie restoration
On the basement floors of the Eugenio Lopez Junior (ELJ) Communications Center, inside the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City, are the workplaces of the ABS-CBN Film Archives and Movie Repair department.
Julie Galino, who used to work as a technical professional for movie repair for LVN Pictures, Inc., handles the movie archives section.
The workplace area on basement 1, is your regular workplace, other than that there are no windows and a view of the dynamic city. Rather, there are walls plastered with posters of local movies, majority of which are the traditional ones by Ishmael Bernal, Eddie Romero, Lino Brocka, Mike de Leon, to call a couple of. Where office cubicles normally fill up bulk of the spaces, this unique place rather holds equipment utilized for some parts of film restoration, and props from old movies and TELEVISION series.
The history of Film Remediation dates back to 1994, when the Movie Archives department was established to house the movie products obtained by ABS-CBN for their cable television channel, which is now called Cinema One. In 1993, Star Movie theater, the film production arm of ABS-CBN, started its operations, and it required a group to deal with the archiving of their jobs.
At the time, digital restoration was pricey. According to Katigbak, while analogue repair was readily available, it couldn’t deal with the problems fundamental in the prints stored in the Philippines. These problems occur due to the fact that our weather does not lend itself to correct preservation.
” We attempted to restore Peque Gallaga’s Oro, Plata, Mata , but at the time, it would have cost us 25 million pesos,” Katigbak exposes. “And still, it would not have attended to the issues of the copies.”
“Around that year, a lot of work was being done to modify the classic film products,” Katigbak states. Their team then began to revisit the possibility of bring back the movies, which they currently have in their archives.
In 2010, Katigbak and his team presented their plans to restore movies to the management of ABS-CBN, who were right away “impressed with the advances in technology.” To prove their principle, the group checked their remediation procedure on Maalaala mo kaya … The Film (1994), which had scratches, warpage, and staining, to name a few.
Katigbak recalls, “Gabby Lopez [the current chairman emeritus of ABS-CBN Corporation] already felt at the time that there will be a new technology coming quickly for broadcast. He said we needed to prepare the products of ABS-CBN, and to prepare the movies for that future innovation.” The budget plan was promptly authorized, even if it was a little substantial.
Katigbak says.(1976)– which they purchased from a public bidding.
Coincidentally, Himala was celebrating its 30 th anniversary, so a book and a documentary about it will be launched. The concept was to have the more recent movies like Maalaala mo kaya … The Motion picture piggyback on the classic movies.
Katigbak saw this as a fantastic chance to start their project. They then created methods to offer the movie more value in today time: they made new posters, put together a brand-new teaser for the film, and developed brand-new marketing products.
” There is no point in restoring something unless you let people watch it,” Katigbak says. “So, for example, when someone walks in front of the new poster, the individual would actually stop and think about seeing the motion picture.”
The remediation project was a success. ABS-CBN Movie Restoration’s campaign, called Sagip Pelikula, was then born.
How to restore a movie
It takes a minimum of two months to bring back a single movie, that’s why the process is costly.
Galino, who was with LVN Productions when it shut down in 2005, is in awe of the technological achievements in our country. She stuck with LVN till 2010, when the business’s shares were offered to a brand-new management. She was later hired by ABS-CBN to work under Movie Restoration, which was then part of the now-defunct Special Projects department.
Every day, she comes to the office delighted because she thinks this is her calling.
One of the personnel members, for instance, JR Macatangay has been working for the film market for years. Prior to handling the film products at ABS-CBN, he had worked for Sampaguita Pictures.
The tasks on their order of business may vary from day to day. Galino’s team helps choose the movies needed to be focus on in a given year– they can restore an average of 15 films a year, depending on the budget. After choosing the film, they need to acquire the film’s rights, if they do not have it yet. Acquiring these rights may take months, or perhaps years, because some remaining copies of Filipino movies are stored beyond the Philippines (particularly those that competed in worldwide movie celebrations).
