In an interview with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal), veteran actor
Ernie Garcia described the problems that he and some of his movies had with
strict moralists and, of course, the powerful board of censors.
"Minsan, isang araw lang sa sinehan 'yong pelikula then ipu-pull out.
Naka-padlock na 'yong movie theaters kinabukasan, kasi may reklamo galing sa
ibang grupo," he recalled with a tinge of nostalgia.
Ernie, who was known in the ‘70s as a sexy actor, was
unconvinced with the way some of his films were screened to determine whether
they were "unfit for public viewing" or not. He argued that some of the complainants neither
watched his sexy films nor saw the execution of the "daring" scene.
"'Yong iba, hindi naman nila napanood and akala naman garapal na ‘yong
mga eksena pero hindi naman. May isa lang na mag-reklamo and ayon, madami ng
makikisali," he said tersely.
Even as Ernie now enjoys a serene lifestyle as an artist, the problems
he and his peers encountered before are the same ones faced by the TV and movie
stars of today.
MTRCB THROUGH THE YEARS. After the Philippines declared independence for
the second time (the first was on June 12, 1898, against the Spanish regime) on
July 4, 1946 (after U.S. colonization), our lawmakers enacted Republic Act No.
3060, creating the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures (BCMP), which had a
hold on television programs as well.
In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos was elected president. Gradually he altered and
strengthened the powers of the censorship board on his way to declaring Martial
Law on September 21, 1972.
Escalating the power of the censors coincided with Marcos's desire to
monitor and restrict films, shows, and even theater performances that carried
socio-political themes attacking his administration. He replaced the BCMP with
the Board of Review for Motion Pictures and Television (BRMPT).
On October 5, 1985, Marcos abolished the BRMPT and formed the Movie and
Television Regulation and Classification Board (MTRCB), fully establishing the
scope and jurisdiction of censorship in the country.
According to the MTRCB preamble, the organization was formed around the need
to introduce "innovative and fresh ideas toward the improvement and
development of the film and television industry," and to "improve,
upgrade and make viable the industry as one source of fueling the national
But it mentions nothing about "setting standards for cultural
refinement of the movies and television." Nor does it give the board the
responsibility "to keep society's moral balance."
Throughout the history of MTRCB, its critics have noted that the standards and
qualifications for its rulings depend on the personality, character and moral
stance of whoever is the incumbent chairperson.
THE MORATO REGIME (1986 - 1992). Manuel Morato assumed the MTRCB
leadership after Marcos's ouster in the historic 1986 EDSA Revolt.
As a strict moralist who proclaimed the value of celibacy, Morato quickly
earned the ire of the movie industry with his iron-fisted rule.
Morato's primary concern was the youth and their "preservation of
morality"—which didn't sit well with producers, directors, and liberal-minded