by Jojie Alcantara
Bagane “Bagsy” Fiola, a talented Mindanaoan filmmaker who hails from Davao City, had conceptualized “Baboy Halas” back in 2016 during a documentary shoot in the Cotabato Province of Southern Philippines. A fable recounted by a former rebel commander whose storytelling skills were passed on through generations from his Moro ancestors, inspired Fiola to write “Wailings in the Forest”.
“The film “Wailings in the Forest” (Baboy Halas) somehow became a different story from the fable, but I feel that it represents a wider Mindanawon culture, because boar hunting, as the essence of the film, is a common practice of the ancient tribes in Mindanao, like the lumad (the indigenous people), such as that of the Matigsalug tribe,” Fiola relates in his director’s statement from his website origanefilms.com.
A story of a family of hunter-gatherers in the forest and their means of survival, “Wailings in the Forest” represented the Mindanawon cinema during its premiere in October 2016 at the 4th QCinema International Film Festival in Manila, Philippines. A year later, the film was shown at the prestigious 46th International Film Festival Rotterdam in Netherlands after its local festival screenings in Mindanao. A few months after, the Internationales Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg – one of the oldest film festivals in the world and the second oldest in Germany sent invitation to compete among 44 films from many countries. In the year 2017 alone, the film about the last forest in Mindanao took home several prizes since then, namely: Grand Jury Prize, Dreamanila International Film Festival, Philippines, 2017; Special Newcomer Award, 66th Internationales Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg, Germany, 2017; 5 Nominations in Major awards including Best Picture for 40th Gawad Urian by Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, 2017; Best Cinematography and Visual Design, Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle, 2017; Official Selection, Bright Future section (non-competition), 46th International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2017; and NETPAC Jury Prize for Best Artistic Contribution in Cinematography, QCinema International Film Festival, 2016.
Fiola worked closely with the real Matigsalug tribe as the cast of characters in his masterpiece, weaving a poignant and serene unfolding of the daily struggles of an indigenous family in a forest endangered by outside forces, threatening their last vestige of faith to ancestral spirits whom they seek for help.
“I commend the filmmakers as well as the Matigsalug cast who, for 17 days, over 400 hours, roamed and braved the rainforests of Mindanao to tender beautiful and wild stories that nature has provided. With the blessings of Manama (the gods) and the guidance of the tribe’s people, “Wailings in the Forest” lives on as we share it to the world… and it will always long to return to its beginnings to become a relic of the beautiful and peace loving indigenous people, the lumad of sitio Maharlika barangay Baganihan and sitio Tabontabon barangay Dawag of Marilog district, Davao City,” Bagane relates.
“I thank all who helped us in the making of “Wailings in the Forest”; the Quezon City Film Development Commission, Barangay Council of Baganihan, the Philippine Eagle Foundation, and the lumad (indigenous people) who have a very special participation in the film. I thank my family and friends for the constant support and to all the passionate, creative and ever struggling Davao film community and the local independent film productions. And most importantly, I thank my Nanay who has always been my inspiration since day one.”
You can view more details of the film, including behind the scenes shots and cinematography taken by Raphael Meting and Mark Limbaga on http://origanefilms.com/wailingsintheforest. Sound Design and Color Grading is by Willie Apa Jr.; editing by Willie Apa Jr and Bagane Fiola; production sound by Willie Apa Jr and Charlie Daclan; production design by Joel Geolamen and Bagane Fiola; Directing Assistance by Bem di Lera and Janna Moya; screenplay by Bagane Fiola, Bem di Lera, and Janna Moya; subtitles by Bem di Lera, Janna Moya, Melona Grace Mascariñas, and Bagane Fiola; producing, story and directing by Bagane Fiola. The co-producers are Angely Chi, Aleli Rodriguez, Bebe Go, Bebs Gohetia, Beulah Lawanin Laranjo, Ching Amor, Debbie Karol Butay, Glorypearl Dy, Kazami Joanne Amano, Lou Raphael Cañedo, Jay Rosas, McRobert Nacario, Ralph Elusfa, Carlos Paolo Pascual, Rhon de los Santos, Rudolph Ian Alama, Socorro Fiola, and Yam Palma. Supported by QCinema International Film Festival and the Quezon City Film Development Commission, Barangay Council of Baganiha, and Philippine Eagle Foundation with the special participation of the Lumad (indigenous people) of Maharlika, Baganihan and Tabontabon, Marilog District, Davao City, Philippines.
“Wailings in the Forest” can now be viewed in the 4th Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP), that features a lineup of 168 titles, with 90 full-length features and 78 short films, some of which had limited release in the country.
PPP4 will be held from October 31 to November 15 on the FDCPchannel.ph platform. The Early Bird Rate worth PHP 450 for the 16-day Full Run Pass (PHP 599) is available until October 15 only. Other subscription options are the Half Run Pass (PHP 299) for eight days, Day Pass (PHP 99), and Free Pass (for short films and public events). Discounts will be available beginning October 16 for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens (20%) and students (30%). For updates on additional PPP4 titles and other information, visit FDCPchannel.ph or facebook.com/FDCPPPP.
Thanks PPP4 for the still photos and posters, plus additional award screen shots I took from Fiola’s website origanefilms.com.