By Nonoy L. Lauzon/UP Film Institute

Experiencing the film all over again after close to forty years when it first hit theaters nationwide is a veritable trip down memory lane for repeat viewers from its original run. But fresh audiences watching it now would find it as rewarding. Such instance is nothing but a testament to the true legacy of Mike de Leon’s art and craft.  

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Mike de Leon has directed only eight standard films from the time he debuted with Itim in 1976 but no other body of work from any known Philippine figures in cinema since the birth of local filmmaking can lay claim to match that of the reclusive director, in terms of consistency in quality and high level of artistry.

Mike doesn’t need to make any more films to prove he had made a solid contribution to the country’s film industry. What is needed is to make all of his films required viewing for all Filipinos of right age just so the country can undergo social transformation and imbibe the necessary values pertinent to nation-building and cultural renewal.

The press taking pictures of Charo Santos-Concio and Olivia Lamasan
The press taking pictures of Charo Santos-Concio and Olivia Lamasan

In this light, the restoration of the 1977 classic, Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising, is a most welcome development.  It premiered for the ongoing screenings undertaken by ABS-CBN Film Restoration at Rockwell Power Plant Cinemas for an immediate follow-up to Mike’s other film that has so far been restored last December, namely, Kakaba-kaba Ka Ba. Other films by Mike that may hopefully be restored as well, for the benefit of today’s generation of audiences are Kisapmata, Batch 81, Sister Stella L and Bayaning 3rd World. One other title that has earlier been restored from Mike’s filmography is Hindi Nahahati ang Langit.

Director and Actress Laurice Guillen, who played Cecile in the film
Director and Actress Laurice Guillen, who played Cecile in the film

Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising was among the highly impressive selection of the historic third edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival with some of the rest of the entries from the likes of Celso Ad. Castillo, Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal and Eddie Romero. Such selection is in heavy contrast to what is seen these days with the more recent editions of the annual film festival timed during the Christmas holidays.

Set in the country’s summer capital of Baguio, KMKM might as well be an ode to what is dubbed as the City of Pines with a milieu perfect for a sentimental love story that leaves an indelible mark to the hopeless romantic viewers. It has a quite poignant tale of a brief romance that is not-to-be and yet has not been laid to waste, nonetheless. Its breathtaking cinematography is complemented by rousing music rendering the entire film completely unforgettable. Stars Christopher de Leon and Hilda Koronel are not only at their thespic best but at their most beauteous – which might explain why the film came to be a certified box-office triumph in its time.

Actress Bibeth Orteza, who played Nanette in the film
Actress Bibeth Orteza, who played Nanette in the film
Musician and actor Boboy Garovillo, who played Mike in the film
Musician and actor Boboy Garovillo, who played Mike in the film

The film should also be lauded for the ideology it unravels as it is also a narrative of individuals bolting out and breaking free from the shackles of patriarchal dispensation and dominion. The characters of Christopher and Hilda represent rebel hearts protesting the oppressive habits of the patriarchal order. There lies the full merit of such landmark film that makes it in a way a far cry from the usual celluloid romance that has come to saturate the big screen locally to date.

Photo Credits: facebook.com/filmrestorationabscbn

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