Cebu City as film hub of Southeast Asia

By Malou Guanzon Apalisok August 28,2014

An event in an event best describes the Cebu Film Market and Broadcast Expo (CFMBx) 2014, held last Monday and Tuesday at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel in Lahug.   The event, which is aimed to enhance the local film industry, is part of the 3rd Cebu International Documentary Film Festival (CIDFF).

I dropped by the venue last Monday afternoon to submit some more requirements for a humble entry titled, “The Workers’ Church” and I was greeted by a lot of good news from event organizers, Lilu Aliño, CIDFF chairman and April Dequito, Festival executive director.

April told me the film market expo attracted at least a dozen cineastes from the US, United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, New Zealand, India, Thailand and Manila who all came here to discover the best of what the local film market has to offer.  Earlier, Cebu City Mayor Michael “Mike” Rama came for the formal opening rites and what was supposed to be a simple meet-and-greet ceremony with foreign and local film makers turned out to be an eye-opener for the mayor.  This, after he spoke with film market specialist and hard-core film buff,  Tom Davia.

Tom is connected with Shoreline Entertainment based in Los Angeles, California.  He is a veteran member of the global film community whose track record makes him a mainstay in numerous movie festivals and film markets across the globe.  Whether in the US, Cannes in France, Dubai, India, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Pakistan – you name it, Tom has been there and done mentoring to local film communities.

I think Mayor Rama was greatly impressed by Tom’s presentation about prospects of making Cebu a film hub in Southeast Asia that hizzoner came back a few hours later to talk again with the film market authority.

From what I heard, the mayor is keen to set up a film commission that will put up a one-stop-shop in order to answer the needs of foreign film makers who will come to Cebu for both business and pleasure.  The regional offices of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism and  the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry among other agencies will most likely be included in the film commission.

I had the privilege of talking with Mr. Davia who, despite his Caucasian features, claims to be a Filipino by birth.  In the late 80s, his parents were based in the US military Clark Air Force base in Angeles City, Pampanga. His father used to work as a civilian staff for the US military base and I think that  explains why he is keen to help an organic film market.

According to Tom, the city has a lot to offer in terms of culture and talent.  On top of that, there is a “comfortable” feel to the place, wherein people are always looking for opportunities to make Cebu known internationally.  The pride of place is so apparent in the tireless efforts of the CIDFF organizers, he said.

The economics of the film market is exponential because it is linked to tourism.  In that sense, Mayor Rama should grab the opportunity of setting up the institutional framework for a world class movie festival and film market.  That the city is not starting from scratch is a big plus for the undertaking and for that, Mayor Mike Rama has to thank the local organizers of CIDFF and the support of his new pal, Tom Davia.

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If Manila officials come to Cebu to listen to concerns on the ground, it’s an indication that the P-Noy administration wants to reach out to  disgruntled sectors here.

To recall, it was in Cebu that advocates for the scrapping of the pork barrel system launched the People’s Initiative to push for a bill that will remove the corrupt system and any other discretionary spending in government.  The process requires the signature of at least 10% of total registered voters nationwide.  Once Comelec finds the petition sufficient, it will be ratified in a national referendum.

The administration should closely watch the unfolding events because 10 million signatures calling for an end to the pork barrel can be easily gathered.  People are fed up with the corrupt system and since Congress does not want to give up pork, they want this dealt with the fatal blow via a  People’s Initiative.

The administration should not be complacent that only 3,000 to 5,000 showed up in rallies in Cebu and Manila because the real score is in the growing disenchantment of the people over the system that the President tries to uphold through  the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

Once the petition will go the rounds of the parishes,  signatures will just flow like a waterfall. It  could even muster more than 10 million signatures.  Since President Aquino is jealous  over his discretionary spending power through the DAP, the People’s Initiative directly attacks his position.  If the petition will go through  a national referendum, the President himself will be on the dock.

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