I am quitting. The mere thought of discussing my final week on this job with my boss is giving me waves of elation. Surprisingly, it is lending me a virile sense of enthusiasm, uncannily mimicking the vigor I had on my first day on this job. I am excited to finish my last article, unlike the previous ones where every page I wrote seemed to drag on for hours. I am quitting work. I am quitting my dream job. And I cannot be more satisfied.
Many things have happened in the past three months. Compared to my first job as an essay editor for a Korean English academy this job is by leaps and bounds, more interesting and intellectually stimulating. I have learned a great deal about the film industry, the work that goes on into making films, the artistic frustrations of filmmakers, the corrupting effect of commercialism on art, and the underappreciated greatness of Filipino movies. A newfound respect for the film industry and Filipino directors have sprung within me, and an understanding of how movies wield a significant effect on the development of societies, humanity, and intellect has made me appreciate filmmaking as a respectable field, similar to how writing is able to influence and capture the world's development of thought. Film is unique as an art. There are nuances which can only be depicted and captured in film, emotions that can only be seen through the camera, and sentiments that would be inadequately presented without the imagery of motion picture.
Names like Lamberto Avellana, Manuel Conde, Gerardo Santos, Ishmael Bernal, and Lino Brocka, the country's national artists for film have become familiar to me, and so is the understanding of their work. I learned how even geniuses learn to bend and compromise their vision because of commercialism, and the imposition of the audience's taste for escapism. Poor becoming rich, people living the high life, demi god characters, the contrived happy ending, moralizing sentiments, all of the weary plotlines and elements which up to this day are being fed to the masses, have in one way or another been challenged by these directors. All of them have learned to dance to the unforgiving system, making commercial flicks in order to have the producers' graces to do quality films. They have created their mark in Philippine cinema by infusing their own sensibilities to their films, questioning status quo, exposing realities, and creating masterpieces which are truly Filipino.
It is unfortunate that most of their films have been lost to oblivion. Either from the country's lack of facilities to preserve these treasures, neglect, or utter indifference on the invaluable significance of their works, a number of great Filipino films, will only be read but never seen by today's generation. Most of them have been lost to fires and decay, some others were wound to make torotots for New Year (Yes you read it right, the films perpetually wound to make torotots are actually from movie reels.) I believe there is even a move to search for the country's long lost movies from these New Year noise makers. Only a handful of pictures from the 1940 to 50s exists today. And even those which have been fortunately restored are housed in film archives which most Filipinos wouldn't be able to access. During the three months that I have been in this job, my belief that Filipinos have a very poor sense of history had continually been reinforced. Many of the works of the past have been lost, and some are on the verge of extinction for the plain reason that we couldn't care less to preserve them. A sense of history propels us forward, it gives us insight how to tackle and proceed with the future. It is very unfortunate that a lot of the country's classics would, sooner or later, forever fade into nothingness.
I must admit that if not for this job, I wouldn't have any hint of appreciation for Filipino films. The first black and white film I've seen was Anak Dalita (1956) by Lamberto Avellana. I was very much surprised to beholden the young Rosa Rosal, playing the role of a taxi dancer-- with a vixen body to boot. Unlike the sing-songy articulation that I expected of ancient movies, this one featured realistic dialogue, similar to our contemporary films. Turns out this movie heralded Cinema Verite (Cinema of Truth) in the Philippines, and Avellana the harbinger of realism which fought the pervading sarswela tradition during the period.
Today's film industry is literally dying. Compared to the daring of Brocka and Bernal in the 70s which presented reality in its most raw and challenged audiences to think and question, the films of today are weak and regressing. With exception to incisive and scrutinizing indie movies, our commercial cinema have been churning out materials written to have sweet, benevolent, feel good endings. Edgy topics are not really presented as bitingly as you would expect them to be. Ricky Lee, a renowned entertainment writer, said in a forum that even the direst of endings are given a feel good and hopeful spin, because it is what the production houses want, and I think partly because, it is what audiences are looking for. The taste of Filipino audiences is another topic which requires a very lengthy discussion.
Of all the things that I have gotten out of this job, it must be a wonder why I am happy to quit. Apart from the reason that I would be embarking on a project that I have long been wanting to do, I realized that I am not someone who could capitalize on my writing as a source of living. I am not a crunch writer, and I treat writing the same way I would savor a tasty dinner. My writing tends to change with my mood, and honestly, I am finding it difficult to write about things which are being shoved down my throat. I guess I'm not cut out for employment. Model employee is just something I wouldn't get, or would be proud of getting. Quitting on this job is not so much of detesting writing (I would die before I feel that way) but being a sorry member of the proletariat. 'Do what makes you happy' is probably the most worn out quote in the universe, although this is not a question of whether I am doing what I want, but whether I am doing what I want they way I WANT it. Writing is my life, and I don't want to have any reason to hate it just because it is imposing on me as a job. In a few days I'll be unemployed, jobless, out of my dream job and probably broke after some time. But preserving the sacred nature of my art would all be worth it.