Cine Totoo features 18 documentaries to be screened in select cinemas until September 30

by Romy Antonette Peñ
Sep 24, 2014
“We are excited to share the films of this talented batch of filmmakers. They each offer a unique and interesting insight into the contemporary Filipino experience,” says Cine Totoo Festival Director Joseph Israel Laban (not in photo). The chosen documentaries will be screened at Trinoma, SM Megamall, and SM Manila until September 30.

GMA News TV channel officially launched Cine Totoo Philippine International Documentary Film Festival, its first-ever documentary competition.

“We really wanted to promote documentaries kasi in a way that a lot of people will be able to watch [them],” said Cine Totoo Festival Director Joseph Israel Laban. “It will be accessible not just in certain venues, but in commercial cinemas. And we thought and we felt that that was the important aspect of it because we wanted to bring it to the public.”

Eleven entries from the Philippine section and 7 entries from the Southeast Asian section will be screened in competition in select cinemas of Trinoma, SM Megamall, and SM Manila starting today, September 24 until September 30. The price per film screening is P100.

The finalists for the Philippine section are Agbalbalitok (The Gold Prospector) by Ferdinand Balanag; A Journey to Haifa by Nawruz Paguidopon, Ang Gitaristang Hindi Marunong Magskala by Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez; Ang Walang Kapagurang Paglalakbay ng Pulang Maleta by Richard Legaspi; Gusto Nang Umuwi ni Joy by Jan Tristan Pandy; Kung Giunsa Pagbuhat ang Binsayang Chopsuey (How to Make a Visayan Chopsuey) by Charliebebs Gohetia; Komikero Chronicles by Keith Sicat; Mananayaw by Rafael Froilan; Marciano by Ivy Rose Universe Baldoza; Migkahi e si Amey te, Uli ki pad (Father Said, Let’s Return Home) by Nef Luczon, and Walang Rape sa Bontok by Carla Samantha Ocampo.

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The entries that will compete in the Southeast Asian section are Tan Pin Pin’s To Singapore With Love (Singapore), Misha Anissimov’s Once in a Lifetime: A Russian Song for Guiuan (Philippines), Nontawat Numbenchapol’s By The River and Boundary (Thailand), Dwi Sujanti Nugraheni’s Denok and Gareng (Indonesia), Adjani Arumpac’s War is a Tender Thing (Philippines), and Uruphong Raksasad’s The Songs of Rice (Thailand).

In a press conference held on the 17th floor of GMA Network Center last night, host Rhea Santos introduced the directors and unveiled the official trailers of their documentaries. The panel also answered questions from the members of the press.

The finalists in the Philippine section are composed of independent filmmakers, scholars, and members of the film industry without prior full-length film credits. Four of the documentaries were partly shot in different countries such as United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, and France. Most of the entries also feature different languages and dialects like Visayan, Kapampangan, and Ilokano.

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At the launch, Filipino folk singer and composer Noel Cabangon treated everyone to smooth renditions of “Sangandaan” from the movie Sister Stella L. (1984) and his own song “Simpleng Pilipino.”

In an interview with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) after the press conference, Laban said the finalists underwent a rigorous selection process that began with a callout in December 2013. “May plug, sinabihan namin sila na magsubmit,” said Laban, who’s also an award-winning independent filmmaker and executive producer of Front Row, a GMA News and Public Affairs documentary program. “So nagpapadala sila ng mga very basic lang na mga proposals. It’s a basic outline, mayro’ng characters na nando’n, kung sinong mga target nilang interviewhin, paano ’yong takbo ng story. Tapos nagsa-submit din sila ng sample work nila, or ’yong pitch reel ’yong tawag.”

The independent filmmakers each received a grant of P150,000 and a time frame to finish their documentaries from January to July 2014.

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Laban added: “We met the finalists kasi ininterview namin sila [and] you’ll see the level of commitment of the filmmakers. We asked them the difficult questions like ‘Given our limited budget, are you gonna be able to pull it off?’ Mga gano’n. Kasi some of their documentaries are really big in terms of ambition, e. So you have to ask.”

Cine Totoo will give three awards for the Philippine section namely Best Documentary Film, Special Jury Prize and Audience Choice Award. The winners will receive trophies, cash prizes, and their documentaries will be aired on GMA News TV. One entry from the Southeast Asian section will be hailed as Best Southeast Asian Documentary.

