(Following is the continuation of the interview with a past guild president on the present plight of the Film Academy. Upon his request, we used Darth Vader for his moniker—AJS).
Darth Vader shares some anecdotes on his stay with the Film Academy especially when the office had just transferred to the present location at Panay Avenue, Quezon City.
Film Academy Office
“Before Leo Martinez, sabog-sabog ang mga guilds, kalat-kalat kami. Ilan lang ang may office kaya ang mga guild members parang mga tupang naliligaw. Mismong ang FAP ni hindi mo alam kung nasaan. Kaya nga akala ng mga tao eh puro awards lang ang ginagawa ng FAP noong araw. Pero sa totoo lang, ano ba ang nagawa ng FAP dati?” By the way he talks, Darth Vader seems to have a lot of aces inside his sleeves so we gave him the assurance of the freedom of expression – that his revelations will not undergo standard editing.
“Excited kami noon,” Darth Vader is referring to the guild presidents who were about to have a cubicle of their own. “Si Manny Nuqui ang nag-asikaso, pati design, pati pagawa, siya lahat. Okay naman kasi fair ang pagkakaayos ng mga cubicles ng guilds.” Each cubicle was about 2 by 3 meters in size with a matching door. Furnishings were to be provided by the guilds. As a sign of his generosity, Mr. Nuqui had offered the cubicle of the PMPPA (Philippine Motion Pictures Producers Association with Mr. Nuqui as president) for the use of the FAP website personnel.
“As I have said, inulan kami ng projects. Pagdating sa projects para sa guilds, winner ang FAP. Unahin mo na yung mga basic workshop, di ba naka-attend ka? Halos eksakto lang ang budget ng mga workshop kaya hinihiritan namin ang FAP chairman para sa food,” Darth Vader fails to suppress a series of laughter. Most of the workshops by the guilds were sponsored by government institutions like NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) and MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority via the Film Festival committee). Darth Vader claims that the FAP chairman is very generous when it comes to dole-outs particularly to meaningful activities like seminars and the like.
“Ayan, napunta tayo sa educational program. Nasa charter ng FAP yan. Aside from giving awards, education ang isang aspect o objective ng FAP. “Continuous education of guild members for the enhancement of their skills is on the priority list of the Film Academy. Darth Vader avers that in the light of the foregoing financial crisis, workshops and seminars next year will surely dwindle in numbers. “Siguro kanya-kanyang hanap ng pondo na lang. Pero pag ganun, makikita mo ang mga tamad na guilds,” says Darth Vader with apparent disgust.
“Mabalik lang tayo sa budget cut. Unfair talaga yan kasi pagdating naman sa finances walang corruption sa FAP. Yes, yes, kahit ipa-audit mo pa sa pinagamaling na CPA ang libro ng FAP wala silang makikitang kupitan.” Darth Vader points out that despite the numerous projects undertaken by FAP, there was nary an anomaly and any and all expenses were fully recorded.
“Pero may isang anomalya dyan, maliit lang naman pero it involves… propriety ba ang tawag dun? Ewan ko lang kung ganun pa rin ang setup. Bilangin mo ang mga cubicles dapat puro guilds yan pero merong isang cubicle na hindi occupied ng guild. Tingnan mo ang initials sa pinto ng cubicle para malaman mo,” Darth Vader winks to accentuate his controversial allegation.
“O, eto pa ang isang minor,” Darth Vader seems to be having a nice time in fault-finding. “Yung digital camera, remember that? Bumili ang FAP ng digital camera for the use of the website, di ba? Tapos merong nainggit kaya bumili ng isa pa. Tama ba yun?” Indeed, the Film Academy owns two digital cameras of the same brand and of the same model, giving one the impression that FAP has a lot of money to spend. “O, asan na yung isang camera? Wala na ba?” Darth Vader exudes a sarcastic tone as if he was sure that the other digital camera is missing.
“Sa projects naman, halos lahat maganda kaya lang minsan parang kulang sa planning o kulang siguro sa mga utak ang nag-iisip. Gaya nung livelihood project nila, kalokohan yun.” Darth Vader cannot fully remember the exact figures but he says that FAP had spent almost half a million pesos for a networking scheme to be participated in by selected guild members. The project fizzled out soon after the guild members had failed to accomplish their part of the bargain. In fairness to the participants, selling soap bars and herbal lotions is not their cup of tea so the 4,400 pesos paid as membership fee seemed to have gone down the drain.
“Balita ko hindi na sumisipot si ano…” Darth Vader says with a tinge of intrigue as if he is about to execute a character assassination on one of the present officers of FAP particularly the secretary who replaced Mr. Nuqui. “Yan ang sinasabi ko, gusto lang nila ng position pero hindi naman nila magampanan ang trabaho. Wala silang time o hindi nila kaya ang trabaho? Whatever, ang importante andun dapat sila doing their work, di ba?” The present secretary of the FAP Board has not been reporting for work since a few months ago.
“Still on the position, ano na ang nangyari sa guild natin?” Darth Vader alleges that the present officers of his former guild (which he was president) had blatantly revised the by-laws where non-practitioners used to be classified as associates are now treated as regulars who can run for any elective post. “Can you imagine kung ang manalong officers sa election eh hindi naman professional? Aba, baka hindi nila naiintindihan kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng guild?” Darth Vader’s mouth is spewing fire at the thought that his guild was converted into some sort of a club.
“Sana makita naman ng mga taga-Academy ang nangyayari sa guild natin. Pinabayaan nila ako, I tell you, they forced me out of my guild to appease those… and look what they got now! Honestly, I was working for unity pero unti-unti lang. Gusto nila bigla eh pag binigla ayan ang mangyayari.” Darth Vader insists that the FAP officers had been critical of him during his term hence his impression that his opponents were favored. But in fairness to everyone, a clean election was held in January 2005 which was officiated by some directors and assistant directors. However, right after the counting, the candidate who got the highest vote immediately appointed himself president and conducted a finger-pointing to fill up the rest of the positions for the officers of the guild.
“Gusto ko sanang ma-clear sa mga accusations kaso I was not given an opportunity,” Darth Vader quivers, a clear sign of suppressing his emotions. Most of the current officers of his guild were very vocal in their accusations then but no one took the time to review the accounting records. The present secretary had even proposed a resolution to ban the past three presidents for graft and corruption but he made a 180-degree turn when told to present proof.
“About the respect for the Film Academy, para kasing walang relevance kaya hindi tayo pinapansin ng mga sikat na artista at director. Bukod sa awards, ano ba ang naibibigay ng Academy sa mga taga-industry?” But Darth Vader nods in agreement upon hearing of the FAP resolution to help the producers in promoting their films. “Yan, maganda yan. At least masasabi ng mga producers na tumutulong ang Academy sa industry. Kasi direct na tulong yan hindi gaya ng education. If I know, babango ang Academy sa mga artista at director dahil syempre promo yan eh.” Budget permitting, shootings will have a coverage courtesy of FAP with the intention to promote upcoming movies in alternative media like the internet, and also in the form of newspaper writeups.
“Sana i-continue pa rin ang website kasi yan lang ang concrete achievement ng FAP. And besides, international ang audience ng website, di ba? Teka, di ba nagpalit na naman ng… server. Ano na ba ang website address ngayon?” Darth Vader notes down the new URL of the Film Academy’s website and promises to drop by just to see if the article on his interview would indeed be published.
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