The History of Philippine Cinema Part 1: The Birth of Philippine Cinema
The History of Philippine Cinema Part 2: The Pre-war Years of the 1930s
The History of Philippine Cinema Part 3: The War Years of the 1940s
The History of Philippine Cinema Part 4: The Post-war Years of the 1940s to the Early 1950s
The History of Philippine Cinema Part 5: The 1950s as the First Golden Age of Philippine Cinema
The previous decade known as the “First Golden Age of Philippine Cinema” revealed the fierce competition between the two biggest studios LVN Pictures and Sampaguita Pictures, along with the two other major studios Premiere Productions and Lebran Productions. However, the decade that followed clearly showed the Philippine studio system encountering some issues on conflicting labor movements. Their contract stars also started building their own respective movie studios, shaking their solid foundation.
The early 1960s saw further enhancement in sound and color techniques in Philippine cinema. Gerry de leon began the decade with a notable film entitled Huwag mo Akong Limutin. The said film, along with Kadenang Putik directed by Conrado Conde and Cesar Gallardo, were released in 1960. Both were stories about marital infidelity, yet compared to the poor standards of other similarly-themed films of the period, these two works stand out in terms of cinematic strength and emotional insights.
While much fewer than how they used to be, quality films were still made during this era. Gerry de Leon also translated the books of the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal, the Noli Me Tangere and the El Filibusterismo, into motion picture works on 1961 and 1962.
Amidst some positive developments in the film industry, the period was also a witness to the collapse of the big studios, primarily due to labor-management conflicts. The first studio to close down was Lebran, followed by Premiere Productions. Later on, LVN and Sampaguita closed down as well. Eventually, many contract movie stars started going freelance as their mother studios could no longer afford their high contract fees. As the Big Four studios collapsed, they were replaced by new independent producers who soon took their thrones in the Philippine’s mainstream film industry.
The 1960’s, though a time of positive changes in the many facets of the Philippine society, it was a period of artistic decline in commercial filmmaking. With the dozens of smaller independent studios appearing on the scene, the notorious genre of “bomba” movies (the Filipino slang term for erotic or sexy flicks) was introduced. From then on, rampant commercialism conquered the era.
The “bomba” movies, a near cousin to Hollywood’s femme fatale, merely used women as sex objects in films. Sensationalized projects for assured profit abound. They produced projects that were under-capitalized and lacking the clout of the now-defunct major movie studios; yet they still made lots of money. As a door to soft-core pornography, it challenged the conventions of film content, as well as the authority of moral institutions. Violent and sexual materials greatly prospered during this period.
Even imported foreign films considered profitable during the period were action pictures sensationalizing sex and violence. The in-thing were the Italian “spaghetti” westerns, American James Bond-type thrillers, Chinese/Japanese martial arts films, and European sex melodramas. Many new successful producers benefited from these imports by determining which elements would readily sell to the audience. This gave rise to the Filipinos’ interest in James Bond action and macho stars, the samurai and kung fu masters, and the “bomba” queens.
Elements typically seen on movie screens were guns drawn and cleavages exposed. Although most “bombas” were considerably tame if compared to what would be described as hard-core sexy or erotic decades after, they were still exploitative products made by the ultimately profit-driven movie industry of the era. Without concern for moral, social, or cultural responsibilities, the considerably artless clichés of seeing women posing and moving like whores in their scenes for the sexual gratification of men became the trend.
As film production merely focused on making money, the cinematic standards became really low. Many movies were remakes and rehashes of other countries’ action hero movies, western spin-offs, and martial arts flicks. Capitalizing in their brands became a fad. One specific example of this would be the 1965 movie Dolpinger, a pun that played on a local movie star’s name, the now iconic Filipino actor branded as the “The King of Comedy,” Dolphy, and the name of the 1964 American film Goldfinger.
The youth revolt best represented by the Beatles and the 1960s rock and roll revolution also influenced Philippine cinema and pop culture. Many social movements began especially with students whose ignited idealisms went beyond the walls of school campuses, especially in the country’s capital, Manila. This paved way to new film genres that cater to the younger blood’s revolt against adult institutions. During this time, movies became an extension of the rallies, demonstrations, and other forms of mass actions against many clashing ideologies. The need for social revolution became the in-thing for the younger generation. Rebellious conceptions also started contending the sexist “bomba” films during the same decade.
Fan movies captured the hearts of many groupies as well. The star pairings of “Tita Duran and Pancho Magallona” and “Nida Blanca and Nestor de Villa” became the forerunners of a new trend: the “love team revolution.” Later on, other rising stars conquered the screen with their fan movies: “Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III,” with a tandem more often referred to as “Guy and Pip,” and “Vilma Santos and Eddie Mortiz,” more popularly called “Vi and Bot,” further strengthened the love team fever. The general audience found them as role models and icons, not just in films, but also in real life.
“History of Philippine Cinema,” Philippine Journeys and Philippine Online Essays.
“History of Philippine Cinema,” National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
“History of Philippine Cinema,” WikiPilipinas.
“Philippine Cinema,” Filipino Cultured Blog.
“Pilipinas: Balik Tanaw,” Asian Journal.