The judges for the festival include documentarist Ditsi Carolino, award-winning director Adolf Alix Jr., screenwriter & director Dr. Clodualdo Del Mundo, GMA 1st VP for Public Affairs and GMA News TV Channel Head Nessa Valdellon.

The awarding ceremonies will be held at Resorts World Manila’s Newport Theater on October 2.

Here are the entries for the Philippine section:

(The Gold Prospector)

Since the dawn of civilization, man has been captivated by gold. Centuries before the conquistadors and great explorers of the Old World set sail in search of gold, silver and spices, the original settlers of Itogon – the Ibalois and the Kankana-eys – panned gold from the rivers and streams flowing down its verdant slopes. This idyll was broken with the arrival of the American prospectors in Benguet, marking the first gold rush in Itogon. Gold exploration in the mountains of Benguet peaked with the establishment of some of the world’s biggest mining corporations, behemoths that relentlessly tunneled into the mountains – blasting, hauling, crushing and refining gold ore – until all the viable deposits were depleted. Only then did the mining frenzy end as these giants shut down, but only for a moment.

The meteoric rise in the price of gold has spawned a 21st century gold rush in the abandoned mines of Itogon as leftover low-grade deposits become big business once more. In the mad scramble to extract more and more from the almost exhausted supply, big mining corporations clash with indigenous peoples and tens of thousands of migrant small-scale miners over control of the land and its resources. It is in these turbulent times that we find John Ray, a young Ibaloi miner trying to support his growing family, making difficult choices. Driven by the hope of striking it rich and the desperation of living hand to mouth, John Ray makes an offering to the benevolent and generous god of gold, Balitok, just as his forefathers have done before him. When he finds a promising vein, however, the traditional miner decides to shun the old ways of mining gold and run the mine differently, using modern mining methods that are more aggressive, and far more destructive. As he goes through great lengths to mine this precious metal, he soon realizes the true price of gold and who really pays for it. It is through his eyes and the eyes of those around him that we shall see the dark, underground world of the gold prospector, and the light at the end of the tunnel.

Kung Giunsa Pagbuhat Ang Binisayang Chopsuey
(How to Make a Visayan Chopsuey)

Tchoukball is an indoor sport created in Switzerland in the 1970s.Tchoukball in the Philippines started in Davao City in 2010. Because of its nature as a non-contact sport and its core value of respect, good relationships and harmony among its players, the sport evolved into becoming a venue for redemption of its players.

The team now comprises of a diverse mix of individuals from the different sectors of society: former drug runners, children in conflict with the law, pastors, working professionals, businessmen, out-of-school youth and homosexuals.

Without much resources to keep them going, the team was able to win medals for the country in a tournament in Vietnam in 2011. This year however is a different story. Another tournament, another hurdle.

Will the team be able to get through the obstacles as they prepare for the competition in Taiwan?

Ang Gitaristang Hindi Marunong Magskala

He is probably one of the most underrated and most unrecognizable lead guitarists in the Philippines in the past 40 years. However, for those who know him, he is considered an idol and a legend. Pepe Smith calls him “the silent one”. Ely Buendia considers him a mentor. Noel Cabangon has only good words for his unique guitar playing. Lolita Carbon says he plays the guitar from the heart. And Ira Cruz considers him a miracle man on his red guitar.

For years, he has showed the music scene his unique way of playing his iconic red Stratocaster guitar.

They say he doesn’t know how to play guitar scales but relies more of playing by his heart when he starts plucking his guitar strings. For years also, he has been known as the lead guitarist of the first-ever Pinoy punk rock band The Jerks whom he has been a founding member since 1979. Together with frontman Chickoy Pura, they have been the Glimmer Twins of the Pinoy rock scene. The Mick Jagger-Keith Richards of the Philippines. The Ozzy Osborne-Tony Iommi partnership. The Steven Tyler-Joe Perry duo. However, in 2011, things changed when he was reported to have been kicked out of the band. What really happened? What triggered his dismissal from the band he has been with for the past four decades?

This is the story of guitar legend Nitoy Adriano, his life, his music, his art, his red guitar, his strums, his plucks, his riffs, his scales. Ang Gitaristang Hindi Marunong Magskala is the story, not only of Nitoy Adriano, but also other forgotten and neglected musicians and artists in the country.

