In celebration of the International Human Rights Day 2018, the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP UK) sponsors an HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FUNDRAISER
WAR IS A TENDER THING
A documentary film
Adjani Arumpac | Philippines | 2013 | 01:14:00
I never met Modesto and Macaurog. Of course. Modesto is the grandfather of my maternal grandmother. Macaurog is the father of my paternal grandfather. That our ancestors are essentially strangers to us is quite perplexing. The familial is not necessarily familiar. But how they weigh in, more so in absence.
In my documentary film, War is a Tender Thing, I reveal the narrative of a very long war in the Philippines through my family’s memories of struggle. The battlefield is the place where I grew up—the Land of Promise or Mindanao, Philippines. Digging deep into the history of integration of cultures brought together by a state-sponsored land resettlement project in the 1930s, I arrive at ground zero— the massive migration within the country wherein ancestral Muslim and indigenous peoples’ lands were given by the Philippine government to Christian settlers from the capital.
The result was a war among the peoples that raged on until now, almost half a century later. The ease with which fond memory flows belies its context. Modesto, a Christian; and Macaurog, a Muslim, were both good husbands and fathers and grandfathers. For their family, they were gentle providers and fierce protectors. But their very survival makes up for the endless war in that land they both call home.
My forefathers were pawns in a vicious sport by the colonial and, now, neocolonial powers. Modesto had the courage to move and settle. Macaurog had the strength to stay. Theirs is a fight for respite. But this narrative has been buried under decades of mainstream media misrepresentation as a war drenched only and only in violence and blood, wherein the men and women are rendered only as statistics— faceless and nameless.
Modesto’s great granddaughter is my mother. Macaurog’s grandson is my father. I am Muslim. I am Christian. How does one retell the story of a war so firmly entrenched in the quotidian it has become the norm? How does one redefine a war through one’s kin, one’s skin? One begins with what one holds dearest. I begin at home.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
Adjani Arumpac studied BA in Film at the University of the Philippines and cinematography at the Mowelfund Institute. She specializes in the documentary film genre. Her undergraduate thesis, Walai (2006) is the first in an ongoing autobiographical trilogy on internal diaspora in the Philippines, followed by War is a Tender Thing (2013). Her other works include Nanay Mameng (2013), a feature on the life of an octogenarian Philippine urban mass leader; and full-length documentary videos produced for a local direct cinema television show.
Her works have been shown in various film festivals including, among others, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Beijing Independent Film Festival, DMZ International Documentary Film Festival, ChopShots Documentary Film Festival, Southeast Asian Film Festival, ASEAN Film Festival, Jocelyne Saab's Cultural Resistance International Film Festival, Doclisboa 12th Festival Internacional de Cinema, and London 1st Essay Film Festival.
She is also an art writer, working with artists and local and international galleries on curatorial texts of exhibitions. Her interest in bridging the medium of documentary film genre and modern art practices manifest in her documentary films that have been translated and integrated in installation works exhibited in Manila, Lucban, Guangdong, Berlin, HongKong and Paris.
MEET THE WRITER AND DIRECTOR
There will be a Q&A with Adjani after the screening.