When whatever is done, they begin the procedure of restoration.
The prints and negatives are kept in vaults, which need to be examined every day. These vaults must keep a certain temperature level and humidity: 8 to 10 degrees Celsius for the long-lasting vault in basement 1, and 15 to 20 degrees Celsius for the medium-term vault, in basement 2. The copies must go through two acclimatization spaces (for day 1 and day 2) before they are secured of the vault.
The copies go through a process called movie inspection, which might take 2 to 3 days, depending upon the kind of repair work the copies need. These copies are then scanned, transferred to a hard disk drive, and gave a remediation center. The earliest movie they have actually brought back up until now is the Dolphy starrer, Omeng Satanasia (1977).
While all these undertakings are occurring, Galino and her team all at once address requests for airing of the movies they’ve brought back. Their team likewise helps organize events that raise awareness of the need to secure traditional films.
Click on the images for slideshow
Among the rooms in the basement workplace of ABS-CBN Film Archives.
A record book keeping in mind copies of the teleserye Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay.
The vaults are mainly comprised of rows and rows of shelves consisting of copies of films owned by ABS-CBN.
A vintage film projector kept in storage.
The temperature in the vaults are kept track of.
The copies need to go through two acclimatization rooms (for day 1 and day 2) before they are gotten of the vault.
Film reels of the romantic drama Another Possibility. : a temperature display amongst the movie reels.
Eligio “JR” Macatangay used to work for Sampaguita Pictures. He now manages movie materials at the ABS-CBN Film Repair department.
Julie Galino was in LVN Pictures for 20 years before signing up with ABS-CBN where she recently presumed the post of handling the film archives.
JR is seen here using a particle transfer roller which cleans a movie roll before it is put to storage.
A couple of work areas in the archives department.
Magnets from the personnel just before the examination room. : old modifying devices.
The fantaserye character Kokey. : numerous services kept in the examination spaces.
A movie can and (right) among ABS-CBN’s dream characters.
Reels of Himala, the very first movie the business brought back.
The Sharon Cuneta-Richard Gomez starrer, Minsan Minahal Kita, in tape format.
A well-preserved prop from the Manuel Conde timeless Ang Prinsipeng Hindi Tumatawa (1946).
” Films do reflect the culture, architecture, style, social standard of a particular age,” says Katigbak. “It becomes a cultural photo.”
According to records, there have been around 8,000 Filipino movies produced on movie– from 1919 to 2012– and not even half of that number has been conserved and saved correctly. Of the 8,000 films, only a quarter can be brought back.
Simply put, there’s still a great deal of work to be done.
” Movies do show the culture, architecture, fashion, social norm of a particular age,” Katigbak describes. “It ends up being a cultural photo. Nakakalungkot that you have the similarity Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Mike de Leon, Eddie Romero– who have already been known in Europe considering that the ’70 s and ’80 s– na limot na ng tao ngayon. Part of our advocacy is making sure that individuals will keep in mind these greats.”
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The pursuit of that advocacy has been unfortunately postponed, nevertheless, following Congress denying ABS-CBN its franchise. The archives department is closing and, after its last 2 completed restoration tasks Markova and Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin, so will the remediation efforts. The effort to save our movies has genuinely been among the most unexpected casualties of the ABS-CBN franchise rejection.
On The Other Hand, as the countdown to the August 31 closing of workplaces begin, Katigbak is scrambling to find an option on how to keep the treasures of the archive vaults safe for the future. “At the very least man lang maalagaan itong ating archives,” he told TELEVISION Patrol recently, “kasi hindi biro na ito’ y naitago. Ayaw namin mangyari katulad nung sinakop ang ABS-CBN nung martial law, na na-destroy lahat ng kopya ng lahat ng ginawa ng ABS-CBN kasi nirecycle ang tapes at ibinasura.”
Photos by Geric Cruz