Philippine music amazes crowd during Tokyo International Film Festival

Image capture of video via Facebook GR Rodis

The uniqueness and patriotism embedded in Philippine music and culture once again took greater heights in the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival.

The main purpose of the event was to showcase incredibly diverse international films.

During screenings of two films that competed in the Tokyo fest’s Asian Future section, Filipino artists were also given the chance to show the world how much talent is found in the Philippines, musical-wise.

Actor-producers Celeste Legaspi and Rachel Alejandro graced the event with a duet from Loy Arcenas’ “Ang Larawan”, “Kay Sarap ng Buhay Nung Araw”, while proudly wearing full Filipiniana regalia.

Although Legaspi worried she’d be soaking wet in her baro’t saya (made by production designer Gino Gonzales), since one day before the event it was stormy, it seemed the heavens were for them, as, on the day of the event, the skies did not show any sign of an impending bad weather.

She was quoted as saying: “There was no rain. As if the heavens were happy for us,” as per a news story by Inquirer. She also shared that the Japanese audience seemed as quiet as their Filipino equivalents and were too shy to ask questions. “But after our surprise song number, many viewers, young and old alike, approached us to say how much the film had moved them,” she said, as disclosed in a story by Inquirer.

Alejandro, on the other hand, recounted how the Japanese people patronized their craft, saying “they asked for autographs and photos” before adding “two audience members told us that they loved the film, and another one said she got so emotional she couldn’t speak and ask her a question during the Q&A. A reporter confided that he had watched it twice, to better understand the story.”

The complete Larawan entourage during our world premiere.

Posted by Alemberg Ang on Monday, October 30, 2017

Closing Ceremonies of the #tokyointernationalfilmfestival2017 @mscelestelegaspi @nonoygallardo @mister_angst #direkloyarcenas

Posted by GR Rodis on Thursday, November 2, 2017

As for the entire experience, Legaspi expressed it was all in all a “very warm, fulfilling experience … worth the difficulty of being in baro’t saya.”

Director Arcenas, meanwhile, shared how Legaspi, after the second screening, treated the “almost-sold-out” crowd to another impromptu performance. She performed “La Vie en Rose” in Filipino (as translated by National Artist Rolando Tinio, who wrote the libretto of “Ang Larawan”), English and French a cappella.

The director quipped: “That ended our Q&A on a high note,” He also revealed that it has been four years since the producers, Celeste and Girlie (Rodis), offered him the chance to direct the film. 

“It has been an exhilarating journey for me and the entire ‘Larawan’ family. It is now time to offer it to the world and let it take its own journey.”

The journey doesn’t stop here as “Ang Larawan” will soon be showcased in the Cinematografo fest in San Francisco, California on Nov. 9 to 12, as the opening film. “Ang Larawan” was hailed as “stirring … handsomely produced… impeccably performed and crisply photographed” by Variety’s Richard Kuipers in a Nov. 1 essay.

Akio Fujimoto’s “Passage of Life” (Japan-Myanmar) bagged the top prize in the Asian Future section. Arnel “Arbi” Barbarona also had the chance to present indigenous music after a screening of his Asian Future entry titled, “Tu Pug Imatuy” (The Right to K**l) where he played a handcrafted boat lute, which is called kudlung in their tribe He explained: “It’s an original Manobo string instrument.”

According to him, foreign audience seemed “amazed by our culture.” “I performed a song titled ‘Laisan’.”

He was asked questions, mostly about his film’s theme, which attempted to present the armed conflict in Mindanao and the situation of the Lumad community. He related: “They wanted to know if the cast members were real Lumad or professional actors. They were curious about the meaning of the title,” then explaining that “most of the main actors were Lumad,” except for his daughter Jillian Khayle Barbarona.

He also made clear that the title is not a declaration, but a question. “Who has the right to k**l? The Lumad, to protect themselves from the military? The soldiers, who look at Lumad as lower-class citizens? The rebels and soldiers, who want to win a war? Or the capitalists, who destroy the environment for profit?”

The whole experience was wrapped up by the Japanese viewers queuing up in an orderly fashion, to get the autographs of Legaspi, Alejandro, Arcenas and Barbarona after their respective screenings.

Watch: Full performance of ‘Kay Sarap ng Buhay Nung Araw’ with Rachel Alejandro and Celeste Gallardo

Full performance of Kay Sarap ng Buhay Nung Araw with Rachel Alejandro and Celeste Gallardo at the Q & A of the World premiere of Ang Larawan at the Tokyo International Film Festival this afternoon.

Posted by GR Rodis on Monday, October 30, 2017