Director Joel Lamangan admitted that sequences in his indie film Sigwa closely resemble his experiences during the First Quarter Storm of 1970. It will be recalled that he was jailed twice, first in 1973 and then in 1977. He was tortured for having joined one of the first rallies against Martial Law.
"Ito ay malapit sa puso namin ni Boni [Ilagan, the writer of the film] dahil pinagdaanan namin ang karanasan halos lahat ng mga taong involved dito sa pelikula," said Direk Joel in a previous interview with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal).
Sigwa is Direk Joel's official entry and one of the five finalists in the Director's Showcase category of the 6th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival and Competition. The newly established section is open to all Filipino filmmakers who have directed at least three full-length feature films.
"There were several scripts that were given. This is one of the five that were chosen. So, we're so happy na nakuha ito. At maisasakatuparan na may gawang pelikula ang isang nais naming mabigyang-buhay ni Boni Ilagan...na mailagay sa pelikula," said Direk Joel.
"Hindi ito malayo sa 'min," he added. "Malapit itong istorya na ito sa amin coz ito ang isa sa mga istoryang hindi kailanman nabigyang buhay. Kung hindi man nabigyang buhay ay pahapyaw na binigyang buhay sa ibang pelikulang nagawa na tungkol dito."
40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THIRD QUARTER STORM. 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm and the independent film Sigwa (the Tagalog term for "storm") is indeed a fitting offering to this event.
"Magandang okasyon para maipalaganap ang aral ng kasaysayan lalo na sa kasalukuyang henerasyon ng mga kabataan," said writer Bonifacio Ilagan.
"As the story [of Sigwa] progresses, lumalabas po ang mga insights ng nakaraan at kasalukuyan.
"There is a very clear connection that kaming dalawa ni Direk Joel ay talagang gusto naming ilabas. Because after all, history happens in a continuum. Ang nakaraan ay may direktang kaugnayan sa kasalukuyan."
Sigwa revolves around six young persons who were caught in the period of civil unrest that started in the first three months of 1970. Student-led demonstrations sparked the beginning of an active political force that rallied against the oppressive Ferdinand Marcos regime.
It is one of the full-length films that will be screened during the annual Cinemalaya film fest to be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from July 9-18, 2010.
SYNOPSIS. The story of Sigwa spans 40 years from the early '70s to the present. It begins during the First Quarter Storm (FQS) movement of 1970.
Dolly (Megan Young) is a Filipino-American journalist assigned to cover a story on the student activism in the Philippines. In Manila, she tried to blend in with the student militants to get first-hand information for her story. Over time, she becomes a convert to the cause and falls in love with Eddie (Allen Dizon), one of the activists. Little did she know that the man she loved was actually a government spy infiltrating the movement.
Not long after the FQS, Martial Law is declared in 1972. Dolly and the rest of her comrades have to go underground. Some remained in the cities to continue with the resistance, some are assigned to the countryside to wage armed struggle.
Amidst the chaos, Dolly faces a greater tragedy in her life. She is pregnant with her child with Eddie when she finds out about his deception. Eddie admits that he is a deep-penetration agent and asks for Dolly's forgiveness. Out of guilt, he commits suicide.
Soon after, Dolly is apprehended by the military. She is deported back to U.S., leaving her with no choice but to leave her child behind.
Thirty-five years later, Dolly comes back to the Philippines to search for her daughter. With her return, old wounds are reopened as she seeks out her former comrades. In the end, she'll find more than what she was looking for as she finds out that most of them—just like her—are still struggling for an illusive freedom from their personal dilemmas.
LIST OF CHARACTERS. The epic drama Sigwa has two sets of actors: the younger versions of the characters from the '70s and the older versions in the present.
Dolly. The story is initially told from Dolly's point of view. The American-Filipino magazine correspondent is too involved in the militant's cause and becomes an activist herself. When she discovers the real identity of the father of her child, her love turns to hatred. She is led to believe that her daughter is dead but thirty-five years later, she receives word that her daughter Karina is still alive and being cared for by Azon. The young Dolly will be portrayed by Megan Young and will be portrayed by Dawn Zulueta in the present.
Eddie. Allen Dizon will give life to Eddie's character. Unknown to his comrades, including Dolly, Eddie is not really an activist but a deep penetration Agent hired by the government to infiltrate the militants' camp. His character changes his ideology due to conflicts between love and civil duty.
Oliver. During the '70s, Oliver (Marvin Agustin) was a student-activist in a state university. He was the first one to be arrested among his friends. Vulnerable that he was and afraid of spending the rest of his life inside prison, he betrayed his friends and cooperated instead with the military. Years later, he becomes the President's spokesperson (portrayed by Tirso Cruz III).
Sita. Pauleen Luna plays the role of young Sita, Oliver's girlfriend in the past. In the present, she becomes one of the high-ranking officials in the New People's Army as opposed to Oliver's siding with the government. Moviegoers will be able to see Zsa Zsa Padilla don military fatigue and carry firearms for her role as Sita.
Rading. The young Rading (Jay Aquitania) was an out-of-school youth activist who secretly admired Dolly. When Dolly returns from America, she finds that that mature Rading (Jim Pebangco) is still passionate about the cause even though he was tortured extensively for his beliefs.
Azon. Azon (Lovi Poe) is an activist who was apprehended by the military and raped during her capture. She is unable to overcome the trauma, making her grow weak and frail. For many years, Azon (Gina Alajar) raised Karina as her own daughter.
Joining Sigwa's stellar cast will be Racquel Villavicencio as Eddie's mother and Rico Barrera as Rading's son.
Tickets for Cinemalaya 2010 are priced at P150 per film, and P75 for students. The Awards Night will take place this Sunday, July 18, 7pm at the CCP Main Theatre.
(CLICK HERE to view the screening schedules of this year's Cinemalaya enteries)