PHILIPPINE CINEMA –
THE OLDEST MOVIE INDUSTRY IN ASIA
Film may be the youngest of the Philippine arts. But believe it or not, it is the oldest movie industry in.
Thanks to the European influences at that time and the innate Filipino fascination with theater, movies were readily accepted and naturally taken to when they came on the scene.
As early as 1897 a Spaniard named Pertierra began to show movies like Un Homme Au Chapeau (Man with a Hat), Une Scene de Danse Japonaise (Scene from a Japanese Dance), Les Boxers (The Boxers) and La Place de L’Opera (The Place L’Opera) on 60mm Gaumont Chrono-Photograph projector at the Salon Pertierra in Escolta.
By 1897 Antonio Ramos, a Spanish soldier fromlocally filmed Panorama de ( Landscape) and other documentaries about Quiapo, Fuente España and Esceñas Callejeras (street scenes).
By 1900 the first hall exclusively devoted to movie viewing had been put up by a Britisher named Walgrah. (It was called Cine Walgrah.) Film supply was regular and abundant. Moviehouses mushroomed — even in provinces which had electricity. According to Arsenio “Boots” Bautista, who wrote a treatise on the History of Philippine Cinema, among Asean countries, the Philippines to date has the most number of movie houses from the urban to the remotest rural areas.
In 1909 the first feature film made in the Philippines was produced by Carl Laemmele’s Independent Moving Picture Company – a 760-foot film called “Rose of the” which was advertised in the Manila Times as “among the first films produced locally – a dramatic story from the days of the Empire”.
The first picture with sound came toin 1910, using the Chronophone. Sound for the movies then came from a gramophone, a piano, a quartet or choir. These were what made the Grand Opera House grand.
By 1930 talking pictures were the rave, and Syncopation, the First American sound film played at the Radio Theater in Plaza Sta. Cruz. A Filipino film sans sound, Ang Aswang (The Vampire), was shown in 1932. But by 1933, Jose Nepomuceno had already produced the first Filipino talking film – “Punyal na Guinto” (Golden Dagger) – the “first completely sound movie to all-talking picture” which premiered on March 9, 1933 at the Lyric Theater.
Nepomuceno went on to produce another well-acclaimed film, “Dalagang Bukid” (Country Maiden) based on a popular musical play by Hermogenes Ilagan and Leon Ignacio.
By 1937, a Filipino film called “Zamboanga”, starring Fernando Poe and Rosa del Rosario, was produced and shown. It received praise from no less than who called it “the most exciting and beautiful picture of native life I have ever seen”.
By the 50’s, Philippine cinema had reached its first Golden Age. And the rest is (very interesting) history.
Source : National Commission for Culture and the Arts