The film features interviews with Filipino rock legends Pepe Smith, Lolita Carbon, Wally Gonzalez, Ely Bunedia, Marcus Adoro, Noel Cabangon, Bobby Balingit, Buddy Trinidad, Chong and Chang Tengasantos of Reggae Mistress, Rolly Maligad of Cocojam, Ira Cruz, Ebe Dancel, Hilera's Chris Padilla, Kettle Mata, Edwin Aguilar and Paolo Manuel of The Jerks, and former Jerks sessionists Brutus Lacano, Bombi Plata, and Dwight Gaston. It will also feature Pinoy rock figures such as Patrick Reidenbach and Robbie Sunico of Club Dredd, Sazi Cosino of Mayrics, Ramon "The Doctor" Zialcita, and former Jingle Magazine writers Tony Maghirang, Edwin Sallan, Pocholo Concepcion, and legendary indie filmmaker Rox Lee as they talk about the evolution of rock music in the Philippines.

Ang Gitaristang Hindi Marunong Magskala is not only the journey of Nitoy Adriano. It is also the journey of all struggling,
neglected, starving yet still surviving musicians and artists in the Philippines.

Gusto Nang Umuwi ni Joy

Engaged by a middle-class household as a nanny and cleaner since 2008, Joy is not just one of about 200,000 Filipinosliving and workingin the United Kingdom—she is also one of an estimated 1.1 million undocumented migrants from various countries. Her status carries with it many risks, one of the greatest being the possibility of apprehension and deportation by the UK Home Office.In recent years, the agency has been implementing ever tougher immigration measures in a political climate that, in the wake of the so-called Great Recession, favors stronger border controls.

Needing to provide for her family back in Batangas, Joy has acted upon the advice of her friends, seeking the aid of solicitors to render her stay lawful. If successful, such a move would secure her employment and the future of her kin.

More crucially, it would allow her to return to the Philippines for short vacations and spend time with the loved ones from whom she has long been apart.While she talks to her husband Bobil daily, and gets in touch with her children and other relatives regularly via Skype and Viber, she has nevertheless missed countless moments that she would have liked to share and celebrate with them in person.

There is no guarantee that the Home Office will find in her favor, however—all she can do is submit to the process and hope that her petition for legalization will be granted, maintaining a low profile in the meantime. Gusto Nang Umuwi ni Joy follows Joy as she attends to her daily responsibilities, spends time with her friends, communicates with her family, and keeps up with Philippine current affairs and soap operas, all the while looking forward to the prospect of at last coming home to everyone and everything she has labored and endured so much for.


For a man in today's society, the choice to dance is a difficult one. Fatigue, societal pressure, and misconceptions abound in a dancer's life. What makes it worth it? Mananayaw explores this through the stories of Filipino male ballet dancers. In their lives, perseverance, passion, and the relentless search for excellence take center stage.


A compelling portrait of a gay OFW who lived in Paris for 25 years and died there alone. The narrative is built around found stories of relatives, acquaintances and even strangers – and everything that happened in Marciano’s life is soon forged together by collective memory.

Walang Rape sa Bontok

Two Filipinas, both victims of sexual abuse in varying degrees, yearn and search for a utopia where women can live without being sexually violated. By chance, they encounter a study by renowned anthropologist June Prill-Brett, Ph.D., which states that the Bontok of the Philippine Cordilleras has lived for eras without a term, nor concept, nor incidence, of rape. At last, a utopia, where the most heinous of gender crimes is unheard of. Or, is it?

The search centers on the municipality of Bontoc, the locus of Bontok culture. Alas, the move to completely revalidate Dr. Brett’s statement is a generation too late. Oral tradition is now seldom retold, and the last generation of Bontok Igorots who have lived in the traditional ato and olog are already in their twilight years.

Through judiciary archives, local government records, and the oral narratives of Bontok elders, the mission does find its holy grail, albeit almost dead: suffocating under the inevitable weight of alien culture and mass media. If at all, the rape-less society still exists, but only within small, close-knit Bontok communes. Still exists, but trapped in the rapidly-fading past: the last evidence proving its very existence is the collective memory of Bontok elders who do not even know each other, all saying “Idi, awan! Tatta, addan …” (“In our days, there was none! But today, there is rape…”)

The documentary seeks to answer this question: in this world where the universality of women oppression is widely believed, how did a rape-less society ever become possible?

