SORSOGON CITY – Sorsogon 2nd district Representative Deogracias B. Ramos, Jr. has called for the creation of a government agency whose sole mandate is to establish and maintain a National Film Archive.
He said government agencies involved in promoting and preserving the arts are unable to effectively build a film archive due to funding issues, multiple responsibilities, storage concerns and lack of technical expertise needed to preserve films properly.
“The importance of film in education and providing a country an insight into its past cannot be stressed enough. One is able to learn more about a country and its people as the images, story and sound provide an insight into who we are,” he remarked.
He pointed out that assigning one agency the sole task of acquiring and preserving Filipino films would strengthen efforts to establish a film archive since the entity would not be distracted by other responsibilities.
Under House Bill No. 4407, a National Film Preservation Commission will be established for the sole purpose of acquiring, maintaining and preserving culturally or historically significant Filipino films.
The National Film Preservation Board will oversee the operations of the Commission. Members of the board include the Secretary of the Department of Education, Chairperson of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Commissioner of the National Commission on Culture and Arts, representatives from the film directors association, film producers association, theater owners association and the screenwriters association.
The bill requires film producers to provide the Commission a good preservation copy within six months from the release of a movie. It is understood that the Commission will shoulder the costs incurred in copying the film.
For films released five years before the date of the Commission’s formal creation, the Board shall review nominations submitted by the general public and representatives of the film industry.
According to the Society of Film Archivists, around 8,000 Filipino films were made since 1919. Of the figure, it is believed only 3,500 films have existing copies.
In 1919, Jose Nepomuceno, a well-known photographer with a background in painting and electrical engineering, produced and exhibited the first Filipino film, Dalagang Bukid. Originally written as a zarzuela, the film featured Marceliano Ilagan and Atang de la Rama and was subtitled in English, Spanish and Tagalog.
The oldest known Filipino film with a surviving copy is Eduardo de Castro’s Zamboanga. The 1937 film, which starred Fernando Poe Sr and Rosa del Rosario, was discovered at the US Library of Congress by a local filmmaker. The Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund) secured a copy of the film following the discovery.