Komikero Chronicles

National hero Jose Rizal was not only the writer of the Noli and Fili, but also the first documented Filipino to create comics. With the history of komiks starting with him, could his socially conscious ideas be imbedded in this popular art?

Charting komiks’ development from Rizal, through Tony Velasquez and Kenkoy, National Artist Francisco V. Coching’s formidable body of work, and the popular creations of Mars Ravelo and Carlo J. Caparas, Komikero Chronicles examines the highly political ideas that thread through these various stories and styles, recognizing the wit and vanguard thinking of many of these artists, discovering the breadth of their influence stretches all the way to U.S. shores and back.

Containing interviews from internationally hailed komiks artists such as Gerry Alanguilan and Leinil Yu, to controversial icon Carlo J. Caparas, covering the Filipino creators of mainstream American comics characters such as Tony DeZuniga, Steve Gan, and Whilce Portacio, and the thoughts of internationally awarded filmmaker Lav Diaz who got his start writing komiks, the film examines the themes and issues that make this medium an important, artistic one.

Ang Walang Kapagurang Paglalakbay ng Pulang Maleta
(Untiring Journey of the Red Suitcase)

Biella, Italy has been famous for its main industry of wool-making for several years now. But as time passed by, each wool they have been weaving were slowly declining due to the shutdown of factories and the downfall of industries.

Each fabric of wool has been trying to weave together the culture, history and people of Biella, including the Filipino workers and their families who continuously toil and embrace Italy.

This documentary tells each story of love, travails and sacrifices of our fellow Filipinos in order to create a community where the culture of both worlds can be freely woven together.

It started with Loreta Mercado, a Filipina who arrived in Biella in 1978, bringing along with her the thread of her dreams and one local young man followed that thread until he married and taught

Loreta to weave their lives and beliefs together. Being the first Filipina to love this province, Loreta’s love for her husband, child and for Biella, symbolizes her untiring journey as the red suitcase from the East.

She did not keep her fortunes to herself and despite the difficulty; she bravely pulled each fabric that links her siblings and relatives until they arrived in Italy. And for almost three decades, although these fabrics sometimes got entangled with each other, Loreta’s niece, Roan Asuncion, has been known to be the youngest weaver of migrants in the Piemonte region. Her small business, the Filipino Store or Tropical Mini-Mart serves as a spindle that connects not only Filipinos but the other nationalities as well.

Because of this, Roan and her mini-store serves to unite and weave tightly the relationships of Filipinos, Italians and other people with the variety of food offered in her store.

It is true that many factories of wool have closed shop. It is true that Italy has gone through an economic crisis. And most of all, in every turn of the spindle to release the colorful fabric and yield textiles from the machine, it is true that each strand represents the different nations who continuously travel to Biella.

The Untiring Journey of the Red Suitcase is the story of Filipinos who tirelessly travel to work, dream and overcome the challenges of life in Biella, Italy.

A Journey to Haifa

A Journey to Haifa is about the filmmaker and his family's journey to a religious Pilgrimage in Haifa, Israel. As the trip unfolds, he finds himself in a contradictory situation. While he is able to find peace and tranquility from his struggles in the Philippines, the religious aspect of the journey continuously leave conflicting signals in relation to his outlook of the Faith as a gay man. He ponders on these conflicts near the holy Shrines and other sacred sites during Pilgrimage. What sort of changes will he experience, if any, at the conclusion of the religious journey? The story is a fusion of animation and documentary.

Migkahi e si Amey te, Uli ki pad
(Father Said, Let’s Return Home)

After the death of the cultural icon and chieftain of the Manobo-Tigwahanon tribe in San Fernando, Bukidnon, there was a morale vacuum that was felt by his community in the village of Kibongkog. More so to his own family that mainly composed of his founded tribal band - Indakolon - was “disbanded” and his children carried on with their lives as wandering workers in the urban cities.

And then one day, his adopted son took up the courage to restore everything in a hope to preserve and save the younger generations from slipping in their true identities and stewards of the earth of the past.

(To learn more about the Southeast Asian entries, CLICK HERE)

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“We are excited to share the films of this talented batch of filmmakers. They each offer a unique and interesting insight into the contemporary Filipino experience,” says Cine Totoo Festival Director Joseph Israel Laban (not in photo). The chosen documentaries will be screened at Trinoma, SM Megamall, and SM Manila until September 30.
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